Valentine

Graduate
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  1. Hallowed - Private Kyo& Val

    There was a crackling in the air. Everyone could feel it. An electricity that made the hairs on the back of their arms and necks stand on end. Seconds later there was a loud rushing noise like air escaping a vacuum and then suddenly, two bodies stood in the centre of the chamber. Violet looked around and tutted to herself, "Well this is underwhelming..." She muttered, looking at the bare floor, walls and cavern ceiling. She examined it for a moment longer and then turned around and saw Vincent, and sat beyond him a bevy of magical beings. "Oh... hello." She added, with a lop-sided grin, "Am I late?" She asked, raising an eyebrow. "You are unwelcome." Acherus said confidently, locked on Violet as if she were a particularly upstart mouse, and he the cat."Violet!" Vincent spoke in genuine surprise, but his expression was cross. "What are you doing here!?""Hello, Vincent!" Violet waved at her brother using her fingers. She squinted at the young boy on the council with a wry smile, "It's past your bedtime, isn't it? And you--" She pointed at Lao, "Don't look a day over 600." She added, blowing a kiss to the old man. "What is going on!?" Deacon demanded"Nagloshi... Should I kill it?" Jeremy asked, in his usual apathetic tone. "I'm afraid there is a line, young one." Acherus said. "But first I have questions. Why are you here, Nagloshi?""Because I felt like it, Scales." Violet pointed at Jeremy while addressing Acherus, "Charming, isn't he? I haven't so much as harmed a fly and all I get are death threats, accusations and frowny faces all 'round." Violet paused, looking them over, "Look, I know somewhere at the back of my mind, it's screaming that I should be terrified, but I just can't. You're a bunch of old farts, in your basement, with a 12-year old child, playing magic. I don't know whether to play Dungeons and Dragons with you, or call Chris Hansen and tell him the Super Adventure Club is hiding under Mount Doom." She paused again, looking at their faces, "Did you get all those references? I can draw a diagram?" "Violet!" Vincent snapped. "What the hell are you doing here and..." He trailed off for a moment as he noticed the signature bubblegum hair of his apprentice. "...Meredith...Violet why did you bring her here?" "Ah, so we meet the sister at last." Prama said with a smile, and her smile was never a good thing as far as Vincent was concerned. "And the tainted one. My, my, Vincent, you do seem to be in a spot of bother." "I didn't bring her here." Violet replied, "Well, technically I did. But you see, Meredith wanted to talk to the Wise and assure them that she's no danger, she's all clean and above board, she wasn't planning on hiding from them. Y'know, even though Vincent wanted her to hide." She held her hand up to her mouth as though to hide her lips from Vincent, but then said aloud, "Watch that one." She grinned. "Who do you think you are!?" Vincent snarled. "Clearly you've spent a bit too much time with your mother, I'm already seeing your bitch meter has went up a few notches." "I think this interruption has went on long enough." Deacon said calmly"You abandoned us!" Vincent roared, ignoring the council member. "How dare you come strolling back in to my life, talking like you know best!" "Don't be such a drama queen, Vincent. I didn't abandon you. I was taken. For good reason, as I understand it. I was trying to kill you. I'm glad my mother saved me from hurting my family, if I had then I would never have been able to forgive myself." She sniffed.Deacon didn't say another word, but his patience had clearly grown thin. With a flick of his wrist he sent out his will, and when Vincent went to retort to Violet he found that no sound came out. He touched his throat, then turned back to Deacon, scowling, but otherwise silent. "There." Deacon said. "Much better.""Well done, Deacon, this nonsense has gone on long enough." Prama said with another satisfied smile. "Now then miss... Violet? Clearly you do not quite understand the situation, and so let me explain it to you. You are Nagloshi, and your kind have a reputation among ours. I strongly recommend you take measures to contain yourself, or we will be forced to take more.... drastic measures." "Spooky scary." Violet raised an eyebrow at the woman, "Look, you ask me to contain myself - do you see me raising so much as a finger towards any of you? So really, who has a reputation? And honestly, judging a person by their race? Someone should pull you kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, dear." Violet clapped her hands together with relish, "So!" She added, with a smile, "Who do I see about taking my brother home now, hm?!" "You are somewhat lacking the authority to do so, dear." Prama said. "This is not a democracy. We enforce, and those in our purview, such as your brother, obey, or suffer the consequences. Whatever you once were, you are now, as far as I can see, an immortal creature of The Void. As such, this is none of your concern, and you are not welcome here.""That being said, Prama, I would like to know how she managed it." Acherus said. "Make no mistake, what you have done has impressed me. However, you have also dented my pride. Pride is as valuable as gold to my kin, and so I find myself very much desiring to reclaim it.""And that would matter, in your own private time, Acherus." Deacon interrupted. "This is official Council business, and as such you will respect the Accords.""Do not lecture me on the Accords, Deacon." Acherus snarled. "I bloody well wrote them. This Darkling is uninvited, and so she is offered no Guest Rights." "Children, children!" Violet chimed in, "Can't we all be civil to one another? Me, most of all?" She smiled pleasantly at each of them, "I don't dislike any of you, you've not wronged me, i've not wronged you. Prama, you're right, a democracy is something chosen by the people, for the people. You're all dictators, or 'dicks' for short. But you can still help people, right? Now..." She looked at Jeremy, "You're incredibly powerful for your age, so well done, you. I've got a box of Jaffa cakes at home that i'll send your way just as soon as i'm back, as I can't imagine you get groceries. Deacon, you'e alright. Lao, you're beautiful, don't change a thing. Acherus, we'll go out drinking some time, if you can drink me under the table, you'll get your pride back. If you can all just un-bunch your panties and see that Vincent, Meredith and myself are all here because we chose to be. You didn't force any one of us here, and we're still here because we want to be. Aren't we all on the same side?" Violet smiled warmly, "More or less." She added, muttering. "I'm not sure if she is exceptionally clever, or a complete idiot." Jeremy said, finally switching off his video game. "She says a lot of words, but doesn't drive much of a point. Typical of immortals, I find." Jeremy stood up from his chair and stepped forward, turning to address his fellow Council members. "I extend my invitation to Violet and Meredith. They now have Guest Rights as long as they are here, and as their host I am duty bound to protect them should any harm come to them, even with my life if it comes to that. There. Does that make things easier?""Why would you do that?" Prama asked, clearly annoyed by her colleagues actions. "Because it is the course of action that allows us to proceed to the conclusion more quickly, and is also the path with the least violence, senseless violence, I might add. I did offer to kill them, of course, but none of you seemed harmonious with that idea.""I wouldn't bother even asking, Prama." Acherus said. "You know how his mind works, or rather, you don't. You never will. None of us will.""Right, well, should we get back to the matter at hand?" Prama said. "I believe we were voting on whether Vincent should be imprisoned for his actions. Shall we continue the vote. As you will recall, I voted for Vincent to be imprisoned, and my opinion still stands."Violet raised her hand, "I vote for Vincent to be given freedom. Don't look at me like that, Prama. I'm a guest, and it's important to consider the opinion of your guest as much as it is for a guest to be polite. Don't forget that." Violet smiled, but her eyes held something else. "I am inclined to agree with Prama on this." Deacon said, ignoring Violet. "I vote for Vincent to be incarcerated.""I vote we use him." Acherus said. "When you have lived as long as I you can smell a war coming a mile away. The Romans knew the importance of a good fight. Their council meetings were a bit more interesting as well, though not quite as much sex as the television shows would have you believe. Vincent is, and I must stress this, a complete and utter waste of existence, however, he has power. Not power that he's earned in any way, but it's there. We would be fools not to use it."Vincent folded his arms and had an expression of purest rage and frustration across his face. If he had full use of his vocal chords right now he would have had a few choice words for Acherus at that moment. Jeremy took a few moments, and seemed to make a point of showing he was thinking quite hard on this. "If you don't mind, Deacon, I would like to ask one question of each of our guests. Vincent as well. How they answer will allow me to decide. Would you oblige?""