Date: April 2, 2012
After the recent fire that had burned a small portion of the forests that border Konoha, Team 10, with the help of Etsu, came together to investigate the scene. Only to find more then they planned and walk away with exactly what they needed.
Poster's note: Profanity filtered in obvious places.
"UnNatural Disasters - Konoha: Intent to Discover"
In the forests of the Land of Fire.
In the forests of the Land of Fire, there are hundreds of thousands of trees. Each several meters tall, full of life and as lush and green as the next. Most stand side by side with thick shrubs and plants in between. Preventing or at least, creating a deterent for those that wish to take a shortcut through, instead of the many paths that have been made from the constant back and forth travel. Then of course, there's always the tree branches themselves to move upon for those that are learned in the ways of doing so. A simple hop, skip and a jump to get to any area much faster.
About the area, the many different species of animals and insects can be heard. A few birds chirping a tune every now and then. The buzzing of bees can be made out in one direction or the other as they search for places to collect nectar from. Lucky few travelers might even spot a squirrel, raccoon or even a family of deer. Unlucky ones might spot a more…ferocious critter.
A gentle breeze blows throughout the area, cooling down this hot summer afternoon. Bringing with it the smells of the forest and an off hint of something slightly, smokey. For just a few yards away, through the foliage that blocks the path, stands part of the sight where the suspected arson happened.
So, here's Team 10, finally out on a scouting mission. Atsuro would have preferred something a little simpler, and a little later, and at a time when Berii could be brought along, but evidently that's not happening. So here's the team, undermanned and underprepared. How could this go wrong?
That's the question Atsuro's been asking himself. The fires are obviously suspicious. But did whatever — or whoever — started them leave behind any nasty surprises? Or maybe they didn't even leave? Atsuro's decided on a cautious approach for this one. He's put himself on point and Taizen isn't far behind him. The rest of the team is a little farther behind him. He's got Taiki and his dogs watching the flanks, Etsu and her bugs bringing up the rear, and Hitoshi is the soft jelly center of the team. The team walks single file, slightly spread out to avoid everyone being horribly killed all at once, but still all within sight of each other.
As for Atsuro himself, he's been keeping his eyes, ears, and nose active, on guard for anything out of the ordinary. He's chosen to lead the team through the bushes, figuring that this is the route least likely to be trapped or watched. And the least likely to have any bits of evidence that might be stepped on by an unwary ninja. As the smokey smell reaches him, he holds up a hand for his team to see and whispers back to them, "We're approaching the burn site. Eyes open, everyone." Once he's reached the actual sight, he stops at the edge of the burnt area to look — and smell — around.
To be honest, Taiki is thankful the team is gathering to go investigate the suspected arson. He had suspected something was up, and had wanted to go investigate by himself. Unfortunately the Elders took that as yet another case of Taiki's rebellion, and through in-clan politics had put him in a position to collate reports coming in from the Inuzuka already looking into it. This of course meant that Taiki had to spend time in the compound, which was something he normally tried to avoid. So when Atsuro came to get him, he had a good reason to tell his overseers to take a hike. But Taiki was not alone, or alone with Shinobu. Instead he had his normal entourage with him, including a dog each from his mother and father, as well as Nozomi, who was quickly becoming a regular on Taiki's ninken guard detail, so much so she started to help Taiki train when she could.
Taiki and the entourage kept all their senses alert as they moved in formation. Taiki himself took middle side, while the dogs were spread out in an arc about 5 meters in radius from Taiki. His mother's ninken took the front, followed by Nozomi, followed by Shinobu (his own dog) followed by his father's. The elder dogs may not be trackers, but they had a lot more experience in general than Shinobu, Nozomi, or even Taiki, and thus took both front and rear side points. Taiki in the meantime stopped when Atsuro did and channeled slightly more chakra into his senses as his eyes narrowed to notice anything that might seem out of place.
Etsu keeps her hands in her pockets as she usually does, walking along with the group that she's been assigned to. She's been placed on another team… Team 10. It's a bit difficult for her to swallow considering she was just on Team 9 not too long ago and still doesn't know anything about her lost comrade. She wants to go and do something on her own, maybe petition the Hokage, but she can't. Not now, at least. With a good bracing of herself, she inhales deeply and sighs a breath out, to relax and to empty her mind of distracting thoughts. Now that she's here, she has to focus on this particular mission.
The gentle breeze was nice, but it seems things weren't all as great as they seemed. There was a problem around and it grew more prevalent as they drew closer to what may be deemed as the source. Smoke, the scent of burning. A fire. Quite mysterious. At the edge of the area, she stops along with the rest of the team so that she could take a look around and observe. She has some scouters, so maybe they could go out and pick up something around here that may be useful.
Somewhere inside the stacked column of shinobi, Hitoshi was moving along. Having swapped his t-shirt and shorts for something slightly more mission-appropriate - in this case, his usual shinobi sandals, and a charcoal gray long-sleeve, as well as a pair of longer pants - he was brought along on this mission after the assignment had come down from on high. The forest had proven to be a task to navigate… nn. He had neglected to leave his new weapon at home, as well - all for the better, most likely. He didn't need to be using a real blade yet. With his hands behind his head, his arms stretch slightly, and he looks around quietly. Even his own nose can smell the remains of the forest after the burning.
"What're we expecting to find at this burnsite, anyway? If there were any actual traceable evidence in the actual burn area, the likelyhood of it being recoverable, let alone usable, is kind of low," he comments lightly. He follows along, despite this fact, and he lets his eyes wander… keeping them open and keen.
Upon reaching the edge of the forest that was unharmed by the fires and borders the section that was. There was an uncomfortable and eerie stillness in the woods to the surrounding environments. Where once there was the experience of life just moments before them, it has been replaced with the cold and silent sounds of death.
The sight before the team is that of black and grey. The lush and vivid greens now that of ashes and soot. Burnt and falling a part are the trees lifeless husks. Their branches gnarled and twisted like boney hands trying to reach out and grab those if it could. The grounds completely covered in the remains of what didn't survive the fire. All of it looking the same, all of it brittle to the touch.
