Date: May 16, 2014
Sousa and Kuoroke move to shut down a seductive songstress.
"The Red Lily"
A metropolitan city in the Land of Wind
A-rank: Another Garatsuku Asylum escapee has surfaced. Nayamashii Hana is a genjutsu specialist who works under the alias of Red Lily, after the crimson evening gown she often wears. She operates by performing as a singer in lounges and similar venues, while targeting audience members with subtle genjutsu. The genjutsu implants in the victims a desire to attend her performances again, and repeated exposure makes them willing to do her bidding, eventually even to extreme degrees. The technique could theoretically work on anybody who allows themselves to be drawn in by it, but she exclusively targets males to feed a delusion that they obey her purely out of infatuation with her beauty. There's no telling how many 'fans' Hana has accumulated since escaping, who exactly they are (some could even be fairly proficient shinobi), or what level of devotion each one has to her. Hana herself is also very skilled in combat genjutsu, which she will use on male or female opponents without discrimination. Note that a genjutsu release or similar techniques will probably have little effect on Hana's followers; their loyalty is a residual brainwashing from long exposure to her genjutsu, not an immediate mind control.
Time to round up another nutjob! We won't bother repeating the setup from the board post. :P Short version, there's a genjutsu specialist who gradually brainwashes guys who come to see her singing performances into being her loyal shmucks. She's gained enough of a following now to be noticed and identified, so Suna ninja are heading out to bring her in. Including, interestingly enough, the Kazekage himself! :o Is Nayamashii Hana really that dangerous, or is there some other reason Sousa is handling this personally?
Sousa hasn't taken any initiative to provide answers to that question. He just leads the way to the lounge where the Red Lily is scheduled to perform. Sousa and Kuoroke perch on the building across the street to survey the situation. "I had hoped to arrive before very many of Hana-chan's thralls gathered for the evening performance, but it appears her grip on them is strong enough to bring them out well before showtime," Sousa muses, looking down at the small crowd of men waiting outside the lounge. "We can safely assume that any male workers of the establishment are especially well-programmed, having been in her presence more often. So, what approach would you like to take? Shall we attempt to infiltrate through a back entrance, or simply mingle with the crowd? She doesn't want to turn away audience members, after all."
Kuoroke produces a set of earplugs, prepared after he read the target's psychological profile, designed to be nice and subtle. While crouching in place, the Kuroki has formulated a plan. "We can blend into the mob, and pretend to be particularly fierce fans to get close to her. Then, we eliminate her." The Kuroki suggests. "Preferably either before or after the performance, when she's away from the crowd, so she can't use them for cannon fodder." He raises the hood of his robe - a red item, brighter than usual, with abstract yellow designs - over his shoulderlength off-white wig.
Sousa glances at Kuoroke's ear-plugs. "I don't believe Hana-chan's genjutsu is directly linked to her singing…though it's possible she's learned to incorporate it somehow. At any rate, regular disruptions in chakra would be a more effective defense. You could use both, of course." Sousa adopts a henge as a rich but not exactly 'well-dressed' young man, the sort who might be an aristocrat's son trying to be a 'rebel'. "I'd prefer not to terminate Hana-chan. Even if we did, that would not release her hold upon her victims. They are brain-washed, not directly manipulated. Whatever action we take against her, we are bound to be assaulted afterward."
Some time after the ninja slip into the crowd, the doors of the lounge finally open, and the audience pushes their way into the building. There are a few women present amongst the pleasure-seekers, most of them on the arm of a man. Sousa mentally marks those men as 'probably not strongly affected'. The vast majority of the audience, however, is male. That's not entirely unusual for this sort of venue, but it's pronounced here. The audience members trickle into the lounge proper as they pay their entry fees, finding spots around circular tables or at couches along the walls. A fair number of men, however, cluster around the catwalk jutting out from the main stage. Hmmm, being Hana's 'fiercest fans' may prove to be something of a competition. e.ea
"One can perfectly complement the other." The Kuroki answers. "As for the fans, you're right - that's why I'd rather have " After they move in, the Kuroki slides forward, joining the throngs of fans near the catwalk. They're in the way, sure, but for now he can blend in with a bunch of similarly eager attendees while watching her closely.
