Date: January 17, 2011
A game of "kick the ugly ball" turns into a life and death chase across Sunagakure! …Okay, not quite.
Sentou Valley (South) - Sunagakure
It is beyond the steaming-hot part of the day, when people can technically die just from walking down the street of Sentou Valley without protection. The cause is usually heat stroke or dehydration, which is why there are many blankets on sticks and other forms of cover set up on both sides of the broad stone pathway. There are also many merchants selling water in various forms, from bottles, to canteens, or just sitting with a large bucket and prepared to refill an existing container. This may seem silly, selling water inside the Village, not to mention the prices being much higher in Sentou Valley than they would be in the marketplace further north, but in the desert water is scarce enough already. That people pass through what is essentially a giant oven at the hottest point of the day is reason enough for the merchants to up their prices — people will pay.
Now, however, the heat is depleting at a painfully slow rate, and Sentou Valley is less 'baking' and more 'sweltering'. Still unpleasantly hot, but people are used to it. Minako may not be a desert native, but she is acclimated to the heat enough that she can play in it. She has some sort of medium-sized ball made of leather pads that have been sewn together around a mass of string, which is in turn wrapped around a core of rubber. Durable, but not the best ball for kicking. The red-haired young girl is hauling off and kicking the ball against a large, open space of the valley's right-hand/eastern wall, over and over. The sounds of the impacts and her girlish grunts of exertion both echo in the valley, though they also mix with the noise of people hawking wares, other kids playing other games, and people chattering in general.
The hottest part of the day was a time wherein the young girl known as Harada Misayo was rarely seen. But then, outside of the academy, seeing her was a pretty rare sight unless one happened to walk by, or into, her house. Given her temperment, it was small wonder that her friends were few and far between, but less clear was why the blonde-haired kunoichi-in-training didn't spend more time outdoors like a normal kid! But today seemed to be the exception to that rule, as the cantankerous child was walking through the hottest part of the town at this very minute.
It was no chore this time that brought the young lady out and about, but the rare, very rare, stircraziness and desire to just be out of the house. Having lived the first two-thirds of her life completely in a hospital, Misayo had built up a tolerance, and perhaps even a preference, to the 'boredom' of being indoors. But even she had her limits, especially when her 'Uncle' was getting on her nerves, nagging her about all manner of things she would rather not be nagged about.
"Oh. Uzumaki." The blonde has stopped a dozen or so feet away, her hands limp at her sides, her black dress billowing about her knees in the occasional breath of wind. As usual, she was frowning. "Why is the wall making you angry? It is just standing there. You are beating it. You should beat what you are really angry at or the owner of this wall may be soon beating you." Her eyes go from girl, to ball, and back again.
"…That ball is very ugly."
Minako catches the ball on the rebound after a powerful kick, and nearly knocks herself back a step. Then she turns to face the one addressing her. "…Oh, Harada. It's you." She shrugs and says, "Well, I have a lot of reasons to be angry. But right now I'm just kicking this ball because the people I >want< to kick would probably chop my head off or something if I tried. Stupid 'adults'…" Minako frowns and then drops the ball to the ground for a moment, as she pulls back one foot, she smirks knowingly at Misayo.
"The ball's owner was even uglier!" Then she lets out an 'Nnh!' and kicks the ball as hard as she can. It is a rather spectacularly hard kick for a little girl. Infact, the kick launches the ball so hard against the wall that when it bounces it off it goes well over Minako's head and lands on some crates containing chickens off on the other side of the 50+ foot wide street. The crates break and result in extremely alarmed and unhappy chickens screeching and then running about clucking madly and fleeing from their owner. Minako blinks and then shrugs and jogs over to get her ball while the shop owner is distracted chasing down his merchandise. "I think I just got a new idea for a game! C'mon, Harada!"
"You should be thinking of ways to be kicking them without kicking them. Hmph! Using the brain." The blonde taps the side of her temple. "You should be trying to think of a way to make the- H-Hey!"
Misayo's eyes watch the ball as it bounces off the wall, ricochets in a manner nearly defying the laws of physics, and hurls itself over the younger girl's head, and crashes into the wooden boxes filled with live poultry. It's not the destruction, and resulting escapage, of the merchant's produce that alarms the Academy student, but rather the fact that the red-haired young girl was now running away from her! "You are facing the wrong way! You have to listen when someone is talking to you! Tch, no manners. No manners."
Despite herself, the young woman soon finds herself jogging right along after her fellow classmate. "I will not play with you, Uzumaki. I do not play." The draw of her brow, the set of her scowl, the utter unpleasant resonance of her resolute tone, it all pointed to the fact that she was unwilling to be any part of resulting hijinx. …And yet she was inexplicably following.