...Fine." Deacon said, and with another flick of his wrist, Vincent's voice had been restored. Jeremy walked down the steps between them, until he was only a few yards from Vincent, which only emphasized how short the small boy was. "Vincent. Please answer this next question honestly." Jeremy said. "...Do you know?" Vincent paused for a moment. Did he know what? He had a feeling Jeremy had phrased it that way in an attempt to catch him out. Although, if there was anything to know, then by the very phrasing it would mean that it was important that Vincent did know. He gave a heavy sigh and nodded his head in the affirmative. "Yeah..." He said quietly. "...I've known for a while. My... memories have been altered. I don't know who by, or for what reason, but... I know it's there. There are cracks beginning to show, little things.""I see." Jeremy said, showing no indication whether this was the answer he was looking for or not. He then turned and walked quietly towards Meredith. "Once again, I ask that you answer honestly." He said. "Meredith, you were a changeling, it still lingers on you. What was your lineage?""Winter." Meredith answered, looking nervous as she did. "A follow up question." Jeremy said. "Do you know of the Tranquil Vale?""I..." Meredith said, and her eyes were filled with shock at the question. "I do." She said finally with a nod. Jeremy turned and looked back at Vincent, and then to Meredith again, and then he gave her a little nod. Finally Jeremy came to Violet, and he took a long moment to examine her. He seemed to toil over something for a moment, an internal struggle. Then he looked her in the eyes. "You are... quite the terrifying entity. It is... difficult. Your paths are not clear, and are filled with pain. To find the right path... I'm not even sure if there is one for you. Will you answer me with honesty?""What reason do I have to lie, when telling the truth is far more fun?" Violet replied, quite honestly. Jeremy nodded and paused for a moment. "Truthfully, has the process started? Do you think you are losing the qualities that make you who you are?" "Process?" Violet shrugged, "I am who I was supposed to be. I was less of who I was, when I was human. It's not easy for people to hear that," Violet looked at Vincent and then back to Jeremy, "But its how it is. I know what I am, who I am, and I embrace it. I'm not perfect, as my mother would no doubt point out... But... I'm not like her, either." Violet paused in thought for a long while, "When you see a flower that has yet to bloom, is it a weed? A tree? It's still a flower, it just hasn't shown its petals." Then she paused again and smiled, "I like you." She added, putting one hand on her hip and staring down at Jeremy, "Less so, when you suggest killing me." She growled. "There are paths where I also like you." Jeremy said. "And there are paths where I do not. Like I said it... is difficult." Jeremy turned away from her and walked back up the steps and sat himself back down on his chair. "I vote that Vincent be released." He said. "The paths ahead may lead to wonderful, or terrible things. However, the path where Vincent is imprisoned, is one that leads only to terrible things.""So it is tied." Deacon said with a nod. "Lao, what is your decision?" He turned to his colleague, and Lao took a moment, clasping his wrinkled old hands together. Minutes passed in silence. Vincent supposed there wasn't much need for rush when you had already passed your shelf life date several lifetimes ago. Finally Lao cleared his throat. "Let us see what he can do." Lao said. "Release the boy.""This guy!" Violet pointed at Lao with a cheeky grin, "I love this guy! Lao?! We're going out on the town one night soon, alright?" She gave him a knowing wink and then walked over to Vincent and put her hand on his shoulder, "Ready to go then? I'm really quite bored." "We're not done yet." Vincent said, and shrugged her hand from his shoulder. "Just shut up a while longer.""Excellent." Acherus said with a toothy grin. "I am glad you have been allowed to walk, boy. Rest assured I will be putting you to work. No more running around chasing monsters for desperate mortals with too much cash.""Hooray." Vincent said with the least amount of enthusiasm."I have decided to run a little recruitment campaign. The Wise will need support, but we cannot openly look for it in places considered... unsavoury. Fortunately we have a somewhat disliked member, that would be you by the way, who has a bit of a rapport with Countess Lucia.""I'd like to know what your definition of rapport is..." Vincent grumbled."The Midnight Court have almost as much influence as The Wise. If we combine our connections then we might just have enough manpower to fix this mess. If you can gain her support, then perhaps you might see a little gratitude from us.""There'll be a price." Vincent said. "And it won't be cheap.""I'm sure it will not." Acherus replied. "And I am sure it will not be our debt to pay. I will let you deal with your own problems in that regard, Vincent.""Peaches." Vincent said. "Anything else?""Yes, just one more thing." Acherus said with a wolfish grin. "Summer are looking for you, so have fun with that." And before Vincent could ask anything else, Acherus let out a deep breath, and the room was filled with soot and embers, and he was falling, once more, in the darkness. And then, when the darkness cleared, he was sat atop a ferris wheel once more, with Meredith and Violet sitting across from him."He wouldn't lose anything by flossing every now and then." Violet shuddered and then stretched, "Well..." She looked from Meredith to Vincent with a wide grin, "Hello again! Hows things? I mean, hows things besides being roped into coercing a clan of bloodthirsty vampires to join a group of socially maladjusted self-installed wizard overlords to stop a seasonal apocalypse."
  2. Hallowed - Private Kyo& Val

    Two men were stood outside a bar, the neon sign read, 'O'Reilly's'. It was a bar like many in L.A. A place for those down on their luck to hide. Whether that meant they were hiding from their partner, their debt or their life, it didn't matter. Not to the barman, and not to the patrons. A third man stepped out into the fresh air, took a few lungfuls and promptly vented the contents of his stomach. He was dressed in a dark grey suit, his tie pulled loosely from his crumpled white shirt. He pulled himself up slowly and wiped the corner of his mouth and took another swig from his bottle. "'Ey man, you okay?" Asked one of the two men, a biker with a large beard, belly and a sleeveless leather jacket. "I'm fine, yeah." The man muttered in response, taking another swig from the bottle. He sighed and waited for a lull in the traffic before he half-stumbled across the road. The two bikers looked at one another and shrugged, going back to their conversation. The suit's name was Michael. In the grand scheme of things, he'd had a shitty day. He'd gone home early, after being laid off at his shitty job. He came home to a shitty apartment, to find his shitty girlfriend fucking his shitty neighbour. Suffice to say - it was a shitty day. So that was why he was getting drunk. Tomorrow, he'd find a new apartment, a new job and move on. Fuck 'em, right? But not tonight, tonight he was going to let himself have this. He needed it. He crossed to the other side of the road and fumbled in his pockets for a key to his motel room. He pulled the jingling keyring free from his pocket but it slipped through his fingers and clattered off the ground. Or more accurately, off the side of a grate. He stared at the keys hanging precariously part-way down into the grate, and focused on his breathing. He had to lean down slowly, and pick up the keys. Pick up the keys, Michael. Don't fuck up. He bent down, and put his foot forwards to steady himself. His foot promptly kicked the keys into the storm drain. It took a moment for the realisation to dawn on him, but when it did, he lost it. Michael grabbed the neck of his bottle and threw it with a scream that released all the demons of the day. "'Ey man?!" One of the bikers yelled from across the road. "I'M FINE!!" He barked back at them angrily, "Fucking... mind your own business..." He muttered, and started down the alley. It was dark, he could barely see. He hadn't yet gotten his night sight. He'd barely made it a few erratic steps when he heard the two bikers again. "Oh my God man would you look at that!!" One of them whistled. "I'm fucking--!!" Michael started, whirling around and almost vomiting as a result. But what he saw made him pause. He saw O'Reilly's neon sign get brighter and brighter until it was uncomfortable to look at directly and then the fuse went with a pop. Sparks crackled and spat out and the two bikers took a step away from the sign, and just then, dozens of the cars parked along the curb lit up. Their alarms triggered in tandem, blaring warning sounds of varying hoots and howls, while their lights flashed and flickered. Then suddenly as one, their lights and horns went dead. The sign was one thing. But all the cars too? Then Michael noticed the street was going dark, and he looked up just in time to see the last street lamp go dead with a spark and a hiss. "Fuckin' gov'ment... Obama..." He muttered, turning back down the alley. Michael brought his hand up to his face and then realised he'd thrown his bottle and now had nothing to drink. He shook his head and carried on down the alley, passing a large dumpster. He was only a few steps into the alley however, when he noticed something else that was unusual. A strange purple light coming from a side alley. He looked over his shoulder to see the owner of O'Reilly's coming outside to inspect his sign and the bikers talking to him about the cars. Then Michael decided to satisfy his curiosity, and follow the purple light. After all, he had no booze, no job, no girlfriend, and now he couldn't even get into his motel room. There goes the deposit, he thought, bitterly. As he neared the purple light, Michael felt his ears pop uncomfortably, and he swallowed to try and fix the problem. He turned the corner, and saw something he had never expected to see tonight. A naked woman. She was huddled against a wall, naked as the day she was born. He couldn't gauge her height as she was now, but she was slim with pleasant curves, her skin was tan and unmarked by blemishes, scars or tattoos giving her an almost doll-like quality. She had long black hair past her shoulders and she looked as though she might have been of native american descent. But to Michael's surprise, it wasn't seeing her naked that shocked him most. It was the fact she was glowing. This woman was the source of the bright purple light. "M-Miss, are you alright?" He asked, frowning. She looked like she was in a trance, her eyes were rolled into the back of her head giving her an unnerving sightless gaze. Despite how strange this all was, she didn't look threatening. He felt sorry for her. Suddenly however bad a day he'd been having it surely couldn't have been as bad as hers? "Miss?" He asked again, taking a few steps forward. Cautiously, he reached out. Touching her bare shoulder with the tip of his finger. "Oh..." He muttered. Her skin was hot. Very hot, like she'd just gotten out of the shower, or something. He felt concern for her, but was unsure what to do. As he stood