Sousa decides to hang back a bit, sitting at one of the tables with an expression that says, 'Okay, let's see if you'll live up to the rumors and make coming here worth my time…that I couldn't find anything worthwhile to do with anyway.' He'd like to keep a view of the general situation. As Kuoroke pushes in with the hardcore crowd, a couple of them glance at him in confusion bordering on suspicion. They've been going to these performances long enough to learn each others' faces, some even conversing in the outside world as a sort of impromptu fan club…the fact that somebody is pressing in to the inner sanctum without being a familiar face to them is enough to send up warning flags in their subconsciousnesses.
Before anybody can make a deal out of it, though, a piano begins playing, and the curtains sweep slowly open. The fans hoot and cheer while a woman in a slinky red dress steps out and graces them with a coy smile. A miniscule tendril of chakra snakes out and taps the men in the room starting with the ones near the stage, releasing a tiny hit of endorphins in their brains. Hana begins her performance, singing a soft and sultry song accompanied by the piano. She's a talented singer and a beautiful lady, no doubt, but the way she has all those men up front twisted around her finger…real stars couldn't inspire that sort of devotion just from their performances. Could they? c.c
Kuoroke noticed the suspicion he's met with and sticks to the back of the group - a new sheep to join the flock, for the first time having decided to enjoy the performance from up close. As the woman steps forward, Kuoroke joins the cheering in an attempt to convince the crowd with him that he is, in fact, a fan. The Kuroki allows the tendril to touch him, unafraid. He has crushed far more genuine attraction to, in his opinion, far more enticing women for the sake of duty. And fighting it now would be dangerous at best. The Kuroki does, however, make an extra mental note not to let himself interact with her any more without absolute necessity.
The performance continues through several songs, ranging from soft and smooth to boisterously energetic to flirtatiously comical. The non-brainwashed amongst the audience let the music fade into the background of their attention, focusing more on their drinks and individual conversations, although the men out there gradually rest their eyes more and more on the singer. As Hana sings, her expression occasionally shows a mild twinge, as though she is feeling something unexpected…and those twinges start to be accompanied by a glance in Sousa's direction. c.c She also notices Kuoroke, simply because he's a fresh face amongst the fan club.
After a while, Hana steps backwards for an intermission. She blows a kiss toward her fans before the curtains obscure her from view. ;) Amidst the applause, two of those fans turn toward Kuoroke. "Hey buddy, never seen you here before," one of them says while the other moves around to block any easy escape. "You're awfully enthusiastic for somebody new. What's your story?" Soon thereafter, a snooty manager comes out from the back rooms and weaves his way over to Sousa's table. "I'm very sorry, sir, but our diva finds your gaze disturbing. I am here to give you a full refund and escort you from the premises." Sousa snorts in a manner fitting of his disguise. "Oho-kay, whatever. You can keep your money, oil-'stache, your precious diva isn't even that good. Sheesh, can't even recognize a look of appreciation." Sousa gets up and saunters out of the lounge with the manager. Looks like Kuoroke's on his own for the moment.
Kuoroke turns to the other guys, affecting a slightly inebriated tone. "Ehh, well, usually I'm just sitting in the back with the girlfriend." He slurs. "Thing is though, she's left-" a bitter chuckle. "What am I saying? She's finally out of my hair, so I'm celebrating my freedom." The woman's gotta have destroyed at least a couple of marriages, right? Just another one among the wreckage… "Hey, about that. You guys want drinks? I'm sure I saw a place for drinks around here somewhere…" a somewhat hazy frown travels around the room, briefly stopping on Sousa to take stock of his being alone. Interesting - now that they're split up, one can provide a distraction.
