Date: September 26, 2013
A team of Leaf nin is called in to investigate a string of mysterious disappearances.
"Who You Gonna Call? Konoha"
Shoushitsu, a town in the Land of Fire
Up until a couple months ago, Shoushitsu was a rather ordinary town in the Land of Fire. But recently, there have been a string of mysterious disappearances, and the town sent for a team of Leaf nin. The request was fairly sparse on details, but the team knows two important things: there have been sightings of what is believed to be some kind of spirit, and the townspeople have been advised not to go out after dark.
So here's a three-man (plus one dog) team, going out after dark. They intend to get to the bottom of this, and to do that, they're going to have to find this spirit, and follow it back to where it came from. It's now late in the evening, about time for the team to go to work. They're waiting, laying low in a clump of bushes in a small garden. "Okay," Atsuro whispers, looking up at the sky, "How do we want to do this? Patrol the town and hope we find it? Or maybe use somebody as bait. You guys have any ideas?"
Believe it or not, this wasn't Daisuke first time out to investigate the supernatural. Being quite supernatural, himself, he figured people would feel safer or more prepared to deal with whatever is out there if they had their own on their side. It was of no concern to Daisuke, who liked to challenge the supernatural for supremacy whenever he could.
"So we are looking for a ghost that spirits people away after dark." he says as he threesome+dog head out for the night to do some investigating. "It sounds like fun." he remarks as they head out into the area. After a good bit, Atsuro finds a good spot for them to lay low, and Daisuke proceeds to crouch down behind the bushes with the others, giving the area around them a good quick scan. "Should we not split up to cover more area? Or are we all pretty confident in our speed?" he whispers back. The typical horror movie cliche of splitting up the first thing out of his mouth. "Without bait of some sort, we need eyes everywhere."
"I can bait." Ato would shrug, glancing over at the other two. "I'm not exactly that fast.. I can move quick enough if needed.. but speed is not a forte." He'd go back to looking around like the others, pondering for a few moments. "Are we even sure this is a spirit? Could just be someone having some sport. Or a genjutsu covering something."
"I've never really figured out your idea of fun," Atsuro tells Daisuke. He glances in Ato's direction. "Well," he says, "If we've got someone willing to be bait, then we don't need to worry about splitting up, right?" He continues to look out of the bushes, out to the street as he talks. "I doubt it's a spirit," says Atsuro. Quite confidently, since he knows there's no such thing! Don't be ridiculous, guys. "Probably just a kidnapper wearing a white sheet with two hole cut out of it. You know, something like that."
He stands up and points out to the street. "Okay then. Ato walks ahead of us looking like easy pickings, the rest of us trail behind and take this guy down when he shows up. Sound good?"
"Anything that involves not normal circumstances pretty much." Daisuke sums up before he looks over to Ato and nods his head. "The thoughts have most likely crossed all of our minds, but it is our job to be thorough. Besides, if it is just a man, you can clobber him once we find the missing people." he points out with a grin. He turns back to Atsuro and chuckles softly, "You should know better than to doubt spirits by now, Atsuro, huh?" With that he stands up and dusts himself off. "I can follow within the earth if that would help, we really should stay out of the way to make Ato look tasty enough."
Pondering, Ato would stand and with a focus and a hand seal, the *POOF* occurred.. turning him into.. Miyo? He'd hesitate, verifying that it worked, before nodding to Atsuro and Daisuke. "Ready." Yep.. Ato's voice, Miyo's look. Go fig that. Ato would walk off into the street, pausing as he started to shift his gait. Changing from his normal lengthy stride to a much shorter gait, something closer to what a pre-teen girl would do. The best part of a henge? He'd be able to clobber whoever was doing it! Unless it was a spirit.
"No wonder you're dating Satomi…" Atsuro says innocently. "And okay," he says, "I guess it could be an actual ghost or something, but I still say it's probably just some guy with a costume or doing a trick with a mirror. A rogue magician, maybe." He nods, "That's a good idea, though. Tai and I have gotta stay above ground to track by scent, but the less conspicuous we are, the better." He glances at Ato in his new form. "You make a surprisingly convincing girl," he notes. Just a bit of teasing in his voice.
Anyway, their plan goes into action, Ato travelling on ahead, with the rest of the group hanging back and staying out of sight. Atsuro has a de-vested Taizen following along slightly closer — after all, who'd suspect a dog of being out to capture a ghost? But suddenly, the group hears something like footsteps on a roof nearby! Just a cat, or something more sinister?