over her, however, darker thoughts entered his mind. He knelt down beside her and waited patiently. She still wasn't moving. "Miss?" He asked again, waving his hand in front of her vacant eyes. Nothing. What was wrong with her? "Miss, are you okay?" He asked, letting his finger and then his whole hand rest on her shoulder. His hand was shaking. "What's goin' on down there?!" He heard a voice. Michael quickly retracted his hand and looked over his shoulder, one of the bikers striking up a cigarette had noticed the purple light. "It's just me!" Michael replied feebly, "I... I'm fine!" "Weirdo." The biker muttered, taking a drag of his cigarette. Then he turned and went back inside the bar. Michael let out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding and then looked back at the naked woman. Something about her was entrancing. Otherworldly. She could make everything better. He reached forwards and stroked her cheek and stepped around to her front and tried to move one of her arms out of the way. That was when he realised what was giving off the purple light. Half of the woman's face and body was missing. Well, not missing exactly. The shape was there, but there was no features. It just looked like solid purple light. Michael opened his mouth to scream but choked as the woman turned her gaze on him. Her eyes weren't rolled into the back of her head, they were simply not there. He watched in horror as she stood up, bringing him with her and lifting him clear off the ground and then he felt something awful. Something he'd never felt before. He felt so bad that nothing that had happened tonight had come quite close to how he was feeling now. He tried to grasp at the woman, push her away but she was too strong. And then he noticed his hand, it was wrinkled like an old man's. At last, he closed his eyes and Michael was no more. His body turned to ash, and the woman's skin finished knitting over the purple light in the shape of her body. She closed her eyes, and when they opened again, they looked normal. The dark brown eyes of any normal woman. Violet looked down at the pile of ash laid before her and let a sigh escape her nose. She brushed the ash from her palm and strolled out of the alley. However, by the time she reached the main road, she was clothed in a pair of black jeans with a white tank top, black leather jacket and a pair of boots. She pulled her long hair out from under her new jacket and looked around. "Close enough." She sighed, then looked back down the alley. She wondered who the man had been, why he was there when he was. She wondered if he had kids, a family. She wondered if he was a good man or not. It didn't matter now, she couldn't take it back. She'd needed the energy, and unfortunately, he had gotten too close. Violet crossed the road and saw a lone biker stood leaning beside a bar door. "Hey there, girl. I ain't seen you before." He grinned. He was missing one of his front teeth. Violet rolled her eyes at him, "Let me borrow your phone." The man obediently pulled it out - his phone, that is, "Say please." He teased. Violet grabbed the man and slammed his head against the bar wall, knocking him to the floor, then prised the phone from his hand, "Please." She growled irritably, "Humans..." Violet sighed, then flicked the phone open. She called his apartment. No response. "What the hell are you doing, Vincent..." She muttered, pushed the phone into her jean pocket and started walking. Violet knocked on the door three times. She was irritable to say the least. She had gone to Vincent's apartment only to find it with new tenants - tenants that don't answer the phone, no less, who could have saved her the trip. Nevertheless, the landlord gave her Vincent's new address. She knocked again. Violet could tell that someone was inside the room, she could feel their energy. And yet, she didn't recognise them. Was it an intruder? Or did Vincent have a 'friend' over. Impatiently, Violet knocked on the door once more, and waited. Finally, after another minute or so, the door opened, and Violet found herself surprised at who was standing there. Though, she imagined she didn't look as surprised as they did. "Oh, Meredith..." Violet raised an eyebrow, looking her over. Meredith took a few moments to register who she was looking at, but as she came to recognition her mouth hung open slightly. Eventually she managed to whisper "Vi...Violet?" And no sooner had she said the words she had grabbed Violet in an excited embrace, before quickly recoiling as she got a hold of herself. "Um... s-sorry!" "Oh...!" Violet gasped as Meredith clung to her, but smiled. Once released, Violet stood in silence for a moment, looking at Meredith until at last she spoke, "I'm sorry." She paused, looking as though she might cry, though her eyes showed no signs of tears. "I'm sorry for how I acted, i'm sorry for being gone so long." "Uh..." Was all Meredith could manage. She was entirely unsure of how to respond to that. After all, she didn't really feel it was her place to be mad in the first place. She scratched her shoulder nervously, looking down at her feet, before she stepped aside and gestured towards the room with her hand. "You should come in..." Violet stepped inside and looked around, but with apologies out of the way, she whirled back on Meredith with a mischievous smile and a raised eyebrow, "So..." She began, looking at Meredith, "Vincent doesn't know that you're..." She trailed off, with a grin. "Huh?" Meredith said, raising her brow. "His daughter?" Violet replied, frowning with a smile. Meredith froze as she heard the words. For a moment she looked like she might fall over, and her chest began to beat rapidly with panicked breath. She clutched her head, running her fingers tightly through her bubblegum coloured hair, and tears began to form at the edge of her fearful eyes. "You...you... Oh no...no, no, no, no..." "I like what you did with your hair." Violet replied, ignoring Meredith's meltdown. "Pink is my new favourite colour." She added with a knowing grin, then she let out a quick sigh and looked around the apartment, "Still, this place could do with a bit of a clean. Preferably with fire..." Meredith fell to her knees, her hands pressed on the floor in front of her, and she looked up at Violet like a hopeless beggar. "Please... please, you can't tell him." She sobbed, her eye-liner starting to streak down her face. "You can't..." She whispered, her head falling to the floor, resting on her hands. "You can't..." She whispered again. "W-Would you stop that?!" Violet shook her head in surprise, "Why would I tell Vincent anything? First off, its none of my business. But more importantly, this is far more entertaining than just telling him." She chuckled to herself and sat down on a sofa. Meredith lifted her head again, sniffing and rubbing at her eyes. "... I'm sorry it's just... He can't ever know." She said, trying to keep her voice steady. "I'm not just being a scared little girl, I mean... I want him to know. So bad, y'know? I... I'd really like to have a real family. But if he finds out... Then he'll remember what happened, what really happened." "Oh I like the sound of this." Violet's eyes lit up and she lifted her palm out and from the kitchen floated in a cup of hot tea, followed by a biscuit. Both of the floating objects found their way into Violet's hands and she took a bite of her biscuit, a sip of her tea, and then leant back, letting go of them so they remained floating in front of her. "Tell me all about it then." She beamed at Meredith. "I..." Meredith started but paused for a moment. "Well what do you know?" "Just start from the beginning, I like a good story." Violet winked at her. Meredith got up and sat herself down next to Violet, taking a moment to wipe the tears from her eyes, and took a deep breath before beginning. "Well, I was told that... Almost six years ago now, Vincent was in love with the Winter Queen, Isoleth, my... My mother. Except he knew her as Claire. That's who she was, before she became a true Sidhe, when she was a changeling like me. As far as Vincent knows, Isoleth tricked him in order to conceive a child, and when he tried to stop her, she tricked him in to a bargain, and then killed me to torture him." Meredith fidgeted with her fingers uncomfortably, she'd never told anyone this before. "Obviously, that didn't happen. The truth was I was hidden away in the Wylds, in a place where time moves differently. That's why I'm a lot older than I should be." "Wonderful! It has magic, and romance and betrayal and a twist!" Violet laughed and clapped her hands together, then reached forwards and plucked her tea cup from out of the air and took a sip, holding it. "So, where's Vincent then?" "Uh... That wasn't..." Meredith started to say, but thought better of it. She wasn't sure that it was a good idea to tell Violet everything, not right now. "Vincent um... He got summoned by the Wise. He said... That he could be in a lot of trouble. I don't know when he'll be back." "Oh those old farts," Violet scowled, and took another sip of tea. "I'd like to teach them a lesson." Violet's expression turned quite dark as she finished her biscuit and contemplated, "Anyway!" She raised her eyebrows, and returned to a light-hearted tone, "Are you ready?" "For what?" Meredith asked. "To go see the 'Wise' of course." Violet scoffed, "Honestly, who calls themselves the 'Wise', puffed-up arrogant little..." She trailed off and then shook off her irritation, "Nevermind!" She added with a smile, and stood up. "I'm not leaving my brother in the care of those doddering old fools." "Vincent said it would be better if I stayed away." Meredith said. "I have the taint, and he said they won't care that I used to be a changeling. He said most young wizards are sentenced to execution if the Wise discover them. With only a few exceptions." "Taint? Rubbish. Magic is magic." Violet growled, and grabbed hold of Meredith's hand, "Anyway, Vincent and I will be there to protect you, and you can't spend your whole life in hiding," Violet smiled at Meredith's panicked objections, "And besides, it'll be boring without you." "But... We don't even know where they are." Meredith replied, looking a little nervous at the prospect. "Don't we?" Violet's eyes lit up with excitement, "Let's go get your father!" "Vi!!" "Sorry, 'dad'." Violet corrected with a playful grin.
