Date: August 29, 2014
Three members of Hakumei purposely walk into a mercenary trap to prove a point, but they get more than just the fight they were seeking.
"The Unknown Reflection - Swatting the Flies"
"We're going to be ambushed," Reina tells Nanashi cheerfully. "Well, I'm going to be. You'll be here with me. They're going to ambush us the moment we leave the city. You may wonder why I'm letting this happen. Well, I need people to know I do have /some/ battle prowess, and control the situation. We need to demonstrate our power. Now, let's go out."
Reina is rather cheerful as they set out. The deadly situation seems to invigorate her. She'd had enough sneaking around. They go under pretense of inspecting the surrounding countryside, to gather intelligence. All guards are turned down. Reina seems determined that they alone do this.
And it happens near the temple. Shinobi mercenaries come pouring out, aiming any number of attacks at them. Reina winces. Six in all. She'd kind of hoped for fair numbers, but the nature of an ambush isn't fair, she supposes. She'd say to Nanashi, quietly, "Kill them all."
"Oh?" Nanashi asks at the mention of being ambushed, blinking then smirking slightly at the explanation given. It's taken on the familiar Kagura form, walking cheerfully alongside Reina as they move out toward the exit of the town. For once Nanashi underestimates its opponents and takes a bit of damage, drawing only a bit of a smirk from being while the other blades pass through it. It merely points its hands out at them, firing orb after orb of condensed sand at them to cause as much damage as possible while draining their chakra reserves in the process.
It's as if Reina has forgotten to attack, as if she's forgotten some vital piece of information. She stares at the two newcomers. This isn't overwhelming, but she isn't going to walk away with a flawless victory. But her hesitation vanishes as they come to surround her. She makes a few hand seals and sends out a wave of blistering heat. The heat preceding and the shimmer in the air is the only warning before it'd sweep over the mercenaries. The air seems to boil, and the grass all crisps and turns brown in an instant. Heat is radiating from Reina, and her smile has vanished.
As more blades fly its way, Nanashi seems to quite literally ignore them as they pass through its body. "Pitiful," it scoffs as it continues to fire orb after orb at the mercenaries. No mercy is being shown, the being quite intent on following Reina's orders and kill them all. Reina might even notice a certain beat to the striking of the orbs… 1 2 3 4 … 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4…
"Ow…rude." Hiken states as he is cut on the leg and across the side. He blinks at the blades cuts and then frowns, "Well…" He looks up, "OK, then. Feels only right that I should somehow return the favor." He then makes a few hand gestures and stomps the ground before continuing, taking a step back and stomping again, even as he does, the ground trembles around the enemies and columns of rock start jutting up out of the ground before falling down, slamming upward like pistons.
The mercenaries are being mowed down, and their resolve is weakening. Nanashi's barrage of sand knocks bombards the shinobi, and knocks two clean out. Reina's flare has them swooning. But still six are still up…till Hiken comes in. Two of the shinobi immediately attack him, only to be knocked out by the earth that's now rippling with hard columns of earth. Reina glances over to him. "Right on time," she says.
Merely four left. Maybe Reina won't have to be limping back after all. The mercenaries take a look around and then make a run for it. Not far. "Sorry," Reina says, "but live by the sword, die by the sword. You're not getting away." They turn just in time to take her attack, another flare of intense heat. Maybe not bringing Bea was good, or else as a close range fighter she might be boiled, buried, and pummeled by her teammates. The mercenaries caught in the onslaught turn to try to make a fight of it, filling the air with fire and blasts of chakra.
The first blast that strikes again Nanashi goes right through, but the next one actually knocks it back. That seems to actually only make it angry, though, though one might notice its clothes don't actually get harmed since they're made of sand. It stretches its hand forward, sending a massive arm sprouting off it that branches into four pieces to grab onto and hold the mercenaries down for further attacks.
A blink and HIken tilts his head, staring at the incoming fire, "Rude." He states and as the gestures he was creating finish, he whips a hand up and ducks back a little as earth covers over him in a large dome that has him covered before he stands back up as it dissolves and he brushes himself off. He is holding an odd orb in his hand and he creates a quick gesture, pushing chakra into it before tossing it lightly toward the man who attacked him and then his fingers dance as he creates sparkling spikes of water and states, "Try to die slowly…it'll be very painful for you. Much more exciting than just expiring, right?" THe orb explodes in a mist that not only poisons but can stun as well even as he unleashes the barrage of needles at the man.