Daisuke looks over at Ato's henge and blinks, not having met Miyo yet. Quite the interesting choice. "Nothing better than looking like an unsuspecting preteen walking out late at night for bait." he says with a smirk. As the group gets into position, Daisuke would literally sink into the ground, following Ato close enough that he can pop his head out to look every few hundred yards off to the side of the path in inconspicuous locations. As he pops his head out to do his routine check, his ears perk up at the sound of footsteps and he decides to wait in the earth, his head hidden in the shrubbery. He was the ground team, Atsuro could check out the rooftops if needed, but this Senju was prepared for any sudden movements.
Ato shrugs. "Deception is useful. Sometimes." He'd hush as he kept on, walking along casually. At the sound, he'd act startled (totally isn't but shh!) and start to hurry a little quicker. What do most predators do when they see someone try to run? give chase! Now.. if this.. whatever it is.. follows suit, then he'd be good to go. Of course, with foot steps, it's hardly going to be a spirit.. most spirits don't make foot steps on a roof.
"I think this one is pretty suspecting," says Atsuro. He shakes his head at Ato and says enthusiastically, "Always!"
Whatever's up on the roof doesn't do much in the way of pursuing the fleeing Ato/Miyo, but something rather curious happens as he runs. A strange, misty light appears in front of Ato. For a moment, things are quiet, then everyone can hear the classic "OOOOoooooOoooooOOOOooo," noise that all ghosts make. The light seems to dance, floating around and whirling about in the air. It starts to slowly move towards Ato, continuing that low whine. Whatever those footsteps were, Atsuro and Taizen push them to the back of their minds for now. Atsuro draws a ninjato and they both pause, waiting to see where this will go, but (hopefully) ready to intervene if it looks like Ato is in real danger.
Daisuke draws into a ready position within nearby bushes as he fully emerges from the ground, crouched low and ready to strike. The light surprises him at first, though his view from the side made it somewhat hard to discern what was going on. For now he would see what Ato did and focus on being ready to go at a moments notice. The footsteps have taken less of a priority now because the light was there and visible and a possible threat, but knowing the others are probably also focused on it, the interest in the sound of the steps hasn't been pushed to the back of his mind just yet.
Ato stops as the light approaches. There was a flashed moment of aprensiveness.. that passed. "Really?" Yeah.. he didn't have Miyo's voice, but instead his normal bass tones. Stepping in towards the light, he'd simply try to shove it. If in doubt.. attack! Of course, if there was anything physical in there, he was pushing hard enough to try and send it flying.. but he had a sneaky suspision this was an illusion, so he didn't commit fully to the attack, so as to not be thrown off balance if nothing was there.
Whatever it is, the light doesn't seem to be physical. Ato's hands just go right through it. It's not exactly an illusion, though. It may not be solid, but as Ato touches it, he can feel that the air there is unusually cool. The light starts to slowly swirl around him, making things colder and colder. It might be more than a young girl could handle, but the ghost doesn't seem to realize that Ato is actually an adult, and thus probably isn't in serious distress, aside from maybe wanting a sweater.
Keeping the footsteps in mind was probably a wise move on Daisuke's part, since they can be heard once again, moving quickly over a nearby roof. Then suddenly, a figure in dark clothing — hard to make out in the dark of the night — jumps down and attempts to grab Ato. This proves to be a mistake, since the figure has still underestimated Ato's size and weight. Whoops!
Daisuke, being the one to really not push the footsteps to the back of his mind, is able to pick up the sound as it gets closer, moving to the rooftop beside him. Because of this awareness, Daisuke is able to catch a glimpse of the figure as they leap from the roof, causing Daisuke to move as well. As soon as the figure has grabbed Ato to attempt to move him, Daisuke has slide a kunai to the side of the figure's neck and says in a quiet voice, "I wouldn't move a muscle if I were you."
Ato didn't budge. The henge would shimmer, failing in the cold embrace as he'd go from Miyo height to Ato height. Turning, he'd look down at the one whom tried to grab him, raising a brow as Daisuke would go to threaten the guy. "That, was a bad idea." Ato shakes his head, looking about, he'd glance towards where he knew Atsuro was hiding at to try and shake his head slightly, not giving away that someone was hidden there and should stay in hiding. Ato would look at a few more spots, shaking his head slightly each time, before looking back to the would be ambusher. "You alone?" Ato balled his hand up into a massive fist. "I recommend the truth."