  3. Hallowed - Private Kyo& Val

    "This is your dream, Violet, only you can change it. Remember what it feels like to use magic! Remember the first time you used it!" The words bled away along with the walls of the hospital, and 14-year-old Violet was sat at the top of the staircase in her home in Iowa, all thoughts and feelings lost to her past self. A scrawny girl, too slim and tall for her age, as yet to grow into her womanly frame, sporting a black eye and a swollen lip with a cut in the centre. She listened intently, as she heard the hushed voice of her adoptive mother, Martha, in the kitchen, talking on the phone. She didn't need to hear the woman on the other end of the line to know who it was. She'd started high school just a few weeks ago, but already she was in serious trouble. "Good morning Mrs Hallow, it's Principal Brown, i'm calling again because your daughter has been in another fight." Martha Hallow gave a heavy sigh as she gripped the phone to her ear. She was a peach-faced woman with blonde, curly hair, and was wearing a blue cardigan and black leggings. Her lips tightened in annoyance, but her eyes betrayed her true feelings of worry and a little sadness. "What happened this time?" She asked Principal Brown down the phone. "Violet got into an altercation with a boy in her grade. John Mattheu. I don't know the specifics of it because neither of them will talk about it to me, but suffice to say i've been told they were talking one minute, and the next Violet was beating the boy mercilessly. We can't have this kind of behaviour, Mrs. Hallow." "Shit..." Violet muttered, listening carefully. "Yes, of course, I completely agree." Martha said with a slight nod, "But...if you don't know what happened, I mean... she could be getting bullied? You know she hasn't had an easy life..." "I appreciate that, but it's no excuse. Violet has a history of aggression at past schools, I have the notes here. We won't tolerate it. As far as bullying goes, your daughter might look like she's been through the wars, but young John has two missing teeth and a broken finger. If it happens again, we will suspend Violet, pending an investigation, and possible expulsion. I'm sorry, Martha." The line went dead. Violet watched as the phone lowered from Martha's ear, and that was her cue. Violet quickly turned and started back up the stairs. "Don't even try it young lady!" Martha barked, one that didn't really carry the tone of a true disciplinarian. Martha was, after all, a bit of a soft touch ultimately. "Get down here, right now." Violet hesitated, she thought if she could just reach the top of the stairs, she could get to the window, and from there she was a free bird. But, she'd also learnt what would be waiting for her when she got home. She retracted her foot and slowly descended and walked into the kitchen, hands shoved into her jacket pockets. "What?" She asked with an angry undertone. "Fighting? Again?" Martha said as she pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. "What happened this time?" "It wasn't my fault!" Violet snapped, pulling her hands out of her pockets and flailing them about as if it would help demonstrate her innocence, "Johnny Mattheu wouldn't shut up... I don't want to talk about it!" She bunched her fists up. "Violet..." Martha mouthed wordlessly for a moment as she held her hands up, gesturing how helpless she felt. Finally she let them fall to her side and let out another heavy sigh. "...I can't do this any more. I'm trying so hard just to keep you in a good school and you keep doing things like this. I thought Vinnie was bad but..." The edges of her eyes became wet as she blinked. She shook her head and remained silent. "I'm sorry." Violet replied, staring at the floor. But she didn't feel sorry for doing it. Not really. She just felt bad for having upset Martha. Her emotions were so strong sometimes. When she was happy, she was ecstatic. When she was sad, she was inconsolable. When she was angry, she was furious. She found it so difficult to control, and sometimes she felt like she wasn't supposed to at all. But she was trying. She didn't know what else to say, she just felt feeble being stood there in the kitchen. In truth, she didn't even have a good excuse for why it had happened. It just had. A faint, tinny noise filtered in to the kitchen, coming from the pair of headphones sat around the head of a skinny, young boy with jet black hair that was cut straight at his shoulders, and was impeccably straight. The young man was wearing a Nirvana T-shirt, a pair of torn jeans, and a pair of dirty socks. At first he didn't seem to pay attention to either of them, more concerned with his goal of reaching the fridge and raiding it of its contents. He glanced at them as he passed, and his piercing emerald eyes caught sight of Martha's tears, and he pulled the headphones from his head. He looked from Martha, then to Violet, and then back to Martha. "What did she do this time?" He asked"Vincent, Just go back to your room, please." Martha said"A fight then." Vincent said, a little smirk forming on his face. He turned to Violet. "Did he deserve it?""Vincent!" Martha hissed. "What?" Vincent replied, holding his hands up in protest. "Don't look at me, I didn't do anything!" "Leave me alone, Vince." Violet muttered, walking past Martha and opening the fridge. She pulled out a small pot of chocolate pudding and walked over to a nearby drawer and pulled out a spoon. Then she sat on one of the stools beside the kitchen counter and opened the pot, licking the lid and then casting it aside before she took a large spoon of pudding and ate it hungrily with an irritable sigh. Finally, she looked up at Vincent and sniffed, "Are you walking to school?" She asked. "Yeah, still haven't managed to make the broom fly." Vincent said in a tone that suggested he was quite serious. "Vincent I told you... ugh..." Martha shook her head. "I'll talk to you about that later. I don't have time!""Later's good." Vincent said, and he opened the fridge and removed a bottle of Dr Pepper from it, twisting the cap with a hiss and guzzling the contents, finishing up with a particularly potent belch. "Whoa, good one." He said. "Ugh!" Martha turned away from her son in disgust. "School, both of you, now! And this conversation isn't over young lady!""You know I'm a boy, right?" Vincent said"Vincent!" Martha screeched, and Vincent made haste to exit the room, flashing Violet another sly grin. Despite her melancholy, Violet couldn't help but smile a little at Vincent. She apologised one last time to Martha, hugged her and followed her brother out. They started walking down the street, with Violet unusually quiet. Normally she was quite chatty, as she knew once they arrived Vincent would likely hang out with teens of his own age and Violet would be on her own for the day. But she wasn't in the mood to talk, she was picturing the follow-up conversation with Martha. "Ah," Loki clapped his hands together as the street appeared before him. His guise as a doctor had been lost, and now he was dressed in a well-tailored dark green suit. Though his hair was just as slick and groomed as before. "Found you at last." He muttered irritably, and took a few steps forward when he heard a noise and looked over his shoulder to see the current day Vincent, "Oh, wonderful." He sighed, "Leave me alone, won't you? I have more important matters to attend to." And he followed the 14-year-old Violet a few feet behind, the two young Hallows seemingly unaware of the intruder. The older Vincent followed Loki step for step, but he couldn't help but focus his attention on his younger self. His own memories of this event were hazy at best, but clearly this particular memory was important to Violet. "So." His younger self said, turning his head to Violet. "As fun as it was making mom blow a gasket, she has a point. Or, well sort of. I'm not gonna lecture you for fighting but... you could at least try not to get caught." "Martha said no shifting outside the house. What was I going to do, punch him and then turn into a sparrow in front of half the school?" Violet bit back. Loki rolled his eyes and sighed, clearly bored with the conversation. He looked around the street with vague curiosity. "Modern suburbia." Loki muttered, chuckling, "Not what you expect to see connected with a wizard and a shapeshifter - sorry, Nagloshi - I do try to keep up with the terminology but quite frankly i'm in a losing game. Heck, maybe you're not even a wizard, maybe you're actually a genie. I can't keep track these days." "Shut the hell up." Vincent grumbled, before turning his attention back to his younger self. "Yeah, mom also told you to stop fighting." Younger Vincent said, rolling his eyes. "If you don't get caught then nobody is any the wiser. You know how Al is about using magic outside of our lessons, but if I did as he told me then I'd still be learning how to light candles." "At least you can actually use magic." Violet growled. "Touched a sore spot there, big brother." Loki's contemptuous smirk stretched further."Shut. Up." Vincent snarled"Fair point." Younger Vincent said with a nod. "But I can't turn in to a squirrel so, hey, at least you have that going for you. Plus, you've got me, so next time you're in a bind just let me know and I'll help you out. Less stress for mom, okay?""Yeah, yeah." Violet muttered, though she was thankful for her brother's concern. "Not going to be there next time though, are you?" Loki corrected, with a tone of 'I know something you don't know'. "I'm starting to see why nobody believes in you any more." Vincent said. "You believe in me though, don't you? Got ya there, hm?" Loki pointed at Vincent with a wry smile, "Oh Vincent, i'm not such a bad guy really. If Violet wasn't involved in all this I think we'd be friends. Best friends, I should think. You'd like me more than i'd like you, but who's keeping track, really? Oh look, there they go." And as he said this, Violet and her young brother entered the school as the bell rang. "So, what's next on the agenda? How about a detention? That would keep you occupied, I should think." Then Loki walked on at a brisk pace. "...Dick." Vincent grumbled, inwardly far too worried to come up with anything wittier. He didn't like how confident Loki was. He should be worried, but he wasn't, at all. As they walked towards the school, there was a sudden surge and they were inside. Loki looked up at the clock on the wall, it said one minute to 12pm. "Oh, okay." He raised an eyebrow, "Well, I suppose it is a dream." He looked around and noticed something on the wall. The bell rang, and the students started filing out of their classrooms. Within seconds, hundreds of children swarmed all around them, passing through them as though they were phantoms. "Tell me something, Vincent. What will you do once Violet is a brain dead living magic battery?" He spoke without malice, despite his choice of words, "I should think you would want revenge, the only problem is at that point, if I hold up my hands, see," And he did so, "Scales. On one hand, wizard. On the other, God. Mmmm," He weighed them and then made a crashing sound as the hand representing Vincent plummeted. "Best see you, before I do." He added, grinning and holding his hand up in the air, as though he was about to hail a cab. "Ask the dead Fairy Queen how that went for her." Vincent growled, "And she only tried to imprison my sister." "God trumps Queen, kid." Loki replied, and then, "A-ha!" And he whipped his