Corpses litter the ground. Reina's continuous attacks have mummified many of them, so they look more like rotten leather than real shinobi. Broken bones, strangled necks, it's a tableau of horror. The final pair of shinobi hesitate when they take in the full extent of the carnage, only to be snatched easily by the giant hands of sand.
The final mercenary is struck. Bleeding, burnt, pummeled, but still clinging to life. Reina is preparing to finish him off when he coughs and says, "W-Wait…I'll t-tell you everything. Who hired me…"
"I know who hired you," Reina says calmly. "Just like I knew you'd attack. The Fuuma Clan, yes? But they sent weaklings like you. Are they testing the waters, or is it about to be a full scale assault."
"J-Just testing," the man says immediately. "Please let me go. I'll work for you. For free!" Reina looks thoughtful. "I promise I won't hurt you, if you answer all our questions," she says, with a smirk. She turns to her cohorts, her expression saying 'Well? Anything you'd like to ask?'
With the only one remaining, Nanashi would try to force itself to calm down. At this point it walks over to Hiken, moving behind him to lay its head on his shoulder. This would ALMOST seem sweet if it weren't for that aggravated tapping on the Tenjin's arm. 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4… At Reina's question, the eyes of the being would shoot up at the man. "Are you even useful enough that I shouldn't bury you twenty feet under the town just for looking at me wrong?"
A blink at the reaction of Nanashi and Hiken looks at this. Tilting his head, he peers at the sand monster known as Nanashi before looking forward and chuckling at the question, "Now now Nanashi, I believe there are better questions to ask." A nod and then Hiken looks at the man and states, "You are currently being poisoned by one of my poisons…you actually might die from it before this is over and I must know. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest, how do you feel?" Hiken's right hand comes up to idly touch the Nanashi's cheek.
Reina's mouth twitches, as if she's trying not to smile, when Nanashi asks its question. The man's eyes widen and he stares at Reina. "Y-You promised not to hurt me!" he says. He coughs, and blood wets his lips. Reina looks down in distaste as a few drops land on her. She steps back. "I did," she says. "But I never said anything about my comrades. So sorry." She shrugs. The mercenary searches wildly for an answer. "I have connections! Important connections!" Reina rolls her eyes. Well, it's not the worst answer, since he can't say much of his strength, intelligence, or loyalty to his clients.
Reina can't help it when Hiken questions him about his poison. She laughs. That's just awful—and wonderful. But the morbid question is enough to spark his defiance and he says, "You think you're so tough. You'll all die! You're /dead/!!"
"Dead… dead… dead.. dead…" Nanashi even seems to be speaking in the manner of the beat now. This is not helping the man at all. The being pushes Hiken forward, apparently intending on using him as a pillow for a bit but wanting to approach their prisoner. A bit of sand starts to gather from the orbs that attacked his friends, making something of a cocoon around his leg… then crushing down on it from all sides. "I don't even exist. Who's going to kill me?"
A chuckle and then Hiken responds to the man by saying, "Interesting." He idly pulls out a small notepad and blinks as he is pushed. He hmms and starts moving forward before saying, "Nanashi." He hmms and idly ponders, "My poison is fairly simple." He holds up an orb, "I add a bit of my chakra to activate it and then once it is smashed or crushed it unleashes it. Be a dear, why not put this inside your sand on his leg and push it directly agianst his leg. I'm fascinated to know what would happen if the poison were to enter via a horrific wound like the one you just created." He nods and then smiles, "If you would."
Reina is looking around now, to see if there are any further ambushes. An ambush right after an ambush that weakened them wouldn't be deadly, unless the opponents were high caliber. And the rumors hadn't spoken of any truly dangerous threats. Still, it was best to err on the side of caution.
She turns back to the man who is still bound by the sand. He's struggling to free himself, his look one of mingled fury and fear. Although the fear is starting to take over, since Nanashi is chanting 'dead dead dead.' She turns back to the two, and looks at Hiken's orb of poison. "Hmm," she says, and then to the two, "The coast is clear." She taps her foot (1, 2, 3, 4), her eyes gleaming.
Peering up at Hiken at his rambling about poison, Nanashi lifts an eyebrow then finally shrugs at his suggestion. It opens its mouth, allowing sand to fly from it to wrap the orb and deliver it to the sand covering that new wound. A moment later the poison has been delivered as requested, and the being simply watches, casting a glance at Reina with a smirk as she taps out the rhythm of the drums.