The first guy furrows his brow, somewhat bought on the suggestion of drinks. "Well, I guess that makes sen — " "Just a minute," growls the other guy, who isn't as addicted to alcohol. "If you were a regular, even in the back, I'd definitely recognize you. Something's fishy here." >( The rest of the hardcore crowd start taking notice and gathering around Kuoroke. "What's your game, pal?" "We don't appreciate guys who make trouble for Hana-chan." "I think we should rearrange his face a little and — " Just then the manager comes back in and hurries over to the group. "Tsh, another trouble-maker? One side, gentlemen, I will deal with the ruffian." The regulars part respectfully while maintaining hard glares toward Kuoroke; perhaps Hana programmed them to view him as her chief among stooges. The manager grabs Kuoroke's arm and steers him out to the lobby.
Once they're out of the lounge, the manager loosens his grip and leads Kuoroke around toward the back, past…the manager, conked out and hastily trussed up. "Henge into one of the workers," the non-tied manager says in Sousa's voice. "We're going to head backstage."
Kuoroke tries to keep his cool. These guys are harder to trick than he'd anticipated. He decides to come quietly, and minimize civilian casualties - a plan that perfectly works out when Sousa proves to be the ones taking him away. The Kuroki puts his hands together, quickly turning into one of the man's employees - the most unremarkable, uninteresting-looking one he could spot, someone whom you'd not notice. Then, he falls in behind Sousa, ready to follow his plan.
Manager!Sousa and Worker!Kuoroke breeze into the backstage area with little trouble. By the time they arrive, though, the intermission is ended, and Hana is back out on the stage working her magic on the crowd. Sousa goes to the side of the stage, just out of view of the audience, and looks out at the performance. "She's already wary that something is going on," Sousa murmurs to Kuoroke. "If she goes on full alert she'll likely trigger some preprogrammed emergency behavior in her thralls, and then it will be very difficult to both prevent casualties and catch her." Sousa narrows his eyes thoughtfully. "I believe I could ensnare most of the audience in a genjutsu of my own, which would block her from sending signals or even giving verbal orders. However, that would leave you to engage Hana-chan. I have little doubt you are a more capable shinobi than she overall, but she is a very proficient genjutsuist, and you may have difficulty resisting her illusions. The alternative, of course, would be for you to attempt crowd control whilst I deal with Hana-chan."
Kuoroke ends up not having much time to make a decision. Hana looks over in their direction while singing, and the genjutsu tendril passes over Kuoroke briefly. Then Hana's eyes narrow suspiciously, before she chokes off her song and gapes at the fake manager in shock. "…Sensei!?" o.O;
Kuoroke doesn't even bother taking off his cloak it tears off him as his tattoos bulge off his skin and expand into shimmering sheets of armour. "I'll take her." He mumble to Sousa, crouching and sizing her up. As she calls out for her "sensei", the Kuroki's eyes flash towards Sousa. "I'll try to keep her alive." He promises. "Try."
Sousa smirks lightly as he steps out on stage forming handseals. "That would be appreciated." A flood of chakra sweeps out over the room, and the audience finds themselves trapped in a maze within their minds. Hana recovers from her surprise and tries to send a panic order to her minions, but finds their brains already occupied. Gritting her teeth, she makes a dash out onto the catwalk, aiming for a particularly brawny fellow. She reaches out with her arms, obviously hoping to break at least him out of Sousa's genjutsu. >.<
Kuoroke keeps track of her motions. As she heads away from the stage, she has to turn her back to him - and that is when he strikes, quickly, at her lower body, trying to tackle her. As he moves, a surge of chakra moves through his entire body, visibly causing his tattoos to pulse, and briefly interrupting the entire flow in that split second after his tattoo-strengthened legs propel him from the stage and before his shoulder meets with the girl's back - or, is intended to.
