This Immortal Coil - The Last Feather to Fall


Atsuro, Hige, Kenta

Date: March 21, 2015


Atsuro leads a team of Konoha shinobi to Lady Feather's hideout for a final confrontation. Several giant birds attack the group, taking most of the team's attention while Lady Feather flees. Atsuro, Kenta, Hige and two others manage to chase her further out into the ocean, where they manage to kill her. The two missing children still in Lady Feather's possession are rescued.

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

"This Immortal Coil - The Last Feather to Fall"

Southern Ocean - Lady Feather's Hideout

It wouldn't have been possible to identify the exact island without Takato's help. The hideout that Lady Feather's probably using at the moment is several dozen miles into the water west of the Land of Waves and three times that south from the Land of River's shoreline. The spot that Kenta and Atsuro triangulated using data retrieved from Konoha's scout turns out to be off by a modest margin, but the former Fledgling was able to make some corrections when the two of them showed it to him.

Takato and his ninken, Hageshi, had been biting at the bit to join the mission to take down Lady once and for all. Unfortunately for them, two things prevented them from being part of it. One, Kenta deem their physical condition still too fragile to handle the rigors of such a task. Two, the sealing team that transferred the protective jutsu from Natsumi's kimono to their skin/fur wasn't sure how well the jutsu will negate the effects of their curse seals at such close proximity to Lady Feather. Better be safe than sorry.

It's just as well that Takato and Hageshi hadn't joined the mission. They might have already be too worn down to be of use. The Konoha shinobi were able to take a ship two-thirds of the way to their destination. Then, they had to disembark and travel the rest of the way on foot. The surface of the ocean is restless from underwater currents even though it's a nice calm day with stark blue skies, which made running over it a grueling task. The openness of the ocean also meant that several shinobi skilled in concealment of large groups had to accompany them and constantly expend chakra to maintain a jutsu over everyone. It was several hours before they found the island. It's truly no more than the jagged tip of an underwater cliff that juts about fifteen feet out of the water. The weathered volcanic rock that's exposed to air is being enough to hold a small fortress inside it on it' own, but the majority of the base is supposed to be below water level. It's hard to tell much more due to the thousands of seagulls that covers the surface of the island.

Now, Atsuro and the shinobi that the Jounin Commander assembled is prepared to put their plan into action. They crouch several hundred yards away from the island under a barrier that renders them invisible to the sentry birds' eyes, while they wait for the opportunity to strike. The first step is already in progress. A fishing ship just met with an accident about a mile away, causing it's cargo of mackerel to get dumped overboard. All the seagulls flew off three minutes ago to investigate. In reality, the fishing ship is in Konoha's payroll for this mission and the accident is a calculated one. The mackerel is spiked with a poison that affects only birds and renders them lethargic. The shinobi won't have to worry about the pesky creatures returning to keep watch for danger. They're going to be asleep or unable to do more than float on the water for several hours after eating their fill.

Now that the sentries are dealt with, it's time to put the rest of Atsuro's plan into motion. In addition to his own team, Atsuro has brought along a number of other teams to help with the mission — some are here just to round out their fighting capabilities, others are here for specific purposes. With their enhanced senses, Atsuro and Taizen are able to tell when the birds are gone, and Lady Feather's early warning system with them.

Next, Atsuro signals to two of the Hyuuga on the team, both of whom have had their tasks already explained to them. Both using the Byakugan, one is to search the base and determine where the air supply is, the other is to determine exactly where any entrances and exits are (or where such a thing might be made, if need be). Once they've finished with that task, he has other ninja lined up to dig into the base wherever they're needed. Last, one ninja has been equipped with a special tank carrying the special poison they created before, ready to be injected into the air supply as a vapour. And in case that doesn't work, everyone is equipped with at least one weapon that's been treated with the poison. They're here to kill Lady Feather and end this once and for all.

What with the Lady Feather's hideout found and the group being gathered to end her, Hige was bound to come along. If not just for the fact that he is part of Atsuro's team, but also because he has a hankering to end this evil woman and all her plots and death dealing. He hasn't forgotten what the base was like where they'd found all the dead kids and birds, and he is more than ready to make the witch and all of her cohorts pay dearly. The boy stays near Atsuro, silent, with his 'game face' on. Konsho? Well, he's just kind of chillin'. On Taizen. Hey, it's not like they're needed yet! And who wants to walk all that way, seriously.

"I hope that this works," Kenta murmurs to Atsuro from his crouched position. "We had to use up every ounce of Lady Feather's flesh to make so much of the poison. It's more diluted than I'd like it to be…" The young medic-nin is included in the mission to handle injuries, but also as one of the seal and poison experts. He hadn't done anything beyond keeping pace with the rest of the team so far, since he might need to maintain his chakra for more important tasks ahead. Kenta pats a pouch at his right side. Then, he pats a second pouch on his left side. "I have a few pills with me made of the same poison. The concentration is stronger, but we might be in trouble already, if I'm forced to use them."

