Date: August 15, 2011
Sometimes — infact, far more often than most would wish to acknowledge — the side of "good" does not triumph over "evil". Sometimes the monster in the forest eats the child and is never caught, never punished. Sometimes no one ever finds out what happened to the child. Sometimes the Wolf continues to stalk the Sheep for years and years until he finally just… Stops. No answers come. No justice is served. No hearts are mended by the loss. The tales parents tell to their children of such beasts are cautionary tales, not just ways to pass the time. The warn that such things DO happen and CAN happen if one is not careful.
Uzumaki Minako doesn't know her parents. She has never heard any such cautionary tales.
On a basic delivery mission, a little girl meets the Wolf himself.
"Once Upon A Time - What Big Teeth"
A "mission" had been given to Uzumaki Minako. She was not even a Genin yet, but Onohara-sensei had decided to give this chore to the younger girl disguised as a "practice mission". Probably the purple-haired woman was just too lazy to do it herself. So now, here the red-haired girl is, trudging through the mostly-rebuilt sections of Sunagakure that had suffered so badly from the siege last year. Had it only been a year ago? For someone as young as Minako, it seemed very long indeed since she had been living on the street, fighting for survival every day, and wondering if the earthquakes and the bandit army are really gone or if they'll be back with some new and terrible weapon. That wasn't important anymore. It's getting dark, and even a capable kunoichi-in-training like herself should not be out in a place like this at night.
Not that she was worried at all — not even one iota! But there were rumors she had heard by listening in on conversations… And the public notices that had been posted up… And this "predator" seemed pretty unpleasant to run into. She couldn't remember the details right now. She just knew wandering around after dark was not a good idea or allowed. But hey, she's not a normal little girl! She is >11<! That's like… Almost an adult! She also has a sword.
So she proceeds with great confidence and only a small bit of worry in the back of her mind to where she is to deliver this package of medicine to someone's grandmother or something. Some elderly lady who is still recovering from mold in the walls of her house being released and getting into her lungs. She had been treated in the hospital, and the mold had been disposed of (how did mold get into a house in the >desert<!?), but she needs to keep taking the right medicine to clean out her lungs completely. The houses here have been rebuilt, so lingering problems like that mold — as well as structural instability — have been corrected.
The Uzumaki academy student finally arrives at the address on the paper she had received, and knocks on the door. It takes longer than it should for an answer. Shifting impatiently, she knocks again. Nothing but silence greets her. 'Maybe the old hag is out or something,' she thinks and prepares to just leave the medicine on the step and depart.
Then she hears a *thump* and an odd, scraping noise like cloth on stone. Standing back up, Minako listens carefully. The sounds do not repeat, but a shuffling noise, footsteps, and a weary old woman's voice can be heard in their place. Relieved for some reason, Minako took a moment to glance over her shoulder at the dimly-lit and deserted street, hoping that the next shinobi patrol will pass by soon. She has seen three or four patrols on this road alone during the day. They come by regularly, so the next one should be here aaaany second now—
The door opens before the red-headed girl and she faces forward. A woman with very thick eyeglasses, pale, curly hair, and 'bed-clothes', including a bonnet or something, is standing in the doorway. Her wrinkled features loo puzzled as she stares at the girl on her cat-faced welcome mat.
Minako stands there, strangely reluctant to speak first for once in her life. Normally she is almost as loud and forward as her best friend, Harada Misayo. But it is the old woman who speaks first. "Can I help you, young lady?" Minako relaxes. The voice matches her expectations of what a grandmother sounds like. Smiling and holding up the package in her hands, Minako says, "I brought your medicine, >old< lady." She has little respect for adults. However, the old woman does not seem annoyed by being called old. Instead she just beams brightly, and somehow, that smile makes the grandmother look >so much younger< than before. What a nice smile! It makes Minako smile wider too. Then the old lady laughs lightly, and Minako feels laughter bubbling up inside of her too. She giggles even though she doesn't even know why.
"Well, come on in, then," the grandmother says with a chuckle as she turns away from the door and hobbles further inwards. Minako almost walks right in without thinking. It is only the months of training to become a ninja that give her any pause at all. "Please close the door behind you too, deary. Oh, and I suppose it should be locked, shouldn't it? I heard something about a stranger in town or… Umm… Hmm…" the grandmother stops in the middle of trying to light an oil lamp to cast some illumination on the otherwise dark interior of the house. Minako doesn't want to wait for this woman to recall the details of the public notice. It'll probably take an >hour<. So she just agrees out-loud, steps inside, and does as she had been asked.
