Date: June 6th, 2010
While hunting down criminals who've stolen forbidden jutsu from their homeland, Team 01 has to enter a rather unpleasant section of the sewers. Who thinks going into the dark, scary cave is a bad idea?
"The Traitor's Trail, Part I: What Lies Beneath"
The town of Sayu, Land of Wind
It was that time of the year again: Mission time. This time it involved not the capture or assassination of a target, but the reacquisition of one. A wanted criminal from the village of Iwagakure had been apprehended in the Land of Wind, and then brought back to the village of Sunagakure for interrogation. After determining that the man had known nothing of any value to their village, plans were made to extradite him back to his native homeland in order to face charges.
Plans which never made it to fruition.
The Iwagakure convict had escaped, and, along with leaving two dead shinobi, had left the village with a large scroll detailing forbidden jutsu capable of controlling a mind and bending another person to one's will, but which would leave them horribly changed, their mind forever trapped in the body of a slavering monster. The investigation had quickly revealed that the man had an accomplice within Suna, who had fled with him, and evidence implicated that the inside man had had contact with an as-of-yet-unknown third party.
Team One's goal was simple: track down and retrieve the scroll, or destroy it, by any means necessary. The capture or death of the culprits responsible was secondary until the kinjutsu threat was taken care of.
Thus far, they had two names: Norobu Ichi, the escaped Iwagakure criminal, and Yasadora Yori, his accomplice within Suna, who was no classified as a rogue missing-nin of Chuunin level. The trail had thus far been easy enough to follow, but dead-ended at the town of Sayu, near the edges of the Land of Wind's borders, where it seemed the criminals had gone to ground. It was assumed that they were looking to cross the border into another country, which would further complicate the search for them if it went international. As they were wanted criminals, it was suggested before they set out that the team start their search at the local law enforcement center of Sayu. Being a town that was just a few hundred people away from being called a city, they warranted their own Daimyo-funded protection force.
The Sayu police station was a squat, single-story building, aestheticly unappealing, looking like nothing so much as a drab, slate-gray prison made out of rough-hewn stone. It sat nearly in the center of the town, taking up almost an entire city block by itself. Like an iceberg, most of it was underground, with several stories of basements dug out beneath it. Rinako couldn't help but look at it in a rather unimpressed fashion, her arms folded across her chest as she rolled a toothpick, all that was left of the dango she'd made everyone halt for while she purchased, from one side of her mouth to the other.
"Not much to look at, huh?"
Kara has Pharaoh strapped to her back like usual, all wrapped up in bandages. She also has made an addition to the harness, however. There is now a sort of flat backpack with slots for scrolls. Only one slot is filled, though. "Well," she begins as she walks up next to Rinako. "I guess they don't really need to make their police station look pretty. It's not designed to entice people into coming inside or anything, unlike a store or hotel or whatever." She shrugs. "Anyway, are we going inside?"
Ruri isn't feeling so good, so she doesn't say anything for most of the trip. She just sort of hangs around near the back of the group. When Kara mentions going inside after they arrive, Ruri squints at the building. "Well, it's probably cooler in there than out here in the sun. So I'd probably have to say 'yes'. That and it was 'recommended' to us not so subtly that we check in here."
As missions go, Shemri rather likes these crook-capturing schticks. They're, well, like hunting! Yeah, sometimes the target turns out to be a bit harder to handle than expected (like that fiasco in the Land of Waves), but in general, it's a fulfilling sort of task. You get to travel around, you get to smack some deserving heads, and you make the world a better place. That said, the tracking aspect is disappointingly different from how it is in regular hunting. Instead of following the signs and behaviors of simple animals, you need to get inside the head of one particular human. You also need to talk with other people a lot. -.- "Who is it we must speak to here?" Shemri asks.
"Still. You know… some paint on the outside wouldn't kill 'em, right?" As if to somehow accentuate her point, the dark-haired kunoichi gives the undecorated, rough stone exterior a mild frown-and-glare combo. Rinako didn't consider herself a decorator by any stretch of the word, but even she could see the obvious need for a bit of color! "I'm getting depressed just looking at it."
As Kara inquires, and Ruri mentions, heading in, the elder of the Rurohashi siblings steps forward and pulls open one of the double doors for the other three women to pile through. "Iunno who to talk to. These are the local cops, so I'm guessing we start chucking about the names we got and see what kind of reactions we get."
Yes indeed, urban hunting was a far different animal from stalking one's prey through the wilderness.
The inside of the building looks just as drab as the outside, though there's far less light in here, which made it seem more dungeon-esque. The entrance was an expansively large, open area, and desks were littered practically everywhere, crammed wherever they could find room. There were a few doors here and there, leading to other rooms or hallways, which lead even further back into the compound. But immediately facing them was the obstacle of the receptionist's desk, which had a bored-looking, overweight woman with nails about three inches too long, and wearing entirely too much jewelry, behind it. She deigns to glance up over her square-rimmed spectacles at the new arrivals.
"Please have the victim step forward and fill out the complaint form for-" She had to raise her voice to be heard over the dull roar of the many bodies packed in the same wide-open room, but cuts off as she notes the peculiar manner of dress the 'guests' had on, as well as the plethora of forehead protectors. "Oh. You're not here to report another assault or missing person, are you?"
The woman in the ancient Egyptian-styled clothing glances around the interior, finding it to be crowded and busy. Not quite her favorite kind of place to be, but 'needs must when the devil drives' or however that goes. Is this even the right context for that expression? We'll never know, because Kara doesn't say it outloud!
"Nope!" she chirps cheerfully. Then she thoughtfully offers, "But if you'd like we can leave, rough someone up, and then come back." Hey, the lady looks bored! Maybe a joke could improve her day! She also looks towards Ruri — and not for the first time today — trying to make sure the team leader is alright. She seems a bit under the weather. Maybe she's depressed over the loss of her eye?