hand back down and grabbed a child passing them. It was the young Vincent, with a rough push, Loki propelled Vincent into the wall and lifted a single forefinger. Suddenly, the fire alarm beside the young Vincent switched on and alarms blared. The children panicked and ran in every direction as teachers emptied into the halls to try and control them. One of them saw the young incarnation of Vincent and grabbed him. "For goodness sake, Vincent. Now you're taking up my lunch time." And the teacher marched Vincent into the nearby classroom and slammed the door shut. Loki whirled around to face the present day Vincent and bowed. "Game, Set and Match, old boy." Loki quipped, and then once more, the world shifted around them. Loki looked around, they were now behind the school. A couple of old garbage cans and some long-forgotten sports equipment was all that framed the scene before them. A young Violet stood defiantly against four boys bearing down on her. One of them leading the pack was a boy with a comical gap in the middle of his front teeth - John Mattheu. "What do you want?!" Violet yelled at John who curled his nose in anger. "You're some kind of freak, ya know that?" Johnny spat with a toothless lisp. "Don't call me that..." Violet started tearing up, she looked around, there was nobody in sight, but even so, there was four of them. She couldn't just transform and claim that all four of the boys were making it up, could she? She wished Vincent was here, why wasn't he? He was always outside for lunch but she hadn't seen him at all. "Such a shame, Vincent. She won't hear you, but you can say your goodbyes none the less, if it will make you feel any better." Loki leant against the wall and crossed his arms as he watched the boys close the gap on Vincent's sister. "What have you done!?" Vincent snarled. "This...this isn't how it happened!" Vincent's hands balled in to fists as he turned to Loki. "This is her memory, you can't just change it like that!" "Who says I can't?" Loki replied, "We're past the point of no return, old boy. The fat lady has sung, and now I have my battery, thank you very much." "Get back!!" Violet yelled at Johnny and the other boys as she raised her fists in self defence. She knew she could take on anyone in her year, maybe even anyone in the school, thanks to her inhuman strength. But four against one? She looked over her shoulder one last time, but Vincent was nowhere in sight. "Vincent!!" Violet screamed, as John Mattheu launched himself at her, his cronies flanking her on either side. "Violet..." Vincent whispered. What could he do? He didn't have his magic here. If he had this wouldn't be a problem. He didn't have any problem with roasting a bunch of dream figments, even if they were children. If only his younger self could have been there. That was how it had really happened. He remembered this part clearly, it was an important memory for him, just as it was for Violet. Vincent's head sank, he felt helpless. "Please... let her go. I'll do anything you want... please." "You'll do anything I want?" Loki grinned, "Vincent, if I could, I would! But you can't just give me back my old vim and vigour the way your sister can. She's just..." Loki licked his lips and thought for a moment, "She's a chocolate swirl double scoop with sprinkles." Loki watched as Violet desperately tried to fight off the boys. She got a few good hits in, but then one of them managed to grab her right arm, then another boy grabbed her left, and that was that, she was trapped. John Mattheu punched her in the stomach, winding her. She fell to her knees but was lifted back up. "You're just a... vanilla... something, I don't know, i've lost my love for this ice cream analogy, can we just focus on the show?" He nodded at the fight with smug pride. "Fine..." Vincent said as he stepped forward. "If there is really no hope then the least I can do is try. If I fail... well then you best keep your eyes peeled, because I'm coming for you."With that Vincent stepped in to the scene. He was careful in how he moved. He tried to remember how this moment had played out in real life. Fortunately, Violet had chosen a memory that was quite fresh for both of them. He remembered that he was young at the time, and impulsive. He didn't have the magical knowledge that he did in later life, but when he had awakened his magic many years earlier, he had summoned an element that he had since become a master of. He felt the warmth build up in his chest, letting all his fury well up until he felt like it was going to burst forth from him. Then he pushed out his arm and allowed that heat to funnel down it, and then he spoke. "Ingus!" He snarled. At the time he was still a novice wizard, and he remembered what had actually happened. His fire sparked across the ground, searing the gravel of the playground, and he dragged his foot across it, spraying hot gravel across the boy's backs. "Touch my sister again, and you'll find yourself suddenly sans eyebrows, Johnny boy." He said with a sly grin, but his eyes were filled with rage. The boys scattered in pain and surprise as they quickly slipped out of their jackets and leapt back from them, unsure what had happened. They turned to see Vincent, and as they did so too did Violet. Her face was covered in fresh wounds, and her cheeks were flushed with tears, but her eyes beamed with joy upon seeing her older brother. But that joy instantly turned to despair, "VINCENT!!" She screamed, but it was too late. Another boy grabbed Vincent from behind, choking him, pulling him down to the ground. Violet pulled herself to her feet and tried to run to her brother's aid, but she was grabbed by Johnny. Turning on the boy, Violet grabbed him by his shirt and threw him with all her strength. Johnny flew through the air until he hit the wire fencing at the edge of the grounds and collapsed in a heap. She turned to see all the colour draining out of Vincent's face, and suddenly she felt something she'd never felt before. Something powerful, rising up inside her. Her rage made physical, she lifted her hand to face the boy who noticed her but seemed unconcerned. His mistake. "LET GO OF MY BROTHER!!" Violet yelled at the top of her lungs, and a deafening bang echoed across the ground as a wave of air and sound buffeted them, passing through Vincent with little effect, and yet crashing into the boy behind him like a ton of bricks. The boy flew back like a rag doll and crashed into the garbage cans, crumpling them like paper cups. "Well, never mind then..." Loki muttered. At the sound of his voice, Violet turned, her gaze falling upon Loki for the first time. She looked straight at him and he looked back at her. She was no longer the 14-year-old child. She was the woman, the sister, the wizard, the shapeshifter and now something more. He slowly began to step back, slowly and carefully, as Violet's skin began to fall away like ash peeling from the bark of a tree. Within seconds Violet's skin and clothes had burnt away, revealing a deep purple body made of magical energies. Her eyes and mouth a source of brilliant white light while her hair was formed of a writhing pink mass of living magic, cascading down her shoulders and flying behind her much the way hair floats freely when submerged. Violet lifted off from the ground and floated towards Loki. "You should not be here." She said, her voice demanding and authoritative. She pointed a finger at Loki accusingly, "Get out! You don't belong!" "Bugger." Loki growled, licking the inside of his cheeks. He turned to look at Vincent, "You're on my shit-list, kid." Loki snapped angrily, but before he could leave Violet lifted her hand and a blast of energy shot towards Loki and enveloped him. He screamed and curled up and suddenly he was a ball of white light trying to escape the power of Violet's magic. At last the little orb of light broke free and the world turned dark. Suddenly Violet rose from the bed, and Vael yelped in surprise and joy. "Oh, yes!!" She cried, leaping up from Violet's side and taking a step back to give her room. Violet slowly rose until she was upright, her eyes still closed as though she was sleeping. Then her hair lifted up into the air with a surge and her entire body exploded like a bomb inside a glass ornament. What was left was a Nagloshi, physically almost indistinguishable from Vael's body, though Violet's hair was not as long and she still retained enough of her facial features that it was clear Vael and Violet were not the same being. Her eyes opened, shining a brilliant white light into the room and she looked around, seeing everything for the first time all over again. "I can see..." She laughed, her lips parting to show light shining from within. "... so much light..." Her eyes squinted as though she could have been crying, but no tears could exist. Her gaze fell upon the others in the room, and she saw Vincent in a whole new light. He stood there before her, wreathed in a brilliant flame. She would never be able to see him quite like he was before, but now she could see everything through it's magical energies and he was like a beacon. While many things were muddy or indistinct, Vincent was like looking through crystal. She saw him, all of him, and it was overwhelming, and yet beautiful. She lowered down until her formless feet touched the ground and the light from her eyes and mouth diminished until they were just soft white lights. "Vince..." She said simply, laughing uncontrollably. "Holy... shit!" Was all Vincent could say, but there was a slight smirk hidden within his awestuck expression. "Looks like lil' Violet made her choice." Al said, folding his arms, and looking at her warily, but he seemed to be accepting of it. "Good Lord above..." David said, not sure of what to make of the scene. Meredith was just staring at Violet, truly stunned by her appearance.Violet looked out across her friends, she saw Vael and knew that they were the same, on an instinctual level. Yet at the same time, that made her naturally wary of her mother. Maybe more so than when she had been human. She saw David, and saw a powerful light thrumming from within him, untouched by anything around them. She saw a darkness in Meredith, and yet it had not taken hold of her. She looked to Vincent and hoped that he would be able to help her somehow, and then something at the back of her mind touched her. She had heard something. Something while she was dreaming. "Auntie Vi..." She said, almost soundlessly to herself, then looked back at Meredith with a keen, realising smile. Then she tried to look at Al, but winced, "Ah!" The light coming from Al was so strong that she was unable to look upon him. "You'll get used to it, sweetie." Vael added, knowing what had made Violet uncomfortable. Violet smiled at her friends and family, the rag-tag group that they were. She had never felt so loved or welcome than she did now. She could feel her power, access it now, and she felt like she had found her place in the world. She had become who she was meant to be. But then, something struck her. Violet looked through her friends and family, and frowned. Her confusion quickly turned to disbelief, and it took only a moment to sense it from the group. Her disbelief turned to an all-encompassing rage and the light exploded from her eyes and mouth as she lifted from the ground and thrust her palm towards them threateningly, "WHERE. IS. JAMES?!" She screamed, her voice booming through the apartment as a dangerous beam of energy formed in her palm.
