Date: April 25, 2012
The young Senju pairs up the goliath Kamizuru on another mission which turns out to be more eventful than anticipated. Shocking similarities bring two opposites together.
Poster's note: Profanity filtered in obvious places.
Miati Forest- Long Grass
The mission was simple. Deliver a merchant's pet rabbit from the northern edge of Maiti Forest to Kadomai eastern entry road. The rabbit in question was intended to be a gift to the daughter of said merchant, but given the delays of a prior delivery and the birthday of her daughter being so close, Otome Kurosawa was left with little choice except to hire the aid of shinobi to expedite the delivery of her package. Michi at first and on the spot as soon as she saw the giant during her expadition to the Land of Water for 'furthering her studies', and Ryuunosuke in much the same way but for a variable of a reason.
Unfortunatly, in this day and age, things are never quite as simple as they should've…
An overcast sky, but nothing falling…
Masked man from the trees…
Michi and Ryuu ran along the forest floor…
An defeaning explosion…
Michi could not comprehend how things had turn to the worst so quickly. What she did however comprehend were several things with the most important being that her now cage-less boat ticket was safe literally in her hands at the moment. Ryuunosuke on the other hand wasn't given much thought of after the explosive tag went off so close to the duo.
"Tell me! How did it come to this!?' Ryuunosuke shouts, as if to the heavens, for an answer. It was supposed to be a simple little mission. Take a cute little rabbit to a girl for her loving yet forgetful mother for her birthday. At Michi's side Ryuunosuke dashed not unnerved by the explosive tag but flabbergasted at the 180 the mission just pulled. He glances back to see if he can spot a few pursuers. Alas nothing so his attention goes to Michi who has the precious cargo. "Well this sucks. Any bright ideas?" he asks.
Ryuunosuke balls up a fist "If not I could try to /dissuade/ whoever is getting reckless with those explosive tags. Seriously what kind of evil scumbag would want to prevent a little girl from receiving her birthday present? That's just…horrible." Ryuunosuke adds. The thought irritated him but he kept his wits about him. "Whatever. So long as the rabbit's safe we haven't failed yet. They're not gonna touch it." He states.
"Hnn." Beyond that oh so informative response, Michi stayed quiet, contemplative, and continued to stroke rabbits head subconsciously. Pausing only from the feel of a rough, unnatural obstruction along its neck. A leather color with an odd nametag.
"Fuzzybottom." She stated dryly aloud after nearly choking the rabbit in the process of turning the collar enough around to check the tag. A few more thoughtless strokes along the tag's surface revealed something else as well.
"Stay calm, stay quiet Senju-san, zu-zu." Michi deadpanned then paused to wait for results before pressing forward. "Knowledge… Senju-san, are you familiar with these forest. Do you possess a map?"
Michi's responses or lack thereof reminded Ryuunosuke of Atsuro's nonchalant attitude which kind of floated Ryuunosuke off. "…the helium Michi-senpai!?" he snaps right around the time she starts choking/checking the rabbit. His eyebrow twitched as he struggled to be patient. "Fuzzybottom? What a ridiculous-ly adorable name." he mutters softly so that Michi doesn't hear him. When Michi spoke Ryuunosuke was curious to see what she was thinking. "No map but I do know this Forest. The Senju have been all over this land during the Clan Wars. Not much has changed since then besides the establishment of the villages. Why?"
"Basically just grass and hills around this area. The occasional stream and tree but that's about it. No other notable land marks if I recall." He explains further. His curiosity had reached its climax though "Why? Why? Why? Come on out with it already."
Michi quirked a brow. "Your training is sorely lacking." She stated in a matter of fact kind of tone. Then lightly sighed. "To know the terrain is to know its weakness and advantages. To know it, is to know one-third of your enemy." Michi inclined her head forward. "To that end, it was best to know what we have… which is the river and what we've seen them do." She explained, stroking the rabbit excessively at this point during another pause to think and focus.
"What is your affinity? And, do you know of any settlements, trade routes nearby?"
Ryuunosuke blinks at Michi "…I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that." He says looking away. "Wind. Up a few more meters there was one. Not sure if it's still there but it should be. The land of Rice Patties is home to a lot of trades." He grumbles. "Lacking….I'll show you lacking….you amazon." He murmurs. "Let's just get this over with."
Michi either did not here or chose to ignore Ryuunosuke's first comment. Not that she would have paid it much mind to begin with unless it was constructive in some way. "Then the plan is simple. We will bury our scent first. Next, we will — " She paused to stare at the hand still stroking the rabbit, scowled before stopping the hand reluctantly. " — shave.. A few pieces of its fur will have to removed. Some for your wind scattering where we will not tread, the rest will send down river. Both of which will keep whatever trackers they have distracted."