After entering the building, Ruri remains where she is, at the back of the group. Maybe she's the leader, but she feels more like some kind of… Of… 'Not-leader' at the moment. Infact, she feels more like, 'I will puke if I turn my head too fast'. Her right eye has a black bandana over it, with the symbol of Sunagakure on the fabric in silvery thread. As far as Shemri and Kara know, the only thing underneath that bandana is an empty socket. She frowns slightly at Kara's joke, and raises her own voice to be heard as well. "No, we're looking for a couple people, but in this case they are not 'missing' so much as 'fugitives'. Rin-chan, what were their names again?"
Ruri should be able to remember them, really, but her head is swimming.
Shemri glances at Kara. Somehow, this lady doesn't seem to be the sort to appreciate humor, and Shemri would know. e.e Still, won't do any good berating Kara at this point, and who knows, maybe Shemri's instinct is wrong. And…yeah, not much else for Shemri to do at the precise moment. c.c
The woman's expression scrunches up as if she'd just tasted something extremely sour at Kara's comment. Clearly, this one was not one of those who was in very good humor at all, and may have even lacked the part of her anatomy where the source of humor was supposed to be located. She gives an indignant sniff before turning her baleful, superior gaze on Ruri as she speaks up, as if she were the goddess of this front reception area, and these peons needed to grovel for her acceptance.
Rinako wanted to punch her.
She points at Ruri's feet imperiously. "Wait here." It's said as if the kunoichi moving her feet would have dire consequences, as she turns around, her six or seven fake-jewelry necklaces making far too much noise as she leaves the counter area and walks over to one of the desks. She approaches one holding a middle-aged, balding male with his feet kicked up on the desk and his hands behind his head, listening to some talk-radio station or another, an unlit cigarette in his mouth. After snatching the cancer stick from his lips, the pair trade some words, most of which looked hostile from this distance, before storming back to the counter.
"Someone will be with you in a minute." She informs the waiting group.
They wouldn't have long to wait before the male was walking around the counter, a file in one hand, and an easy, if not quite friendly, smile under his prominent pushbroom moustache. "You must be the group after that Norobu fella, eh? We were told to expect ya. We've been keepin' an eye out for 'em an all, but what with all the crazies commin' outta the woodwork, we got our hands full with assaults and missing homeless cases. Couple people even turned up dead last night."
Kara just beams at Dolores Umbridge (aka The Human Toad) as she snobs and swishes her jewelry around. Only when she is out of ear-shot does she mutter between her teeth, "Bitch." By the time she returns all flustered and upset, Kara has lost interest and has wandered away from where she was told to stay. "Ooo. Look! A 1920s Japan-appropriate water cooler! They're the newest thing!" she announces to the team before grabbing guzzling down several cups of water.
By the time the man has come over to them, Kara has finished and comes back to the group, bearing a cup of water in each hand. She offers them both to Rinako. "What kind of crazies? Like… Homicidal crazies?" She definitely has an idea or two about what might be causing the craziness and missing persons…
Ruri doesn't feel well enough to argue with Queen Fathead so she just stays where she is. Once the officer or whoever this is comes up to them, she nods. "Not a problem. And yes, we are looking for him… And one other. But I suspect if we find one, we'll find the second guy too. And yes, please do tell us about these 'crazies'. It may be related to why we're here." She turns her head to look in Shemri's direction, having noticed the older woman's quietness, but has to turn her head almost all the way, thanks to the bandana over her right eye. Seems she's still not used to having a 'blind spot'. She just looks at Shemri for a moment, and then focuses back on the man.
Crazies and homicides…yup, guess that would be equivalent to a trail. A rather bloody trail, unfortunately. c.c; When Ruri looks her way, Shemri looks back. Huh? Is she supposed to say something at this point? o.o Shemri clears her throat. "Er, we must begin tracking while the trail is still warm," she remarks. Hope that was insightful enough. c.c
Blinking with a puzzled frown as she's handed not one, but two cups of water, Rinako spends a few moments looking between them Kara, as if telepathicly trying to coax her into answering why she had to hold the water. She surmised that it was either meant for her to drink (and she did so love to guzzle the stuff, so much so that her canteen was always the first to run out, which led to her begging form her team mates), or that Kara was using her as a storage unit. As she downs the first cup, she supposed that if it was the latter option, then that'd only make the water even /tastier/, with the added flavor of spite.
The male officer, meanwhile, just nods solemnly, the easy-going smile slipping from his face. "Yeah, you could say that. Vagabonds and drifters, just up and attacking people all week. Reported assaults have been coming in steadily all day. And these aren't just muggings. We didn't think nothing of it at first, everyone knows those areas are dangerous. But then they started happening during the day, and now it's starting to happen more frequently. Near as we can tell, that whole neighborhood's just gone completely to hell, and everyone in it's gone batshit. The Mayor wants us to quarantine the whole area, thinks it might be some kind of disease. We already sent runners off to the Daimyo asking for more men."
He opens the file for a moment, frowning down into it's contents as he twirls the end of the caterpillar dominating his upper lip. Finally, he looks back up. "As long as you don't start no trouble here, we're not gonna kick up no jurisdictional fuss if one more hoodlum is taken off of our hands. We got a lead for ya, not much of one, but it's something to start with. Seems one of our assault victims identified a mug shot of Noboru where she was attacked, said he was in the area, but when she screamed to him for help, he just took off. It was over on the east side, near the old sewer drainages. If someone wanted not to be found, that'd be the place to go, if they could stand the smell."
After closing the file, he hesitates, starts to turn away, hesitates again, then turns back. "Look, you seem like nice gals, so do what'cha gotta do there, then get out. Like I said, people get attacked during the day, but only when they go too close to the slums. Don't let the sun go down while you're there. The ing crazies all come out at night and howl at the moon, or whatever they do. There's somethin'… /wrong/ with the way they look. You gals take care of yourselves."
Kara nods as the officer confirms her suspicions. She says, "Thanks, officer." Then she turns her attention to the others. Knowing that Ruri wasn't feeling well, she has apparently decided that she is the next in line for team leadership. "That Rogue-Nin that is with Noboru must be using the stolen Kinjutsu!" she whispers urgently to the other three kunoichi. "Why he's using it to attack people in a town like this I'm not sure. Maybe he's just practicing with it… You know. Mastering it, so that he can use it on >real< threats if he needs to. As Shemri-san said, we should head out while the trail is still warm. There's no telling when he might decide he has had enough practice and move on!"