Minako retrieves her ball as Misayo follows after her. Hmphing, the red-head turns to Misayo briefly and says, "Call it a training exercise then. We have limited supplies in enemy territory! We have only two weapons. One of those weapons is the >mind<, and the other is this >ball<!" She slaps the ball to emphasize its importance. "How much damage can you cause to the enemy's facilities while keeping the weapon in motion? Working with your team mate — that's me — to inflict more damage will get us a higher reward when we report back!"
She then drops the ball and swiftly kicks it very hard right at an old man under a beach umbrella. The man ducks and flinches as the ball strikes the wall above his head, breaking the pole his umbrella is on and causing it to fall on top of him, hiding him from view like a small tent. The ball comes bouncing back at an angle, right towards Misayo!
The blonde-haired young student follows along with Minako's explanation, parroting every fifth word or so as if concentrating on them so hard they were forced back out of her own mouth. "…training…supplies…weapon…mind…ball… …damage!? Oh, I have heard of this! This is called the vandilism! It is punishable by-" But the ball is already in motion, heading towards an old, crotchety-looking fellow with his sun-protection umbrella. Unfortunately for him, Misayo doesn't even try to call out a warning. But at least Minako's aim isn't spot on and there's no immediate need for a replacement hip in his future.
And now the ball was coming back at her!
Misayo would never be able to explain her actions when questioned about them at a later date. Perhaps she wanted to prove that her aim was better than Minako's in a feat of superior atheleticism. Perhaps, despite her protests, 'playing' this game did kind of look like fun. Or maybe it was her goal all along to catch the ball and then hit her red-haired classmate with it. Whatever the reason, even as the ball begins bounding back towards her, Harada Misayo sets herself on a collision course.
Her face and the ball meet in a terrific clash of flesh against leather.
The heavy spherical toy immediately changes direction, slamming into the top of a stand carrying water, the sound of jars breaking and water sloshing across sand and creating mud carrying through the air, as well as the distressed cries of the merchant as he tries vainly to save his merchandise. The ball rebounds once, hits the sill of a low window, and promptly bounds inside thanks to the efforts of Murphy's Law at work, the sound of something breakable shattering from within.
Misayo's face, meanwhile, has faired questionably less better. As soon as her head collided with the ball, the young girl was taken off of her feet, slamming onto her back with her hands over her lower half of her face, spots of red seen here and there between her fingers. Judging from the set of her brows, her frown had only gotten worse.
"…I am not liking this game so much."
Minako rushes over to Misayo when she falls on her back, then looks up at the 'spire house' waaaaaaay far above. "…You have a strong face, Harada!" she offers. Then she moves as though to push up her sleeves, only to remember she has no sleeves. Hmphing, she tries to haul Misayo up and onto her feet and then says, "C'mon. We better get that ball back. And before you think of refusing, it has >your< blood on it! If they test the blood they'll come right to >you< for answers!" Giving a meaningful stare at the blonde-haired girl, Minako then heads for the nearest set of stairs and starts the long trek up to the Spire Housing area. She may or may not be dragging Misayo along behind her, depending on willingness to cooperate.
Assuming they both arrive at the top of Sentou Valley, Minako is likely a bit tired from the climb. Breathing heavily, she starts looking for the building the ball vanished into. "Which one was it?"
"I am blaming it on the hard head I have gotten from my Uncle." As she's helped, or maybe yanked, to her feet, the blonde-haired girl's hands come away from her face, revealing… a perfectly-intact nose, unsplit lips, and all of her teeth still in place. At least, those that could be seen easily without prying her lips apart. She takes a moment to wipe the bits of wet blood away and smears her hands clean on the dark cloth of her shirtdress. Then she gives her red-haired classmate a sidelong look, one of her eyes squinting smaller than the other as if she were trying to identify just what kind of lifeform Minako was.
"Nani!? 'Test my blood'!? Just who will be testing my blood and against what now? There are no records of my blood. DNA, it is taking many weeks to get such resu- Oryo! Can we not simply be getting a new kicking object?"
Despite her protests, Misayo is 'drug' along without too much effort, her feet moving easily enough under the guiding hand of Minako on her arm, like a determined young woman dragging along one of the confused and blind in her wake. The top of the stairs is reached, all without the ornery blonde showing the slightest bit of tiring, nor even of sweating despite the oven-like atmosphere of the streets. "I was busy 'kicking' the ball with my nose. I was not busy watching where it was going. I was hitting it. It was your turn to hit it, eh? You should have been watching our weapon. You are receiving an F on this assignment."
