Date: November 23, 2012
Tonight on the Discovery Channel, we follow the journey of two kunoichi in the perilous wilderness. :o
A wild marsh [Land of Water]
Vegetarians. In this world, there are people who could be called that for various different reasons. Some are so without choice, simply because they're poor and can't afford to make meat a regular part of their diet. Some refrain from consuming flesh for ethical or spiritual reasons, or because they believe a no-meat diet is healthier in the long run. And then, there are a rare few who have the resources to get whatever kind of food they want, and would probably identify themselves as foregoing meat for one of the other reasons…but really they're just trying to look cool and enlightened. :P Unfortunately for them, cutting so many dietary options out of the menu makes it harder to keep food interesting, especially for those palettes accustomed to rich fare.
That's why a couple of ninja now find themselves heading into dangerous swampy territory in search of a rare vegetable prized by gourmands. Their client, a merchant's wife trying desperately to cling to her faddish rejection of omnivorism, decided to try and spice up her menu while at the same time impressing her friends with her refined tastes. It's all the same to Kirigakure as long as they're paid, of course. This isn't too perilous a mission, just a journey into a wild place where random animal attacks are the main concern, so it was assigned as a C-rank mission to a pair of chuunin. A pair of chuunin who aren't necessarily the best pick for the other sorts of missions. e.e;
Shirayuki Koseitama is one of those chuunin, and probably the one moreso not-so-good-for-other-missions. As they enter the marshy land where the gourd they're hunting is reputed to by found, Koseitama crouches in some underbrush and surveys the misty landscape. "The marshlands are, to a certain eye, a place of great beauty," she murmurs, as though to an invisible audience. "Their gently swirling mists and endless chorus of frogsong are a soulful lullaby. Of course, as with all of nature, this beauty can in fact conceal great danger."
Michi simply nodded in reply. Neither really caring nor truly examining their surroundings for the same reasons as the Shirayuki apparently had. No, her attention remained solely divided between two very conflicting thoughts that have troubled her ever since being finally allowed to return to the Land of Water. None of this issues naturally made themselves readily appearant besides eliciting some occasional mutterings from the giant, but they still might have been given some cause for concern whenever her responses to another were simply, "Yes" "No" "Perhaps, zu-zu" or a nonchalant shrug. But then again, maybe Kiri is filled with a lot of people with similar attitudes? c.c
Regardless of the truth behind that particular question the most important fact was that Michi at least 'seemed' fully focused on the task at hand and followed whatever command given by her temporary partner. For now.
"Understood, zu-zu" Michi stated blandly in response without breaking her attention away from the marshlands ahead of them. "Question, zu-zu…. How shall we proceed?, zu-zu?" She asked, leaning further against the tree that barely concealed her form before being forced to pull back upon noting the dangerously high level of creaking noise coming from the poor plant.
"Our quest for the elusive swamp gourd began," Koseitama remarks, without really looking back at her companion, "with a foray into the heart of the bog. Just as only those animals with keen senses and sharp instinct are able to win nature's bounty, so too would we be required to search diligently for clues." In other words, we head inward and look for signs of places where gourds are likely to grow. Koseitama starts leading the way. "In the wilds, every patch of tall grass is a potential ambush, every unseen hole a hazard, every — " As if to accentuate her point, a large form leaps out of brush nearby! It turns out to be a relatively harmless creature, though — a deer, frightened from her hiding place by the approach of the ninja. She bounds off into the mists. " — every encounter an opportunity in disguise," Koseitama finishes, turning course to follow the deer's tracks. "By following the canny resident of the marshes, we were able to take the safest route through the unknown mists. Safest, but by no means without peril." :o
Michi narrowed her eyes and turned them upon Koseitama for a more thorough examination of her partner after the first remark. Likewise, a few of the more 'evolved' members of her colony do the same after climbing over the rim of her jacket and even cant their collective heads to the side as soon as Michi does before turning towards one another. However, just as soon as one looked like it was about ready to rise up on its hind legs and presumably begin to discuss what they observed, an almost inaudible command is ushered by Michi forces them to reluctantly take to airspace beside Iwa nin. For just a brief instance their formation becomes askew by the sighting of one of their favorite prey bounding out of the brush nearby, but once more they find themselves restricted by another command by their ever stoic 'mother'.