She also looks towards Rinako briefly. Then she looks a second time, and asks, "What, aren't you thirsty? You only drank one! Are you sick now too!?" She sighs at the bad luck the team is having. 1/3rd of their team is ill! It looks like it's up to Kara, Shemri, Shiikaa, and Pharaoh to save the day!
Ruri nods to the officer as well. "Thank you for the warning. A dark and unfamiliar environment with numerous enemies present is likely not a good place to be. Let's hope we can get what and who we need before nightfall. It might even solve your problems in the process." She then turns to start discussing things with the team, only to find Kara is giving orders. "…." She should probably do something about this, but instead she just puts a hand to her bandana-eyepatch and sighs. Her eye keeps hurting. She thinks it might be infected. Suddenly feeling irritable, she looks up and says, "No, Kara. Rushing in is probably not a good idea, actually. If, as you say, he is practicing with this Forbidden Jutsu, then we'd be better off going in cautiously. Yes, there are time constraints, but I'd rather know the area and what we're up against than charge in and become this jerk's next victims. If he's causing this much trouble with normal people, just imagine what he could do with a ninja or four following his commands."
She hmmms. "We should scout these slums in advance. I doubt Shiikaa is going to be of much use when we get to the sewers… Unless he can somehow block out the stench and isolate these two felons. So Shemri and Shiikaa should probably come with me to look around the slums, while Rinako and Kara should check out the sewer area specifically. With Pharaoh's 'seeing Chakra through walls' ability, it should be relatively easy to find a ninja in there.—I don't expect you two to engage him alone, of course. Just locate him and then we'll regroup. Sound good?"
Shemri raises an eyebrow. So, this weird technique makes people act like animals? That's creepy. Despite the macabre nature of it, though, it makes Shemri wonder what would happen if it was used on Shiikaa. He's already an animal, but not really like most other animals…would he just go feral? Or maybe it would go the other way and make him more human? :o Well, either way, Shemri doesn't really want to find out. "When we find him, perhaps we should try to keep Pharaoh between him and us," Shemri suggests. "I doubt it could be affected by whatever this thing is."
"Can I have a moment to /breathe/ between drinks!?" Rinako shoots right back, assuming no one would call her on it. The girl could her breath for so long that a number of people believed she could breathe underwater, after all. "Geez…" And then the second cup is drained, the remains of both paper containers crumpled up and tossed towards the trash receptacle. One of them misses, though, and rolls across the floor. Despite Big Bertha's glare from behind the desk, and protesting squawk, the brunette leaves it where it lie, leaving the unfriendly police receptionist to pick up the discarded cup after they've gone.
Meanwhile, she shoots her sibling a mildly troubled as she grips at the cloth covering her once-missing eye, but manages to refrain from bringing up the younger girl's obvious discomfort in front of others. Instead, she merely replies to the orders. "Get in, find the target, call for backup. Got it."
The trip to the areas is rather unremakable. Sayu is much like any other very large town in appearance, save for it's people. It seemed the entirety of the population was held in the grip of fear, and those who were out and about kept only to themselves, walking quickly, as if eager to get the day's tasks done. Nowhere could there be seen groups of people chatting, outdoor restaurants were mostly closed, and those that weren't were doing precious little business. No children ran through the streets playing kickball, having all been kept indoors by terrified parents.
Once Ruri, Shemri, and Shiika reach the outer edges of the slums, the streets go from sparsely-populated to… vacant. Walking down the roads would reveal the occasional person peering out from the window of an apartment complex here and there, but no one was on the streets. The homeless, the vagrants, the drifters who usually populated such areas were completely absent, though there were many signs of their presence. Metal barrels that were typically used for light and warmth could be seen here and there, the occasional cart full of goods that only the homeless could want abandoned in an alleyway, food dropped in the street, only half-eaten, and ramshackle cardboard-and-wood mini-shacks, typically used for shelter simply… empty. Other than the occasional rustle of curtains from someone inside of one of the buildings seemed to give any indication of life in this barren sector of urban developement.
The sewer drainages, meanwhile, were easy enough to find, one had only to follow the stench. A slow river of filth poured out of it through the concrete channel, leading into a wide-mouthed, pitch-black tunnel. Rinako could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end as she peered into that suffocating darkness, impenetrable by the sun, which lit little beyond the very entrance into the massive sewer canal. She holds a hand to her nose, and does her best not to allow her eyes to water.
"That is… /so/ gross. Who could possibly want to hide in /there/!? I don't suppose Pharoah has a light? …And an air filter?"
Kara, despite seeming confident and even irreverent towards most things is still quite human. She is definitely disturbed by the emptiness of the town, and she is even more bothered by the bad smell coming from the sewer drain. She sums up her feelings very eloquently. "Ew."
Pinching her nose shut she answers in a nasal voice, "Light, sure. Air filter, no. But honestly, do we even need to go in before we find the guy? I can just send in Pharaoh. …Unless he's >really< far underground or something. But my range is pretty awesome these days. Like… >Sexy Awesome< even. I could probably send Pharaoh a couple miles away and still be in full control! …There'd be a delay in response time for his sensor devices though." She hmmms.
Looking over her shoulder, she checks to make sure no one is sneaking up on them, and then starts unslinging the bandaged-up corpse from her back.
Ruri just walks around in the slums, gets an idea of where everything is, and then rejoins Rinako and Kara. "Signs of scared people, and not much else. There's plenty of escape routes for ninja. We could probably just roof-hop to safety," she reports to the other two kunoichi as Kara gets out Pharaoh.