Michi started shifted around to drag out a kunai an held it in front of the rabbit. It fainted, insantly at the sight…
"Then, I will require that you keep us downwind by manipulation while we take a route that'll keep us away from those trade routes.. Understood?"
With all Ryuunosuke just observed of Michi he noted in his head to classify her as a strange one. Strange but intelligent. Her plan made sense and Ryuunosuke agreed with every bit of it, he wouldn't voice that but a simple nod would indicate that he understands. Seeing the rabbit faint Ryuunosuke can't help but feel sorry for it. "You scared it. Eh probably better this way." He shrugs. Concentrating a bit of chakra to his palm he's ready to scatter what Michi cut off.
"Let's hope this works. When the little guy wakes up I'd like him to be in the arms of his new owner." He states with a soft smile.
Michi stayed silent and focused solely on the task of shaving the rabbit’s hindquarters. A task she hesitated upon initiating as soon as the blade had first touched the little critter's fur, but nevertheless carried out swiftly and efficiently. As soon as it was complete she turned to try and carefully pocket the poor critter into her coat pocket; only to be belatedly reminded of its destruction earlier.
She sighed apathetically.
"Here." She muttered to Ryuu, passing along a few scraps of fur. Then slipped over to a few bits into the river. Still a few remained. "Go, Ro, Shi, Ran." Within seconds four wasp scattered with what was left while Michi reluctantly removed her headwrap to bind their package, the whole point of their debacle of a mission, to her side. "They will scatter them further north, this river flows south. So, keep us -downwind- but make sure it is not noticeable breeze… Understood?" Without waiting except to make certain that the fur was distributed, Michi took off as low as possible but paused within a few minutes to let Ryuu take point.
Ryuunosuke couldn't help but get the feeling Michi thought very little of him. The young Senju wasn't as much insulted as he was disappointed. He simply nods to the woman after taking the snippings. Taking point Ryuunosuke leads the way following Michi's instructions as best as he could. He was trying to get his chakra just right to stir up a breeze that seemed natural. In his fist he gathered wind chakra. As it fluctuated Ryuunosuke seemed to struggle to get it just right.
It was either too powerful or too weak. He drew on his emotions to regulate the strength of his chakra. Anger fueled the chakra while serene memories calmed and lessened it. The boy was rushing himself and frustrating himself. His own thoughts began to taunt him. Doubt and skepticism were creeping upon him. His only defense against such negativity was to respond with anger. He knew that wasn't the way. Someone told him this already. "The wind is weightless. Unrestricted or bound, truly free to be happy." He mutters after taking a deep breath. His hand uncurls slowly revealing the snippets of fur. At first they're motionless but the tresses start to rise and slide to the fingertips. Soon they're lifted and released into the air gradually taking to the breeze Ryuunosuke created. The young Senju sighs "How quickly I'd forgotten." He shrugs. "Well that's it. Let's go. Downwind right? No problem." And with that he leads Michi opposite to the river flow but not directly in the direction he sent the fur.
Michi, her colony, and perhaps whatever tracker their current enemies had at their disposal, could sense Ryuunosuke's turmoil in attempting to carry his part in the plan. The next thing the Kamizuru noticed was her own hand trembling as it made its way up and over to Ryuu's back; but for what reason she could not understand. It made no sense to Michi that despite mentally straining herself — thus, inadvertantly stirring up the remains of her colony — why she could not stop its progress. Not at first at least, but in noting the Senju's success control was quickly reestablished and asserted through a quick yank of the offending limb back at her sides. Her gaze averted instantly should he look back before focusing ahead again.
"We must hasten, this.. fuzzybottom-san, does not feel as if they will stay unconscious for long." She whispered.
Ryuunosuke was ignorant to all that occurred while he was trying to carry out the procedure Michi explained. By the time he turned around to look at her she had already regained control of herself and established her usual demeanor. Ryuunosuke agreed to the hastening of their efforts. They Senju took off with vim and vigor. He seemed lighter in both body and mind. Ryuunosuke made sure to avoid major trade routes while maintaining a position downwind so that their scent wouldn't be carried to the trackers, under normal circumstances that is. A few times the two specifications Michi made would conflict as their path downwind would lead them into a trade route. Ryuunosuke's wind manipulation however was used to counter this effect if need be.
Overall their voyage though a bit shaky at first seemed to carry on a lot smoother now. "I think we're almost there. Took a while with all the 'scenic' routes we took but it looks like we lost whoever was tailing us." He notes.