The view of this goes on for several acres, most of it being concentrated closer toward the village, while further away it narrows to a point as if the fires themself were direct and set up from a certain location. The trek through any part of this area is safe. For the most part. The smells and sights of burnt wood and animal carcasses that effect the senses being the only danger to cross.
"We're looking for any items or anything about the burns that might be suspicious," Atsuro responds to Hitoshi. Seeing that things are apparently clear, he steps carefully out into the clearing. "Oh, and try not to touch anything." He walks carefully around the edges of the burnt area, surveying the damage. He points to the charred corpse of a deer nearby. "Probably would've gotten away if there was even a few second's warning," he notes, "So the fire — the first part, at least, was strong and fast. Keep an eye out for explosives. Unless you wanna get blown up yourself. But I'd rather not fill out the paperwork, so…"
Next, he notices the shape of the fire itself. "Odd shape," he says, drawing a line down the middle of the clearing in the air with his finger, "Any of you know any fire jutsu or anything like that that might burn in that sort of shape?"
Taiki reaches behind him and pulls out a scroll and a graphite rod. Looking at the dogs, he asks, "Uh… please look for anything out of the ordinary, scents, markings, whatnot. If you find a seal, let me know," he instructs the dogs as he watches Atsuro trace the path, then looks over to his sensei. "I suppose a seal might do something, depending on how it was set up. I'd like to head over toward that point and take a look at it." The dogs bark once and fan out a bit, though they all seem to keep Taiki in sight, and at least a small part of their awareness on him. "If any of you see any… I know someone who can decipher them. But you need to draw it exactly. If you can't, then tell me and I'll try to do it. He's used to my most common mistakes at least."
"I'm sending out some scouts now to look over the landscape and see if there's anything that can be found. If they run into something of importnace, then they will indicate such to me. I may be able to gather more information if there are any insects left to communicate with. Depending on where they were or how much they saw, they can be a treasure trove of knowledge," Edtsu explained as she continued to work with her insects. A glance was barely offered at the fire that Atsuro pointed out before she answered with a simple, "No," and looked away. "I am only familiar with earth jutsu and my kikaichu. The best I can do is just have my kikaichu roam around and see if they can figure out something about that fire." With the combination of the insects and the dogs, this should prove to be an effective way to gather something about these fires.
"A number of fire ninjutsu could make a formation like this," Hitoshi responds as he steps up, looking out over the charred remains and making a slight face. To think, this is the kind of power he tries to control. Sort of tracing the pattern with his own finger as he moves around, he furrows his eyebrows. "Some kind of flamethrower-like attack," he remarks softly, "with the originating point… near the apex, where it tapers off? That'd make sense," he remarks softly.
He goes further into explanation. "Look at the way it tapers," he remarks, "almost like a cone of origination… it almost makes a teardrop shape." He pauses, then, crossing his arms and tilting his head. "Using a Fireball attack coule cause burning like this," he remarks lightly, "if you're skilled enough to control the size as the fireball travels away from the apex." He pauses again, though, shaking his head. "But that's less likely than the flamethrower-like ninjutsu idea. Judging by the fact it burnt so hot and so quick, it's not impossible an accelerant was used… but I dunno about explosive." He pauses, glancing over the scorched area again… his eyes scanning the edges. Trails, tendrils. Any indication that a liquid fuel could've tailed off after being thrown upon the area… But then, he shakes his head, and looks toward Taiki.
"That's more your speed, Ki-san. What do you think?"
As Atsuro finishes tracing the line, he glances past his finger and notices that he's actually pointing at something. "Well," he says with a wry smile, "I'll be scorched." Indeed, one of the trees in the distance has something attached to it: a small tag with a seal. "So," he says, looking over to Taiki, "Does our seal expert have eyes sharp enough to tell us what that is?" He glances over to Etsu, "If not, we'd better take a cautious approach. Your bugs probably won't trigger it if it's some kind of trap, right? Do they care to take a look and see if there's anything we should know?" Then he addresses Hitoshi. "If a tag was set up against a tree like that… do you think that would produce the kind of burns we have here?"
Taiki was headed toward the focal (originating) point of the apparent blast, but stops a couple of meters before it. He turns sideways so he can see both the focal point and Atsuro, then glances over at the tag. "Not from here, though I'm not finding anything here," he says, using one hand to use the team hand signals for caution, while using his body to block the sight of the signals from anyone watching in that direction. Taiki runs through a few more signals, silently saying, "Camp fire, faint, distance, tell Etsu." Taiki gives Atsuro a significant look before giving a shrill whistle for the dogs. He then runs through a couple of different hand signs, along with a couple of select yips, giving instructions for the dogs. One of the elder dogs and Nozomi start toward him as he asks them, "Can you two take a closer look?"
Once the dogs are close enough to pass him he starts his way over toward the seal Atsuro found. "Don't touch it, it could be a trap," Taiki adds aloud, though he knows Atsuro is familiar enough with seal traps. As he closes on the tag's location he asks Etsu, "Can your bugs drain the chakra from the trap without touching it? Don't do it yet, as seals can be rather tricky things and I want to look at it before we do anything, in case it self destructs."
Etsu nodded in reply to Atsuro while she awaited the report from her insects. "The insects are too light to trigger any traps. So, if you'd prefer not to cross the area and risk a trap, I can get them to…" Her voice trails off as she's greeted by a few of her insects that have something to say about the area. She grows quiet to listen and once they were done speaking, she scanned the place to figure out what they were speaking of. "There were two people wandering around…they fiddled with the trees to some degree…" She looked up to see if she could find the objects that were placed in there. "They were near where Taiki is standing now," she points out with her finger, give or take a few feet. "And just spewed out flames. This is what you have now." Guess there aren't any traps around, unless the objects in the trees were supposed to be that.
When a seal was mentioned to be found, she's assuming that's what the kikaichu were talking about, so she decided to move ahead and look at it to see if she could make heads or tails of what it is.
"It's not impossible," Hitoshi replies lightly, stepping up beside Atsuro and squinting his eyes slightly as he looks to the tag, tilting his head… "Huh. That's interesting," he comments softly.
