Date: August 5, 2012
Kazeodori and Keiji, whilst admiring the cavern tunneling of Keiji, find themselves on the threshold of a sandstorm. In the whirling face of the sandstorm, Kazeodori thinks he spots something, and then the sandstorm… fades away, leaving in its wave a mysterious man and his murderous intentions.
Poster's note: Profanity filtered in obvious places.
"The Sandman's Puppets"
The Desert - Sunagakure
Kazeodori stood at the lip of the cavern, the rage of the sandstorm so dreadfully near now, so determined in its ravaging. Even the winds ran before it, to escape the minute onslaught carried out on such a tremendous scale. As if a billion ants suddenly took flight, demolishing anything in their path. Stone, wood, metal… flesh.
The Genin had been but a moment from plunging himself back into Keiji's cavern, his birth and habitation in Sunagakure allowing him to swiftly realize the might of the sandstorm (and to respond accordingly). The boy, however, had noticed - as one does the twist of a shadow, or the thing which lingers in the corner of the eye - a darkness in the face of the sandstorm, a blackness roaming so rapaciously that it too kept pace with the biting sand. The boy leans a touch further from the cave mouth, his hand atop his brow, peering.
"Keiji… do you…"
Keiji was surprised that the cavern had not held Kaze's interest a bit longer, but the kid had a mind of his own and often times that mind tended to live up to female stereotypes. Keiji followed up behind him. His eyes also noticed the shadow. He was not sure what it was despite the sand storm. "What is it Kaze?" he asked as he continued to scan for whatever it was that was out in the sandstorm.
Memories of the sandshark began to play through his mind. Keiji had barely survived due to the sand storm that time. If this was a sandshark, would he be able to rescue Kaze and escape again?
The Shadow was there, only for a mere instance. The swallowing living sands continued to swirl and obscure, blinding deserts with its massive prowess. Soon enough though it begins to fade away, the very storm which shrouded the area began to recede into a sandy mist. Just like that everything seemed to return back to normal, no shadows, no crazy winds, just a serene calmness which brushed like a soothing zephyr across the desert plains. Of course this was no conicidence, there was something out there, looming, hidden within the depths of the desert, the only visible part of it was the mound of dusty sands which remained off in the distance, it might have been a bit difficult to see, the henge was in place and if they noticed, the wind which licked against the desert… While most of it moved with the winds, in this particular location, it just didn't.
As Kazeodori stared into the sandstorm deep, and the sandstorm suddenly… fell away. The Genin himself had never seen such a thing happen: had never seen a sandstorm end. Then again, it certainly must be possible. Otherwise, there'd just be an endless sandstorm roaming through the desert. The boy can't help but smile as a new fact settles itself into his brain like a fat grub into tree bark. It was still certainly strange though, still unnerving to witness something so massive, so grand and encompassing, simply… end. As if the moon one night just faded into the blackness. Kazeodori turns and looks at Keiji, aware that the Chuunin is still peering into the sand, into the distance that now is.
"Did you see something there? Like a… like a giant shadow or something?"
The youth turns his attention back to the now calm desert, whispering to himself:
"I swear I saw something…"
The dark pupils of Keiji gaze around in the blowing sand, looking hard for anything hiding in it. Then there was a bit of surprise as the Sandstorm just ended. The eyelids close over the pupils as the bright sun seems to bother them. Keiji turns to Kaze, "Yeah, your not crazy. I saw something out there." The Chuunin boy then reopens his eyes, this time glancing around a little more cautiously.
And so there was nothing, or at least nothing that could notice right now, everything was quiet and still, the silent whipping of sands brushing against the area, finally though there was some rumbling, deep within the earth, and the sand began to pick up entirely as something came digging in their direction. Almost as if an earthquake had hit. In time, finally something began to peak out of the sand, a cylinder of some sort within the mass of sand. It launched out an attack, expelling a single kunai blade at the both of them, followed by an even more incredible volley, coating the cavern with not just kunai but a massive barrage of exploding tags to barren them into the very heaven they remained in… And soon after, sliping away under its sandy henge.
Kazeodori, his eyes still trained on the sand, still trained into the sunlight and its equally golden earth, doesn't catch at first the slight movement beneath the grains. He doesn't notice the ripple of gold as it slithers its way forward. He catches - only at the last - the presentation of the tube, and its abundant firing of kunai and explosive tags. The boy ducks and dodges, weaves and moves, to escape the slide of the kunai through the hot desert air. But the cavern, now inundated with explosives, begins to hiss and weep. The mouth of cavern, now so covered, gives Kazeodori but a moment of wide-eyed terror, a moment to start a leap away from the opening and into the sand. Yet too slow is the Genin, and the ripple and flame of the explosions catches him on the back of his legs, singing away part of his robes, part of his flesh. The boy lands face first in the sand, but he quickly whirls around, to see if Keiji survived, and to wonder what in the world bears such hostility to such strangers.