She crosses her arms and thinks for a little bit. "It'd probably be better to get this over with. We'll still proceed with caution, but splitting up at this point probably won't achieve much. Maybe Noboru is hanging out in the slums, or maybe he's in the sewers. But apprehending him is secondary to making sure that Kinjutsu doesn't fall into the hands of anyone else. Even Yasadora is secondary. He might be a threat, but if any of us gets a chance to get the scroll, we go for that first. I'm not saying 'throw yourself into danger to get it', but I WILL say that if it's between catching the bad guys and getting that scroll back, you go for the scroll."
She then says, "Shiika in the lead, due to better night vision and higher likely-hood of going unnoticed. Next is Pharaoh, both for scouting purposes and psychological warfare. Seeing a corpse walking around might be enough to keep the enemy from reacting immediately. Kara can be in the middle to have minimal lag between detecting things and reaction time, plus she has more long-range attacks than the rest of us. I'll go after Kara, so that I can give orders as necessary to both sides of the line, and can watch Kara's back. Shemri goes next, so that her back isn't exposed and she can still guard the two physically weakest team members. Rinako, you'll come in last, because you're much less likely to go down due to an attack from the rear, thanks to your Chakra shields, and you can punch us an escape route if a ton of people come in from behind. If anyone has a better idea for a formation, or has any questions, now's the time."
She is grossed out by the smell too, of course, but she is already taking out a handkerchief from her tool pouch and wrapping it across her nose and mouth.
Shemri winces as Ruri gives the order for Shiikaa to go first. Maybe she'll wind up finding out what the effect of this weird technique on semi-sentient animals is after all. c.c; Still, Ruri's right, that's the best thing for the team as a whole. Shiikaa, for his part, is now very glad for once that Shemri made him learn water walking. XP Stepping as gingerly as he can across the ooze down in the sewers, he leads the exploration.
"Eh… don't ever say 'sexy awesome' while I have a thousand people's turd-stank trying to crawl up my nose again. /Not/ the kind of pictures I need right now." Rinako scowls as she narrows her eyes, as if glaring into that mouth of darkness would somehow allow her to gain nightvision. Sadly, her imaginary Byakugan doesn't activate, and she gives up a moment later with a sigh, leaning back and crossing her arms as she contemplates the situation. "Okay, I say we- AIEE! I-Imouto-chan!?"
That girlish screech of terror would forever be denied by the fearsome Rurohashi Rinako, as she dances to the side, and nearly three feet into the air, when Shemri and Ruri land near them. Despite the fact that she could unleash something that was likely larger and more terrifying than whatever was in those tunnels, the /atmosphere/ was fraying at her nerves. She places her hands on her hips as she listens to the instructions and does her best to look as if she's been completely unphased by all events thus far.
As the cat takes the lead, with Rinako bringing up the rear, notably using her chakra to cling to the /side/ of the canal to avoid the nastiness, the cat would notice that it was a tunnel much like any other large sewage pipe, except that this one was enormous and meant to carry runoffs from severe rainstorms to prevent flooding. It wouldn't be too far in before the cat would pick up signs of people: a strip of cloth torn from clothing here, a discarded piece of footwear there. To anyone else, it might just look like discarded trash, but to an animal's keen nose, just under the smell of utter human waste was the smell of /humans themselves/. Not a hundred feet in and the darkness would already entrench itself around them, so much so that only the cat would likely be able to see at this point. Rinako lights a flare from her rear position, holding it up so that she could continue to see the rest of her team. Or part of them, anyway. It only illuminated about five feet in any direction.
As the deep red light blares to life, a low moan permeates the tunnel, echoing through it. …There were currently no air currents to cause such a sound.
Rinako thumps Shemri on the shoulder. "Quit it! You're going to scare, uh, someone!"
The dessicated corpse in a pharaoh's funerary regalia continues to march forward along the side of the canal, via Kara's invisible control. She doesn't say anything to Pharaoh or anyone else once they have entered the tunnel, because she doesn't want to tip off the enemy to their presence. Kara is a bit unsure that her being this close to the front of the line is a good idea. She'd rather have been in the middle, with two strong people on either side of her. But she presently has trouble using Pharaoh's sensors properly when she's not right next to him.
With the darkness barely penetrated by the spooky red lighting of Rinako's flare, Kara decides now is the time to start scanning for their targets. Sending additional Chakra through the Chakra strings, a jewel in Pharaoh's headdress emits an invisible cone of Chakra ahead of the procession, scanning for anything that could produce a Chakra signature. Like people. Not sewer gators. The moan that echoes through the tunnel sends a shiver up Kara's spine, but she doesn't comment.
If they can hear that noise without any air currents, then it is likely that their own voices would carry just as well to whatever produced the moan in the first place.
Ruri likewise walks on the wall, rather than the filth that coats the ground. She puts up a tough front, but she is very much thoroughly disgusted by the environment. Even with her nose and mouth covered, she can't help but gag on the stench. She keeps her eyes peeled, even as they water a bit, but there's simply not much to see in the darkness. The team leader, upon hearing the moaning noise, envisions not alligators, or even creepy homeless people… But zombies. Just like the undead they had faced on their first mission together, but this time wet instead of dry. Bloated with their own body fluids, coated in fecal matter and worse, with wet, stringy hair, and toothy maws working hungrily in the darkness… The very mental image makes Ruri extremely agitated and near-panicky. Despite the foul smells, she finds herself breathing a bit more heavily.
It's all she can do not to pull off her handkerchief mask and vomit into the sludge on the ground. Instead she just asks quietly, "See anything yet, Kara?" She doesn't bother checking behind her, because she assumes that only this far in, they're unlikely to be snuck up on. She ignores Rinako's protest against Shemri doing something or other, except to wish her sister would shush.
Shemri startles a bit herself at the sudden hard contact. "O-oi, I have not done anything!" c.c; Shemri draws several kunai. Whatever that noise was, it didn't sound all that friendly. Shiikaa peers into the darkness, his ears swiveling. No /immediate/ threats apparent…waving the tip of his tail, he proceeds cautiously forward. Better to find the danger and comprehend it than to turn your back and have it find you…
Pharoah's power would be able to detect a large amount of chakra coming from in front of them, though it was odd, off, as if there were something not quite right about it. Something /changed/. The farther they proceeded up the tunnel, however, the more it became spread out, as if covering a wide area, and by the time the group comes to a four-way intersection, it seems to be emanating from not only the front tunnel, but the left and right ones, as well.