A look at Nanashi as the orb is taken and then he looks to Reina, smiling before pondering, "This man will prove to be a valuable test subject." A nod and then Hiken hmms and ponders, "Oh! Even better." He nods his head and idly seems to caress a hand along Nanashi's cheek, "Do you have other friends who are like you? Tougher than the average person? Able to withstand hours of pain and suffering? That would be most helpful. I might even give you…hmm, lets say 2 days off a year." He nods his head, "You can live in pain for only 363 days a year and your friends will have to deal with 365 days. Now, is that not an offer? You will only live a little while longer, either accept now or die." A glance to Nanashi, "What do you think? Would you like to have a group you can torture in various ways?"
Reina squints at Nanashi's look. It's Nanashi's fault she has this endless rhythm stuck in her head. Although didn't Nanashi say it was /always/ in her head? Reina couldn't imagine such a thing—she doesn't want to, either.
Reina actually nods a bit at the dialogue between the two and their victim. She'd meant to intimidate her enemies. Having one of them linger in a limbo of eternal pain and suffering is a pretty effective method. Why hadn't she thought of that? There are worse things than becoming a corpse after all. This fits into her plans quite well. Also, it's amusing.
The man says quickly, "W-W-Wait! Yes! Shizuka is strong! She's never been beaten."
"There's actually two of them," Reina says. "What, do you want us to be caught off guard? I actually like them anyway. One was smart enough to get her partner out of the situation with wits and guts. More than you have. No wits, and from the sound of it, your guts will be gone in the near future."
"There are others!" the mercenary says. "Touma. He's a yakuza, he's though. And…and, a man named Koshira. I heard he has great regenerative powers." He looks at Hiken. "Now please let me go!" Reina winces. His begging is painful to listen to. "Have a little pride," she mutters.
Smiling slightly, Hiken smiles and nods his head, "Excellent, that's quite the revealing list." He nods his head, "Well, I do believe this man has earned his 2 days off a year, don't you two agree? For now, though we'll need to put him somewhere to live in agony…" He nods his head, "He certainly can't stay in my casino. It is a place of beauty! He's hideous."
GAME: Save complete.
When the mercenary realizes no amount of pleading will free him, he tries his last resort. "Someone! Someone please help me!" he shouts…to the countryside. Reina actually looks wary for a moment. If he has some comrades around, though, they're smart enough not to reveal themselves. No one comes to save him though. He continues to scream, but Reina goes over to knock him out lightly with a fist. "The more he struggles, the more that poison will circulate. You'd better heal him a bit if you want him to stay alive." Then she laughs at Hiken. "Let's see how you sneak him back through that crowded city!" Or maybe Hiken will just take him openly.
Finally Nanashi would lift its head off Hiken, peering down at the man as he is knocked out. The tapping begins again on its side, the being seeming to shudder a bit. "… Who… Who… Who… Who….." It brings a hand up its forehead, rubbing it a bit before looking at a spot where no one stands. "Who… are… YOU?!" It then starts swinging its fists at what's not there, seeming to go into some kind of rage.
And even as Nanashi starts to lose it, Hiken is actually as calm as can be about walking a few steps away from her…it…whoever…as Nanashi starts to lose it. Hiken hmms as he watches the swings before pondering and then tapping his chin. He then looks over at Reina and starts over to her before saying, "I've not seen this before…it would be wise to study whatever is happening here." A nod and then Hiken ponders, "Oh…and as for this one? Eh…could just kill him. Or I could get a cart!" Hiken chuckles and then hmms as he looks at Nanashi and taps his own chin.
Reina takes pity on Hiken, and tosses him a scroll. "If you pull it open, a cart will come out," she says, and the laughs. "A ramen cart! With no horse you'll have to pull it yourself. But there's room in the lower portion to stuff even the largest body. Very useful for transporting a corpse discreetly. You should—" Although Hiken never learns what he should, when Nanashi goes off. She simply says, "Her past torments her. Or him. Even if he can't remember one jot of it, besides beating drums." She considers what to do. Eventually she opts for circling right to where Nanashi is punching. "Hey hey there's no one there. It's just a bad memory. What's wrong Nanashi?" The air around her is warm…she's still in a heightened mode, in case the punches turn to crushing waves of sand.
