The Usual Suspects - Antlion’s Last Roar


Michiko, Yori, Ryouji, Nozomi

Date: March 14, 2015


Once again, a group of Kumogakure shinobi have been sent out to find and capture an escaped criminal.

Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.

"The Usual Suspects - Antlion’s Last Roar"

Land of Lightning

Not too long ago, a small patrol was sent out. The group had managed to catch a puppeteer on their way, bringing the man back to Kumo for justice. However, as the man was being taken to the prison, the guards that were escorting him were attacked, allowing for the puppeteer to escape! Dang, all these escapes… Word was immediately sent out, and those in the Administration hall reacted quickly, summoning those available to a location halfway between Kumo and the prison. That's where the puppeteer had escaped, and they can look for clues there. Michiko arrives swiftly, looking around and hmm-ing softly. "As if the prison break weren't enough… They have to try this a second time…" she grumbles softly.

Yori had been relaxing. For once. You know, his aunt and uncle took away his notepads and everything for the day and made him go relax. So he did. Finally found a place to just sit around and watch people even. But nooooo, then they start looking for people to help with more escapees and even Yori's guardians know they can't deny a Village request, or anything to do with the escaped prisoners since Yori was already so deep into it. It didn't take long for him to gather his things and make his way to the appointed location, stopping as he nears Michiko and bowing, "Michiko-san." He offers in a formal, if serious, greeting. "I'm here to help."

Ryouji arrives on Echo. The horse gives a small whinnie as they ride up towards the spot and come to a stop. "Same here, Michiko-chan. I've got your back." He slides off of Echo and says, "What's the plan?" He pats Echo and he moves off to find a nice grazing spot and to get out of the battle should it start here.

Nozomi was rather surprised to be tapped for a mission so soon, especially given the reason for her being late answering the recall. But she reported as ordered, and became more surprised that Michiko herself was leading this. At least she'd know someone here. She looks around and puts forth her best professional face, which includes a slight smile and a serious greeting. "Yamayuki Nozomi reporting Michiko-sama," she says with a cheerful, but fairly serious voice.

"Excellent, you're all here. I am sorry for the rather sudden summons, but I wanted to get this down before too much chaos ensued…" She closes her eyes, then, sending a burst of chakra through the ground. "Too far… Hmm…" Michiko glances around the group for a moment. "Alright. So far, the plan is to track down and find the puppeteer. He's a lower-rank escaped criminal who likely just tagged along with the initial prison break. And when we finally caught him, he apparently had friends we didn't know about. So then… Look around and meet back here in two minutes."

As the other shinobi arrive they each get a bow of greeting from Yori, very respectful and official and all that. "Ryouji-san." He offers respectfully to the Chuunin. When he bows to Nozomi he introduces himself. "Saito Yorishiro." He offers before turning back to Michiko when she starts explaining things. "Which one was this Michiko-san?" He asks, pulling out his notes. Even if it's one he'd marked as captured he'd still have the notes on it. Meticulous he is. When he's told to look around he nods, "Hai." The young Saito swiftly begins his investigation, looking around for stuff and things, because those are both very important. When all is said and done, he returns to the rest and reports. "I found many sets of footprints and signs of people passing recently to the northwest." He points down a small sidepath.

Ryouji nods and closes his eyes, letting his chakra senses go to work. He focuses out, nothing besides picking up the chakra signatures of those in the teams. Ryouji squints and pushes his senses out further and picks out something faint in the background. It was almost missed, but he finds a line running across the path. Ryouji snaps his eyes open, "There's something over there…" he points to the northwest and just a few feet away. He hurms, "…a line of chakra thread, a trap of some sorts." He pulls out a kunai with a bright red ribbon tied it. He throws it into the ground right next to the near invisible line of chakra, as a marker. "So we don't forget it's there if we come back this way." He nods to Yori, "Good job. If they did go that way, we should make sure they didn't set any other traps farther along. This one might be a decoy."

Now we get to see why Nozomi was going to be a musician until her proficiency for chakra manipulation manifested. "Okay Michiko-sama!" Nozomi says cheerfully as she picks a direction and starts to wander, keeping her eyes on the ground as she goes. Unformtunately, she was better at fishing than hunting. With the former, she could stand still and let the fish come to her. But with the later… not only is Nozomi not finding anything, but she actually trips on a small rock and almost falls over. She catches herself though, and continues on, only to return at the prescribed time empty-handed. "I didn't find anything," she mentions with a slight pout. The results from others would give her an inferiority complex, if she weren't used to this by now.