The two Hyyuga, both Chuunin of excellent skill, get to their feet and activate their Byakugan. There's a long period of silence while their eyes dart back and forth in a sweeping survey of the area. It takes every ounce of their visual prowess to extend their sight underwater and through the rocks of the island. Finally, the two of them stop concentrating to confer slowly with each one. The more senior of the Hyuuga steps forward to speak with Atsuro. "The island is a dead volcano. The crater's underwater and stretches over a mile in diameter. Almost all of the exposed parts must have been worn away by the ocean a long time ago. This piece of it that we're seeing is on the eastern rim of the crater. We identified two undewater entrances about one hundred fifty meter belong the surface. They're spaced close to nine hundred meters apart. There's also a large opening at the highest tip of the island. It looks big enough for one of those enormous birds to fly in and out of."

Taizen bears the weight of Konsho stoically while Atsuro listens intently to the reports of the two Hyuuga chuunin. "It sounds like the hole is our best bet for injecting the poison," he decides, "The easiest way to maintain a base like this would be to have the underwater entrances be something like moon pools while the air pressure is maintained with a system above sea level." He gestures to two of the teams with him, "You two go with those teams and take them to one entrance each. If anyone tries to leave that way, have them signal to us and immediately start fighting. They should be ready to deal with airborne targets as well."

Then he signals to the rest of the large group. "Everyone else is with me. We'll be going to the hole and look for where the air comes in. Keep an eye out, everyone." He glances to Kenta and says in a lower voice, "if it comes to it, I'm going to cut a piece off her."

Hige really has nothing to do except for follow. He listens to what Atsuro has the others do before looking around at those that are staying with them. His hands slip into his pockets as he simply waits, Konsho finally hopping off of Taizen to join his companion. He does give the bigger dog a yip of thanks before he departs however. Yep. Just…here.

There's a chorus of sharp nods at Atsuro's instructions. Two groups peel off from the main, with one Hyuuga each at the helm. Kenta, Hige, Konsho and a dozen others remain with the large group. The footing is treacherous as they begin to climb up to the island's peak. It's not a huge distance, but the going is steep and the jagged surface has the sharp-edged quality that many types of volcanic rocks have. Everyone's sporting at least a few cuts by the time they make it to their destination.

The hole that the Hyuuga discovered is sealed with a metal barrier like Atsuro suspected. It looks like an enormous gate that can be opened by some internal mechanism. It's still a mystery how that'll work without upsetting the delicate balance of air pressure that the Jounin Commander was talking about. On the other hand, the core team quickly identify where the input and output vents are. The engineer with the tank of poison works quickly to set up a way to release the gas into the input vent without causing any of it to be wasted. She frowns in concentration while she holds the nozzle of a hose steady and watch green mist pour from it into the greedy mouth of the vent.

They're scouts, but even Atsuro and Taizen have a little bit of trouble walking over the rough volcanic terrain. But they eventually reach the great metal gate. They stand back from the ventilation and let the engineer go to work. This is the first moment of truth — either Lady Feather succumbs to its effects (in which case they can wait for the air to clear again then go into the base to deal with whatever's left of her), is unaffected, or notices the green vapour and tries to leave, hopefully by an entrance the team is aware of. "We're sure that the concentration of the vapour will be enough in the volume of the base?" Atsuro murmurs to Kenta as he waits anxiously for any sign that those within the base are reacting to the poison.

Hige follows last, letting Atsuro lead while he brings up the rear and watches for any danger from below. Or any birds to come back early. The boy and pup are wary, but both ignore the various cuts they receive. It just feeds the anger that he's harboring inside to unlease a little bit later.

"Umm… it depends on how big the base is. That's a lot of poison though. If the base is small, we won't have to worry about it being a bit diluted, because there's still going to be enough concentration per square inch for her to inhale more than enough. I tested the poison on myself and it didn't do anything bad, so it shouldn't affect the two Fledgelings that she still has hostage. I guess it's only supposed to stop the immortality jutsu from healing Lady Feather," Kenta murmurs to the team. There's no point attracting more attention than needed, despite how far they progressed already.

The tank eventually empties out and the engineer step back to the rocky edge of the sealed hole. All three of the teams stand on high alert for close to half an hour without an sign of change. Then, the team standing around gate hears a metallic clang from below. A second later, there's more machinery sounds from a much closer proximity. The gate slams open. The main team has a brief view of a lit shaft behind it that ends abruptly at a second vented gate a long way down. Then, an enormous avian shape shoots upwards pass them into the sky. The wind of its passage nearly knocks everyone to their knees. In fact, the engineer staggers and falls scream down the shaft.

The enormous avian momentarily blocks out the sun. It has the same eagle-like features of the ones that Atsuro, Hige and Kenta fought at the Temple of Embers. A hunched old woman stands on the bird's back, looking not much different from how she was in the Land of Snow. Multiple layers of clothing in flowing black still covers most of her body. Only her pruny face is exposed and her eyes glare down at the Leaf shinobi in hatred. There are two small bundles behind her. The missing Fledglings?

"You think that you can kill me with a little poison? I'm beyond poison. I'm beyond life and death itself," Lady Feather calls down to the ground in a raspy voice. She makes several seals with her gnarled hands. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" A summon seal appears in midair. Wind suddenly buffets everyone for a second time as six more of the enormous eagle-like birds appears. Two birds dive at each of the three groups, screaming bloodthirsty cries. The bird that carries Lady Feather turns in the air and quickly begins soaring southwards, away from the impending battle.