"For the time being, zu-zu." Despite her own words Michi visibly started to relax in body. In mind, on the otherhand, she remain no less sharp or in tune with the squad she sent out earlier to ensure their success. With their return Michi let them each in turn land on her index finger and listened…
Admist hills and over plains, through tall grass and rainfall, the latter being a promise so long foretold, Michi and Ryuunosuke travels go unabated by their pursues. Their ruse an appearant success? Or perhaps an even bigger fish causing a disturbance? Whatever the case may be for the remainder of their journey the rabbit, too terrified to remain within Michi's prescence without nearly (and at first succeeding) wetting itself is given to Ryuunosuke to take care of while the walked side by side along a well worn merchant's road with nothing to shield them for awhile until the canopy of a dense forest started blocking out the worst of it.
Try as he did Ryuunosuke couldn’t keep from being amused and smiled at Michi. Fuzzybottom's fright was understandable and Ryuunosuke didn't mind holding it for the remainder of the voyage. He found himself stroking the rabbit unconsciously just like Michi was however on occasion he'd find his finger being nibbled on. After the first several times Ryuunosuke couldn't contribute this to coincidence. Despite it all however he continued petting the rabbit and being bitten occasionally. "First it uses you as a restroom now it's treating me like a carrot. This is one bizarre bunny." He comments.
His guard is relaxed much like Michi but unlike Michi Ryuunosuke believes they've completely slipped the pursuit of their mysterious pursuers. He's still light in nature and he seems to be even calmer with the rabbit in his care. His senses aren't dulled to virtually being absent but he's not as sharp and keen as he could be. "I think it's best we give the daughter a head's up about this. This was a lot more than we thought it would be." Ryuunosuke sighs
While on the surface Michi had no less calm, cool, and collected. Her colony started to buzz increasingly louder from the few remaining folds of clothing left with every point the Senju made. The Kamizuru only half-heartedly attempted to calm them down through her own whispers; and as result, only succeeding in getting a dull roar out of the insects.
Typical genetic defected critters…
"That will not be necessary. What is necessary is that we feed him soon, zu-zu." Michi stated dryly as she peered down at the shorter 'human'. "Were you able to retain its proper meals on your person, zu-zu?"
Ryuunosuke blinks at Michi "Zu-zu again? What a quirky thing to say." he thinks before answering Michi's question."If you mean my fingers then yeah, they're kind of attached to my person." He was joking of course. He searched his pouch for the pellets provided for the rabbit. Grabbing a small handful he presents Fuzzybottom with them. He'd let the rabbit come to the food. Force would only scare it and he didn't want to end up like Michi did.
"So did your friends spot anything?" Ryuu asks. "They seemed a bit loud back there. Thought they were trying to get your attention." The young Senju explains. He did envy clans that had a relationship with animals. Inuzuka, Aburame, etc. He thought them fortunate to have a friend, a companion, on such a profound level.
Michi narrowed her eyes at Ryuunosuke, glaring in earnest while his attention was diverted to the rabbit. By the time it shifted back her gaze had already returned to the rain soaked path ahead. "They are keep track of our pursuers. However — " She glanced up to the canopy with a thin, barely noticeable frown marring her futures. " — In this weather they will be at a significant disadvantage. Now…", She sharply turned to look back now at the rabbit itself, "What is your estimate of the amount of time we have left before we reach our destination?"
Ryuunosuke is sort of listening to Michi at this point. She didn't say much but when she did it was short and to the point but complicated to see the point sometimes. He faded in and out as he fed the rabbit and caught her question a good 3 seconds after she had asked. "Umm" he looks around familiarizing himself with the area and refreshing his memory. "Well we should be able to spot it in about twelve perhaps fifteen minutes. Arrival would be about another good twenty or so depending on the pace." He explains. "See we'll come to a hill up ahead with a great view. It's easy to spot our destination from there but it's still a ways away." He adds.
'So soon?' Michi thought after snapping her focus back to the rabbit, then the path ahead. A sigh almost makes it passed her lips.
"I see. That is good then that we will not be troubled further by it." Michi stated icily before folding her arms under her breast and inclining her head forward a few degrees. "Tell me Senju-san, Why did you agree to all this? Surely your Kage frowns upon such actions without some personal confirmation of someone in a higher position then yourself." She continued with eyes roving back and forth across her vision, scanning the area. The truth however was the simple fact that she dearly needed to remain distracted from their precious cargo.
Ryuunosuke's eyes snap to Michi "Soon? We should've been there by now. But we had complications." He notes continuing on. Michi's question surprised Ryuunosuke but what she said made sense, from her point of view anyway. "The Hokage knows me very well. My past and present and she probably fears for my future." He explains. "Children need their parents. Even if they never see them. The feeling of knowing that they're out there can change a child." Ryuunosuke sighs "I can understand the mother's efforts. Hiring trained killers to ensure that her daughter receives a gift seems like a waist but that's a parent's love."