  4. Hallowed - Private Kyo& Val

    Silence had fallen upon the group. The only sound the occasional clink of glass touching glass as Vincent worked to prepare a sleeping potion in the next room. David and Meredith watched on, while in the bedroom Vael - a being of pure chaos and energy - stroked her daughter's head while Al stood over them. Vael looked over her shoulder, eyeing the old wizard. Eventually she spoke, her voice barely a whisper. "I think now is a good time." Vael said simply, smiling down at her daughter, but addressing the old man. "For?" Al asked, folding his arms as he waited for the response. "You know what for, old man." Vael replied, pulling her hand back from her daughter's head and crossing her arms, she adjusted herself on the side of the bed and turned to look at him, "My daughter can become Nagloshi, or human. She won't be able to sit in limbo for much longer, and when the time comes, its only right she becomes all that she can be." Vael grinned mockingly, her tone vaguely dismissive. "I agree." Al said. "Lil' Vi deserves as much. Although I'm feelin' we might not agree on which direction she should go." "Hah!" Vael rolled her eyes, "Please," She held up one hand, "Immortal being of magical energy, sky's the limit--" Then she held up her other hand, "Flesh bag. Mini van. Pension." She shook her head, "I've experienced more in my life than in the lives of thousands of humans. Do you really think that can compare?" "Perhaps." Al agreed. "But immortality has a cost. Vi would lose herself along the way, forget how to feel, how to love. An' the arrogance...it's like a curse on you lot. Such terrible arrogance..." He shook his head, and when he looked back at Vael his expression was one of pity. "Rubbish!" Vael scoffed, "She would feel more than any human ever could. And love? Fleshy chemical nonsense. Arrogance born from certainty, old man." Vael chuckled but stopped herself and pointed at Al threateningly, "Let me lay it out for you in simple terms; Violet is in danger, whether you need my help or not, if I interfere it would almost certainly stop you from saving her. But if you agree to my terms, I will do everything in my power to help you." "I don' make bargains with immortals, Vael." Al said with a flat expression. "You should know that by now. Frankly I'm disappointed to see Violet had gone got 'erself a familiar, I taught her better than that." Al shook his head again. "Ye ain't gon' shake me down, ye've tried before and ye've always failed. I ain't the fool Eli was." Vael grinned and leant in and delicately touched Al on the forearm, "When you're right," She laughed, "Still, the fact remains. I will oppose you and everyone here, if you do not allow me to assist Violet in her ascension. Mother knows best, and all that. Do you think you can stop me?" Vael's eyes lit up, "Would you like to try?!" Her face twisted into mad excitement. "It would be something, wouldn't it?! Still, splash damage, and what not." She nudged her head in the direction of the others in the next room. Though she could have easily meant every living thing in the city. If Al was afraid, he certainly showed no sign of it. When his gaze cast over Vael it was clear he was unimpressed. "Like I said, terrible arrogance." He said, followed by a heavy sigh. "Ye know what mortals have that ye don't?" He didn't wait for an answer. "Choice. We have the choice to change or not. That is our power. Ye can't take tha' choice from her any more than I can." He adjusted his arms so that they were folded tighter around his chest. "Violet will decide." "Alphonse!" Vael spat indignantly, "As if I would force my daughter to become anything she hasn't already chosen to become." Vael tutted and grinned with a knowing look, "As it happens, she's already chosen." Pride flushed over her face as clear as day, "But unlike her mother, who dotes on her and protects her and only wishes the best for her - her 'brother', Vincent, placed a crude seal on my daughter to try and stop her ascension, when its really none of his business. I've removed it, anyway. I was only putting the terms to you as a way of saying politely, something along the lines of, 'If he does it again, I won't ask you politely to inform Vincent not to stick his nose into my daughters rebirth, I will simply atomise him'." Vael held up her hands defensively, "I was just being polite, I was just being civilised, and what does it get me? Hmm?!" She rolled her eyes and let them fall back on Violet once more. "Is that idiot boy ready yet or not? I'm tired of talking to mortals..." "Ye'd do well to keep outta that idiot boy's way." Al said as he went to leave the room and check on Vincent. "That damned power has awakened in him. An' he don't love ye like Eli did, one o' these days he might jes' be the end o' ye." Al made a point to exit the room as he finished his sentence. He had, funnily enough, grown just as tired of talking to an immortal. She couldn't help but chuckle at that man. He was rather interesting, as far as mortals were concerned anyway. Vael turned and looked down at her daughter, quietly examining her. She reached out, stroking her daughter's head gingerly. She paused and once she was sure there were no prying eyes, she leant in and pressed her thumb to one of Violet's eyelids and pulled it back, revealing a gentle white light where there should have been a pupil. Vael let Violet's eye close once more and leant back with a satisfactory sigh and left the room to rejoin the others. "While this is all fun and lovely, i'd really like to be back in my dimension by the turn of the century. Any luck, Vincent, darling?" Vael crossed the room and as David was passing a cup of tea to Meredith she intercepted it, "Thank you, i'm parched." She smiled at David and walked over and reclined on the nearby sofa, taking a sip of hot tea as she watched Vincent with a mixture of bored apathy and curiosity etched on her face.
  5. Roleplaying Classifieds

    I want you to roleplay! It's time to get your classified down, it's time to meet new role-players and find people with similar tastes to your own! These are the role-playing classifieds. This topic is here for all members and staff to put up a short template that sums up your interests, preferences and ability in role-playing and browse other people's templates to find partners for your role-plays. First, just make yourself a classified by using this template, filling it out and posting it up: Once you've done that, be sure and check the classifieds for other role-players who share your tastes, on a regular basis. The more people that add their classified, the more likely you will be able to find others of a similar mind. Happy writing!!!
  6. Hush

    The car pulled into the SETS parking lot and Nagai, Tatsuma and Cho all got out. Nagai shoved his hands into his pockets and eyed the building with a vague disinterest before walking towards the large double doors, "Hey," He called back, "I'm hungry, i'll be seeing ya." He started up the steps. "I'll take this one to booking." Tatsuma replied and went to lead Cho off, but stopped short and turned back to Nagai. "Oh, and I'll be reporting your malfunctioned collar. Be sure to get a new one." He added. "Tch," Nagai scowled at Tatsuma, then entered the lobby and looked around. The lobby had quieted since the morning, a lot of the SETS agents were out on various cases. Nagai crossed to the elevator and pressed the button. He tapped his foot impatiently as he watched the hologram display show the elevator passing each floor. "Yo, Nagai!" The voice was familiar, but he tried to ignore it. "Hey, wait for me!" Nagai pressed the elevator button again, and again. But as it lowered to the ground floor, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Then another. Then another. He turned around to see a man, who wasn't really a man. He looked humanoid, but he was almost eight feet in height and had three unusually long arms on either side of his body. Arachnae. Despite the name, they really had nothing to do with spiders, but the name had been coined based on their limb count by a no-doubt unimaginative scientist. Unfortunately, most Arachnae are on record and live poor lives. They're not a predatory species, indeed they're quite docile and compliant. But they're not human, so they're a threat. Nagai hated them, they were so cooperative and cheery all the time, despite their lot in life. Who's like that? "Didn't you hear me?" "Itsuki - hey." Nagai muttered in response, not really answering him. The elevator doors whooshed open and they both stepped inside. Itsuki had to bend down to get inside and crouched as Nagai pressed the button for the sub basement. A woman was running for the elevator and so Nagai held the door open for her. But she slowed to a stop when she saw Itsuki, and then, his own eyes. She politely shook her head and took a step back. "Plenty of room, Miss! I'll budge up." Itsuki offered, pressing himself up against the wall of the elevator. "Save it." Nagai growled, pulling his hand back inside the elevator and pressing the button for the sub basement again. "Don't do them any favours." He shook his head as the doors closed and the elevator began to descend. It only took a few seconds before the elevator dinged and they both got out. "You haven't eaten yet today?" Itsuki probed delicately. "Meant to, something came up." Nagai quickened his pace, Itsuki easily matched it. "Oh, y'know i'm on shift today, you don't have to run." Itsuki smiled at Nagai, brushing his short brown hair out of his face. Itsuki was a man in his thirties with chubby, pink cheeks. It made Nagai think of someone who was out of breath from running, but that couldn't be the case with Itsuki. Arachnae have arms long and powerful enough that they can walk on them, even to the point of covering great distances. They're one of the few that can outrun a ghoul, even at full sprint. They walked down a long, dark corridor. Lights dotted the edges until the room opened out and a large cage lay before them. Behind it, were thousands of boxes and objects and all manner of things. Itsuki passed Nagai and pressed in a keycode to the door, stepped inside and locked it behind him. Nagai walked up to the window and sighed as Itsuki picked through dozens of forms. "Hurry it up. I need to eat." Nagai tensed his jaw unconsciously. "Ah here, just fill this out and--" "NOW!!" Nagai snapped, his mouth was full of fangs when he barked at Itsuki and he grabbed hold of the wire mesh like a trapped criminal. Itsuki jumped back in surprise and disappeared into the warehouse and a moment later came back with a small brown package. He cautiously laid it down on the reception desk and slid it forwards. Nagai quickly grabbed it, tore it open and looked at the contents. It looked like a piece of steak and a kidney. Nagai grabbed the meat and tore through it, devouring it hungrily within