Michiko nods lightly at the news. "Alright… Good point. It's likely that they moved to the northwest, then, so we'll take the bait that they laid out." She eyes the marker that Ryouji set down. "Everyone be careful. And Ryouji-kun, keep an eye out for more traps." As they move, she would tell them, "As I said, we're chasing a puppeteer. We know he has about two puppets that he can fully control, but he might have more. The only puppeteer we have managed to capture here went by the name of 'Antlion', who never joined Sunagakure. His puppets were destroyed when he was captured a long while back, but he could have rebuilt them with better functions. Try not to get injured, in short."

When Ryouji compliments him the young Saito bows his head slightly, looking a bit sheepish, "Ah, thank you Ryouji-san." He says. When Nozomi gives her meager report Yori just gives her a comforting smile. He knows what it's like to not find stuff. He's a bookworm usually, not a tracker. As Michiko goes over the mans information the boy again pulls out his notes, flipping through to find the information he has on Antlion. An interesting name that. He scans over his information with a faint frown, committing whatever he has to memory though he offers nothing since it's not exactly for him to give out information unless requested.

Ryouji smiles at Nozomi as well, giving her a nod. Not everyone can find something and some people just look in the wrong place when everyone spreads out. So it is also a matter of luck in larger search groups. He makes a mental note where the trap is and keeps his senses open as they move along. "But puppeteer's have limited range, correct? We shouldn't see much in the way of his puppets until we reach antlion himself."

Nozomi nods and commits what information she has to memory, but asks, "Okay, I'm pretty sure I never ran into a puppet user before, so what kind of abilities and weaponry are we looking at?" She'd ave to look into getting a notebook for herself to keep notes in. She seems to feel a bit better when Saito and Ryouji gives her the comforting looks, though she tries to keep her eye out for traps, as instructed, as they move along.

"Well, puppeteers use puppets, chakra strings, and poisoned blades. The manner is never completely know, but kunai, shuriken, swords…" Michiko tells Nozomi as they move along. "Range is a factor, but we don't know how close they are. They could be right next to us or they could be a mile from us." Though unless they were staying completely still, Michiko is fairly sure they're not within a ten minute's travel.
Naturally, though, the group is bound to stumble upon bad luck. As they move, Yori is unlucky enough to trigger a trap that sets off an explosion! It was meant to blind and knock backwards so that it would alert its owner. Kunai also spew out from every direction, aiming at … well, everyone!

Yori remains silent as he goes over his notes on the man and the puppets he'd had, silently wondering how similar any re-creations might be. But then you have to factor in how much time he'd had, and what kind of materials he would've been able to get. Apparently when walking around traps one should really kind of pay attention though since he's so engrossed in his notes that he misses that one. Oops. Yori hops back from the explosion as a natural reaction, then hears the kunai being loosed. Another quick jump takes him out of harms way but as he lands he looks quite embarassed. "Um…apologies." He manages to squeak out.

Ryouji hears the twang of the line releasing the kuani. He turns as he grips lightning cutter and pulls it free, blocking the poisoned thrown weapon with ease. Ryouji says, "Kunai flying everywhere, no safe place here or there! That all you got puppet guy? Face us and you're gonna die!" He slides his white and blue blade back into its saya. "Yo, it's not so cool, to face a hidden fool." he says, growling.

Nozomi was caught by surprise at the explosion, and went with the most superior protection she had. She quickly ran through a short series of handseals before clapping her hands together. A loud BOOM countered the explosion, but not in time to save some of the kunai getting through and slicing her in the side of her abdomen. She lightly gasped as she fished into her pouches to bring out some shuuriken and… a bone instrument about a foot long. "Mandible, should have had these out already," she said to herself before calling out, "I'm still here." Despite the burning in her side from the poison, she attempts to keep herself focused on the matter at hand. "And he's definitely using poison."