Atsuro stands impassively, arms folded, as they hear the drums in the deep. He's satisfied that the poison has had some kind of effect, as well as both apprehensive towards the upcoming fight and anxious for it to come. His poker face breaks with the appearance of the old hag herself, even as he's buffeted by the wingbeats of the great bird. He steps back, but a smirk reaches her face. Lady Feather has made one too many mistakes, and this time it's going to cost her. He's very sure of that.

"You're beyond something all right, you wrinkly old snake," he mutters to himself as he turns to command the rest of the team. "Takeba," he calls to one of the ninja. He nods to the shaft where the engineer fell. "Make sure she's okay then get back here as fast as you can." He puts his fingers to his mouth and whistles loudly to signal for the teams watching the other entrances to come over and help, then grabs the sword held out by Taizen.

"We're going to follow her," he tells Kenta and Hige, "You two deal with those birds if we don't take them down the first time." Then he and Taizen jump in unison, and start to spin end over end. They shoot up through the air like a pair of spinning saw blades, aiming to smash the birds out of the sky, then carrying past them, up into the air and trying to use their momentum to catch up with the escaping bird.

Hige is prepared, always, and as soon as the door opens both boy and pup are ready. When the engineer falls the boy doesn't hesitate, darting into the hole quickly to grab her before he splats, then running back up the wall and dropping the poor woman on some rocks. That hurt! Hige isn't all that strong as it is so catching someone like that wasn't pleasant. It only took a handful of seconds to complete it all with the speed at which Hige moved and now that he's back up top he's trying to figure out what he missed.

Hige reappears in time to hear Atsuro's orders and he just nods ever so slightly, narrowed eyes shifting from the fleeing Lady to the birds she left behind. "Stay safe." He tells Atsuro simply before looking to Kenta and giving a grim smile. "Ready?" He doesn't wait to hear what the medic says as the boy and pup launch themselves upwards, spinning towards the closest bird.

Atsuro's attack smashes one of the enormous birds out of the sky and it falls into the water while gushing blood from multiple wounds. The other five manage to fly out of reach, but another is knocked off course by Hige. That one spins through the air and sweeps two shinobi off the island's peak onto the jagged rocks below with its flailing. Then, it recovers and rejoins the other four to divebomb the Leaf shinobi again. It quickly becomes a chaotic battle between the large avian and the team sent to catch Lady Feather. Fire, wind, shuriken and other implements of destruction is thrown all over the place. Meanwhile, Lady Feather's fleeing very quickly with her captives.

"On it!" Kenta exclaims. Both Atsuro and Hige managed to get pass the birds with their jutsu, but Kenta doesn't have anything with such physically destructive force. He has to wait for an opening to appear before he darts through it. The medic leaps from rock to rock, narrowly avoid skewering himself several times, until he lands on the shore. Then, he runs out into the open water after Lady Feather as fast as he can. Two other Leaf shinobi - an Aburame Jounin and one of the Hyyuga Chuunin - also manage to break free to follow, but the rest are stuck struggling against the birds. "We have to do something! She's flying too fast!" Kenta exclaims as his feet pounds over the unsteady surface of the ocean.

As they slowly run out of momentum, Atsuro and Taizen streak down towards the water again. They land with two great splashes, but when the water clears, they're above it, walking on the water slightly ahead of the other ninja that are in pursuit. But as Kenta said, the bird is moving very quickly. For a moment, Atsuro considers using the same move as before and attempting to leapfrog after them, but that's going to tire them both out severely when they do manage to catch up.

Instead, he has another plan. He and Taizen stop, then Atsuro leans on Taizen and makes some hand seals. There's a huge cloud of smoke and as the sea winds clear the smoke away, a huge dog is revealed — not as huge as someone familiar with this technique would be though. This one is smaller, but sleeker, and more agile. It lowers its two heads so that the other shinobi can get on. Then they'd better hold on tight, because the dog is going to start speeding over the water faster than any tuna could hope to match.

Hige goes at top speed after the bird, grumbling a bit as it continues to pull away. When Atsuro stops to transform he bypasses the pair to let the others pile on the dog. Don't need too many to weigh them down, especially not when Hige can go faster anyways. He simply drops to all fours and uses the extra energy to dart forward, even Konsho having a little trouble keeping up with the increased speed of the boy. It won't be as fast as the transformed dog but he'll slowly close the gap himself anyways.

It's to the pursuing party's luck that the wind seems to be against Lady Feather. They can see the enormous bird slow down as it's buffeted from the opposite direction. It tries to climb higher into the air, but slows down even further in that struggle. This, along with Atsuro's plan, gives the pursuing team the edge that they need. "Almost… almost…" Kenta murmurs to himself. He's clinging to Atsuro-Taizen with both the other Chuunin and Jounin seated behind him. Hopefully, Hige and Konsho really can keep up. "There!" The group's close enough now that Kenta risks unknotting his hands from the giant transformed dog's fur. He forms several hand seals and focuses on the bird that carries Lady Feather. She might be too strong willed to resist mental compulsion, but her mount is a different storry. The medic-nin sends his mind arrowing forward. A moment later, the bird swerves in a wide semi-circle and start flying -towards- them instead. Lady Feather can be seen shrieking and flailing her arms in fury.