"That's…" Hitoshi eases over toward where Atsuro is, examining the tag carefully. "Ki-san, it's okay," he remarks softly. "This tag's got a fuse on it. It's just a generic flame seal," he calls toward the other Inuzuka, shaking his head. "It's got a -very tiny- fuse that'd need a heat source to ignite it," he calls out softly, shaking his head a little bit. He pauses, though, now that he is where he is, and squints a little bit. He just squints again, and he brings his hands up in an odd manner, listening to Etsu's recount she gets from the bugs… before the lights seem to come on in his head.
At this point, the young shinobi laughs.
"Amateur," he remarks softly. "Whoever did this… they used a very widely-used technique that's along the lines of the Great Fireball Technique. Harder to control and more powerful, it's easy to let it get away from you… which is what -this- person did. Their chakra control is very, very off-kilter." He pauses, then, looking between all of them… Etsu, Taiki, and Atsuro. "The ninjutsu is called The Breath of the Dragon," he explains softly. "It acts very much like a flamethrower, people tend to use it as a way to cut off enemy retreats. In the elemental tree of ninjutsu, it falls on the branches just below the Fire Dragon Flame Missile," he remarks. He then points out the apex, tracing it outwards. "Whoever did this set up the tags for the explosion along the perhiphral," he remarks softly, "and then used the ninjutsu to ignite them! That'd explain the hard, fast burn." He gen continues to gesture on outward, toward the outter edges. "He let it get away from him, though." He pauses… "Whoever did this didn't do the first few fire spots that the guards spotted. This guy lacked the skill to keep it low-key like the others."
What the group managed to find, with the help of Atsuro, was an explosive tag of sorts and a seal placed over the top. There was indeed a fuse on it as mentioned, and yet it somehow avoided being set off, by being a dud or simply random chance. Either way, they found some physical evidence. So long as one of them was brave enough to grab it.
As Hitoshi had said, combining the tags with that of a fire jutsu to activate the seal creates an explosion around the area helping with the natural power of the fire that was used on it. Clearly they were spread about the forest, as the Kikaichu discovered, to help accelerate with reducing the area to ashes. Were it not for the quick response of Konohagakure's own water manipulators, the damage could have been much worse.
As for the pair of dogs sent out on reconnaissance, with their noses held high up in to the air, tracing the scent of the smoke. They find themselves a few yards away from the destruction behind them, still in sight of Taiki to keep an eye on the boy, but further out to better locate the scent. Eventually Nozomi gives a soft yip and the elder dog replies in kind before running back toward Taiki, to relay the information they found.
Well, that's a lot of information to process. Atsuro decides to summarize before taking any action. "So the fires are being set around the forest using those tags. There are at least two people involved, but this fire was much more powerful than the others because of an accident. So, either there are more than those two, who suck, or this time was a fluke. Or the successful times were a fluke. Aaaand…" He glances over to Hitoshi, looking for confirmation on this next bit, "The tag itself is safe to pick up, assuming there isn't anything else dangerous in that area? You said it would need a heat source. I'm assuming the heat from my fingers won't set it off if I pick it up. If they do, I'm going to haunt you."
He glances over to Taiki and Etsu as they just walk over. "Throwing caution to the wind, eh? Just hold on a second, we need to find a safer way of approaching. And Etsu, can you send some bugs over to the dogs over there? Taiki thought you should check it out."
"If proximity would set it off, then it would have already gone off Sensei," Taiki sais as he approaches where Hitoshi is standing and then stops. "I'm not stupid-slash-brave enough to remove something without checking it out first, and I could not see the tag clearly from way over there." He then stops and looks at the tag closely, scrutenizing not only the tag and the trigger themselves, but the tree they're attached to in order to see if there were any trap seals underneath the tag.
Shinobu and the other dog move into positions behind Taiki and crouch down, ready to pull Taiki back the moment /anything/ fishy appears to happen. The other dogs wait long enough for the bugs to reach them, then point in a specific direction before heading to about half way between Taiki and where they were. Taiki listens as the dogs explain things before he holds up a single finger and then the academy symbol for "mile" and using his hed to motion in the same direction the dogs pointed. "I don't think there's anyone around, at least not that I or the other dogs can smell…"
Etsu nodded in reply to Atsuro and with a quick nod of the head, kikaichu left her cloak, flying across the area and along the ground headed towards the dogs. There just may be more to pick up over there. "Well, with what we know, do you think we can gauge the abilities of the ones setting these objects off? To me, I'd wager they're around our level or slightly higher. If this fire was a fluke, then that the hands that dealt with them weren't skilled enough to be a jounin and I doubt anyone came around and tampered with them prior to them exloding," she explained. "That could also mean that there are traces left behind, however subtle they may be." The insects eventually reach the dogs where they follow their lead to the area they pointed out to begin searching around.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, Ki-san," Hitoshi remarks softly, "but that'd require an actual flame to set the fuse off, am I right? So…"
Taiki isn't stupid stupid/brave enough. Hitoshi may be more of one than the other — his hand swoops out as he slips into a crouch, grabbing the tag right up and coming back up with it, squinting some as he turns it over in his fingers. He makes a bit of a huffing noise as he listens to Atsuro, and he nods a little bit.
"The smaller fires," he remarks softly, "There was nothing to them that could be reported by the time a scout could get out to the site, right? Hardly any damage, if any at all. Controlling an element to that point takes skill and practice, Senpai… Skill and practice to keep such a destructive and in many ways, unpredictable element in check. Slight shifts in the wind, composition of the fuel that can be burnt," he remarks, indicating some of the burnt trees… "This," he finally concludes, "was just burning to see the world burning. There's no rhyme or reason to it, I feel like," he remarks softly. "They just set the tags, then caused a huge uproar."
He then moves to offer the tag to Atsuro or Taiki, either one, should they want to take it and examine it.
Atsuro pauses for a moment to bury his head in his hands. "Wow," he says as he pulls his hands away, "When we get back home, I think I'm going to have to train you brain surgeons how to deal with possibly dangerous seals." He gives a look to Hitoshi. "Especially you. But okay, I guess you didn't get blown up this time. Nice work? Oh, but never assume that something's just 'to cause an uproar.' It'll be great if it's just someone's idea of a prank. But we need to be ready for the worst." He walks over to the new area and looks at the tag as Hitoshi holds it out to him. "I still don't trust it. I don't suppose anyone has a fireproof bag or anything like that? If not, I guess we just have to risk it. And hope it isn't rigged to blow when the Hokage sees it or something."