Nanashi continues to swing its fists for a few moments, growling out before hitting its knees. Its fingers then start to tap on the ground with its fingers… then its fists… 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4… 1 2 3 4… "Why…. All those faces… All those people… All those names… It can't be… Why should it be…" A look is given to Reina then back to that spot. "… Why can't you see…"
Watching this scene play out, really not even doing much other than catching hte scroll, Hiken seems so analytical, so careful to study the situation. Then Nanashi speaks as she does, watching the spectacle. Reina seems unsure, and then Hiken steps forward, peering at the sand beast known as Nanashi before, as if on a light switch, Hiken goes relaxed, easing down into a roll and then stepping up to beside Nanashi and flopping down beside Nanashi, hand to check, elbow hitting dirt and face placed so he can far more easily see Nanashi's bottom and then shakes his head idly before saying, "I don't know about faces or names but I know I do love this form most! Such a bottom and breasts that just jiggle so. So, much fun." He nods his head and then looks over, "Much like lovely Reina. Always so curvy."
Maybe if she stands there long enough, she'll think of something that say. Reina isn't an expert on dealing with hallucinations. Neither, it seems, is Hiken as he goes around groping Nanashi and smacking butts. Despite the gravity of the situation, Reina has to grin at that. "You are pretty good in that form," she says. She looks at Hiken. "You're slimmer than me, pretty boy. You know, I would've never pegged you as the brainy type by looks alone." Then back to Nanashi. "Is it still there? What d'you see?"
"It all falls away, doesn't it?" Nanashi asks, seeming a bit disturbed as it looks back up to that spot as it actually stops the tapping, failing to respond to anything they've said. "Like sand through a broken hourglass, scattered into the wind until what was once there is just a memory. Everything you are, everyone you've been… Any day now… Any moment… Any second… The drums are getting louder." It starts again, this time softly and building louder and louder with each set of cadence. "Counting down for the arrival…"
A look at Nanashi and then Hiken frowns, "Well, being a pervert has failed. That's kinda all I got." A nod, "The mind isn't really my area of expertise." A nod and then a sigh before sitting up idly and putting a hand on his chin before leaning forward and peering at the being known as Nanashi before looking over to Reina before looking at Nanashi and then ponders, "I wonder how out of it Nanashi is right now? Think I could cop a feel and get away with it? That combines both science and groping! Two of my favorite things!" Squinting at Nanashi, Hiken hmms and frowns, "Come on, Nanashi. I am being an absolute pervert at this point, I at least deserve a spanking."
That doesn't sound good. Reina actually nods. "I've only been with you for some time, and the drumming you've been hearing hasn't been going on your entire life. I'm sure of it. It's recent. And now I believe your ability to turn into sand isn't something you were born with. We'll find out. But first we have to get back. Leave the bodies here. And you two go on a date. I'm sure of one more thing. You're definitely a girl, Nanashi. I have a good feeling about it." Reina and her 'good feelings' about something. Reina would gesture and start to walk briskly back. "Talk and walk, if you want. It's just not good to be here too long."
Nanashi seems to stare off for a bit still… at least until Reina makes her judgement about its gender. It winces slightly and looks at her, for once showing a different emotion than she's ever seen from it. The normally either untouchable or rageful sand monster looks like it might cry. "… Why?" It then looks back at the image. "I've been so many people… Why does it have to be you?" Just then bits of sand would start to move together into the spot it's staring at, more and more of it gathering from what was used to attack and even some that's been converted from other types of earth coming up from the ground to start to form something…
Blinking at this turn of events, Hiken tilts his head to the side and sits up, peering at the sand, "Oh…hmm…" For now, Hiken just watches.
Nanashi is near crying. Reina is at a loss as to what to do. She actually feels a twinge of responsibility for the sand creature. But she's at a loss as to how to react. She glances at Hiken and—no, nevermind. Useless lump. She even rolls her eyes at him. C'mon! Oh well. She turns back to Nanashi. "If you keep staring, it'll just consume you. We need to go." And then a sharp blast of wind would blow the sand away. "We. Are. Going," she says sharply to Nanashi. Sharply, but not angrily.
More and more sand piles up, even fighting against the wind created by Reina, until at last it starts to take on the shape of a woman… oddly one taller even more buxom than the Kagura form. "… She's coming," Nanashi says, seeming to actually feel weaker somehow as this form takes shape in front of them, bearing black and white clothes one might consider a bit odd, if tight, both eyes having the look of those of Shukaku, and hair twisted into two giant braided ponytails that stick off its head like a pair of demon horns of three different hair colors, black, white, and yellow with multi-colored bangs to match. "I think you're thinking of it the wrong way," a rather cheery yet disturbing voice rings out from this new woman as she looks down at Nanashi in its current form. "It's /always/ been me. You think you've accomplished the things you did on your own, really? You're just a shadow, and dusk is coming."