"…Your underwear is like old-people underwear."
Minako finds the blood and lack of injury to be a bit confusing — suspicious even — but doesn't comment. Once they are at the top of the stairs, she says, "Nevermind, I'll figure it out. It broke something, but it wasn't the window itself. Glass windows don't make a lot of sense out here in the desert. Most windows have drapes instead. So if something broke it would have been just inside the window…"
She is hmming when what Misayo said penetrates her awareness. "Wh-what!? What do you mean my underwear is like old-people underwear!?!" Then she pauses and claps both hands to her skirted rear as though to prevent anything else from being seen. "Why were you looking at my underwear!? Is that why your nose was bleeding!? You pervert!" She blushes bright red and hmphs as she runs over to the nearest window, glaring back at Misayo briefly before deciding this must be the house. There's some fragments of a jar lying on the dirt outside. "You first, Miss Pantypeeper!"
"It is the 'granny's panties'. I have heard boys talking of these things, so I am knowing about them now." Because hearing boys talking is always the most reliable source. But the blonde is already pointing at her nose with a deep scowl. "My nose was bleeding because you were kicking a ball at it, baka! Unattractive choices you have made in the wearing of undergarments are having nothing to do with it! I am not a boy. You should not be getting so worked up. You are having to change in front of girls before." A thoughtful tilt of the head. "Are you having the puberty already? You are being shy about changes that are supposed to be natural."
Thankfully for this turn in the conversation, it's window-climbing time, leaving the Harada girl precious little time to continue to comment and lecture on the nature of the human body's changes. Misayo looks up at the high sill, reaches up to place her hands on the edge, and then lifts a foot towards her classmate-slash-partner-in-crime. "I am needing a boost!" Hopefully she gets one, otherwise there is a lot of struggling, sandals scraping against the wall for purchase, before she pulls herself up to the window. A quick glance inside, and then she's teetering in! Just as her feet disappear from view comes the sound of something heavy hitting something solid, and the splintering of wood.
"…That was hurting very much." The sound of hands wiping against cloth, and then the bandana-wearing miscreant is back at the window holding a hand down towards the red-haired girl. "Here."
"BWhYo—That's none of your business!" she retorts. After fuming for a moment, she says, "…Yes, I am! Happy now!?" Minako is standing ready by the window to offer aid, and folds her hands to provide a 'step' for Misayo to use. She boosts the other girl up to the window and dares to dart a look up to see what kind of fancy underwear >Misayo< wears! That way she can ridicule her for it! Revenge is a dish best served frilly.
Whether she succeeds or not, Misayo falls into the house through the window and broke something on the way down. Sighing, Minako accepts the hand offered and scrambles up as well. She manages to be a bit more graceful in perching on the window sill and looking around before entering. "…I should have brought gloves. My fingerprints are going to be all over this place," she mutters. 'Note to self: carry disposable gloves at all times.'
The underwear of Harada Misayo is a mysterious thing, indeed! For starters, it is pink. Not just pink, it is that ridiculously sickening shade of pink that makes five-year-old girls melt and males of all age want to gag. The kind of pink that is only seen on those of the female gender who are seven years of age and below. And glaring back at Minako for her transgression of panty-peeping is… A smiling kitty face with a pretty yellow bow attached to one side of the top of it's head. In short, it is underwear that is almost obscenely adolescent, the kind that would typically be picked out by a mother who was not yet ready to 'let go' of her little one, the kind that would embarass someone who was caught buying it in a store.
"You are worrying about fingerprints. The police are not going to be trying that hard. Let us not make their jobs easier by being found. We should be finding your ugly ball."
Despite 'not wanting to be found', the bandana-wearing young girl makes no effort to hide or soften the clomp of her sandals against the floor as she begins looking around the room, walking to a table and bending low to peer under it. She then approaches the sofa, getting on to her hands and knees to look under it, and then crawling around to its side in order to peer behind it. "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… I am not seeing it. Is this being the right place? Maybe it bounced into the hall." Pushing up with her hands, the faux-preteen rises to her knees and frowns towards the partially-open door.
Minako pffts. "You talk like you know how the police operate! You have experience with them, Pinkpanties Petuna?" she teases. "Seriously, I don't know about you but I've been on the wrong side of the law for almost my entire life so far. You never know what evidence you can leave behind at a crime scene. Better to be safe than sorry." Looking around, Minako doesn't see the ball anywhere either. The door is only partially open… Could it really go out through a door that's not even open all the way? Hmm…
While she considers following Misayo's command she also looks for anything valuable she thinks she can make off with. If she sees any necklaces or rings or big bags of ryo she will totally grab 'em on the way out. Or possibly just forget the ball, steal what she can, and run out. But then she shakes her head. She doesn't need to steal anymore. Maybe she has what she has because of the 'charity' of others, but she doesn't want her parents to find out she's a thief when they come back for her. She has done enough stealing to last a lifetime already.