Hana shrieks in pain as Kuoroke slams into her, and she sails past her intended target into the crowd. DX Her fall is broken by a couple of much more ordinary lounge-goers. Psht, not shinobi — but they'll have to do. >.<; Hana snaps them out of their illusory stupor with a kai on each of them, then points at Kuoroke. "He's after me! Stop him!" she screams. The two men immediately scramble up and lunge at Kuoroke to grab his arms. Meanwhile, Hana tries to invade Kuoroke's mind before bolting for the door. A huge red lily appears to come up out of the floor before Kuoroke, opening to release a powerful cloying scent and show Hana's face in the center of the bloom. "Why do people like you ALWAYS have to interfere!?" the illusion shouts accusingly. "I'm not doing anything wrong! These men love me! I'M GIVING THEM WHAT THEY WANT!!!" D<
Kuoroke's chakra pulses again, clearing his mind somewhat, interrupting the illusion for long enough for him to charge on. There may be two civilians on his arms, sure - he can usually lift a man's weight on one arm, and in his current state he can simply wield them as clubs. The Kuroki chases the girl, but not too rapidly: he allows her to get to the door, out of the large room of potential allies, then lunges at her again, this time not so much trying to hold her as going for her legs, trying to break one through force of a well-placed low jab with an acidic fist.
Hana stops to slip off her heels after running out the door and rounding the corner to get out of Kuoroke's line of sight. He's not on top of her, maybe that genjutsu was enough to stop him cold for n — "Gyaaah, hey, cut it out!" "Stop! We won't let you hurt Hana-chan!" Nope, still coming. C.C; Hana turns and keeps running as Kuoroke comes out with two yelling guys flailing from his arms. x.x
Meanwhile, back in the lounge, Sousa is carefully putting the audience members into a deep sleep, one at a time. It's a tricky process to do this while maintaining the maze illusion as so many panicked minds run about within it. e.e; That number drops with every man sent to snoozeville, though, allowing Sousa to gradually pay less attention to the maze and more to speedily conking them out.
Hana's not the greatest shinobi in the physical category, and her dress isn't the best for running in. She's wary of being attacked from behind after the last time, though, and the men clinging desperately to Kuoroke's arms are enough of an impediment that she manages to avoid the worst of Kuoroke's blow, only getting a bit of a sting on her thigh. That's certainly going to make running more difficult, though, and Kuoroke's already shown he can catch her. So she switches tactics to a full-out offensive. >.< The full weight of Hana's mentally unstable ire crashes down on Kuoroke in an A-rank genjutsu, bringing carnivorous flowers up from the ground all around him. "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST LOVE ME!?!? AWFUL MEN LIKE YOU SHOULD BECOME COMPOST FOR A BEAUTIFUL FLOWER LIKE ME!!!" The carnivorous plants come down at Kuoroke in a rush of snapping thorned jaws and acidic sprays.
Another pulse of chakra travels through Kuoroke in an attempt to shake the influence of the genjutsu, but this isn't his favourite battlefield. His instinct tells him to move the men clinging to his arms to protect him from the jaws, but they seem to go straight through, biting down on Kuoroke and telling his mind that he can't move - and his body obliged, freezing with tightly stressed muscles.
The guys on Kuoroke's arms open their eyes nervously as they realize he's no longer swinging them around. c.c; "Wha…what happened to him?" "Hana-chan, did you do this?" Hana straightens up and resumes her delicate lounge flower persona. "Oh…I suppose he must be struck by the realization of what he was about to do, harming a beautiful treasure like me," she says woefully. u.u The men nod thoughtfully, the idea of being unable to strike Hana strangely sensible to their polarized brains. "But I can't bear to have a horrible brute like that chasing me," Hana continues, pulling a kunai from Kuoroke's holster. "Please, won't you take care of the problem for me?" Hana clasps the knife into the hand of one of the dumbfounded fans, fluttering her eyes at him before turning and running off. After rounding the corner of the building, though, she creeps back and peers to check whether her bidding is being carried out. ]/
Hana has good reason to wonder. As strongly as these men are brainwashed, telling a civilian with no combat experience to take a life is a tall order. The man with the kunai wavers, shifting his grip on the weapon nervously as he tries to steel himself for the deed. The other man, while similarly unfamiliar with bloodshed, is able to speak in favor of doing it, because after all, the blood won't be on his hands. "Come on, man! It's for Hana-chan! Just do it already!" "Um, but…how exactly do I do it?" "I dunno, just…stick it in his neck or something. That should do the job, right?" "I guess…" The man swallows, points the knife at Kuoroke's neck, and prepares to give it a shove with the palm of his other hand. *.*
The genjutsu may have created new, very plausible-seeming dangers, but it hasn't erased the new ones. Kuoroke growls slightly, and then does something seemingly very stupid: he moves forward, forcing the tip of the kunai to cut the skin on his throat. The pain, and the visceral awareness that one of his vital organs is being cut, give him a jolt, and coupled with the fact he pulses chakra through his body again, the illusion wavers for a moment. Long enough for Kuoroke to free one hand, punching the man with the kunai hard enough to throw him into the object of his obsession.