A blink and a tilt of his head and slowly Hiken stands up straight, peering at this before looking over at Reina, "I believe sandy pants is not listening to you at all at this point, Reina." A nod and then a cough, Hiken idly clearing his htroat, "I suggest we let this one play out." A nod and then a glance at the woman of sand standing there, the new one before a look at Nanashi before saying, "My my, someone's split personality is splitting off it seems to form her own band." SHe glances at the new arrival, "Those split group single singers are rarely as good as teh original band though."
Reina doesn't blame Hiken for leaving. In fact, she should too. But she's mesmerized. She watches as Nanashi literally, as Hiken pointed out, splits apart. Now her eyes are on the form, curious, but not astonished. Her lips press thin. And she says, "You're a bijuu…right? And thank makes Nanashi a Jinchuuriki." She had suspected it for some time. The type of bijuu that drives the host mad.
She looks at Nanashi. "Dusk has already come, Nanashi. Twilight. That's the name of the group you're in. You can walk in the light, in the dark, or both, and that's where you chose to be. You've made your own choices, accomplished much, and besides. My best friend can't be a shadow. If anyone is, it's the bijuu within you."
"Actually, you're wrong. I'm not the Bijuu," the new woman says, looking to Reina with a smirk. "And this… thing /is/ a shadow. Nanashi actually looks frightened as she approaches, leaning over and cupping its face. "The seal is cracked, dear. It's only a matter of time until you have to open it or it breaks open of its own volition. You can feel it, can't you? You're losing your grip. When it was first cracked, you thought I was a hallucination. Now you can't stop me from taking form… You know what's coming." A look is shot is Hiken as he leaves before the woman looks at Reina, stepping over to her and looking down at her. "In a normal person, you break open the seal to unlock what's keeping them held down, what's keeping them from being themselves. Tell me, what do you think can be done to stop me?"
There's something /else/ inside Nanashi? Reina runs a hand through her red hair. This is really too much. What kind of past did Nanashi have? Reina glares at the sand clone before her. She doesn't know what to say to…it. She doesn't even know what this is. Apparently Nanashi's hallucinations aren't so imaginary after all. What can be done to stop her, she asks. Reina responds. A shrieking wave of heat and wind blasts out to blow the sand clone apart. The air is alive with scalding chakra, ready to destroy any remnants of the form if it dares to rise again. "It's worth a shot," she says.
The being shatters to bits of sand on the impact of the impact of the wave, yet she reforms just as Nanashi has been seen doing time and again. She actually laughs at the effort, reaching up to cup Reina's cheek just as she had Nanashi's. "It's no use. Besides, getting rid of me from your perspective really does nothing. I'll still be there in the corner of its eye, waiting until it has to open the seal or it finally break."
Reina would swat away the sand creature's and and take a step back. "Don't touch me with your filthy hands," she says. It looked like a simple clone, but it has the same unbelievable resilience Nanashi does. Does it rival Nanashi in power? If so, Reina might actually be beat up by a clone. She has no delusions over whether Nanashi itself is stronger than Reina. "Thank you," she says, "for stating the problem so clearly. I wonder if you can fulfill your scheme before Nanashi and I find a solution. You see, I rather like Nanashi's company more than yours." Her voice is held carefully level.
"You can get rid of a shadow, but you can't get rid of me," the woman says with a smirk, lowering her hand and stepping back toward Nanashi. "But, by all means, go ahead and try. See what happens when you try to overcome reality with a dream." With that it places a hand on Nanashi's shoulder and literally sinks back into its body, vanishing and just leaving the being staring at the ground as it tries to sort out the finality of this revelation.
Reina watches as the shadow slips back into Nanashi. She stares at her friend for a long moment. Then she points and says, "HA! See? A /woman/. She calls you it, but I'm sure of it. You're definitely female. And that thing may be with you. But we have a fortune, resources, and we're going to find you a cure. A fuinjutsuist. The finest one. Or a medic. Nikumari Mishi or whatever. I hear she's a sucker with legendary abilities, who works for crumbs. Or that Tea boy. More expensive, but just as worthwhile. This has me motivated. Let's go!"
Shaking its head, Nanashi stands back up and turns to look at Reina. Its brows furrow a bit. "Well… I've been looking for who I am or was for so long… I never thought I'd want to fight it back once I found it," it says, pondering on thought. It's really quite odd that its life goal is now basically its damnation. "… Yeah… Let's go…"