"You're coming with me. C'mon," she orders back as she gestures and heads for the door, creeping up to it and keeping her voice low from this point on — as if that would negate her speaking normally >before< now. She peeks through the opening and into whatever lies beyond, trying to spot any signs of the ugly ball.
"Of course I am not having experience! I have broken no laws. Why? Who have you been talking to!? …My panties are not pink." The flat stare of denial was set firmly upon the older girl's features, making if clear that she was ready to deny the color of her underwear until the sun broke and started rising in the west. As the subject changes to evidence, Misayo goes back to checking behind the couch, as if the ball might have decided to roll back there during the time she had looked away. Unlike the other girl, thoughts of stealing never even enter her head. Having had everything she's needed provided for her her entire life has made the need to acquire material things through illegal means something that was wholly unnecessary. Luckily, she didn't know how exciting it could be to steal. Yet.
"I am still checking this room. Are you scared, Uzumaki? I will not hold your hand. You should not be scared at your age."
Peeking out of the door would indeed see the ball, right at a dead stop at the foot of a flight of stairs, casting a tiny, elongated shadow from the angle of light through a nearby window. Misayo, however, remains where she is on her knees, her hands on her hips as she seems to be steadfastly refusing the order to accompany her cohort.
No, that was not Misayo's heartbeat, though it could have been after hearing that noise! The sound of heavy footprints coming down the very stairs that the ball was resting at the foot of begins to reverberate throughout the room, causing the blonde, bandana-wearing girl to leap to her feet, and to say in a voice that was notably the inverse of quiet:
"WE ARE NEEDING TO HIDE!"
Just as the sound of this dramatic proclaimation stretches out across the room, and likely beyond, the footsteps pause momentarily. The False Immortal wastes no time in running around in a small circle a couple of times, as if she couldn't decide which direction to hide in. Finally, she grabs for the shade of a floor lamp, rips it off, kicks the body of the lamp to the ground, then stands very still with her hands by her sides as she places the lampshade over her head.
The footsteps are coming down quicker now!
Minako is just starting out into the hall when she hears the loud thumping. She backs up into the room and then turns and begins to run to the window immediately. She intends to leap out and then run for it. Misayo's shout makes her cringe during her dash, and the fact that Misayo is notably >not< escaping makes her fight with every ounce of willpower she has to not scream back at her to get the pug out the window!
For a moment she considers just leaving Misayo.
But she knows she won't. She is the one who always stood up to bullies, adults, and anyone else when another kid was in trouble. Even kids she didn't necessarily know or even like. There's no time to get Misayo out the window now, so she just moves to the center of the room and stands there, facing the door, small fists clenched at her sides, glaring and ready for whomever or whatever may come down here. She'll deal with this. Misayo can escape while this goon is distracted. Hopefully Minako may even get dragged out of the room, leaving the blonde to just climb out the window without being noticed.
'Stupid Harada,' Minako thinks to herself.
The few seconds it takes for those awful, heavy steps to descend the stairs stretches out into an eternity for the young blonde, who is doing her best to look like a piece of the furniture. And then, that final step, the one that indicates the owner of those footsteps has hit the floor… never comes. Instead, there is the sound of a foot hitting something a bit softer than the wooden floor, followed immediately by a deep, if feminine, screech of protest, and the sound of something rolling. The tremendous crash of a very heavy body hitting the floor sounds out from the hall, prompting Misayo to lift the edge of the lampshade and find Minako, who was not hiding at all! Not even a little bit!
"Orryo! Worst hiding spot ever! Improvise!"
A second later the chair flies across the door and slams down in front of the door. Then a desk, followed by the smaller desk-chair! Harada Misayo is scrambling about the room, rearranging the furniture by virtue of chucking the medium-sized pieces and pushing the larger ones in front of the door. The couch is shoved across the room and then upended, probably with strength a normal preteen should not possess. And, finally, a knocked over globe is tossed on top. The dress-wearing girl props her hands on her hips to survey her handywork, just as heavy breathing sounds from the other side of the door, which is quickly thrust open, the heavy-set woman on the other side visible through a few holes made by the irregular furniture pile, her face a mottled mass of displeasure.