Michiko tries to form fire around her form and have it take the hit instead of herself, but the smoke surrounding her makes it difficult to tell where the kunai's coming from. "Dang…" she mutters, chakra going out once more as she tries to figure out if anyone is coming. She senses footsteps running, but it would take a few minutes, she guesses. "Here, Nozomi-san," she calls over after she can see again. The girl makes a handseal and sends chakra into the Yamayuki's body, destroying the effects of the poison. "Incoming, two 'o clock. Everyone be ready," she notes, shifting away once Nozomi definitely isn't poisoned.

The notes go away after Yori lands and Michiko informs them of incoming trouble. He frowns slightly, then looks prepared to go just in case, you know, something bad happens. Doesn't something bad always happen? His eyes flick through the disappearing smoke as he prepares, moving to stand near Nozomi to try and make sure she stays safe. Habit.

Ryouji says, "No problem. Finally, the fool shows himself." He looks over and watches Michiko tend to Yori. He takes position in front of them, protecting Michiko while she works against whoever or whatever is coming in from the two 'o colock position. He grips both his hip swords and readies himself.

Nozomi breaths a sigh of relief as Michiko takes care of the poison. Really, that was going to make things a bit difficult, but for now its handled. Instead she takes a brief glance at the bone and twirls it 180 degrees, then gets ready to throw the shiriken when a target reveals itself, and readies the bone for afterward.

Eventually those incoming bandits find who they're looking for: the Kumo-Nin. They don't hesitate to attack, wanting to keep their leader hidden for now. The four all are wearing masks to hide their true identity, using kunai to throw and try and hit each shinobi. None are poisoned, at least. Michiko is able to throw up a barrier of earth, letting it take the kunai and then strike a log. "Well, at least they showed themselves…" she comments, the barrier of earth turning into mud and then forming into bullets that aim at their stomachs.

As the attackers move in the sleeves of Yori's shirt slide up as he moves his arms, the vambraces that cover his forearms moving into position to block the kunai coming at him as well as one that seems very dangerous towards Nozomi. At least he was close enough to help. After that he flickers forward towards the nearest bandit, trying to knee the man in the gut before bringing one of his arms down towards the shoulder.

Ryouji sees the incoming goons and pulls out several kunai with explosive tags. "Let's see if they like these. Hit 'me high, hit 'em low, explosive tags are gonna blow!" He runs up a nearby tree to get some altitude and whips out the four explosive tag kuani, aiming for right in front of the goons but far enough that the explosives won't affect anyone else's attacks. He leaps off the tree, aiming for one of the goons and does two quick battoujutsu attacks, first one in mid flight, the next as he plants a hand down on the ground and is inverted to bleed off some speed of the leap before flipping back onto his feet.

As the more dangerous attack is defleted away from her, the slower of the attacks nears, but she sidesteps the issue before returning fire with her shuriken. Now that her off hand is free, she brings the bone up to her lips and starts to play a tune, a rather lively one at that. It may not seem like much until the second bar hits a very high note, and another one shortly thereafter. While these two notes on their own may not really do much, at least the tune is set to encourage her comrades.

The goons are not very prepared to be facing enemies of this caliber, it seems. Yori managed to hit one goon, forcing him down for a moment. But he's also quick to act, grabbing at Yori to yank him down and smash his face in. The explosive tags make it hard to see, which doesn't help him… But it doesn't stop him either. Michiko and her own opponent are too far from the main battle to be affected, and it seems that they're having a very intense fight with those puppets in the mix… Only one gets cut down by Ryouji's battoujutsu; the one facing Nozomi. It distracts him enough that while he can block the shuriken, that sharp note makes him cringe and gives him an injury that doesn't do any kindness to his ears. Ryouji gets two kunai thrown in his face as a sort of counterattack while another person tries to hit Nozomi's flute out of her hands.
Michiko grumbles as she blocks one attack on her with more earth, but another puppet blade shoots out to slice her arm a bit. She glares at the puppeteer, barrier exploding before bullets appear to ram into his stomach.

Yori is quick to react when the man reaches for him, reaching out to grab the wrist and twist it to free himself without much apparent effort. Once free he jumps back a little, then launches forward with a pair of gauntlet covered punches towards the bandit. He doesn't say anything for now, intent on just knocking the guys out or at least down. Then he can work on getting information from them.