And it was slowly getting closer of it's own accord.
Rinako comes to a brief stop at the intersection, waving her flare-light briefly down each of the three choices to proceed as if it would somehow reveal the mystery of which way they should go. Shiika would likely be of far more help in this instance, with the faint trace of human odor wafting gently from the left-hand passage. Of course, it was all but overpowered by the smell of wet flesh and rotten offal that was getting stronger by the minute.
By now Pharoah would have picked up not one, large chakra signature as originally indicated, but many smaller, individual ones that were packed into close proximity. And getting closer.
A large explosion of water from behind the group would come, along with another deep, throaty moan, filling the cavern as surely as any shout could. What emerged was a misshapen thing, made even more so by the near-darkness that surrounded the group, one arm grotesquely larger and longer than the other, it's four fingers elongated and spindly, like the legs of a spider. It's shoulders were hunched and uneven, it's other arm shriveled and withered, it's face covered in wet sores, missing both a nose and one of it's ears, what teeth were still in it's head jagged and covered in grime. They wouldn't have long to admit it's hideous appearance, for as soon as the too-human looking nightmare surfaced, it's long arm shot for Rinako, taking the girl by surprise as she turns around, it's long-fingered hand closing deftly about her face.
As she drops the flare, it pulls her back into the chest-deep, slow-moving river of filth, disappearing into the grimy, opaque liquid with it's victim before she could even shout a warning.
From the other three passages, more moans, mixed with hisses of discontent, were emanating from the darkness.
Kara keeps everyone quietly informed of what she is detecting via Pharaoh's sensing devices. They should know by now that there are plenty of Chakra signatures in the area, and down all three tunnels ahead of them. The narrow cone that detects this needs to be aimed manually, so there's room for things to be missed. Like Rinako's attacker.
When the burst of water echoes through the tunnels, Kara places one hand on Pharaoh's shoulder and turns her head around to face backwards. This way she can 'look' in both directions at once. When she sees, as the others likely do, that Rinako is gone, her eyes widen and she focuses forward even more. "Rinako is missing," she states rather unnecessarily, and a touch tremulously. "If I take Pharaoh off forward-scout duty to find her, it's likely we could be attacked from all three tunnels. Someone find her, and fast!"
One hand reaches towards the back harness she wears, fingering the scroll case she has there, but she eventually decides now is not the time. Instead she just prepares to fight with Pharaoh alone.
Ruri, already on-edge both from the noises and Kara's reports that they're all but surrounded, reacts to the loud noise from behind by whirling around. She spots some details of the creature in the glow of the flare, even as that light source tumbles down to the disgusting sludge below. The deformed, and undead-reminiscent features are more than enough to have her reacting by activating a Stored Sharp tattoo and sending a handful of senbon at where the creature vanished with her sister. The needles likely plunk into the waste without effect, but if even one sticks in flesh, then the homing beacons in each will trigger, and begin sending out waves of Chakra that can be tracked.
Kara's warnings really are unnecessary, and Ruri orders, "New formation: Everyone on the same wall, in a half-circle." This may be a bit hard to do at first, since the flare has likely been doused by the water, but soon Ruri has popped a second flare and attached it to a kunai. This way she can fight and produce light at the same time. "Clearly these things are aware of our presence. I have a new plan, and it doesn't involve staying here. Get Rin-chan and get out. The rest can only be done from outside."
Clearly she was made leader for a reason. Even panicked and fighting not to dive into the filth herself to find her sister, she can acclimate to new situations and prepare her team to handle them. "…And nobody use any combustible weapons or attacks!" she adds on. The reason may not be immediately evident, but an order is an order. For her part, she is standing on the wall and focusing on trying to spot any movement at all in the water below that might betray her twin's location, if those tracking needles don't do the job.
Shemri slowly comes to a horrifying realization, one which she should've had before they ever came down here. The police officer said that the crazies came out at night, right? There are plenty of animals like that. Hunting them during the daytime is typically a fruitless affair, because they hide themselves someplace secure and dark and enclosed, like…underground! Which means, in this case, that probably EVERY SLAVERING PSYCHO in the whole town is congregated down here! "…We are in grave danger here," Shemri says. "It would be better to face them up above at night than—"
SURPRISE FACE GRAB!!! One zombie in particular proves Shemri's point by snatching Rinako from the group. Shemri barely got a look at the grotesque creature before it hid under the sludge again. Now what!?!? c.c; Well, apparently Ruri agrees with the idea of getting out of here, but they can't very well leave without Rinako, and it looks like it falls to Shemri to accomplish the retrieval. Oh, and no combustible attacks? There goes Shiikaa's wind capabilities. Well, this is going to be a world of nausea in the short run and a day's worth of scrubbing in the long run, but Shemri's only got one option. >.<; Dashing in the direction of the monster's thrashings, Shemri passes it and then drops down into the muck, blocking its escape. Shemri hopes Rinako's using that strange self-armoring technique of hers, because things are gonna get stabbity in a moment. >/
They'd soon enough have the location of just where Rinako had disappeared to, even without the chakra-producing senbon that was sticking out of the creature's shoulder. At least, they'd have to hope it was the creature's shoulder and not Rinako that had been struck in the tussle! Regardless, the water begins thrashing violently a dozen or so feet from where the elder of the twins had vanished from, as if there were a great disturbance beneath the four feet of disgusting liquids, but as of yet, nothing surfaces.
It's a simple task for Shemri to intercept the swirling vortex of water as it slowly, but steadily, begins to move away from the group, and from the amount of movement beneath the surface, there's likely more than one thing beneath there, which runs the added danger of Rinako's rescuer being grappled and pulled under, as well! Either these things fought like crocodiles, attempting to drown their victims, or they were intelligent enough to know that humans typically needed to see and/or breath to put up a struggle. And there was no seeing or breathing in that thick, briney muck. In the next instant, a hand lashes out from underwater, grabbing the genin's ankle, and begins pulling.