He pauses to take a look around. "Other than that, I guess there's just this campsite everyone's all excited about." He looks between Taiki and Etsu. "Anything we should know? Is it worth going to take a look in person?"
Taiki nearly jumps out of his skin as Hitoshi pulls that trick. "Candle Hitoshi'san, warn a person next time. You never know when something is booby trapped against removal," he says as he holds up his still bandaged arm. Still he looks at the tag as Hitoshi holds it up. "Okay, I think I may know what that is. Not the exact name or anything, but enough to know how it is set off. The fuse is the key. It requires flame or some kind of igniter box. Fortunately it's harmless enough and made for some travel."
In the meantime he reaches behind him and pulls out a sealing scroll. "I need to go to Hiro's and get more of these. I still can't make a good one that lasts," Taiki says as he motions Hitoshi to put it down. "The ambient chakra won't set off the seal, and this will keep it safe until we get back to Konoha," he remarks. Once and if the seal is put down on the storage seal, he activates the array to seal the tag away before rolling up the seal. "I don't have much more than there is a campfire that direction, and I'm not sure if there's supposed to be anyone in that direction or not. So we don't know if it's just the two rank amateurs that set this seal or how many more and what skill level they are. I've got a general location, I say we send ANBU after them."
The kikaichu return without much to say other than pointing out the campsite that caused a stir in the group. One of the two men at the site seemed to be messing around with some kind of odd object that appeared to be similar to that which Hitoshi took off the tree. "I don't have a fireproof bag, but that's something that I may have to invest in for the future…" She hummed. She didn't even realize the danger until just now. "…Oh. Yeah, don't…don't do that or whatever. It won't be fun when our faces are charred just because you decided to snatch something off a tree." She folded her arms.
"Also, my insects have told me that they saw something similar to that at the campsite."
"If I had a legitimate fear that touching it would've set it off, do you really think I would've picked it up, Senpai?"
Handing the seal over for both Taiki and Atsuro to pluck at, Hitoshi also glances over toward Etsu for a moment, smiling a little. He does listen to her regarding the campite, and he hrms a little bit, looking between the three for a moment and rubbing his nose slightly. "Four on two," he remarks, "plus three," he notes, making light of the ninken. "We could let ANBU handle it," he adds lightly…
"I dunno, though. Should we really… let them have a chance to change from where they are to a different location? If these are the guys who could've done this," he remarks softly, gesturing around, "We should try to take action." He looks to Atsuro, though, shrugging.
Well, that's one suspicious item taken care of. And there's at least one more to go. "We're not leaving it for ANBU," Atsuro decides, "We've been given a job. We don't just do part of it and pass the rest off to somebody else." He gestures in the direction of the abandoned campsite. "Taiki, take the lead. Everyone, keep an eye out. There might be traps, or the two guys could come back. We've been safe so far, but there's no sense in getting sloppy. Once we get there, we'll grab the other tag — in a /sane/ manner, please — and see what else is there. Let's go."
Taiki nods and gives a loud whistle to get the dogs attention. "Arrow formation, Yuna'san, take point, Nozomi and Kenichi take sides and Shinobu with me. Barbed formation," he calls out as Shinobu walks close to him. "Remember, there may or may not be people there. Stay on alert," he says to the dogs as they each take their positions. Taiki activates his senses, trusting the dogs to already be using theirs, and then waits for the others to get in formation. Once they are, he clucks once, and the dogs start off, with Taiki and Shinobu close behind.
Etsu saluted lightly and followed along with the direction of Atsuro and the team. As she's been doing, she keeps her kikaichu out and about on alert for anything, though she isn't certain if they'll run into anything. It doesn't take long for her to get into formation and go after this campsite. Hopefully, this isn't difficult. Having to deal with aggressive targets can be tiresome and makes part of her want to react in ways that wouldn't end well for anyone.
The confidence that Hitoshi had been building with his swordwork was showing all around, in a way. Before, half of the things he'd done this evening, he would've completely avoided or not spoken up on. Taking up a point to where he flanks Taiki and remains aloft to Atsuro and Etsu both, he slips a kunai from his pouch, twisting it in his fingers so that he can hold onto it and move at a clip… all the while, he lets himself sink, deep. He reaches out. Chakra… large sources. Ambush?
A mile or so to cover is a lot of ground on foot, even for shinobi. Someone's gotta not just look, but -feel.- Right?
As the team moves ahead, preparing for whatever awaits them just a mile ahead, it doesn't take them long before the smell of smoke from the camp fire becomes more…potent? Fragrant? Prevalent? Signifying just how close they are to discovering what or whom exactly is the source of their curiosities and for running out so far from the scene.
Slowly the trees begin to thin out as the forest reveals a small clearing up ahead, with two individuals sitting opposite of what appears to be a dying fire, letting off nothing but smoke through the burnt twigs and dried up moss.
The man on the right, the elder looking of the two. Sits with his hands behind his head looking up at the few clouds as they slowly pass by. The man on the left, not much younger then the other, has his face buried in his work. Currently holding onto a small device, much similiar to the one Hitoshi had grabbed.
Neither of the men are aware of any one else in the area. Figuring they are completely alone, without any worry or care of being come up on.
Once the men are in sight, Atsuro makes a couple of soft "fft fft" noises with his mouth to get the team's attention. Keeping an eye on the two of them, he signals for everyone to listen. "Okay," he whispers, "We're going to try and catch these guys. Or at least one. Etsu, I want you to use your bugs and try to take them down from afar. Taiki, Hitoshi, Shinobu, me, and Taizen will approach from this direction and try to take 'em up close. Taiki, have the other dogs circle around and cut off their escape. Or flank them if they don't try to run." He holds a hand out to Taizen, who pulls a couple of ninjato from his vest and hands them over to Atsuro with his mouth. "Ready?" After getting confirmation, he gestures for everyone to move out.
Once they're in position, he and Taizen begin the attack. Both leap up and spin at high speed into a pair of blurs, which, almost instantaneously, trace numerous winding, and dangerous, paths through the campsite, aimed for both men.