"We are calling this a loss and retreating with much haste!" Misayo bounds across the room, grabbing for one of the younger girl's wrists as she barrels by, heading for the window, and freedom, before the angry woman can figure out a way through or around the makeshift barricade!
Minako is startled by Misayo not just standing still and remaining out of sight. She had hoped the other girl would have the common sense to just save herself and not worry about the Uzumaki girl herself. So when the woman appears and Misayo starts trying to barricade the door and then pull Minako to safety is quite strange. No one else has ever tried to help her. No one else has ever done anything but let her take the blame. Why is that different now?
Still, Minako doesn't waste any time and just runs for the window when Misayo grabs for her. "C'mon!" she yells. She swan-dives through the open window, comes up in a rolling somersault when she hits the ground, and immediately goes tearing off around the spire building hoping that Misayo is either right behind her or at her side. She is too busy navigating to check. She leads the way through the spaces between buildings, up small flights of stairs, leaping down into 'secret alcoves' that are formed by one building extending out over where an alleyway used to be and is no longer there because of the expansions constructed, and generally just making it hard as hell to follow the two of them.
When she finally stops running, she's all the way on the West Bridge, Nishihashi. She is breathing hard, but she's not exhausted. Not yet, at least. She is in better shape than she was when she was 'rescued' off the streets at least.
She looks for Misayo. If she's not in sight, she's going to have to go back for her.
Minako was apparently used to running through the streets to get away from angry people larger than herself. Not so for Harada Misayo. She was classicaly-trained in all of the basic shinobi arts by her father, but grace and fluid movements were not something she had quite mastered yet. Four years of mostly-normal 'childhood' did not make up for twelve years of being bed-ridden. When Misayo hits the ground, she does it with a crash, not a landing. She rolls as Minako does, but haphazardly and not of her own choice, finally coming to a stop flat on her back, looking up at the afternoon sky, feeling gritty sand beneath her back. By the time she gets to her feet, the other girl is already rounding a corner and the woman they were fleeing from was managing to wedge her way past the obstructions barring her path.
The bandana-wearing blonde scrambles to her feet and does her best to follow the dust trail being kicked up by the younger of the two amateur vandals, but by the time Minako has stopped it will have become apparent that her fellow escapee had either not kept up, or had taken a few extra turns that she shouldn't have.
It wouldn't be hard to locate the young Harada girl again, as she was about two-thirds of the way that the red-haired Uzumaki had run, standing right in a short alley, her hands propped on her hips, a burly, bearded bruiser leaning over her with much the same position. But given the size difference, there was a large imbalance in how much each managed to look intimidating.
"What'd you say, little girl!?"
"You are not listening! You have to listen when someone is talking to you. Are you listening this time, neh!? You are very bad-smelling. It is not nice."
Minako comes running up, and grabs Misayo by the arm. "Please excuse my — " a list of fake identifications scrolls through her mind. She selects one at random. " — pet," she finishes without any identifiable pause. "She thinks because I told her to exercise her mouth that means I wanted her to talk to everyone." She waves apologetically to the big, bearded jerk-face, fighting the urge to say something nasty, and then starts trying to drag the other girl away. "Come along, Petunia. Mistress needs to have you fitted for a new collar. A leather one. With spikes."
Assuming she can get Misayo a good distance away, the red-head pulls the girl around a corner and just slumps to the ground, trying to take some time to catch her breath. "Geez… All this over a stupid ball… What were you thinking? You could have just stood there and I would have taken the heat! You could have escaped out the window while I distracted her! Why… Why did you bother trying to help me instead of just taking care of yourself!?" She glares up at Misayo as though she had done something wrong, before her expression softens. "Thanks."
The blonde-haired girl blinks at the sudden introduction of the red-haired girl's voice into the budding arguement. Sure, she could have passed by peacefully enough, but then she wouldn't have been able to inform this man about the foulness of his odor! Wasn't he aware how rude it was to everyone around him to sweat and smell so much? Didn't he see the-… Did she just call her a 'pet'!?
"Nani!? I am not a fetish game playmate!"
But it is too late. Misayo is being drug away and around the corner, the large male's eyes are wide open and almost as big around as his gaping mouth, a single finger upraised as the two girls vanish from sight. After a moment of standing frozen like this, the bearded man shakes himself and chalks it up to hearing things.
"What was I thinking, neh!?" The blonde places a hand on her own chest. "You are the one who was doing a terrible job of hiding! You could have at least been laying down and pretending to be a rug! You are bad, bad, bad at this ninja thing." Then a pause, as the two girls lock eyes, glaring at each other across the short distance that separated them. At the admission of gratitude, the older girl nods once vehemently.
"Hmph! What are fetish game playmates for, eh!"