From this close, Daisuke and Ato can see that the figure is a woman, perhaps in her twenties. But only for a moment. She opens her mouth to answer the question, but suddenly, the whining of the ghost grows louder, and it starts to grow so that it encompasses all three of them, growing colder and colder. It's not yet at the level of a dangerous cold, but the temperature is steadily dropping within the area.
Atsuro sniffs the air. "She isn't," he says, pointing a sword to another rooftop, "You guys sure like it up there, eh?" Another dark figure stands there, and he speaks, "Let her go. I'll freeze all of you if I have to."
"Getting cold in here.." Daisuke says as Ato has turned around and can keep the 'new prisoner' under guard. "Hold her for a second, Ato." he says as he makes sure he can take her before he walks around the twosome to get a better view of the light, st anding between it and the twosome. "Back away a bit." he says to Ato. He examines the light, the air temperature, everything around it before smiling. Crouching on the ground, he places one palm on the earth while the other is raised straight up. The ground underneath the light begins to rumble and shake, cracking open as a jet of molten lava comes forth to cover the light. Daisuke didn't expect it to do anything to the light itself, but the area's temperature freeze issues were most likely gone as Daisuke basks in the familiar heat of his element.
Ato nods, glancing over at the other who was messing with them. He'd reach out with a grab for the woman, pulling her off to the side, he'd rap her 'lightly' on the side of the head. Enough to try and knock her out as he'd move away from the sudden lava burst upward. He'd lean away, keeping the two of them out of the cold as he'd look over at the one who threaten them. "Tell you what. Give up and we don't hurt you." Ato shrugs slightly, easily shouldering the woman as if she was weightless, if he did knock her out.
The woman continues to struggle against Ato until he knocks her out. She's certainly pretty quick, but she's not the hardiest of folk, obviously. As Daisuke expected, the lava doesn't seem to harm the ghost, but it's an effective counter to the cold. The man on the rooftop, who seems to have control over the ghost, seems daunted. He looks at the woman hesitantly for a moment, then reluctantly turns and starts to run. The lights begin to fade and the cold goes with them.
Atsuro and Taizen jump up to the rooftop where the man was. "We've got his scent," says Atsuro, "So we can chase him no matter how far away he gets." He points to the woman slung over Ato's shoulder, "Of course, she probably — just /probably/ — knows something about all this. Do we want the advantage of speed, or knowledge?"
"There we go." Daisuke says, holding his hands out to warm over the glow of the molten lava, bubbling on the ground as the air interacts with it and starts to crust over. The presence of the light disappearing causes Daisuke to look up towards Atsuro and where the figure was. When presented with a choice, Daisuke says, "I'm pretty good at jumping into a wasp's nest and making it out if you want to leave some people behind to ask questions. Maybe take Taizen along to show me or something?"
Ato shrugs slightly, shifting the body as he did. "We have more likely hood of learning information if we have both. Let's go." Crouching slightly, he'd launch himself up and after Atsuro, ready for them to head off after the guy that was running away. Unless she was over a ton in weight.. he wasn't having any issue moving with her over his shoulder. She may be having a bumpy ride, but Ato was keeping aware if she did wake up, just following Atsuro instead of watching the surroundings. If she woke up, he'd deal with her promptly, rather than let her do jutsu behind his back.
Atsuro's not sure how the town will feel about a bunch of solidified lava in the middle of the street, but they can deal with that later. "It sounds like you guys want to seize the momentum," he says, "Sounds good to me." He and Taizen start to track the mysterious man, following his scent as he goes over the rooftops, eventually leading them out of town, up a small path to the top of a hill overlooking the town.
There, they find a graveyard. "Ugh," says Atsuro, "They sure tried hard to make it look like it's really ghosts." Eventually, the scent leads them to a crypt. "In here," says Atsuro, opening the door. "Anyone got a torch or something?" he asks as he leads them into the dark depths of the crypt. Inside… it doesn't really seem anything like a crypt. There's actually no indication that anyone's buried inside. There are a couple of bedrolls there, plus some barrels of provisions, indicating someone's been living here. A few narrow hallways lead further into the crypt.