Taiki nods toward Atsuro and uses his hand signals to deploy the other three dogs while he and Shinobu crouch down into their stance. It's too early for the new stance yet, so it is the standard four legged stance. Still, both Inuzuka and ninken are ready. But Taiki does something not many Inuzuka would do. As Shinobu charges in whirling in Tsuga toward the younger guy, Taiki runs through some hand seals and calls out, "Raibunshin no Jutsu!" With this a clone of Taiki rushes forward in tandem with Shinobu, attacking the older one and discharging with electricity as it contacts.
Etsu responded to the call and drew close to hear the plan. Attack from afar. Got it. She didn't hesitate to communicate with her kikaichu to perform the attack that she had in mind. She only hoped that she could get it together. So, she needed to focus and attack soon after. There was no time to hesitate.
After her insects flew the distance, they quickly sunk into the ground to continue on the rest of the way in order to loosen up the ground beneath the campsite. She had every intent to get the men and hold them there for maximum damage against the both of them from the rest of her team. In that time, she decided to send more kikaichu out to make sure that they could make a perimeter just in case things didn't go the way they expected
Now that she was prepared and the perimeter was set, the insects did their job. A hole would burst open beneat the campsite to trap the men in a pit of kikaichu, holding them still to prevent escape.
So the plan was for Etsu to use her bugs, and for the guys to basically… bum-rush and distract. Once gathered and the plan passed out, Hitoshi nods and thumbs up. "If there's one thing I can do," he remarks softly, "I can make sure these guys get broadsided enough to not be able to focus on any one of us at a time." He beams, then… and when they scatter to begin the attack, Hitoshi goes his own way.
And when the emergance begins, Hitoshi makes himself -seen.- He comes flashing in, yelling…
"You've been doin' it -wrong!-"
And at this point, it's Hitoshi's cue to begin setting things on fire. "Housenka no Jutsu!"
Flurry after flurry of firey balls of little death seem to stream from the boy, in all different directions - mostly focusing in the area where the two are sitting, though. Embedded in those tiny little flurries of fiery death? Shuriken. This kid's serious. As he continues on, he keeps himself moving… following up with another series of handseals, before releasing a small fireball at the both of them. Good grief.
As the two men sit at their makeshift campsite, lost in thoughts and left to their own machinations. The last thing to cross their minds would be that of being ambushed by a group of Konoha shinobi while they sit there minding their own business, causing harm to no one and yet, it was happening. Too quickly in fact to even properly process and form a defense against the first wave of attacks that come barreling down upon them. The most they are able to get off when they finally realize what's going on are a few handsigns here and there, but even that proves to not be enough when facing such odds.
So when the tag team duo of Atsuro and Taizen come in with their flawlessly performed gatsuga, that tears through the earth and rips up the stone when colliding against it. Each man is thrown into the air from the force of that attack alone and left in a bit of a daze as they try to recover. Hitsuki, the younger of the two, was holding the mechanism before being attacked, but it was torn loose from his grip the moment he was hit and sent rolling across the ground, just mere inches from reaching the smoking firepit.
Trying his best to regain some composure, even while midair, Hitsuki scans across the battlefield to take a quick measure of what's going on. However, the team from Konoha doesn't relent. Kicking the enemy even while they're down…though technically up. The man takes a blast from a large, pure white Malamute that sends him reeling back and colliding with ground. Only to eventually bounce to a stop. At this point, Hitsuki spits out some blood and wipes off his mouth. Glaring at those ahead of him.
Suddenly, the ground beneath him begins to rumble and without hesitation his hands go through several series of handsigns. When the ground rips open, creating a hole in which to ensnare Hitsuki. It is instead treated to a blast of fire, in which the man replaced himself with. It was smart thinking on his part, allowing him to be closer toward the device. At least, that was what he had hoped. For as one hand outstretched to pick it up, it quickly returned to his side as he jumped from his spot not once, but thrice. Barely dodging each of the attacks sent from Hitoshi. Either that boy was a calculated and tactical genius, knowing to strike at such an opportune moment or simply lucky.
Wanting to get rid of whom he thought to be the brains, the man lifted a hand to his mouth as he inhaled a small chunk of air before exhaling several thin bolts of flame that look like scorching hot senbons that could pierce through the skin. Were an individual to keep their eyes on the man, they'd notice his cheeks were still full and only slowly deflating. Sending out waves of hot air toward the malamute that attacked him. Hoping to blind the individual
Shizou, on the other hand, was somewhat more ready after being launched from his seat. For when the lightning clone came charging at him, it collided instead with a fire clone that ignited the two and exploded in a shower of flames and electricity that arced and singed the ground. "Fools! Why do you attack us? We've done nothing but enjoyed a decent camp site."
The mans eyes widened as he looks to the ground, feeling the soft rumbling underneath. His hands meshing together, forming one sign after enough until the ground opened up, only to swallow a clone of fire. "Stop this! I've had en…." Silenced as he's forced on the defensive, hopping about the field to dodge the smaller fireballs that are sent his way. Unaware of the shuriken within as well that find their mark and cut through his flesh.
"ENOUGH!" The man inhales greatly as he reaches a finger to his mouth and sends out several compact balls throughout the area that lanced toward those close enough, only to explode before actually reaching them and spread like wildfire.
After jetting all around the campsite, smashing trees and rocks as well as the two strangers, Atsuro and Taizen land on all fours near the campsite. While Taizen looks just like normal, Atsuro's appearance is unusually wild, with more bestial eyes and longer, even claw-like, nails. The older ninja's attack nearly catches them off guard, but they're just able to jump backwards and out of harm's way, feeling the heat of the explosion, but nothing worse than that.
The men are obviously missing-nin, so Atsuro knows he's within his rights to apprehend them, as well as unready to fully trust them. But if they're willing to be reasonable, maybe further fighting can be avoided. Still remaining on guard, he signals for everyone to hold their attacks for the moment. Then, noting the tag which is worringly close to the fire, he signals them to back away as well (and steps back himself). Better to risk this men getting away than having the team get blown up. "If you surrender, we won't harm you further. But you need to put down any weapons, nice and slowly, on the ground, then put your hands on your head. And then you need to answer some questions. I doubt those scratches on your forehead protectors are accidental, so don't try to screw with me. What are you doing here, and what is that tag?" He gestures with one of his swords to the tag.