Ryuunosuke looks to the rabbit now which had long since disposed of the pellets and moved on to Ryuunosuke's flesh once again. The boy winces and moves his hand to pet the thing. "Little…." He grumbles lowly. "But why would I refuse? I'm not nearly as lofty as one would think." He adds. "When someone needs help you should help them. Not for a reward, but simply because they need it."
Her eyes might not have ever averted. Her expression did not change from its usual sense of emotionless. Nor did her pace falter for a second. Even so, Ryuunosuke's words had sunk most definitely sunk into her thick skull. Deeper than what even she had initially expected after their last encounter. Still… The mission always comes first. "You are an odd one Senju-san, zu-zu." She stated in a matter-of-fact tone. Then the Kamizuru stepped closer with her arms let loose to swing at her sides. Although, stiffly compared to others. "… And what of those without or those who may never see their parents again?" Michi asked, focusing her gaze down upon the rabbit solely now. "Due to the selfishness of others…"
Ryuunosuke's eyes darken with a hatred that he had tried to keep buried for so long. "They…..are alone in their struggle to escape from the darkness." He mutters. Nothing more as his fingertips tremble on the hairs of the rabbit. No longer able to pet it Ryuunosuke just holds the cargo and continues forward in silence. He finally speaks up due to lingering curiosity "Why do you ask so suddenly?"
Silence is all that answers Ryuunosuke's question, seemingly indefinite despite any attempt on either the Senju or even the divine's part to force a change. Throughout it all the rabbit, perhaps out of a morbid sense of curiosity, eventually started to squirm around until it could look up at the giantess who held him before. Fearful still by the way it shirked back as soon as it sighted her, and yet… unwilling to keep his eyes off of the Kamizuru.
In the face of the double threat — alluring beady black eyes and a surprisingly clean light brown fur coat — Michi was weakening with every second she kept her eyes from it. In time she nearly caved as well when all that was left but a few more meters before they reached the peak of the hill. Ryuu's words drifted back to the forefront of her mind, derailing the peculiar feelings elicited by the rabbit, and what was even stranger, offered her the strength.
"I do not know why I asked, zu-zu… but…" Unless stopped, Michi's would resolutely find its way to the mid-back of the rabbit, brushing back its fur and calming it down all the more. "Ever sense then I've sensed similarities between us… though they end now with one simple word. Condemnation."
With one final step they made it to the top. And as if to celebrate their success and illuminate the better worn path ahead to their final destination, the rain sputtered to a stop as the clouds parted above. Michi's family of course started to rejoice upon sensing the change, but as always their host half-heartedly quieted down as she searched the area ahead. Then behind them to find… nothing amiss.
A little less than half a mile behind the duo and several hundred feet high thanks to the trees, their attackers — all well built male figures with masks similar to stereotypical missing nin — all burst into columns of smoke. Leaving in their place several men and a woman each bearing Iwagakure's hitai-ite upon their person openly now.
"So, this is as far as she's grown thus far…. But, still… nowhere far enough just yet.." The only woman of the group spoke up before bursting once more into a column of smoke. The rest followed suit, expecting no honest reply neither being necessary for their leader nor commenting at all. After all, who would be foolish enough to question the behavior of such a 'caring' mother to Michi.
The young boy observed Michi as she peered at the rabbit. The creature was still frightened of her yet it didn't take its eyes off her. Ryuunosuke didn't know whether to be amused or confused by the rabbit's actions. The hatred started to fade from his eyes when Michi spoke about a similarity and a fate they both could share. "Condemnation…" Ryuunosuke repeats. Is that what the Hokage saw in his future? It was a fate Ryuunosuke didn't wish for himself but he knew that he had been on the path to it for some time. "Maybe that is their fate. To fall into darkness…." he said.
Reaching the hilltop and being welcomed by a radiance from the parting clouds and sky above Ryuunosuke is hit with a nostalgic feeling. "This mound…." he starts. Before him the image of his father plays in his head, a memory flashing before him. 'Ryuunosuke. Do you know when the sky shines brightest?' he can remember his father asking him. Ryuunosuke shakes his head "Condemnation isn't such a bad thing." he starts to smile looking down at the rabbit. He resumes stroking its back. His memory completes with his father's answer ringing through his mind. 'The sky shines brightest in the dark of night when those who need it most are all but lost.' Ryuunosuke looks to Michi "Condemnation puts you very close to the greatest conviction." He adds. A breeze rolls up behind Ryuu and he turns back oddly to see the trail the traveled. He could've sworn he spotted someone amidst the trees of the forest. The breeze grew stronger and took the boy's attention away. His gaze returns forward and he lifts the bunny to eye level. "The wind is weightless."