For Kara, Ruri, and Shiika, meanwhile, who are closer to the intersection, shapes emerge from the darkness. They do not do so gradually, as most come to expect from horrors of the dark, but rather burst forth from it with viscious intent. Most of the /things/ look human, or like they were once so, though they only seemed to be so through the overall shape. Some were missing limbs, others missing eyes, teeth, one without it's lower jaw, all of them hideous twisted and scarred, all of them with but few wisps of wet, stringy hair clinging to bits of their scalp. Their combined moans and hisses rise up to create a deafening cacophony as the first three or four charge out of the darkness.
They didn't even /move/ as humans did, seeming to prefer crawling along the walls like spiders, or swimming through the murk like predatory fish. Hands that were missing fingers, some bloated, some distended, some missing whole tracts of flesh, reach for the pair of kunoichi, completely bypassing the cat as if it weren't even there, as if they couldn't detect it's presence.
Kara hears loud and clear the message not to use her fiery attacks. Shemri apparently decides to run off to rescue Rinako, leaving two kunoichi and a cat to defend themselves. Oh, but the monsters forgot one thing. That corpse standing there isn't just a decoration. Pharaoh reacts to the monsters that charge out of the darkness by leaping backwards to stay in front of them, and launches a canister from his jaw as it suddenly unhinges. The canister spirals through the air, along a horizontal axis, much like a football, as Kara yells, "Ruri! Wall, now!" She has no time to explain or to worry about chain of command. It's also possible Ruri will just recognize what the canister is and react on her own. But she's more focused on keeping those things from getting to them immediately.
When the canister is right in the midst of the creatures, it bursts into a mix of super-coolant chemicals and acid. The mixture then goes flying in every direction as the volatile combination sends acidic ice shards pelting everything in the tunnel and possibly whatever may lie beyond in the darkness of the other tunnels too. And hopefully this will not include the four kunoichi and one cat. Either way, whatever the shards hit not only is stabbed viciously in multiple places, but then begins to >dissolve<. If these things were once human, then they likely still feel pain, and probably still need some degree of muscle to move around. If their arms and legs have melted off, they'll probably become immobile.
Ruri sees the things surging out of the darkness and completely freaks out. She may have held onto her wits this long, but she has a deep-seated fear of the undead, and these things are hitting all of her 'oh god what!' buttons. So she violates her own orders to form a semi-circle on the wall, and begins bounding away from the monsters down the tunnel they arrived through. She's not abandoning her team, but she needs to put some distance between herself and those… Nightmares!
Rinako is struggling. Shemri is in danger of being pulled under too. Kara is yelling to her about a wall. It's all too much at once. And on top of all this, Ruri's right eye has gone from a slight irritation to burning painfully. She has to do something. She's the leader. So she turns around to face Kara as the canister unleashes its contents, and touches her left arm. A tattoo there glows green, and then a wall drops down in the tunnel, possibly sealing off the canal, depending on how wide it is. If not, then it should at least provide shelter for the team to hide behind as those acid shards come zipping through and melting everything. But what else can she do? And is Kara's attack going to be enough?
Not for the first time, Ruri experiences the weight of leadership on her shoulders. But now she has to worry about the very real possibility of not only her but the whole team being wiped out. 'Get Rinako and get out. Get Rinako and get out.' she repeats to herself silently, trying to force her mind to work through the crippling freezing effects of fear. Then she leaps down to help Shemri. If she sees any monster flesh at all, it gets stabbed with her flashlight-kunai. If she sees her sister, she gets pulled to safety. No matter what.
Ohhhh no y'don't! >.< Taking a deep breath, Shemri reaches down to where her leg has been grabbed, crossing her kunai like a pair of scissors, and—wait, that appendage doesn't feel too monster-ish, what if it's Rinako!? Well, only one way to find out. Reluctantly dropping the kunai, Shemri clasps onto the arm and pulls back. At least if this /is/ a monster, hauling it out of the muck should make fighting it easier. Of course, even if it's Rinako, the hauling might be pretty tough if the first zombie still has hold of her. Shiikaa, meanwhile, gives the tightly-packed crowd of zombies a roar, which reverberates stentorianly in the tunnels. Then he gets behind the wall with everybody else.
As the canister explodes, sending it's deadly projectiles in every direction at once, the leading group of the twisted creatures is hit hard by it. Even as the shards pierce their flesh, and then begin to dissolve pieces of it, they seem to pay it no mind at all. One of the things has both of it's arms pierced at the bicep, subsequently causing the flesh to slough off of it's upper arms, making the appendages little more than useless baggage, but still it tries to push foward with only it's legs, only to fall into the water and be unable to exit the filth without the use of it's arms.
Whatever they were, they did not seem to feel pain on any level a human would.
The wall manages to stop the rest of the team from getting pummeled, but it's rather square-shaped, and the tunnel is round, leaving crawl-spaces along the top, bottom, and both sides for things, and water, to pass through. A few of the shards embed in the concrete and begin burning a hole or two through the bricks, but overall, the danger is contained to the creatures on the other side, who hiss their frustrations over the new obstacle in their path.
The shinobi-cat's roar seems to confuse the creatures on the other side of the wall, causing a high-pitched chittering of agitation, as if they were talking to themselves in some sort of gibbering language only a subterranean horror could decipher. One thing is obvious, though, and that's that there's now more of those things, and they're beginning to squeeze through the crawl-spaces afforded them, one with particularly long arms, looking much like a humanoid daddy-longlegs spider, beginning to leer at the group from over the top.
Shemri would soon be aided by Ruri in pulling a very human hand from the murk, though it's extremely tough going, with something else pulling very /hard/ on the other end. Eventually that hand reveals the connected arm, and then the shoulder, and finally the head of it's owner: Rinako. As she's pulled up, her own feet regain purchase on the slick, grime-coated channel bottom and she digs in, yanking with all her might, only to reveal another hand attached to /her/ other arm, identical to the first. Rinako had multiplied! Soon there are two of them, forming a human pulling-chain with the aid of Ruri and Shemri, attempting to yank yet a third elder Rurohashi sibling out of the water, this one with a disgusting long-fingered hand latched onto her shoulder. Once her head breaks free of the water, she begins shouting at her team mate and sister, even as the overly-strengthened terror plays the other end of the human tug-of-war, attempting to drag her back under.