Crossing the water in huge bounds, the two-headed dog charges after the fleeing bird at top speed, keeping its eyes on the target at all times. When the bird starts to turn around, the dog alters its bearing slightly, moving into position to intercept the great bird rather than pursue it. At a certain point, when the bird is unlikely to escape even if Lady Feather regains control, the dog stops and bows its head to signal for the other ninja to get off. Atsuro and Taizen want to obe in their true forms for this one. They wait, ready with another tsuga attack for when the opportunity comes to either get on the bird or knock it out of the sky.

Hige and Konsho don't hesitate as the bird turns back around towards them. They also don't have to worry about people riding on their back and transforming back. Instead they simply keep running, then launch themselves up at the bird and the pain in the butt on it's back. They start spinning again, the pair flaring out slightly to either side before coming back in to try and ram big bird right in the undercarriage!

They're very close now. Close enough that a mid-to-long range attack will probably reach Lady Feather. The difficulty would be killing her without damaging her unconscious captives. As Kenta and the other two passengers starts disembarking from the two-headed dog, the enormous bird shudders. Kenta staggers with one leg still drawn over Atsuro-Taizen's back. He tumbles off and rolls to his feet with one hand on his head. The reason quickly becomes clear when Lady Feather's mouth lets out a shrill cry and yanks itself sideways to avoid Hige and Konsho's attack. It quickly begins to gain altitude.

"Konoha has been a thorn in my side long enough, and you especially!" Lady Feather calls down from the sky. She points a gnarled finger at the two-headed dog. "I have something special planned for you!" The old hag rapidly form hand seals. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" A summoning circle flashes into existence in the open air under her avian mount. Hundreds of gem-colored hummingbirds appear and stream towards the Leaf shinobi like homing missiles of ruby, sapphire and emerald. They're extremely quick and agile, little more blurs in the air. But each one has a needle-sharp beak more wicked than any kunai. Lady Feather brings a hand to her mouth to follow through with an enormous blast of wind.

Atsuro and Taizen disappear into the storm, but Lady Feather will be quite disappointed to see them emerge again unscathed. And from the feathers scattered over the vaguely red water beneath their feet and blood dripping from their blades, all she's managed to do so far is get her hummingbirds killed. Atsuro actually laughs at her as he and Taizen simply sidestep the gust of wind, as if they'd felt the compression of the air and walked over to somewhere it was less powerful. "Ridiculous," he calls over to her, "You finally try to do something yourself and you can't touch me. No wonder you need everyone else to do your work for you. You really are just as pathetic as I thought."

But there's no more time to waste taunting her with the bird ascending again. He and Taizen leap, literally, into action again as they start spinning like a pair of discs, arcing through the sky to try and strike the old hag down again.

It's a song and a dance and a whole lot of pain. On the way down from their gatsuga the birds start coming at them and there's no chance for them to defend. Hige raises his arms to keep his face from getting slashed up while Konsho can only turn his body partially in the air. By the time they hit the water again blood is dripping freely from them both from dozens of wounds. Nothing is overly deep but the sheer number of them is pretty horrendous. All that anger he'd been saving up inside gets released as he and Konsho avoid the air blast, then launch themselves up after Atsuro, spinning in another gatsuga. Whether or not they hit the boy also lashes out with lightning imbued claws at the end, trying to rake the bird and bring it down.

There's little time to react as consecutive attacks slam into the group. Kenta releases the seal on his chest and floods his body with stored up vital energy. He flings out his hands after making a set of seals and rippling black characters flow out of him to form a defensive barrier. Hummingbirds slam into it repeatedly with their sharp beaks, but none make it through. Each hummingbird that hits it puffs away as the rebounding force causes it to get unsummoned. By the time that the last bird strikes, the barrier has crumbled away and Kenta's forced to throw up a wall of blue chakra to block the blast of wind.

Nearby, the water is rapidly displaced and flung in many directions as Shinji, the Hyuuga, activates one of his clan's most famous techniques. The young man spins around while release chakra from every point in his body. The resulting shield of chakra knocks away all the hummingbirds coming at him and also blunts the blast of wind.

Moto, the Aburame, isn't so lucky. A huge cloud of kikaichu flows out of him to blanket everything in darkness. The thick wave of insects manage to protect him from most of the attacks' force, but he's dripping blood from many cuts on his body when the cloud shifts to reveal him still standing at the center. He gestures and sends several balls of kikaichu flying through the air at Lady Feather.

"Only buffoons gloat when they're about to suffer a fate worse than death—-" Lady Feather starts to retort. She's caught by surprise as Atsuro and Taizen whirls towards her in all their fury. A sphere of golden seal characters quickly start to surround her, but is destroyed before completely forming when the duo slams into it. The hag is instantly knocked off her perch. Her avian mount squawks in surprise and tries to fly away, but one of its flapping wings gets in the Jounins' way and shatters. The enormous bird falls into the water along with both bundles. It flails around, but rapidly sinks out of sight.

Lady Feather shrieks in rage while she's flung through the air like a rag doll. She tosses a tag at the incoming tornado of Hige and Konsho. A wall of blue chakra, not unlike the one that Kenta had summoned, expand in front of them and the Genin bounce off it like rubber balls. The old woman flings her arms upwards before she hits the water. A gust of wing sends her shooting into the sky again, right above the balls of kikaichu that was amount to hit her.