Ryouji brings his lightning cutter slashing out to block both thrown kunai. "Check it out, you're going down. Lighting up your life with my skill ya clown!" he says, squeezing lightning cutter and charging it with electricity. He leaps at the goon, slicing once and twice on the return stroke. "Hey yo, are we playin with these guys or what? I'm feelin whelmed here. Nozomi-san, I'll be with you in a second, gonna waste this guy and I'll back you up! That's a sick beat, it'll make them retreat."

Nozomi continues to dodge the attacks the goons send her way, though its primarily due to the fact that she doesn't want to interupt her impromptu concert. She still somehow finds time during the song to throw a kunai and the follow up by another high note while she waits for help.

The puppeteer is able to shield his eyes from the dirt bomb. He frowns, jumping back a bit to stop the mud bullet from hitting before he gets numbed on a single hand thanks to the impact of a well-aimed attack. "Dang it!!!" he curses, now down to one hand. The other is a bit broken… His fingers move, and a puppet appears, charging at Michiko with a number of blades extended.
Yori's strikes are avoided with ease, and the goon just smirks in the Saito's direction. "Can't even hit me! This is easier than I thought," he brags, sword coming out so he can slash at Yori. Ryouji's initial lightning strike hits, sending electricity through his own opponent's body and making him collapse. Fortunately(?), he is able to block the final strike with a which parry using his kunai, which doesn't make too much sense. The shuriken from Nozomi is nothing to worry about, but the piercing high notes are enough to make anyone's ears bleed. However, this goon is stubborn, and he isn't intent on giving up knocking the flute from Nozomi's hands.

Michiko finds herself with another scratch one her from the blades as she watches a clone take one and a dome get sliced through. With a shake of her head, she mutters, "No more…" and metal shoots out to grab the puppeteer. It would bind him quite nicely while the other work on finishing off the goons!

Yori just nods his head slightly to the bandit while at the same time neatly pushing each blow aside. "I was hoping you might give up peacefully. I don't like to hurt people if I can help it osan." He says respectfully. Of course with the attacks it's obvious that won't happen and so he moves swiftly in his own attacks, flickering away again to try and elbow the man from behind before bringing his other metal covered fist around.

Ryouji flicks his swords left and right, blocking both kunai again. The sword rocks back and he slashes twice, each snapping the air with its speed. Ryouji is getting annoyed by how slow the fight is going. He should power up and end it quickly, but he has a funny feeling this isn't going to be over so easily.

Again, Nozomi opts to dodge an incoming strike rather than use boom clap. For one, that defense takes two hands, which proves difficult when one is playing a two-handed instrument. And two, there's no pause in this song long enough to complete the maneuver. Instead she plays harder, pushing her body and her lungs to the limit as she hits two crescendos at this stage, which translates to an albeit weak attack, but still something to give the goon pause.

Yori's opponent is rather deft with his footwork and relatively strong, as he managed to stop both of Yori's strikes. The man continues to fight Yori, not seeing that Michiko has managed to secure their leader, and kicks upward to snap Yori's neck backwards. Ryouji is able to get through his goon's defenses, the man getting a very nice cut on his throat that results in him bleeding out and choking on his own blood. Ew. Nozomi's sharp notes just hurt the guy's ears even more, blood trickling a bit from his ears as he tries to just stop it from entering his head… Not that sound can't get through his body. He seems rather paralyzed, so someone could come in and finish him off.

Yori's man doesn't even respond to the request for him to surrender, so the young Saito just keeps moving. He's made for defense, his style is for defense. That's what a Saito does. He hops back a little from t he knee, then raises his arms so the man punches the unforgiving metal of his vambrace. The blow causes him to slide back slightly but Yori is on the move again, jumping at the man to throw a punch towards his chest, then spinning as he lands to bring the other vambrace up in a side strike towards the head.

Since Ryouji's guy is down, Ryouji moves onto the next one and he did say he was going to help Nozomi out. Ryouji pushes his swift chakra to the surface and goes blur, fuzzying his body lines and disappears. Lines slash across Nozomi's target and Ryouji reappears next to Nozomi with six blades hanging off of joints and even his mouth, he mumbles, "Yo, you ok?"