Solid proof of her conditioning shining through in her less than stellar reaction to the deer despite the abruptness of its appearance. Upon noting Koseitama's intent to follow, Michi took the action as a command to do the same since translating Shirayuki's words were still delayed. Those that she gave the original command to break away, along with a few others that followed there lead after climbing out, all banded together into a giant mass of hornets and bees before an explosion of smoke beneath erupted beneath and consumed them. By the time the smoke cleared an almost two perfect copies of Michi stood in the masses place. Each of which fanned out to either search for their mother's target parallel to her position or take off in the same direction the deer originally appeared from.
"Hmm?… Shirayuki-san, I have been notified that we need to diverge off our current path by a few degrees in order to find our targets." She stated, then sent another command for the closet clone to continue on ahead.
"In nature, life is a balancing act of risk and reward," Koseitama remarks philosophically as she turns to comply with Michi's directions. "Competition for food, shelter, and mates must be constantly balanced against the wisdom of staying out of harm's way. So too, in our search for the gourds, were we compelled to abandon the safest path." Sure enough, a patch of the plant they're looking for becomes visible in the mists. Hey, mission accomplished, easy as that? :D Of course not. :P
There is a huge splash of upsurging water from beyond the patch, and a colossal form sails overhead. Turns out it's a giant frog, which lashes its tongue out at the nearest bee clone before it even lands. "Even the mightiest of hunters is not free from the balancing act of nature," Koseitama explains as the frog drops in a shockwave of mud. "This magnificent specimen, while it has few direct enemies, pays for its immense bulk in the requirement that it be able to catch and consume many pounds of prey each day, lest it starve." Certainly the frog is looking to get in some of those pounds using these intruders. It locates the biggest target, which is of couse Michi, and snaps out its sticky tongue in her direction!
"Is she that broken, zu-zu?" Michi murmured as she focused her attention on the Shirayuki. The act was an unfortunate mistake on her part, because as a result, the giant frog springing from the marsh managed to accomplish what one frightened deer had failed to do.
It truly shocked her and by through the link they shared with their host, her clone too was paralyzed by shock.
Thus, they both were forced to stare wide-eyed at the inevitable albeit with the latter suffering the consequences first in an instance. Their 'sacrifice' at least stirred the chuunin into action, but relying on intuition only proved to help lessen the impact of the tongue by side-stepping the worst of it. Through strength and will Michi stood strong against the tongue's retraction until most of the sleeve portion of her jacket gives away; leaving her to stumble back and crash heavily onto her back.
True to their nature attack bees came flooding out of Michi's pores in waves of two. Fully intent on stinging to death everything nearby. Koseitama, despite being the closest, goes ignored given a hastily sent out command when they attempt to attack her first.
The giant frog retracts its tongue, then spits out the small and unsatisfying scrap of cloth. >P Sensing the approach of danger, it leaps up into the air, avoiding the initial swarm of bees, but soon being caught with a lot of stinging on its underside. >.< It decides to try its luck against the other target present, Koseitama, and launches its tongue at her. Koseitama sweeps an arm in front of herself, and a spurt of water from the marshy ground knocks the tongue off course. "Of course, even for species as massive and successful as to rule over their habitat in nature, there is one competitor which holds the potential to dominate virtually any ecosystem…" Koseitama forms handseals while she speaks, then spews a torrent of water at the frog. The frog manages to twist aside in midair just enough to avoid the attack, but Koseitama does a couple more seals and the water curves down and pelts the frog in the form of needles. "…Homo Shinobi." >)
Full of unpleasant stinging sensations on both the top and bottom sides of its slimy hide, the frog decides to retreat. X( "Most encounters between closely matched competitors in nature end this way," Koseitama remarks as it splashes away. "Rather than risk death for a small victory, one side will give up and run off to tend its wounds. Life goes on, and to the remaining side go the rewards." Koseitama walks over to the gourd patch and starts harvesting.
As the battle raged on nearby Michi remained with her back in the muck. She was confident enough in those that rushed so freely into battle to hold on long enough for her to take a brief moment to think of plan. The death of those that were not designed withstand the removal of their stingers as well as the end for those unlucky enough to be caught between Koseitama and her intended target spurred her on. It is almost unfortunate that all that time spent formulating a plan was wasted by the frog's departure.
Then again, a swifter end to conflict is always the most preferred. "Homo Shinobi.." She muttered as she gradually rose back to her feet with the assistance of her last surviving clone bearing a buck over its shoulders. Afterwards she simply brushed off as much grime as possible, leveled one wary glance at her clone, then meandered over to assist Koseitama in the harvest.
"…. Koseitama-sama… Are those that prefer the same sex really strongest shinobi, zu-zu?"