One thing that Inuzuka are known far are being hearty types. And Inuzuka Malamutes, while not renowned for speed, are durable, strong and adaptable. So it is of no surprise to anyone that the Hitsuki's attacks come close to actually hitting the dog, but the fact that the dog and Taiki had been practicing together for a long time lets Shinobu put himself in a position to rather easily avoid the explosion. He and his partner are about to follow up, but Atsuro's signal is received before they do. Instead the dog jumps back and lands on Taiki's back. Despite the weight of the dog, Taiki barely seems to notice, as his appearance closely resembles Atsuro's, at least in type. Both Shinobu and Taiki crouch, snarls forming on each face and a low tone growl rumbling from Shinobu's mouth. Taiki is already holding a handseal, seemingly a short series away from completing it. Whatever it is, it does not look good for the missing nin should they fail to comply.
Etsu stayed back from all the action as she didn't need to be too close to be effective. Her attack only managed to work on one of the two in the area, but she wasn't concerned. She had her insects spread around for a reason for just such an occassion that an escape might be present. She did have to shield herself from the heat of the explosion rendered by the shinobi, but otherwise would be fine. She'd try to make up for things by covering the backs of her team mates and using her kikaichu as supplemental attacks instead of being direct.
For now, she keeps her insects at the ready and prepares herself to utilize them should any funny business arise.
It was really no surprise that Hitoshi would end up being a brunt of attacks after the fiery onslaught he had let loose - nevermind that most of it was ill-aimed and/or never even did anything. In his way of defending himself, he throws out his clones - the first one, apparently, taking the brunt of the attacks aimed at Hitoshi… but the other two? They're just used as human shields to absorb some of the damage, at which point otherwise, he just uses his arms to cover his head and face.
The burning is pretty rough, and the onslaught slashes at him painfully. He digs his feet into the ground though. He's left with a short-sleeved shirt… and his arms are burnt. He otherwise makes no further movement to move, seeing that, apparently… they've got the guys cornered. Of course, if they make a break toward him, what can he do? Not much.
The attacks have stopped from the team from Konoha, at least for now. Giving the elder men a chance to survey the situation, collect themselves and reassess the situation. Even while the obvious team leader of the group spoke, Hitsuki was thinking up strategies. He was clearly the brains between the two, while Shizou. He was the brawn. A fiery inferno of hatred and destruction ready to go off at any second. His life didn't matter to him, if it did, he would have stayed a shinobi. Lived within the safety of the walls, settled down and raised a family. That was a path he had chose to ignore. Taking instead the one he is on now.
Scanning those in front of him, Hitsuki suddenly comes to a conclusion that there is another out there. Possibly more. The ground attack, that was Kikaichu from the Aburame clan. But none present are even close to being from the clan. Slowly the man taps his foot relaying the information to the other. It wasn't morse code, just a simple understanding between the two. One tap, two taps, three taps, four taps, five taps…six taps. Counting the dogs, as well as the one member of the aburame clan currently hidden. Naturally he has no clue of those behind him. The man then makes a soft exhaling sound, like a deflating noise before silencing up.
"HAHAHAHAHA" Shizou laughed heartedly as he rested his hands on his hips. "You have quite the gall kid. Really big stones if I do say so myself. Attacking us while we do little more then enjoying the beauty of konoha forest, then asking us to surrender." The mans tone suddenly changing, his head lowering and eyes glaring, "You're lucky I don't come over and rip out your tongue." He heard all that was being signaled from the other, but played it off as he didn't. Focusing on the Konoha shinobi instead.
"You want to know where I got this forehead protector? What's with the tag? So many questions…The polite thing to do is say please." The man then shrugged as he raised his hands high then put them on his head. "Like this?" Eyes wide as if mocking the other. "Well, if you want questions…You're gonna have to catch us." His chakra increasing before suddenly a cloud of smoke explodes from his form, increasing and intensifying to obsure the visions of those in front of them.
Whether it inhibited the others or not, the two were off. Running away from the group with no plans of stopping. There was a moment, where they both looked back to see if they were being followed, but when they turned around to look ahead. They were confronted by massive dogs, hunched over and snarling at the two. Blocking their escape and daring them to try and get past them.
"So I'm told," Atsuro says with an impish smile. "Ball's in your— " His totally clever one-liner is ruined by the sudden escape. "Sparks," he growls under his breath, "Hitoshi, grab that tag before it ends up in the fire. Taizen, make sure we don't lose them." With that, he charges into the cloud of smoke, intent on following them. Meanwhile, Taizen runs up the side of a tree and kicks off from the trunk, lauching himself spinning into the air. The dog unleashes a stream of distinctly-scented urine, aimed for Hitsuki and Shizou.
Luckily, the plan with the other dogs seems to have worked out for the moment. Atsuro gives a self satisfied smile as he catches up with them. And then Taizen catches up with Atsuro, getting behind him. "Feeling more cooperative?" he asks, "Now would be the time to show it." Taizen hops up on his back, then he makes a seal.
There's a pop and a sudden burst of smoke and… where once there was Atsuro and Taizen, there's now an enormous black dog with two heads. It looks something like Taizen, but both faces are far more menacing, with sharp eyes, and bared jagged teeth. One of the massive heads snarls and the ground shakes slightly.
Okay, so they made a move to escape instead of attack, and Hitoshi was the only one to get orders. So Taiki goes through with his original plan. With a short, quick series of hand signs Taiki says, "Juujin Bunshin no Jutsu." With that smoke erupts around them, covering them both. When it starts to clear the duo sprints forward, following their nose, and the scent of urine, toward their target. But all the missing nin can see is a pair of extremely feral Taiki's, each one even more feral than before, bracketting them from the sides, both growling and digging their now razor sharp nails into the ground. It is all but impossible to tell them apart, for they even wear the same enraged expression on their faces.