Keiji plants his feet as the earth begins to shake. Then as the kunai comes forth, he swings his torso away from it and the blast. "Move!" he yells towards Kazeodori. His eyes were unable to see the target and where he vanished to. "Get above ground and we will draw this one out and kill them." Keiji then placed his fingers together to build his chakra. This thing was starting to grit him off.
Nothing to be seen yet again, but with the cavern gradually begining to close up that was no longer an issue, the beast began to surge out from the sands reveal itself to show just what i truly was. A massive puppet, elephant in size made of wood and wire'd mechanics, it looked like it could have been an old outfit for war. Humaniod in shape, a giant log for a head and a wide body which appeared to be for storing any sort of goods, and long wooden arms stretching the rest of its width. The chasis began to open up, a chest filled with darkness, what was next however was a large volley of tornadoing kunai, bulleting towards the cave to keep them from coming out… if they stayed inside they get buried, if they came out… They would surely get stabbed.
Kazeodori, upon seeing that his mentor is all right, turns on his belly, just in time to witness the rise of the elephantine puppet.
"What in the…"
The puppet is primative, hewn together of solid wood and wires — but massive. Kazeodori is slack-jawed for a moment, in admiration of something so vast and terrible, and so does not find his motor in time to move out of the way of the first of the kunai. One of the spiraling daggers slides deeply along his arm, the same arm he was moving to grab a kunai of his own. As a second of the vicious knives scurries through the air, the Genin again finds himself caught too slow, as the knife slides into his thigh.
Blood torrents from the boy's wounds, the burnt flesh on the back of his legs now gritty with sand. It will not be a long fight if this is kept up. The youth hobbles to his feet, hunched forward from the pain. He immediately begins making hand seals, at the climax of which he takes a tremendous breath. If only he can stun the beast a second, if he can stagger it back, buffet it with his torrent of breath, then perhaps he could find enough time to take shelter behind Keiji.
"Wind Release: Great Breakthrough!"
Keiji moved forward in time to see Kaze getting messed up by the kunai. He was able to twist out of their path. Knowing Kaze would not be able to stand the assault for long, Keiji decided he needed some more power. "Hang on Kaze." The words were almost a whisper. The young Chuunin closes his eyes and soon his body shifts into that of the giant, crimson, fattail Scorpion. Now the eyes of the Scorpion look upon the puppet in all of his massiveness. Maybe now due to his size, the puppet would focus on him and no longer his student.
There was to be no suvivors…. The Massive puppet jumbled for a moment, moving and slicking around as if it was having difficulty moving, finally it regained its footing within the mass of sand, suprisingly enough it managed to dodge the massive gale which attempted to slam into it, shifting the ground and causing the rocks from the ceiling to fall ont op of them both, after the very least it seemed like the puppet was sentient… Or was someone else behind the picture testing Suna Shinobi's talents. After the rocks either hit or miss one of the long hands reached out, detatching and exploding out towards Keiji with an arm full of blades, two solid swipes to hopefully slice him up of both sides… One thing was certain, despite its mass somehow it remained quick due to its superior momentum…
Kazeodori watches with defeat as the puppet - with its stunted shifting - manages to make it away from the spiraling blast of air. The boy is left beaten, hunched forward, a hand propping his torso up upon one of his knees. Though it was but a moment for the earthen behemoth to shake the ground, causing the remainder of the loose cavern mouth to fall, it seemed an eternity for the Sunagakure Genin. As blood ran like rivers he would never know, flashing as fish do leaping into the sunlight, the youth wondered, as the crack of rocks began to echo into the infinite desert, if this was his end. So mundane would it be, so easy. So eager was his own life to forfeit, and with nothing but the scuttle of a giant puppet to end his sight. A last sigh, heavy as the rain when it does finally fall over the desert, heft from Kazeodori's mouth, his eyes closing as the splintering of stone could be heard. And thus, was he crushed into the sand.
Yet… that weight was not the one of doom. It was not the mass of deadly, crumbling rock. Kazeodori had seen Keiji transform before (had ridden him even), and so knew such a feel as the slick glass of scorpion. The boy cranes his neck, the top of his eyes just glimpsing the mandibles and pincers of Keiji's scorpion form.
The crimson Scorpion moved quickly and placed himself over the boy. His shell was not enough to do away with the damage, but it did manage to protect Kaze. Right now the entire group was lucky Keiji had not learned to communicate in this form. There are a number of clicking noises coming from his mouth. Surely the words are not appropriate for Kaze's ears. As the puppet launches it's attack the Scorpion uses its legs to bend and move out of the way of the slicing arms.
Now on the offensive, the crimson Scorpion rushes towards the puppet and attempts to smash the puppet using both of its pincered claws. The Scorpion makes sure to keep its body between that of the puppet and its pupil.