"This mother-f***er's too damned strong! SOMEBODY KILL IT BEFORE IT YANKS ME IN HALF!"
When the creatures start coming around and over the wall, Kara scowls. Pharaoh has a variety of weapons, but if acid doesn't really hurt them other than to melt them… It's a lot like that first mission they had as Team 01, when Kara couldn't do much against the zombies. But even those zombies could be melted down and forced to stop fighting. These ones just keep pressing on, and seem intelligent too!
"Alright, then. Suck on THIS!" She is no longer trying to inflict pain as a dissuasion from pursuit. Instead she decides to just kill the darn things, while at the same time keeping them from seeing their targets. To that end, Pharaoh opens his mouth wide again, and disgorges a huge cloud of locust-like insects! Has anyone ever seen Pharaoh do >that< before!? The insects seem confused for a moment by the environment before settling on the half-rotted and bleeding horrors as a prime source of nourishment. They'll probably settles on the creatures and then begin… To >eat<. Really, really fast. Like an insect version of pirannha.
The density of the cloud of insects will hopefully also block line-of-sight for the monsters, at least temporarily. Kara then turns and tries to help out the others with getting Rinako to safety. if she can figure out how.
Ruri is definitely pulling on Rinako's arm — or the arm of a clone at least — but when the real Rinako is revealed, covered in bleh and being tugged on by the monster on the other end, she dares to free one hand from pulling in order reach across and activate a Flesh Scroll tatoo. Stored Sharp. This time it's a bladed discus that streaks through the air, aimed right at the monster's arm. Hopefully it will cut right through due to the force of it. If not, there's something else the monster may want to consider. In this case, it's called 'Ruri activates a second tattoo and drops a large block of cement on the monster's head'.
Yay, it's Rinako! And…Rinako? o.O And more Rinako! Huh, didn't know she did clone stuff. Oh well! Ah, /there's/ the nasty. Shemri wishes she could get at the monster without having to let go. She's pretty decent at ranged combat for most situations, but these zombies don't seem the type to be greatly affected by thrown shuriken or kunai. :P Fortunately Ruri seems to have it covered with something a little more heavy-duty. Shemri plants a foot against the wall and sticks with chakra, redoubling her tugging efforts.
The insect swarm must indeed be mightily hungry to feast on the putrid outer-coating of these creatures. Yet underneath the layer of disgusting offal and refuse, they'd find flesh, living flesh, like that of any other creature. Even as it's devoured in a matter of moments, Long Arms continues to leer as the soft tissue of it's face is torn away, and never ceases in it's attempts to crawl over the wall, finally crashing over the top and into the water, where it's corpse floats, now more bones than anything else.
Others that attempt to go around the wall meet similar fates, but those that go /under/ it, through the filth, emerge on the other side mostly intact, a pair of them rising up much like the first one did to strike at the closest victim, Kara, and attempt to reach for her, once more ignoring both puppet and feline, to drag her under with them.
The metal blade discharged by Ruri cuts deeply into the creatures bulging forearm, slicing much of the muscle and tendons there. While the thing doesn't seem to show any sign of stopping, the severed muscles are no longer enough to hold Rinako in place, and the kunoichi, her two clones, and the other two pulling on her suddenly find themselves pulling against zero resistance as she comes free! The thing's head makes another appearance, coming forward as if it were looking to take another shot at dragging someone to a water grave, only to have a chunk of concrete from another tattoo crash into it's bulbous, disgorged head. Gray matter splatters from the force of the blow, and the thing sinks limply back to the water, floating lifelessly.
As all three of the Rinako's fall backwards from the sudden release of force they were struggling against, two of them splash back into the disgusting water they'd been formed from, while the original launches herself to her feet. After slinging her hands through her hair, wiping out all kinds of nasty sludge and slinging it back into the liquid from whence it came, spitting up things she didn't even want to imagine, she glares at the locust-covered wall.
"All right, I'm ready to kill some s**t."
By now the agitated chittering and moans on the other side of the wall have reached a crescendo, their cacophony filling up the tunnel with a thundering roar.
The creatures that swim underneath come at Kara, ignoring Shiikaa and Pharaoh. Kara has more attacks, but they're too close for her to do much. She just doesn't have the time to react. Is this the end!? Will she be pulled underwater and drowned or devoured or both!?! Pharaoh says: 'No'. Even as Kara turns to flee and the starving flesh-eating locusts she has released beginning to die due to extremely short life-spans after they end their hibernation, Pharaoh released another new Jutsu to get everyone to safety.
"Pharaoh-17: Papyrus Reed Boat!" Kara chokes out through the foul air. Pharaoh's mouth opens and what appears to be an origami boat floats out. However, the paper boat suddenly expands in a puff of smoke, turning into a full-sized ancient Egyptian-style boat! Further, it can >fly<! Kara tries to leap aboard, tugging Pharaoh along after her with her Chakra strings, but if the monsters get too close, she may wind up getting grabbed or clawed or bitten or just stanked up! Which would suck.
If, however, Kara >does< get on board safely, she'll start steering the craft towards the others, hoping that Shiikaa can get on without assistance, and that the rest of the team can do the same.
Once Rinako is safe, and the monster is squashed, Ruri's uncovered left eye turns towards the encroaching monsters, their roars and moans driving her closer and closer to a state of hysteria. She has hung on this long due to willpower and the desire to get her sister to safety. But she isn't going to be able to stay and fight these things, even if she wanted to. She just can't. "No time! Everyone out!" she yells over the deafening noises.