Hana gapes during the split-second before her minion collides with her. x.x In the tangled aftermath, the man suddenly realizes that HE'S HOLDING HANA-CHAN IN HIS ARMS. @.@ The unnaturally powerful, hypnosis-induced attraction he has for her boils over in his brain. "Mah, meh, muh…MARRY ME, HANA-CHAN!!!" 8D Meanwhile, the other fan blows another sort of gasket at the sight of his fellow clinging to Hana-chan on the dusty ground. "Wha — YOU TREACHEROUS DOG!!! WE ALL AGREED NONE OF US COULD HAVE HANA-CHAN ALL TO OURSELVES!!!" DX< He runs over and throws himself onto the first guy, flailing furiously. Underneath it all, Hana struggles to extricate herself. "GET OFF OF ME, YOU BESOTTED FOOLS!!!" DX
That's when Sousa arrives, having finished putting the audience members out of action. There'll have to be some heavy clean-up after this, many of those guys will probably need therapy to deprogram them. e.e Sousa observes Hana's predicament and smirks. "Fascinating. Vanquished by her own sword, so to speak. Did you orchestrate that deliberately, Kuoroke-san?" ;) Sousa goes through some handseals, and the squabbling pile on the ground, including Hana, is subdued in an illusion. Sousa turns back to Kuoroke. "My thanks for a resolution to this problem with minimal casualties, Kuoroke-san. It should be quite enlightening to study the advances Hana-chan has made with her techniques. Hmmm, it appears you'll require some medical attention."
At first, the Councillor tenses up, ready to follow up his human cannonball with a harsh strike. Then, he notices that the problem seems to be resolved safely. "I couldn't count on it," Kuoroke says, "but I had hoped he'd present a distraction." Kuoroke says, covering the cut on his throat with his hand. It didn't quite puncture to the vital parts, but there is a thin line of blood leaking, still. "This entire… charade has been very costly to the people of the Land of Wind. We should be sure this never happens again…" he grimly advises.
Sousa chuckles. "Kuoroke-san, when in all your cautious life, with your layers upon layers of schemes to protect yourself and that which you hold dear, have you ever been able to be truly sure something would not happen?" ;) Sousa moves the stunned civilians aside and binds Hana. "This instance was a matter of one kunoichi with an unhealthy obsession for male admiration using an inefficient and limited mind-altering technique to feed her ego. The worst that happened was a number of men wasted their wealth on frequent visits to a luxury recreational facility and may experience some emotional distress in the wake of this incident. Really, you could almost think of Hana-chan as a crippled virus, allowing us to develop resistance against such tactics before someone with truly malicious intent towards us tries to use them." Sousa hoists Hana over his shoulder and starts walking off. "At any rate, the probability of Hana-chan causing trouble again after being reincarcerated is only marginally higher than in the scenario wherein she is executed. Furthermore…rehabilitation of her victims is likely to be more difficult if they learn she was killed." e.e; Sousa points down the street. "I believe the local medical practice is located that way. I advise you to have your wound properly cleaned and dressed, then catch up to me."
"You should pay closer attention to my preparations. I work for the village's safety, not my own. You have a point, of course, we can't rule out anything entirely, but that's the idealist's fallacy." Time to get technical. Maybe that's a way for Kuoroke to get through to Sousa. "It doesn't mean we shouldn't make every effort. And there are more costs than simple wealth. People's families have been damaged. As you said, many will need therapy to recover from this. It might be a crippled virus, but if you're careless with the crippled, weak viruses, one of them will eventually turn out to be less harmless than you expected far too late." Still applying pressure to his throat, Kuoroke heads backstage again - his cloak is still there, and it contains a lot of stuff he'd rather not lose.