Keiji succeeded, though falling under the pressure of the rocks falling from above, things began to heat up as his piercer claws tore right through the puppets chasis, weapons began to pour of of its containment, and even one of its limbs seemed to slice off, unknowningly pulling off one of the chakra threads. It was now still two against one, and the massive puppet was gravely wounded, or at least it would have been if deemed sentient, instead it continued a fight to the death, bursting forward, sending up a torrent of Sand, its arms began to fall off, and the puppet slowly constructing itself, it actually turned into a series of smaller bladed puppet swhirling around blades and kunai, a pair of 4 pin tops, someone wanted them dead… It was quite obvious at this point, it spiraled and move towards the both of them, one in particularly heading for Kazedori while the other for Keiji.
As Keiji clears from overtop Kazeodori to attack the puppet, it leaves the boy bare once again (though unweighed by scorpion). Taking the opportunity, and finding new breath in the heroism of his mentor, Kazeodori brings himself to his feet, albeit slowly and with care. His wounds aren't bleeding as badly - what with them now being staunched by granules of sand - but they are painful nonetheless. It is in this time, the time to recover, that Kazeodori sees the giant puppet break apart, the boy smiling as the behemoth's defeath seems imminent. Such, however, is not to be.
For come spiraling from the breakdown of the beast are four spinning, bladed… things, whirling their way towards the duo. Again, with such speed as these creations have, do they overwhelm the already hurt and nearly immobile young Genin, the frantic claws of the bladed beast tearing into his flesh.
But waver he does not.
Be it adrenaline, be it courage, be it bravado, the youth stands his ground, pulling his own kunai from within his tattered robes, and driving it down into the top of the tiny puppet.
The one piece had gotten past him and yet he was unaware. The giant pincered claw comes down on one of the bladed contraptions spinning towards him. Though Keiji is unsure of the damage caused to it, he side steps the other bladed spinner. His tail however comes down to strike it in the center with the pincer on top of it.
Now turning his position towards Kaze, pain and doubt begin to fill the Chuunin's head. The boy had taken a beating and it was because he had not destroyed this enemy or chosen a safer route for the boy. The eyes scan back towards the puppet. Keiji was now ready to finish the job if this thing was still alive.
Keiji's strikes manage to hit the mark and the series of puppets, his pincer attack strikes and bursts a few of the puppets into splinters of wood. Weapons litered the desert floor, and remains of the puppet was spread out all across as well.. What was left of the puppets was just a few pins of whirling blades… which finally ceased to function, however in the distance a figure could be seen, only for a moment until he used a single hand seal, attempt to fade away into the mass of sand, he was masked, gloved, cloaked, nothing about him seemed to stick out other than his shroud of mystery… The puppets were antiques, old relics if they looked closely enough at them… They both managed to stay alive, but the masked shinobi wasn't interested in pushing the fight any longer…
Kazeodori watches as Keiji's scorpion demolishes the remaining puppets, and with it comes the Genin's sigh of relief. The kunai he was holding drops from his hand, slinking into the sand, the boy himself collapsing into a sit on the golden heat. The blood has dried on his skin where it ran, now brick colored and flakey. Fresh crimson pumps still at the sources of the cuts. The boy is worn, his hair slick with sweat, his hands and head dirty, his robes cut and tattered, his flesh burnt, so ravaged by heat and by blade. He can't feel it yet amongst the general ills, but too does poison creep through his skin. It has not been a good fight for the Genin, revealing - all too easily - the boy's shortcomings. Had he not been here with Keiji, death would have claimed with but a smirk of disappointment. It is thus, caught up in his own thoughts, that the boy fails to notice the disappearing man, instead turning to find the shape of his mentor.
Inside his form Keiji watched as Kaze collapses into the sand. Pain surges through the boy's mind. He knows Kaze is not dead yet. Someone has gone out of their way to hurt him. No this was not over for Keiji. The Scorpion scans the area until he finds the image of the man fading into the sand. In a mixture of rage and anger, the ground off arachnid lunges to the bottom of the dune and sends a stinger from his tail directly into the spot where the man faded. From the mouth, the clicking noise has become a sort of constant. It grows louder. Could it be the Scorpion is screaming?
The follow through attack was surprising, and which such a strong stealth the shinobi was sure he was getting away, instead the shippodoku kid managed to close the distance between them in a mere instance, feeling the stining tail pierce right through his stomach. "Geh.." The man groaned as he reached out, grasping gaainst the tail, mask filling with blood that the others couldn't see, "This…This isn't over…" The man spoke in a raspy tone, and though the pain was true, suddenly his body began to more, blood became wood, and his body became splinter, he turned into a wooden lifeless puppet… The attack had hit home though… What was a puppeter doing out in the wilderness? For now that reason was unknown…