The board that Pharaoh produces for them is much appreciated, and Ruri does all she can to ensure everyone gets onboard safely and quickly. But mostly she just wants to get the hell OUT of there. "KARA!" she screams out to make sure she has the older kunoichi's attention. "SPRAY THIS PLACE!" If there's any confusion about what Ruri means, she includes, "OIL! LOTS OF IT!" Then she leaps towards the boat as it floats forward, hurling a lot of things at the creatures to stall them, and hopefully keep Kara from getting snared.
It's just a day of discovery about what Shemri's team-mates are capable of. :o A flying boat. Wow. But, no time to stand around and stare! Shemri grabs Rinako's arm and pulls her toward the boat. "Move now, kill later!" Shiikaa hops up onto the aft of the boat, then turns and gives the zombies another roar, since it seemed to have some effect before.
The 'zombies' aren't the slow-moving creatures of fiction, and they rush towards Kara with the speed of any human, one of them leaping and managing to catch onto her ankle as she tries to clamber aboard the boat. It tries to pull her back down, but with the way it's partner was trying to climb at it to get to the kunoichi itself, it's grip was tenous, and is easily knocked off with an assist from Ruri.
"I haven't gotten to /smash/ these- Okay, let's go."
Rinako's sudden change of heart comes hot on the heels of a piece of the wall weakened by Pharoah's acid giving way, several of them crawling through the new hole made. She follows along with Shemri, hopping up to catch the edge of the boat and pull herself in, narrowly avoiding getting her legs snagged by outstretched hands, tumbling in and leaving a trail of sludge on everything she touches.
Being fully submerged in that gunk tended to make one slimey.
The things that were beginning to pour through the cracks around the wall like a grotesque river of flesh halt momentarily at the roar, chittering in agitation. It doesn't deter them for more than the span of a few seconds, though, not with so many human targets right there in front of them.
"Let's friggin' get if we're going!"
Kara nearly trips and falls on her face when her leg is grabbed, but when Ruri smashes the grabber zombie with something large and heavy, the dark-skinned woman regains her balance and leaps up onto the boat. She may not be the strongest team member, but she can at least climb aboard with a bit of a Chakra boost in her feet.
The moment everyone is on the paper(!?) canoe-like boat, Kara focuses her Chakra into the vehicle, and it soars swiftly forward through the air, whooshing down the tunnel, right over the grasping hands of the monsters. Pharaoh turns and begins spewing out >loads< of the blood-looking oil that he has stored inside of him, coating everything in sight. It's slippery and sticky simultaneously, so it may keep the 'zombies' from progressing quite as swiftly as they might have without the oil.
Hopefully, the boat emerges into the open air a few seconds later. It can move pretty fast, after all. But who knows what kind of messed up creature will come after them next!?
Once the team is out of the sewers and relatively safe, Ruri turns and yells, "Enough oil! Blast the entrance! Blast it with fire, blast it with explosives, just BLAST IT!" Then she tears off the bandana over her right eye, revealing an empty black space that seems somehow larges than the mere confines of Ruri's head. Then an EYE suddenly grows in the socket. The iris is red, and in the pupil is a Flesh Scroll tattoo… 'Stored Fire Stream'.
Ruri unleashes the potent stream of fire directly into the oily waters, hoping to set off a chain reaction of flaming explosions that will tear through the tunnels and wipe out anything and everything that might be down there. She doesn't care anymore about preserving the scroll. She just wants the horrors to be GONE. As it is, she'll be having nightmares possibly for the rest of her life. Any further confrontations with these things could drive her to insanity.
Shemri gets up onto the craft with the others. Gosh, the things that can be explained with ninja magic. n.n Shemri will have to get Kara to give her family rides on this sometime, Megumi-chan would love it. Hearing the order from Ruri, Shiikaa fires off a couple of wind bullets, to make the inferno blaze a little brighter.
The boat manages to speed away faster than the creatures can pursue, as the slippery substance prevents them from crawl-running along the wall, forcing them to wade or swim through the brine in order to give chase. But it doesn't look as if they're going to give up! By the time the origami flying boat reaches the exit, most of the creatures have gotten past the wall, some three-dozen in all, each moaning and hissing, chittering as their targets retreated towards the hateful light. Unlike the group, none of them seemed to have any trouble seeing in the dark.
At Ruri's command, Rinako stands up and… watches. Really, she didn't even carry explosive tags with her! Anything she did was only likely to put /out/ the flames.
The moment the fire touches the oil, it ignites, having plenty of heat, fuel, and oxygen, and the wind supplied by Shemri serves to push those flames towards the tunnels, where the fire catches readily and quickly lights up the cavern-like drainage. As the flames push farther and farther back, the group can just make out the shapes of those /things/, still coming after them. Something deep inside the tunnels ignites, however, likely methane buildup from all the human waist, and soon enough a big, bright ball of fire is heading back /out/ of the tunnel, engulfing everything in it's path. The flames come shooting out of the canal's mouth, dispersing up into the air in a plume of foul-smelling, rancid smoke.
Minutes pass as smoke continue to pour out of the tunnel, the flames all but extinguished now due to the lack of air within the tunnel. It's a long, tense span of time until the smoke clears, revealing the same black emptiness within that had greeted them when they'd first arrived. No sounds seem to come from within.
"Great." As usual, Rinako had only good cheer to spread with her deadpanned sarcasm. "Like it didn't smell bad enough the first time, now we get to go back with the smell of burnt flesh all up in there."
Kara prepares to unleash her B-Rank fiery attack on the tunnel, but then realizes she has used up a lot of Chakra already, and she needs to maintain control of the boat. When all that heat comes radiating outwards from the fireball coming right at them, Kara's eyes bug out as she uses the heat and her own Chakra to make the boat rise and move away faster! No way is she going to get caught in that!
After the flames die down, and several minutes have passed, Kara lets out a sigh. Now that the adrenaline is dying down, the smell is, indeed, getting to her again. And so is Rinako's sarcasm. Kara stands up in the boat and turns to face Rinako. She stares at the other kunoichi and says, "Rinako… I never thought I'd say this to you, but… You smell bad." Then she turns around and begins guiding the boat to a safe place to land.