The town won't have to worry as the lava breaks apart and turns to ash once the jutsu was finished, much like most ninjutsu. Either way, Ato slinging the woman on his shoulder gives the four more options and Daisuke moves over to Atsuro. As Atsuro agrees, Daisuke follows them along the ground, leaping up to the rooftops when needed to take a short cut across the village.
As they arrive at a graveyard Daisuke chuckles, "Ghosts, graveyards, fitting… cheesy." he says as he walks up to the crypt Atsuro leads them to and follows him down into the empty area where the people where probably resting. "Wonder what their gameplan is…human sacrifice or something?" he asks.
"Scare. Probably some treasure. Just beware a trap." Ato shifts the woman on his shoulder, getting a better grip as he'd follow along with the others. Looking around inside the crypt, he'd check out the bedrolls, attempting to see if there was hair or anything on one of them that would mention the one he had over his shoulder. Pondering for a few moments, he'd shrug, looking to the others. "Either there's more of them, or it's these two. We just have to find where the other guy went. I'll hold off on my weapons unless really needed."
Atsuro walks over to the bedrolls and sniffs. "They've been using these," he says, "Hopefully it's just the two of them." He nods, "But we'll keep looking." He and Taizen continue after the man's scent, leading Daisuke and Ato through the narrow passageways. They pass through a couple more cramped chambers which appear to be used for one part of their living or another, then a larger chamber containing several human-sized cages (uh oh), then finally a larger hallway where they can hear the sound of running water up ahead.
They walk out into a large cavern containing an underground stream. And out over the channel of the stream is a dock, where the man from before is frantically trying to get a boat ready, no doubt to get out of here. If he notices the ninja, he doesn't show it, just focusing on getting the boat ready so he can book it outta here.
"I would hope your nose would pick up more scents if there were others using these quarters, so I think we should be ok, no?" Daisuke says as he follows Atsuro through the passageways, finding it kind of cramped. "Man, my muscles are finding it pretty narrow down here." he says, directed towards Atsuro, with a grin. He finally pops out into a larger hallway, feeling much better now that he can move easily, rolling his shoulders to stretch out. He looks over to the left as he stretches and spots the man on the docks down below, trying to fetch a boat. He points a few times to the others before making his way down.
"Here." Ato would hand the woman off to Atsuro, pull a scroll out to summon his sword. The ring of steel slicing rock would fill the chamber briefly as he'd slam it into the ground. Tensing his whole body, Ato would use it to launch himself forward, aiming right for that boat. If it worked, he'd land on the deck of the boat.. without damaging it too much.. hopefully.. and have the sword out and ready, aiming to either align on the man, or simply hew the mast in half, letting it topple to end any potential of the boat getting away.
"You let me worry about my nose-picking," Atsuro tells Daisuke smirking slightly even in the dark, "But I agree that your muscles are narrow." He nods silently as Daisuke points out the man to the group, and crouches down, preparing to sneak up on him. Then Ato does the exact opposite of sneaking up on him, ruining that plan. But at least he also ruined their enemies plan!
The man straightens up immediately, looking from the entrace of the cave to Ato in the boat. He makes a seal and the light of the ghosts appears around him, then moves over to Ato, where the temperature starts dropping once again. "Knew it was just ninjutsu," Atsuro mutters to himself. "Get out of that boat or my ghosts will freeze you," the man threatens. Atsuro sighs. Well, they /are/ in a graveyard.
Daisuke smirks at Atsuro's witty remark, shaking his head lightly. "I was tempted to flex and widen the whole cave passage." he says quietly as Ato leaps forward into the fray. "Hm, we possibly have a Shirayuki of Kirigakure here, or a stray." he says to Atsuro as he walks down to the dock, getting closer to the man, who probably knew him as the Fire to his Ice. "Let's do something else. How about you answer some questions, maybe you and your girlfriend will live… granted it will probably be in a cell."
Ato narrowed his eyes at the man as the ghost approached. His first move was to try to slice through the ghosts. As that'd most likely fail, his second was to slice downward, aiming to cut at least halfway through the boat before pulling his blade free and hopping to the dock where Daisuke was coming up at. He'd keep the sword ready, just in case, however Ato was not looking friendly. "Do the jutsu again, I remove a limb."