Smokescreens. Etsu hates smokescreens. She coughed when it came up and waved her hands to no avail to clear it away. It was thick, so she couldn't see through it, but her insects could. So, she sent them out to guide her out of the screen and more importantly to see where the men were going. They didn't want to surrender, so it seemed the only other option was to kill somebody. She didn't like having to do that, but if it was necessary, then she'd have to. Well, maybe not. There's always what the wishes of the leader was and it doesn't appear like they'll be taking that route—oh wait, the tables have turned.
She runs off at the guide of her insects to go after the men and pursue them. If she could open up another hole beneath their feet, she'd do so, but she's growing tired of that option. But, since it seems to be a successful option, she thinks she'll just go ahead with it. Bombs away. The kikaichu are sent into the ground and begin their diggin'.
Smokescreen. Great. Covering his face for a moment to try and keep the smoke from stinging his eyes, Hitoshi nods, and he waves his hand in front of his face a couple of times, coughing a little bit… at which point, he moves in toward the camp fire to do as ordered. Nevermind his arms are hurting.
Closing in, he does as he did earlier, not aware of anything around him… and he moves to grab the tag. After doing so, he wets a couple of fingers, meaning to touch the small little wick with them to make sure it -doesn't- go off anytime soon.
The two men stood there with hands raised at the pair of snarling dogs, slowly attempting to back away from the beasts. It wasn't as if it mattered. They were relatively trapped. With no escape from behind or ahead of them. With no options left, they both knew what they had to do. At least, they thought they did. It was a silent discussion they shared with one another, as they both turned to look at the other. Hitsuki thinking one thing, while Shizou thinking another. Both believing they knew what the other had in mind. A nod was given from both, before turning to face the team.
It was at that moment, a stream of urine both covered the men and the surrounding area. "AHHHH!!!! What the torch! It burns!" Shizou shouted while rubbing at his eyes and stomping his feet. His head shaking left and right in pain. Hitsuki on the other hand, could be considered the lucky one? As he was mostly drenched about the form and hair, the spray of the beast missing his eyes. This of course, could only change the plans they had in mind.
Shizou extending one hand, pointing at where he believed the team leader was. The other hand balled up and rubbing at his half-lidded and red eyes. "Am…Am I feeling more cooperative! Your bloody dog just pissed on me! No I'm not feeling more cooperative!!" It was obvious at this point what Shizou had in mind and Hitsuki knew it. The man was going to go all out and not stop until the end. There was going to be no stopping the man. No swaying, compromising or calming the individual at this point. He had piss in his eyes and someone was going to pay.
So when the ground began to shake once again beneath the two, Hitsuki sprung into action. Replacing the spot where he stood with a tuft of flames he expelled from his mouth, rushing toward Shizou and shoving him out of the way. It was at that point, Hitsuki sunk into the crater that opened up beneath him. Being trapped, unable to move. For now.
Rubbing at his eyes, Shizou went tumbling with the unexpected shove. Figuring he had just been attacked, he forced his eyes open, showing how red and bloodshot they were and hoping to catch his assailant. Tears went down his cheeks, not from being saved, but from being enraged. At least, if you interrogated him, that's what he would say. "This wasn't the plan! You were supposed to escape if nothing else!"
Shizou then turned toward the group, they were surrounding him all over. Luckily though, with Hitsuki in the ground, he didn't have to hold back. Quickly he inhaled a deep breath as he pulled a finger toward his mouth then exhaled a giant gout of flame in a full 360 degree span. Attack all those around him. He had no intention of stopping and he was going to fight until the end.
Atsuro was hoping to get them both as prisoners, but while Hitsuki seems to be caught, Shizou is obviously intent on either death or victory. It's too bad, but it's probably not something that can be avoided anymore. The giant dog jumps into the air to evade the whirling stream of flames, then spins, becoming little more than a blur in an instant. At this speed, neither head can even see anything clearly, but the smell of urine is easy to distinguish. The blur goes speeding toward Shizou tearing apart tree, rock, and earth as it moves.
The two Taiki's were ready for the attack, considering they were both about to attack themselves. So when the fiery breath came at them they both jumped into the air and backwards, channeling just enough chakra into their feet as the contacted trees to keep them from falling. Though one was slower than the other, and got slightly hurt, they both were still in fine condtion, and thus began their counter offensive. Simultaneously they ran through hand signs before calling out, "Raibunshin no Jutsu." Suddenly there were three more Taikis, one of which charged forward even as two became blurring whirlwinds that crashed right toward Shizou. Just how many Taiki's could attack at once anyway? And which one was the real one?
Etsu huffed softly as she continued after the targets. When the intense flames came out, she skid to a stop and grounded herself, soon after extending her arms and guiding her kikaichu around in a compact spin to block the fire from getting through. Though she was successful, she wasn't able to stop some of the fire from getting through, so she suffered some burns to her coat which she quickly began to pat out. In that time, she had the kikaichu come out of their spin and gather together in a large wave to challenge the fire and snuff it out to keep her protected more properly.
Looking at her coat sleeve, she observed the burns in them and what holes got through to her skin. That fire was not nice and she was paying for it with her skin being singed and exposed. Summoning the kikaichu up from her cloak, she sent them forward, filled with the worst of poison they had to offer thus far to inject inside Shizou numerous times.
— what jus —
Oh, of course. No, the guy is going to actually try to -fight?- Okay, whatever. Hitoshi would try to assist his teammates the best he could - if he could, that is. Slipping the seemingly disabled explosive tag into his pocket on his pants, he brings himself around. Having gone unnoticed otherwise, he would hopefully have an advantage… coming up out of the woodwork to smack Shizou right in the side with… What?
A series of actual flaming shuriken that are literally shuriken made of fire. He had breathed the fire out after a series of handseals, sending them forward in a fiery flash of flame. Away they go!
Within the eyes, if one ignored the burning piss, there was nothing but a fiery hate that Shizou saw for those that bore the insignia of Konoha. Having rejected them or been rejected by them. There was nothing more the man wanted to do then to see one of them dead by his own hands, no matter the cost. The trick to doing so now, was surviving the onslaught of attacks that were becoming increasingly overwhelming to bare. Each turn at defending, though it might seemed he survived, only draining the man of his stamina. The only thing keeping him going now, was the rage.