Lady Feather forms more hand seals when she reaches the apex of her ascent. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" Another summoning circle appears under her in the air. Puff! Puff! Puff! A flock of cawing parrots even more colorful than the hummingbirds barrage the shinobi. They don't hit the group directly. Instead, each parrot bloats to twice their size and explodes when they're about three feet away. The area is instantly covered in a cloud of brightly colored feathers that hide everything from sight. "Can't attack me if you can't see me…" the old hag cackles from somewhere in the cloud.

Atsuro smirks. Proving Lady Feather wrong is surprisingly enjoyable. For all that she's said, she's certainly starting to look like a bit of a buffoon herself. Atsuro and Taizen jog over to where she landed just in time to see the great cloud of parrots and their feathers and hear that taunt. Readying their swords, he and Taizen jump up into the cloud of feathers. Even unable to see her among everything, her scent is easy to detect, and they take a flurry of swings at her — not only attacking her accurately a number of times, but actually striking the feathers around her just to confuse her.

Hige and Konsho become pinballs, bouncing off of the seal and falling to the water again. The slide a little from the velocity they'd built up before they're again on the move, this time towards where the two bundles had fallen into the water. If he was remembering correctly that would be the other two kids that she was using and abusing and he was going to be downed if he let them die. Once he arrives at the bundles he grabs them both with a grunt of effort before turning and launching himself back towards Kenta, both bundles on a shoulder each. Poor kid looks like he's about to buckle under all the weight.

Everyone's left blinded by the storm of colorful feathers. Kenta throws out pulse after pulse of medical chakra, but the only returning echoes that he senses is those of his fellow Leaf shinobi. The young man doesn't fights down his panic and prepares to retaliate instead. He takes a small black pill from a pouch, which he pops into his mouth and swallows. Then, he takes a defensive stance while he waits for the feathers to clear.

It takes a few minutes before the cloud of feathers clear up enough for everyone to see through it again. The surface of the ocean is littered with them, making it seem like a sheen of rainbow colored oil had collected on top. Lady Feather is nowhere to be seen, even though Atsuro's blades has definitely ripped into -something- with the consistency of meat and bone. There's even blood dripping down their lengths…

Kenta runs over to check on the kids that Hige saved while Moto and Shinji try to track the missing crone with their clan's respective techniques. He pulls back the cloth that covers the head ends of both bundles to reveal a unconscious boy and girl, both about six years old. "Hige, you're amazing! You managed to rescue them! Hold them steady. I need to make sure that they're ok. They must be drugged," Kenta says to the youngest shinobi in the group. As the medic-nin reaches for a hand towards the boys face, both the unconscious Fledgling's features shift. Youthful countenance turns old and wrinkled… until both of them look like Lady Feather. Then, Hige's burden lightens considerably when the two copies of Lady Feather puffs into feather and air, which leaves the Inuzuka carrying only two empty cloth sacks. Clones?

"Surprise!" a voice cackles. Lady Feather jumps out of the water behind Hige and Kenta. She has several cuts on her wrinkled face, but they're closing before everyon's eyes. It's a bad sign that the poison might not be working, since she shouldn't be able to automatically heal from injuries with it in her system. "It's a bother fighting so many at once. I'll take care of you two first." She sweeps her hand through the air and razor edged pinions fly from her fingers towards Hige. The old woman immediate molds chakra and shoots several bullets of wind at Kenta.

Moto and Shinji shout in surprise. The two young men starts running towards their endangered comrades, but the water quickly begins to bubble under them. They stop for a second to look down. A dark shadow grows rapidly quickly under the feather-covered waves. Then, the massive beak of an oversized duck crests the water and snaps both of them up before disappearing underneath again. Two down, three to go.

Atsuro and Taizen land gracefully on the water, Atsuro smiling slightly a he sees the blood on his blade: a confirmed hit. He does let loose a sigh of frustration as Lady Feather reappears. "Come on, you two," he mutters, "That couldn't have been more obvious." He stands straight and grits his teeth, dashing over to where Lady Feather is now.

Even with her wounds healing, he doesn't seem at all afraid of her. There was a reason she tried to flee, and why she's trying to defend herself even now, after all. And besides, he and all the other Leaf nin here have poisoned weapons. "You're not going to take care of anything," he says with an edge to his voice. "Arrogant. You think I chose the ninja with me based on who could distract you? Or because even if they were totally on their own, they can more than handle a jumped-up, posturing old woman?" He's stopped a little short of Lady Feather for some reason. He and Taizen are right there on the open water, with the sun shining fully down on them, casting obvious shadows on the water. "You've been clever," he says, "But you're out of places to hide, and you only have so many birds to do your work for you." He starts making a long series of seals, "But this time, it's all down to you…"

Hige is putting down the pair when he sees them start to shift into something that he hadn't expected. He realizes what it is and lets out a curse, turning when the Lady bursts out of the water. "Wing." A single, simple word that explains a lot. He has no chance to move before he gets struck by the pinions, gritting his teeth as he lowers his arms, eyes flashing in anger. He just lets the pinions stick in him, not even seeming to care as blood flows over them and pollutes the water beneath him. The boy lowers back to all fours easily. "Where are they?" He asks angrily, then doesn't even wait for an answer. They can find out later. For now he's going to distract her as well as he can. Moving in a flash the boy and his ninken suddenly surround the Lady in a blur of fangs and claws, striking out quickly and efficiently. After a few seconds they shift slightly to cross the Lady in the middle (if she's still there) and claw her midriff neatly. Who knows if it'll work, but he has to try something.