"She's my /sister/," the man answers, "And I suppose you think you're helping out innocent villagers who are being harassed by us. But we were shunned by them for our powers." Atsuro pauses for a second, "Well, maybe we can find a way of reaching a better solution. Clearly the village is partly at fault…" The man continues, "That's why we're taking them as slaves and selling them to survive."
Atsuro shakes his head, "Nevermind." He draws his ninjato again and starts to move in closer to the man with Taizen backing him up. With Ato's destruction of the boat and his threat, the man is obviously out of options. But not wanting to admit it, he just stands there, frozen.
"Where are the villagers?" Daisuke demands as he grabs the man by the shirt, lifting him up into the air, his eyes flashing a beastly brilliant yellow. "You won't get out easily with such excuses if you can't show us to some nice little cove down this river where you've hidden them. The chances of that were nil but Daisuke thought he might as well try. "Shunned by villagers, you know nothing of being shunned you little baby."
Ato looks at Daisuke confused, then looks over at Atsuro. He'd shrug then walk off across the water, returning his sword back to the scroll as he'd go searching. If they took slaves, there may be some hidden around here. Since Daisuke had one and Atsuro had the other, Ato would search for those who may be surpressed. It was important to get a resolution for this issue.
The man smirks, even as Daisuke starts to threaten him. "You didn't see the cages?" he asks. "They're all gone. They paid the price for what they did to us. My only regret is that we didn't get all the rest." He shakes his head at Daisuke, "If only you knew… they deserve whatever they get." Atsuro sighs, "Well, at least he's not totally crazy." He watches Ato for a second and sniffs the air. "I don't think anyone else is around here," he says, "Maybe we can find some record of where everyone was sent back in the crypt."
Daisuke looks at the man as he smirks at him, and listens to what he has to say before loosening his grip slightly, only to blow his toxic haze from his mouth into the guys face, point blank, letting him feel the scalding hot gas and inhale the multiple chemicals and small shards of glass. "They deserve what they got? They are villagers, you are able to perform ninjutsu." he says as the guy is keeled over coughing and crying out in pain. "They don't deserve what they got, but you do."
Ato would finish wandering the interior, finding, well.. no one else around. Frowning, he'd head back to where the others were at, simply giving a shake of his head in answer. "Nothing." The blade would get put away, returned to it's scroll as he'd cross his arms over his chest, watching the one that Daisuke just gave a face full of poison to. "We should bring them back and report in, I guess?"
The man coughs and chokes all throughout Daisuke's 'interrogation,' until he finally passes out from the lack of oxygen. "Makes him easier to bring in," Atsuro says, shrugging, "I mean, it seems to have worked for this chick." He hefts the woman, then starts to lead the team back into the crypt proper. "Sounds like they're long gone, Ato. Hopefully there's some other way to find them." As they pass through the room with the cages, they might notice a small cabinet, which is much more obvious when one is heading this direction.
Daisuke 'tch's his tongue, clearly annoyed as the man passes out, offering him to Taizen or Ato to be rid of him before he hurt him some more. The people were gone, at least from this area, and tracking them if they had been sold would be far too involved for others to get on board with. He shakes his head lightly as they walk up from whence they came, looking over at the cabinet at the right time. "Hey.." he says as he moves some things to get at the cabinet. "I didn't notice this on our way down."
Ato would frown at the man, shrug and pick him up. Throwing him over his shoulder, Ato shook his head as he'd look around. "let's go then." Shifting the man on his shoulder, he'd follow after the others, stopping as Daisuke pointed out the cabinet. He didn't even notice it on the way back. Go fig there. Frowning, he'd look it over, then glance at Atsuro and Taizen. "maybe best to check it out? Just in case."
Taizen cautiously approaches the cabinet and sniffs. "No traps," says the dog. Atsuro walks over and opens the cabinet, pulling out a notepad. "Looks like there is some record," he says. Having the woman over his shoulder, he hands it off to Daisuke, whose hands appear to be free. It says:
Daigo Itsuki 40, 000 Ryo PAID
Ike Yori 25, 000 Ryo
Uchiha Keiko 31, 500 Ryo PAID
It continues on like that, most likely a list of slave buyers. Not much to go on, but certainly better than nothing. In any case, aside from figuring out the mysteries of the list, there's not much to do on this mission other than bring the two slavers in and put the whole matter of ghosts (much to Atsuro's irritation) to rest.