The click of the lock makes her feel secure somehow. She turns around as the woman calls to her to bring the medicine into the kitchen. The interior of the house is still dark. That seems odd to Minako. Really, it kind of makes her feel cautious again. 'Why is it so dark in here? With glasses like those, there's no way she can see where she's going in this gloom!' But the pale, ghostly-white fabric of the grandmother's nightgown can be seen in the small amount of moonlight filtering through some curtains in the kitchen, marking her like a beacon. The woman is waiting. The red-haired student shrugs it off and hurries forward. The sooner she gets this done the sooner she can go home. Maybe she can even spend the night at Misayo-chan's house~! The thought of >that< makes her even >more< eager and excited to depart.
Sing-songing, 'Misayo-chan~, Misayo-chan~… <3' in her head in a very girly manner that she would >never< let other people witness, she arrives in the kitchen and nearly trips over something on the floor. The medicine flies from her hands and lands at the grandmother's feet. Minako tries to regain her balance, wondering what her foot struck in the dark, and then she realizes she heard a grunt when she tripped. And now, whatever she had tripped over is… >Moving<. 'Please let that be a cat or something,' she thinks in a dismal manner as she allows her red eyes to descend gradually until they find the object.
It's a bag. A large, cloth sack, of the kind that mail-carriers use. But whatever is inside the bag is moving around, struggling, making frantic, high-pitched noises like a woman with her mouth covered might. The bag is stained dark in various places. The bag, moving so bizarrely, making noises, is such a surreal, nightmarish vision, that the girl feels the urge to scream and can't even follow through with it. She just stares in shock, her mouth hanging open, eyes wide.
Then a voice speaks to Minako, grabbing her attention. "What a coincidence you happened to show up," the voice of a young man says in the shadow-draped kitchen that has just become Minako's wakeing-nightmare. Her head snaps up and finds only the 'grandmother' there with her. "I had just been thinking of finding another playmate." The eyeglasses are gone from the man's face. Blue eyes. Bright blue, with pale, curly, white-blonde hair. She recalls the description now from that cursory glance. He takes a step towards her, hands held in claw-like positons, as though they actually >are< the appendages of a monster (a wolf a wolf he's a wolf) instead of a man. "That really is a remarkable coincidence, don't you think?" Genjitsu Emu takes another step forward and a shudder passes through Minako. "A remarkable, >happy< coincidence…" he says, repeating himself almost as though not speaking to her at all.
Minako wants to run. She wants to fight. She wants to rescue the woman in the bag. She wants someone to rescue her. She wants to scream and scream and never stop. But she can only stand there and shake in terror. "I'm ready, my little red darling," the wolf in man's skin offers in a suddenly deep, growling, threatening tone, that also carries with it some other emotion that she can not define. A sort of… >Wanting<. A wanting to >hurt< her. His voice sounds much more like a beast's than a man's. He is half-way across the kitchen now, almost close enough to reach her. Then he smiles, showing that he has filed each and every one of his teeth into sharp points (all the better to eat you with my dear).
Somehow, the sight of those teeth snaps the orphan out of her stupor. She will not be eaten. She won't allow it. She turns and flees with all the speed she has available. She is a >fast< little girl. Maybe she's not a full ninja yet, but she is as fast as an average Chuunin in terms of running speed alone. She reaches the door quickly. 'The door is locked.' She remembers that just in time to not waste any effort struggling with it and instead leaps aside.
The Wolf >slams< into the door a second later, apparently overcoming his surprise at Minako's speed long enough to pursue her — just like any canine will chase a moving target. His body strikes the wooden barrier, and Minako wastes no time in leaping right through the open window in the wall in front of her. She smashes through the wood-slat blinds, hits the ground outside, rolls into a crouch, and starts running with such fluidness that she almost wishes Onohara-sensei was present to see the girl's training pay off when it counted.
She runs right out into the street, where a ninja patrol is hurrying to meet her, having heard the noise. At that point, she breaks down. She babbles out a disjointed story of what happened, and while she is guided away, the other three ninja head to the house.
Later on, she finds out that the ninja found the old woman in the bag. No one tells her anything more about the victim. She does not ask. When questioned, she simply says that she encountered a monster. Her description matches that of Genjitsu Emu, but she calls him by a different name. "The Wolf," she calls him. "The Big Bad Wolf."