Kenta lets out an uncharacteristic curse of his own when the two Fledglings turn out to be Lady Feather's clones. He whirls around at the sound of splashing water, already forming seals to counter what's coming for them. The young man slaps his hands together and stamps hard on the ocean's surface, making concentric ripples spread from him in several rings. Four walls of chakra emblazoned with seals form around him just before the crones wind bullets strike. They ricochet off the barrier and fly a few feet before dispersing back into harmless air. He thrusts his left palm out to send a blast of nerve scrambling medical chakra at Lady Feather as soon as the walls drop. "Atsuro-senpai! Hige! Konsho! Taizen-senpai! Please distract her!" the young medic-nin cries out. The black pill that he swallowed has the more potent concentration of immortality poison in it. He might be able to get her if she's not aware of him coming. Kenta tugs a seal from a pocket and activates it to wrap a cloaking barrier around himself, instantly turning nearly invisible to all senses.

"You're a fool if you think that this jumped up old woman can't handle three striplings of little talent," Lady Feather says in her creaky old voice. She snarls at the three remaining shinobi. She tosses a seal at Hige when the young Inuzuka attacks her, but Hige breaks through it before it completes forming. His strikes leave gaping gashes that bleed little and quickly start to close up. The hag spins sideways and a gust of wind plucks her upwards. Kenta's blast of medical chakra takes her in one leg. This makes her spasm from suddenly overfiring nerves and she tumbles back into the water. The crone cackles loudly in a deranged manner. "Maybe a little talent. I might not kill the lot of you after all." She stands up in a rustle if black cloth. Her hood has fallen down, so that her white hair flies all around her in an appropriately witchy manner.

"You don't know all the knowledge that I've collected through the years. All the hidenjutsu and the talents that go with them. I learned early on that the only way to survive against the hubris and wantonly destructive nature of you shinobi is to become a shinobi myself. My clan, my family, my children… it was your kind that took them away from me. Now, you took away my Fledglings too and you want to keep me from seeing my children again. That's not going happen, shinobi of the Leaf. I'm going to take you away from the Leaf instead." Lady Feather smiles a hateful, bitter smile. She glances around to see where Kenta has disappeared to. "I can't see you, little medic. I -can- sense your soul… so bright and warm and ready for the plucking." The old woman's form becomes a blur as she runs a suddenly circle around the two pairs of Inuzuka and ninken. She inhales deeply while making hand seals. When she blows the air back out, it forms into an elephant-sized sphere of wind that heads straight for the seemingly empty expanse of water where Kenta's hidden.

"You forgot posturing," Atsuro says, "Or did you just not want to remind us that you're posturing? Stroking your ego isn't going to help. All those hidenjutsu and talents weren't enough to stop us from finding you no matter how hard you hid. You've sent hundreds of your birds to their deaths against me alone. And now you're trying to tell me how awful ninja are, and the poor, misunderstood criminal is just defending herself against this harsh world which killed her Fledglings out of selfishness. Oh, but that was you, wasn't it? Maybe you're not a saint after all. Maybe you're just next in line."

The series of seals has continued on for quite some time now. Finally, though, when Lady Feather makes her attack, its purpose becomes apparent. Two figures arise from the water, which splashes off them, revealing both of them to be Atsuro. One is directly in Lady Feather's line of attack to Kenta, while the other rushes at her, along the the genuine Atsuro and Taizen to slash and slice at her and keep her distracted as Kenta asked.

Konsho and Hige stop after their attack but despite getting in so many hits it seems to not really have done much of anything as she heals right back up again. Well pinion. When Kenta asks them to distract the lady while he does…whatever he's planning on doing…Hige moves off quickly so that he's behind her from where Atsuro starts to attack. He waits until Atsuro has her attention before quickly lashing out with some lightning imbued claws. Whatever Kenta is planning on he better get on it quill quick!

The clone that stepped in front of the invisible Kenta rips apart from the force of the wind that hits it. Thankfully, it manages to blunt the attack long enough for the medic-nin to get out of the way. Kenta keeps running over the surface of the water until he's facing Lady Feather's left side, where the flurry of blows from both pairs of Inuzuka is the lightest. That must be where she's focusing less attention too. The young medic-nin dissolves the pill inside his stomach and leans forward. White mist laced with the immortality poison pours forth from his mouth to blanket the entire area. It's a different mixture than what he usually put into this particular jutsu and won't hard anyone else, so he doesn't bother to call for everyone else to get out of the way. The less chance Lady Feather has to prepare, the better.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, Lady Feather is having none of it. The wind whips around her and lifts her bodily away from the attacks. She sways from side to side, dancing like a storm, to stay away from all the sword and claw strikes. The hag catches sight of white mist flowing towards her and performs a great leap that hers deceptively frail frame high over everyone's head. Another gust of wind tosses her gracefully sideways to land on the water a good hundred meters away. "Enough of this!" Lady Feather calls out in a dry rasp. "I tire of all your insolence and your attempts to make yourselves seem the heroes. Abusers never see themselves as villains!"