seconds. Itsuki swallowed nervously upon the realisation that Nagai wasn't wearing his collar. All 'predator' class Bakemono had to wear them. "What?" Nagai asked, looking up. The lower half of his face covered in thick, sticky blood. "U-uh..." Itsuki reached under the counter and placed a fresh collar on the desk. Nagai stared at it spitefully, then eyed Itsuki who recoiled. Eventually he leant over and grabbed the collar and fitted it, it snapped shut and a woman's voice came through in a recorded message, telling him it had armed. "Any more?" Nagai threw the bloody wrapper back at Itsuki who took it apologetically. "N-no. You aren't cleared for double rations any more. Not after..." "Yeah, yeah." Nagai sighed, and wiped the blood off his face with the back of his hand and sucked it from his skin. The lower half of his face was still slightly stained pink. "I'm gonna head back up, figure Tats is gonna be talkin' to that human kid by now..." "Tats...?" Itsuki frowned, "Tatsuma? Oh... yeah. Probably. Hey, what's he like?" Itsuki asked curiously. "Pain in my ass." Nagai growled back at the Arachnae, then waved goodbye. As he walked away, he added, "He's more like us, than them." "Uh...?" Itsuki mused. "Examination Room 03...?" Nagai muttered, repeating the instructions the receptionist had given him. He looked in through the window and saw a group of agents watching everything through a one-sided mirror. Classic, he thought to himself, with a smile. Then took the other door and walked in, Tatsuma was sat at the table, Cho sat on the other side, nursing a cup of tea between his hands. "Yo!" Nagai waved at them, then repeated the gesture at the large window. He couldn't see them behind the window, but his delicate senses picked up the minute sounds of shouting and arguing behind it. They were angry at him, and that made him happy. "Got far?" He asked, drinking from a cup of coffee. "Just getting started." Tatsuma said as he sipped coffee from a paper cup. His focus was on Cho who was sitting across from him looking decidedly nervous. "Alright now that the formalities are out of the way let me explain the situation." Tatsuma activated his wristband and a holographic display projected itself over the table in between them. It showed a slightly dated photograph of Cho, along with various pieces of information about him sourced from various databases, including his full name, place of birth, age, address and the school he attended. "This is the file we have on you." Tatsuma explained. "At a glance it's clear that you have no priors, and there is very little to suggest your involvement in any criminal activity whatsoever. However, your reaction to my colleague here earlier was suspicious."Tatsuma gave Nagai a quick glance. "Now I understand that he is a little intimidating, but he is a professional, and his reaction to you was not without reason... I'm sure." Tatsuma raised his eyebrow at Nagai, awaiting an explanation. "I was going to eat him..." Nagai replied. He heard uproar in the next room, but the two humans didn't react to it, they couldn't have heard. He grinned to himself, "Alright, alright." He muttered, taking a sip of coffee, "Most animals can sense hostility, intent to kill." Nagai explained, sitting down. He leant back on his chair and put his feet up on the table, taking another sip of coffee, "So can ghouls. The moment I touched her you--" Nagai stopped and his grin widened, "See, there it is again." He looked up and saw Cho's strained face, his jaw clenched so hard it looked like his teeth were going to shatter."Don't talk about her like she's nothing!" Cho yelled, standing up angrily. "I see..." Tatsuma said with a nod. "A kind of instinctual profiling. Humans have developed entire processes to observe and identify such characteristics... and yet you do so as second nature. Impressive." Tatsuma seemed intrigued by the prospect, but quickly got back on topic. He addressed Cho again. "The micro expression you just displayed indicates anger, but a righteous anger I suppose. However I am also seeing possessive overtones. Did you think of the victim as your property, Cho?""I-- No!!" Cho replied in an indignant tone, "I... I really liked Makoto, but..." He paused, "She never noticed me.""I see." Tatsuma nodded. "And do you think she should have noticed you?" He asked, leaning in and eyeing Cho carefully. "Makoto was the mayor's daughter. A privileged young girl who was most likely quite popular. A wealthy family like that would allow for her to have the best leg up in this world, no doubt she would be a polished gem of sorts. Why would she pay any attention to one such as yourself, hm?""This is so boring..." Nagai groaned, rubbing his temples, "Why do humans persist with all this smoke and..." He looked over his shoulder and rolled his eyes at the mirror, "So she didn't notice you. Who cares, you're a nobody. You're not special. You're just an animal. An inferior animal that the female of your species didn't deem good enough. Get over it." Nagai focused on the contents of his coffee cup. "I... but it wasn't like that. We were friends. She never used to date anyone, she always focused on her studies and then one day she just stopped all that, she stopped studying with me and started dating all these guys. But, never me..." Cho drew his cup close to his chest and took a sip. "And how did that make you feel?" Tatsuma asked, as he leaned back on his chair and caught Nagai's eye, and gave him a little nod in a hope to explain to him that there was a point to all of this, and to be patient. Nagai raised an eyebrow in confusion and shook his head, but decided silence was best for the moment, and so returned to drinking his coffee. "Angry... confused..." Cho muttered, "But I would never hurt her!" Cho corrected them quickly, "I just... sometimes I followed her, because I wanted to know what they had that I didn't, or... I don't know. It just wasn't like her." "I see." Tatsuma nodded. "So you resorted to stalking, which is a crime in case you weren't aware, because you felt that you had the right to monitor the life of Makoto, who is supposed to be your friend." Tatsuma pressed his fingers against the desk and slowly pushed himself up to his feet, an intentional maneuver to make himself look taller and more imposing to the young boy. He glared at him, flaring his nostrils, mimicking the subtle facial expressions that displayed broiling anger. "I've seen this behaviour before. You think that because you invested time and attention to this young girl, that you deserve her attention, that you have the right to know what she is doing at any given time." He was raising his voice, slowly and with a slight tremble to it. "I bet seeing her with other boys made you quite jealous. I can see it on your face now, at the mere mention of them you struggle to fight back that contempt you're feeling right now." "I was jealous but..." Cho shook his head, "What does my jealousy have to do with it? I would never hurt her." "Oi, Tats," Nagai chimed in, "This kid ain't a killer. I know."Tatsuma lifted his right arm and bashed it on the table in a closed fist, the outburst completely out of character. "And what would you, a Bakemono, know of the human condition?" He spat, before he locked eyes with Cho again. "Not once have I accused you of murdering our victim, and yet you constantly protest to your innocence. Not to mention the obsessive behavior, constant excuse making to justify your clearly twisted and criminal behavior. You are a slave to those nagging, ugly desires of yours. You are a dull and insignificant individual, embittered by your circumstance you think you deserve more. When you see those you feel less worthy of the prizes you seek suddenly just reaching out and taking them, such a thing would drive someone like you to pushing it just a step to far." Tatsuma leant over the desk to his face was mere inches from the boy. "In that moment you thought to yourself, 'If I can't have her, then no one will.""That's not true!" Cho spat, freaking out, "I've always been her friend, not like the other boys! They just wanted to..." He trailed off, "But she was never with them for very long, and..." He fell silent and drank the rest of his tea. "She's a killer..." Nagai's grin spread, "Hey, old guys!" Nagai leant back and tapped on the mirror, "I said she was a killer already, okay?!" He pointed at Tatsuma, "Sherlock Holmes didn't agree!" He chuckled to himself and drained his coffee, then threw the flimsy plastic cup at Tatsuma's head. Tatsuma took one look at Cho, and he didn't need to ask him to confirm it. It was written all over his face. Tatsuma sighed and sat back in his chair. He took the e-cigarette from his coat pocket and gave it a few puffs. Then, in his usual calm manner, he turned to Cho and said "You're free to go." Cho looked at Nagai and Tatsuma, flustered and ashamed, stood and walked out. As the door shut behind him Nagai whistled loud and clear."Well... humans never cease to surprise me." Nagai laughed."That must be nice." Tatsuma said. "They almost never surprise me..." He took another puff, leaning back in the chair and looking up at the cold, diffused lighting installed in the ceiling. "Bakemono, on the other hand, are always surprising me." He said, and a hint of a smile formed on his face. "I may not be like most humans, but sometimes that has it's share of problems. I don't particularly care about investigating the dead. Whatever they were is now gone, so it seems quite pointless." He sat up again and looked at Nagai. "Congratulations, you caught a serial killer. It's just a shame you weren't the first. Anyway, as pointless as that may seem, it points us towards the one that's presumably still alive. A vigilante, it would seem. Told you our killer was a show off."Nagai's grin spread further, "I was talking about you," He sneered, and then simultaneously stood and kicked out his chair. "So, we have two things to find then. The bodies of her victims, and her killer. I like simple, and this is getting dangerously complicated." Nagai sighed as he stepped out of the examination room."Perhaps not that complicated." Tatsuma said as he followed Nagai out. "A spree of murders, all of the victims young boys. No doubt there is already a case underway for that one, so we probably already have the bodies." He explained. "As for the vigilante killer, that's going to take some more legwork. Looking at the profile we've constructed, it's unlikely that this killer had any personal connection to the victim. If he did, then it would have only been recently, in an attempt to get close to her. We'll interview the family, and see if something sticks out.""Oi, old guys!" Nagai opened the door to the next room, the group of SETS agents turned on him and a cacophony of complaints and shouting began. Nagai had to whistle in order to silence them, "What's the protocol for a Bakemono meeting the Mayor?"