Nozomi, noticing the state of her opponent, reaches down to grab another kunai to finish the job. But as she dances forward Ryouji comes in an does it for her. Her facial expression brightens into a look of gratitude, but she notices that Yori is still in trouble. Therefore, while keeping the playing up she motions toward Yori and changes the target of her attack. She may not be able to do much, and her attacks may seem like annoyances, but she'll support her teammate even so by sending the kunai toward Yori's goon and hitting one final high note in hopes of causing enough of a distraction to allow either Yori or Ryouji to finish it.

And down goes the second guy, Ryouji able to take the man facing off against Nozomi with almost too much ease. It allows Nozomi to focus her attention on Yori's target. He wasn't paying attention to the Yamayuki, but chance allowed for the the thrown kunai to bounce off some random armor he has. What luck! Of course, that piercing note is really painful, and he ends up flinching enough that Yori could get a good strike in. And he's knocked unconscious just as Michiko finishes up with the puppeteer. "That wasn't too hard," she comments, dragging Antlion along with a rather poorly-made puppet that isn't moving since she also bound his hands. "Good job everyone. Who's injured, by the way?" Best get healing out of the way!

When the man freezes up Yori is there to attack and gets him down. Good, good. The Saito looks over to Nozomi and gives her a small smile before offering a little bow of thanks, then goes to tie up the bandit quickly. "I'm not injured Michiko-san." He says at the question. Well, not besides his ears from that rapping, but there's nothing he can do about that besides just suffer in silence. Painful silence.

Ryouji tosses all the swords in the air and lets each one slide into its back saya with multiple thunks. "I'm ok…" he says, "…didn't lay a blade on me. Can't say the same for them though." He gives a shrug and sticks two fingers into his mouth giving out a high pitched whistle. His horse hears it and begins to make its way back towards Ryouji. "So, we drag this guy back to the prison then back in the village in time for tea." he says.

Nozomi finishes up her song as the last goon goes down. The notes of the song fade off into the air, leaving a sense of finality behind. Nozomi is panting slightly from the exertion and from the stitch in her side where that first kunai cut. "I'm slightly injured Michiko-sama," she says in a self-satisfied but tired voice. After taking out a cloth she starts to clean her instrument and retrieve her weapons. "I can tell this much, I will never be too out of shape," she adds as she trips over a blade of grass and stumbles a little. "Though I could do without the constant tripping…"

Michiko nods lightly to Yori and Ryouji, offering a small smile to both. "Good, you two. Ryouji-kun, take Antlion with you on Echo, please." She puts a hand on her arm, sending healing chakra into it before eyeing Nozomi's cut and bringing out some bandages. She does some quick first aid, then, nodding lightly. "There you are. You did a good job today." The girl glances around, considering the different downed goons. "Alright… Looks like we should be fine." They're all dead. If not, Michiko takes care of that rather discreetly. … "Let's head back," she says with a nod in agreement to Ryouji.

Yori returns to the others, his sleeves sliding back over his vambraces while he pulls out his notebook and makes some notations next to the mans name. Not only that he'd been captured, but about his friends and the puppet he'd had. He really is pit thorough. Once that's done he puts the notes away, then bows deeply to Nozomi. "Thank you Nozomi-san. I owe you for the help." He says with a smile. When Michiko says it's time to head back he nods to her, then prepares to go.

Ryouji nods and picks up Antlion, throwing him up on Echo once the white nad black spotted horse reaches him. He makes sure his metal bands are tight and climbs up on Echo as well. "Lucky you, you get to ride in style." he says, patting the puppeteer on the head lightly.

Nomomi's grin gets wider when Michiko compliments her. "Thank you." To avoid being over exemplary of her feelings, she turns back toward Yori and nods. "You're welcome. Just glad I could be of use." After the wound is cleaned and bandaged and the half flute is cleaned, she stores her flute away and puts her used weapons in a bag for later inspection. Finally she has one more thing to do as she approaches the horse. "You have a beautiful horse here," she says to Ryouji. She falls silent for a moment before adding, "Thank you for your assistance, by the way."

The team make it back with only Antlion, as the goons that assisted the puppeteer were dead (thanks to deadly combos!). Michiko sent Ryouji to the prison while the rest of the team went back to Kumo to ensure that Antlion would be secured for sure. The puppeteer could be questioned later. All in all, a mission complete!

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