With the largest of the attacks and clearly the most damaging as it tore up the area while ripping up the ground, earth and shattering through trees came direct at Shizou, he had to act fast. With just a few handsigns, he brought his hands to his mouth and exhaled a flame that was aimed at the duo headed his way. However, the force of the attack was so great, it negated the flames completely and tore into Shizou. Tearing through his clothing and flesh before finally sending him knocked back several yards.
Still, the man got up, not planning on giving up. He ran forward, until spotting the other tag team pair that was charging at him much the same as the leader. No time to waste, the man put his hands together to focus some chakra before bring it to his mouth and exhaling more flames. This time however, several clones were made. Making it that much more difficult to determine the real one between them. Each one taking their place as the shield, exploding upon coming into contact with the gatsuga and the lightning clone of the other.
There was one clone left and spotting the aburame sending forth several kikaichu at the real Shizou, it ran to intercept. Taking the attack, before combusting like the rest. Shizou began to laugh "Are you having fun yet!"
A flaming shuriken strikes him in the arm, "ARGH! What in the." Turning just in time to see another, but not fast enough to defend against it he takes the next flaming shuriken to the chest. The force of it not strong enough to take him down, but still does enough damage to wear him out. And yet the man manages to find a hidden reserve as he brings up the hand signs, replacing himself with the extinguishing flames of one clone to prevent from being hit by one last shuriken.
Where Shizou stood now, he glanced over toward Hitsuki whom stared back with a silent expression. He knew what was about to happen, the worst part of it was, if it didn't work…Hitsuki was captured and Shizou died for nothing. Neither wanted to think of it that way, but it was the most likely outcome. Shizou nodded one last time before glancing around the area. Each of the Konoha shinobi' were close enough. Unfortunately though, so was Hitsuki. It was a price….
"Alright Konoha Fools! It's too late to run. This is the end. Say good bye!!!!" The man did one last set of hand signs, leaned back and inhaled deeply. His lungs were full and his cheeks were about ready to blow. Just as it would seem he would bring his fingers up to his mouth to exhale the flames, he held onto the chakra. Letting it fester and boil within. The heat from within was apparent on the outside as the man began to sweat profusely and his skin turned slightly red. Eventually the sweat began to turn to steam and his eyes slowly watered until he couldn't hold it any longer.
Shizou exploded, in a fiery death as he used himself as a catalyst for the fire jutsu to strike all those around him. He didn't want to be captured and there was no escape. This was the only option left for a man with no options.
The huge dog leaps out of harm's way… and directly back into it. Holding up a giant paw, it blocks the flames from Shizou. There's a very loud grunt from both heads as the flames impact, but they've succeeded in preventing any further damage to the already injured Hitoshi. The resulting burns can't be considered minor, but they're far from a medical emergency. Big dogs die hard.
Now that it seems the situation is under control, Atsuro and Taizen see no reason to continue like this and, in a puff of smoke, return to their original, separate forms. "Everybody okay?" he asks. Then he grabs a katana from Taizen's vest and walks over to Hitsuki's hole. "You alive?" he calls in, "You planning anything stupid?"
The group of Taikis almost lazily jump up again to avoid the explosion, but blink as their target has seemed to have disappeared, though their smell tells them there are pieces of their prey all over the place. Reaching the inevitable conclusion, the squad of Taiki stands fully erect before being enveloped in clouds of white smoke. The smoke dissipates, leaving one Taiki and one Shinobu.
"The tactic seems to work, though we need to learn how to use the clones for defense," Taiki mentions toward his ninken. "But that can come later." In the meantime, Taiki and Shinobu seem pretty much follow Atsuro's lead, covering him while assessing their own wounds. Shinobu himself is unharmed, though Taiki is sporting some burns pretty much like Atsuro's. Seeing this, Nozomi walks over and starts sniffing at Taiki, as if trying to assess how badly injured the genin who is famous for ignoring wounds really is.
Etsu was growing tired and was running a bit low on steam. She didn't want to fight anymore against these men or this particular man. In his mind, he there was no other options. He tried, but the group had him trapped. Instead of surrendering, he'd rather die, so the image of a man filling with his own jutsu in a last attempt at attacking them caught her off guard enough for her to get burned. Again. She tossed up a defense, but would be thrown back and endure the flames that came from that, not to mention a choice few other things.
She laid on the ground and tried to recover, needing a few moments to come up from the ground and shake it all off. She was bothered, but that was just the reality of this mission. Grumbling, she raised up from the ground and dusted herself off, though she tries to tend to her wounds.
Well, no. Not so much. As Hitoshi was getting ready to try and get the situation under control and actually try to take the attack… he was saved by a dog. His arms had gone up over his head again, to protect himself… and when he doesn't feel horrid heat on his arms, he looks out, past them, and blinks.
… Well, then! It looks like things have been salvaged and it's controlled, now. As Atsuro assesses the situation and calls out to his team, Hitoshi gives an odd little noise. Yeah, he's okay.
With no way to defend himself while still being trapped from the kikaichu, Hitsuki was forced to take the attack of the explosion with full force. The power and flames alone being enough to burn through his clothing and singe his hair and flesh. Even the heartiest of men wouldn't be able to control themselves. So it came to no surprise as Hitsuki let out a scream like no other. The pain, too much to grit his teeth through. Though he did manage to curse Shizou's name as a chunk of the man laid beside him.
Glancing up to the eldest of the group, Hitsuki perked a smile. He was free from his holdings, with the explosion being enough force to burn through the bugs that held him in place. However he had no intentions of fighting and none of running away. He knew what waited him when they dragged him back to Konoha and he didn't mind it. Being interrogated and spending what could very well be the rest of life behind bars was a far better alternative to…Kicking at the piece of flesh before him.
"Depends on your definition of stupid." He retorted as he climbed his way out of the hole, unconcerned if it might provoke an attack from the others. At this point, he still felt as if he deserved some respect. Despite the situation. He was a man and he deserved to hold onto what little pride he had left. No one would take that away..not yet anyways. "Just…take me already. There's little more I can do. Besides, we were just two men. You all should know by know." A glance given to Hitoshi, the one that proved to be the inquisitive type. "There's far more camps out there in the forests waiting to set off their explosions. Ours just happened to go off…a bit earlier then expected..No matter." He said with a smug smile, holding onto that the whole way back to the village.