Lady Feather slams her hand into the surface of the water. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" Puff! A giant bird of paradise with a black feathered head, emerald body, sun yellow wings and a flowing iridescent tail appears next to her. It preens itself in a vain manner. "Bind them, my darling!" The bird shakes out its tail, which sends a cascade of colored light everywhere as the bright sun shines through each of the silky strands. Whoosh! The bird's tail expands outwards in thousands of tendrils stronger than metal and almost cobweb fine towards the shinobi in an entangling mass.

"Oh, now that is just gliding rich." Atsuro shakes his head, "You have fled from us through country after country after country, murdering and pillaging whenever it was convenient to you." He continues to speak without the slightest strain in his voice as he easily swipes his sword through the binding feathers, "And now you're trying to claim you're not the villain of this story. If you hadn't slaughtered civilians and tortured and murdered your own allies out of your own selfishness, or maybe if you'd just shown some remorse for the crimes you've gleefully committed, I might be inclined to show you some leniency."

He looks over to the bird. "But after all this, I am under no obligation to treat you with the slighest consideration. You can take that all back, but all it'll do for you now is stop your dying words from being a lie. Before you let loose with whatever snide remark, allow me to remind you how little you've been able to influence this fight." In an instant, he and Taizen are beside the bird, slicing at it with rapid strikes of their swords.

Hige had almost forgotten how long winded ojii had become. He was getting a good reminder of it now however, and it's starting to give him a bit of a headache. Grumble. When the new bird appears and shoots it's weird crap all over the place the boy and pup try and get out of it's range, but there's no way they can and both find themselves bound tightly. Hige lets out a low growl as he struggles against the bindings and tries to pull himself free. He is his normally eternally silent self as he always is on these missions, despite the situation.

"Hige!" Kenta exclaims when the thread-like tail feathers wrap the Genin up a neat bundle. The now-visible medic-nin hurriedly form hand seals and create another barrier of black seal characters around him to block the attack. He might have managed to encompass Hige in the protections too, if he had been a little faster. The threads strike his barrier and wrap it tight as a cocoon, but couldn't break through, leaving Kenta plenty of room to move within. "Don't worry! Atsuro-senpai will save us!" he yells to Hige. Kenta pops a white pill into his mouth and carefully times a dismissal of his barrier. At the same time, he allows the chakra emanating from his feet to disappear. The medic-nin dives under the water just as the bird-of-paradise's tail threads snap shut over where he was. But Kenta's already swimming away. He surges out of the water in a clear spot and blasts a barrage of poisoned chakra needles at Lady Feather from his mouth.

"I'm done talking to you, buffoon. Your tongue won't flap so much when you have my seal on your forehead," Lady Feather hisses venomously. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" she exclaims and slaps her hand against the surface of the water again. The air around her ripples. Two giant wings, overlapping feathers white as pure snow, reaches out of the distortion to cover Lady Feather and the bird-of-paradise. It's a powerful wall of living tissue, but it eventually slices apart under Atsuro and Taizen's assault. The bird-of-paradise doesn't even have a chance to duck before it's turned into shish kabob. The chunks of fowl puffs out of existence.

Lady Feather lets out a scream of rage, but she has to abort her attack when she sees the chakra needles fly towards her. The old woman flashes through hand seals to form as quick a defense as she's able to. The golden sphere of seals that she wraps herself in deflects most of the needles, but a few gets through. Lady Feather staggers, bleeding from puncture wounds on her wrinkled face. Three heartbeats. The wounds aren't healing. Her eyes widen in sudden horror. "No… no! I should have killed you first! You were the hidden danger!" she gasps. A second scream of rage escapes from her. Suddenly, the crone's running towards Kenta, away from everyone else. She sucks in a great gush of air. She blows it back out in a pressurized stream strong enough to cut apart boulders. The old woman whips her head from side to side while she closes in on the medic, trying to catch Kenta with the severing gale.

Leaving the bird-of-paradise to its death, Atsuro turns around. "I've outsmarted you time and again," he points out, the tip of his sword dragging through the water, "You've been scheming for years, and it wasn't enough to stop someone who caught onto you a few months ago. In any case, I already knew about your past, and I wanted to talk to you so that I would know that I was justified in killing you. You've confirmed that just fine, so go ahead and comfort yourself with the idiotic notion that you'll ever put your seal on someone again. It won't save you, and neither will any of your other delusions. We're going to send you to where you belong."

As she runs towards Kenta, Atsuro runs forward too, Taizen dashing alongside him. Then, together, they jump into the air and start to rotate once more — hopefully for the last time — and fly straight at Lady Feather to end her life.

When the bird dies Hige and Konsho are freed from the bonds it had created. The pair don't hesitate in the slightest and are on the move, running on all fours to try and position themselves between Kenta and the Lady, but the distance is too great. All they can do is attack the Lady herself. Of course Atsuro and Taizen are already on that, but that isn't going to stop them from getting in their last bits. In fact at this point Hige and Konsho both look ready to shred the Lady to bits even after Atsuro and Taizen are done with her. A little post-death shredding is good for the soul.

Just in time, but also too late. All four Inuzuka converges on the newly vulnerable Lady Father. The old woman stops attacking Kenta to shriek her defiance at them one last time. She makes her hand seals, sucks in another breath to send windy death at them. Then, she explodes into blood, shattered bone and gristle when the four of them rip her into pieces. Lady Feather is nevermore.

Also turning the water red is Kenta. The young medic-nin had erected a barrier of black seals to save himself, but Lady Feather's severing gale sliced it right in half. The barrier's all that saved his life, since it blunted the attack enough that he wasn't ripped apart by it. Instead, Kenta had fallen to his knees and is trying to stay on top of the water. Blood gush from a slice wound that bit deeply into his torso. Kenta's pain-twisted face is set in concentration while he applies healing chakra through the hand that he had pressed against the wound to stem the bleeding. "I'm ok… I'm ok… did you guys get her?" he asks through gritted teeth.

She's dead. She's dead! There's an incredible release of tension in Atsuro's heart as he and Taizen land, standing the red water. The smile of relief quickly disappears when he sees the condition Kenta's in and they run over. "Kenta!" He stops nearby and takes a moment to catch his breath. "She's dead," he says, "We got her, all thanks to you." He looks down at the wound with worry, "You're sure you're okay?" he asks, "Maybe we can carry you back to land and get one of the other med-nin to help you out." He pauses and looks over in the direction of the island where he last saw his ninja fighting the birds.

Ding dong, the Lady is dead! Now not all of the blood is Hige's. There's a smattering of the ladies as he idly flicks some flesh away off of his claws. His own wounds continue to be ignored as he finally pulls out the pinions and lets them drop. Only then does he look back to the others. It appears Atsuro is completely okay, and Kenta is hurt…but he'll definite live, being a medic and all. So those feral eyes turn their attention back the way they'd come. The younger Inuzuka walks over to Kenta and Atsuro, reaching out to ruffle the medics hair affectionately. "Good job." The boy says simply before looking to Atsuro. "I'll go check on the others. You take care of him." Because you know, Hige is the one giving orders right? He doesn't wait for a response before he drops to all fours and starts running back at high speed. To get a report, if nothing else. He doesn't mind being the messenger, but he wants to make sure to help as many people as he can despite his own condition.

"I'm fine, Atsuro-senpai. Just give me…" Kenta's eyes closes. The pain on his face slowly eases, even though it doesn't go away completely. When the medic-nin stands up, he wobbles on top of the water. Thankfully, he also stopped gushing all over the place. The front of his clothing and his hands are already all slick with blood. The other shinobi can see a partially healed gash running diagonally across his torso through the gaps in his damaged clothing. "I'm ok for now. The wound will stay closed unless I do a lot of exertion. I'll heal myself some more later, but I need to save my chakra for the others now. A lot of them might be hurt." Or dead. He also looks back towards the island. "Wait! Hige!" Why's the Genin always dashing off without waiting for orders? He might have said more, a few dark shapes has appeared under the water nearby.

As Hige dashes towards the island, the Genin can see that the fighting has stopped. All the giant birds are gone, probably as a result of Lady Feather's death. He runs into a group consisting of half the original team before he gets all the way to the island. "What happened out there? Where's the others?" a short Chuunin named Saburo asks. "We were fighting the last two birds when they suddenly disappeared. We came in case you needed reinforcements. The others are too injured and were afraid they'd be too much of a burden. They stayed behind and a few are checking out the base."

Atsuro's breathing slows a little. "That's good," he says, "As long as you're not permanently injured. Anyway… we're finally done. Nice shot with that needle. I think I owe you a beer…" He trails off as he realizes that Kenta is inevitably going to refuse such an offer, "Or a tea." He pauses as the dark shapes rise to the surface. "Moto! Shinji!" He runs over to the closest of the forms, trying to drag the man up out of the water… if the shapes are indeed the abducted Moto and Shinji "Flutterit, I thought I could stop that duck!"

Hige straightens once he meets up with the others, quickly explaining to the Chuunin what had happened. "She's dead, that's why they vanished. I wanted to make sure they'd gone." IT was kind of a last…thing. Now he really knows she's dead and not somehow faking it. "The others are out this way, come on." He says before turning and running back the way he'd came, staying on two legs this time so he doesn't leave the others behind. He's still bleeding himself and all the movement isn't helping, but the pain is flat out ignored. He would literally go until he dropped from blood loss before pain at this point. He doesn't slow until he's back near Kenta and Atsuro again. "Where are the two kids?" That's what he really wants to know.

Three hours later, all the questions and loose ends are answered. The Leaf shinobi leave on the same boat that took them close to the island. One of the fire ninjutsu users had thrown up a flare in a previously specific shape that signaled the boat to get close enough for them to board. The entire team's exhausted with many injured. Kenta too care of the worse of them, but didn't have enough chakra left to do more than bring everyone into stable condition. He fell asleep on the deck almost right after. The still forms of Shinji and Moto lie elsewhere on the deck, still unconscious after their near drowning experience.

The two missing Fledglings, Maneshi Youkai and Fujimoto Nanami, had never been taken out of the base. They were found suspended inside a tank of strangely glowing orange liquid in one of the deepest rooms of the hidden base. Two urns full of ashes that probably contained Lady Feather's dead children were also found in the same room, along with a collection of unidentifiable paraphernalia, probably ingredients for the resurrection jutsu. Now, the children are sleeping off the drugs that kept them docile in the ship's cabin room. Many people have died before Lady Feather was stopped, but the Konoha shinobi ensured that at least these two will live the life that they should.

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