  7. Hush

    OOC: Private RP between myself and Kyo. HUSH The bedroom was dark, no sunlight reached it's featureless walls or plain wooden flooring. A body stirred in the sheets, disturbed by the sound of the television at the other end of the room. The reporter was stood in front of a group of high-rise flats. In the background, police swarmed to cordon off the area and gain control of the crowd. Something had attracted their attention, dozens of the crowd had phones trained at something on the ground, obscured by the body of the reporter. "The security minister, Nori Masahiko, spoke in office today to assure citizens that this is an isolated incident." She was smiling, but her eyes were serious. As she spoke, the camera cut to footage of the minister addressing press. Minister Nori seemed confident and decisive, but questions levelled at him seemed to frustrate. "We've dispatched a Handler to deal with this, it won't be long before we get results, I assure you." He banged his fist off the podium to punctuate his resolve. "Minister!" Shouts began, at first an indistinguishable noise, but one voice managed to find a foot hold, "Minister! Do you deny that these killings seem to fit the pattern of the Butcher of Zone 06?!" As the man asked, a floating camera rushed towards the minister's face and it's lens focused. The minister's face tensed and he shook his head, "Albeit the presentation of the crimes are similar--" "--the bodies are torn apart and scattered across a large area?" One of the press clarified, making Minister Nori cringe. "--though similar..." He continued, "We do not believe that it's the same person." "But it's a Bakemono, surely?!" A woman yelled, holding her palm facing her, a small hologram of a pad hovering above it, taking notes automatically. "The involvement of a Bakemono is all but confirmed," The minister nodded, "No human being is capable of this level of brutality." "Off." A voice in the room growled. The television turned off with a click and as the room lit up, it seemed to shift. It was no longer grey and drab, as the lights shone down on the room, it had turned into a traditional Japanese home, complete with screen doors, tatami mat flooring and all the bells and whistles. "Gooood morning, Nagai-sama!" A chirpy voice rang, as it's owner, a holographic woman with the body proportions of a chibi cartoon and dressed in a French maid's uniform floated across the room and patted the bed covers, "Wakey wakey! Breakfast is ready! It's a brand new day!" "Get lost, would ya." Nagai growled, pulling the covers around him. "It's time to get up, Nagai-sama! Your boss, Masao Ko, sent you a message," The little holographic woman paused, clearing her throat for effect, then when she spoke, it was his boss. A recorded message. "Nagai! Get up! You're back on duty, i've rescinded your suspension given recent events, and you have a new Handler. His name's Tanaka Tatsuma, he's an experienced Handler, so go ahead and try something, any excuse to activate your collar and throw away the chip." The message ended and the hologram's chirpy voice returned. "So wake up, Nagai-sama!!" Nagai grabbed his pillow and threw it across the room, it whipped through the air like a brick but passed harmlessly through the hologram and hit the far wall with a thump. "Fine!" He barked, and kicked his covers off and sat up in bed, yawning. Nagai was a man in his mid-to-late twenties. He was very thin, average height but he was quite striking. His skin was unblemished by sun, he had long black hair, tied into a ponytail at the back, loose down to his chin at the front, and shaved across most of the left side of his head. He had piercings along his ears, on his lip and left eyebrow. But most striking about him was his eyes. Apart from his iris which was a vivid red, his eyes were entirely black. Sclera, pupil and all. He was naked save for a thin band of black metal fit snugly around his neck, like a collar. Once he was up and about, showered and dressed in a pair of black jeans and a plain white tank top that showed his arms covered in tattoos from shoulder to finger tips, he sat down to his dining table and stared at the food on his plate. It looked like a breakfast roll. Egg, bacon, sausage, onions. "Hey, uh..." He examined it, sniffing the contents thoughtfully. "Boss says you can have something else when you come upstairs, okay?" Nagai shook his head and sighed, then grabbed the breakfast roll and consumed it ravenously. Once he was done, he stood up, grabbed a short black leather jacket and pulled it on and then walked out the front door, "Later!" He called, and as the door hissed shut behind him, the room he had been in vanished back into grey as the hologram unit displaying the traditional Japanese home deactivated. Nagai walked straight out onto the ground floor of the Special Enforcement and Tracking Services (Better known as the S.E.T.S.) building. The branch of the government that deals in the identification, assessment, holding and if need be, termination of Bakemono. As a broad definition, Bakemono are creatures that have a wide variety of races and classifications, but in essence it is a term that identifies anything as 'not human'. The news often says they live in an enlightened time. A time of unprecedented medical, scientific and technological advances. But there is one thing that humankind does not acknowledge, and that is it's second-class citizens. Discrimination is alive and well in this 'enlightened age', only for most, skin colour, gender, age, sexual orientation - these things are of little concern. Bakemono literally means 'monster', and that is what humans have always referred to as anything non-human. Most people would identify Nagai as a Bakemono by his eyes. He was a rarity, but his race was one of the most feared. Humans called them 'Ghouls'. "Mornin', Ayumi!" Nagai called to the woman behind the reception desk. She was a beautiful young woman with a curvaceous figure and long dark hair. She saw Nagai and scowled at him, "What?!" He frowned and then grinned at her with wide, predatory eyes and she shook her head and went back to addressing the man in front of her. Nagai's grin widened and he stood on the escalator that brought him up to the second floor. The building was busy on most days, but today it seemed like utter chaos. The news story he'd half-heard while waking up seemed to have everyone in a mad rush. Was it really that serious? Seemed like any other killer to him. What was the big deal? "It killed the Mayor's daughter!" Masao Ko yelled at him, "That's why!! Just tore her apart and left her there." "Huh..." Nagai frowned, scratching his chin. "Don't 'huh' me, Nagai, you piece o' shit, give me something more than 'huh' or--" "--alright, alright!" Nagai waved his hand at his boss and walked to the far wall where holographic monitors displayed the images of the body, "Looks like a lot..." He muttered, licking his lips thoughtfully. Masao ground his teeth impatiently, "So, who's this Handler then?" "He's your senior, he's your superior, he's your Handler. That's all you need to know. What about the images?!" "Looks like her body is intact, in a manner of speaking." Nagai looked back at Masao with a grin, "But, some of her organs are missing. Unless they're pulp, I don't see a heart, or lungs, or liver." He noted, pointing at certain areas of the images. "Which means, either they took the organs, or--" "--they ate them." Masao Ko and Nagai both turned at the sound of this new voice. Nagai saw a man in his late thirties, with short scruffy dark hair and a dishevelled appearance. He didn't look like a SETS agent, never mind a Handler. He looked the man up and down and then shrugged his shoulders and looked back at the screen, ignoring him. "They could have taken the organs for any reason, I don't see any signs of feeding in these pictures. Maybe we should see the body first hand, hm?" Nagai looked back at Masao with an expectant smile. His boss snarled but then looked to the Handler, which led Nagai's eyes back to him as well. "How 'bout it... partner?" Nagai said the last word mockingly and smiled.
  8. Hush

    He looked Tatsuma over for a moment and yawned, "Fine, fine. Sounds like fun." As Nagai left the office he heard Masao call after him. "12-hour pass, Tatsuma! Nagai has to be back here before then!!" "Or what?" Tatsuma asked. "Make the leash any tighter and the dog might just bite you, you know?" "I had a dog once. I loved it, fed it, cared for it, and I thought it loved me too. Then one day, it turned and attacked my young boy, he had to have re-constructive surgery and an eye transplant." Masao eyed Nagai, "Loving the thing won't stop it biting you. At least with a leash, it has a range." "Hm," Nagai grinned and held his arm up to wave goodbye as he left, "Later," He chimed, and started down the steps. "So..." Nagai began, as he reached the ground floor and started across the foyer, "What are you?" He asked, pushing his hands into his pockets. "Just a man, nothing exciting." Tatsuma replied. "and you're a Ghoul, according to your file at least. I suppose that makes you an ideal Hound." "I've read the file on Ghouls." Nagai grinned and shook his head, "Subject has increased sensory acuity, physical capability and possesses ability to manipulate body to unknown lengths." He paused as they reached the car park, "Increased aggression, ravenous, urgent need to consume human flesh, bite and blood are both infectious. Then it just goes downright rude." He laughed, "Something about rampant disregard for life. That's rich, coming from a human. Anyway, you're not human. Humans don't hold my gaze. You? You're just wearing a human, like a bad Halloween costume." Then he added without pause, "So which car's yours?" "Black sedan." Tatsuma said as he nodded to the car a few yards from them. "Comes with the job. Get in." He added before unlocking the car and stepping in to the driver seat. "One of the many benefits," Nagai replied sarcastically, pulling himself into the passenger seat before slamming the door shut behind him. "So, what made you want to become a Handler then, hm?" Nagai looked him up and down once more, "Don't look like one." He leant in close and sniffed, "Don't smell like one. Don't even act like one. Last Handler shocked me first time he met me just to show he could. But anyway, he was an asshole, so I ate him." In response Tatsuma merely glanced at Nagai for a moment with an expression of mild amusement. Then he turned the ignition and the car started up. "People need jobs. And not everyone is cut out to be an astronaut, no matter how badly they might want it. At the end of the day, handling you is just a consequence of the job. I didn't exactly fight for the privilege." Nagai made a quick, irritable sucking noise off the roof of his mouth, "You're no fun." The car pulled into the apartment complex's parking lot, most of the crowd had dispersed, but the stragglers who teetered precariously on the edge of the holographic tape warning them to remain on the other side, saw renewed curiosity in their arrival. Nagai got out of the car and immediately beelined for the corpse. As he crossed the hologram a warning sounded. "SETS Tracker, 'Nagai'. Handler must be present." "Blow it out your ass..." Nagai muttered, crouching over the top half of the girl's body, he heard a countdown but ignored it. He looked at the girl's eyes, there was fear and pain, but also shock, as though she couldn't believe what was happening. She probably knew her killer. Nagai took a deep lungful of air, tasting the metallic copper scent. He could feel his mouth watering. "Oi, Tats... Tats..." Nagai frowned, the man's name escaped him. "Look here, look at her face." Then he reached over, dipped his forefinger into her torso and pulled out a sticky, red finger and sucked on it thoughtfully. "Please don't tamper with evidence." Tatsuma said in a tone of mild annoyance as he joined Nagai. He examined the girl but didn't seem terribly impressed by anything. "Quite an honest display of emotion left. Fairly typical in such a scenario." "But i'm hungry..." Nagai replied in a whiny tone, he smacked his lips and pulled out his cleaned finger and then stood up, "Well, my assessment is... She's dead. Deader than a can of spam." He grinned at Tatsuma then looked back at her body and smelled the air, "Perfume, blood, sweat, piss and something else..." Nagai curled his nose in confusion and bent back down. "I don't..." Then the mutilated girl's head jerked forwards and she stared directly at him, "Ah! AH!!" Nagai recoiled in terror, falling over himself to get away from her. The girl's mouth opened with a croaking sound and something black surged to get out. Nagai continued yelling as he tried pulling himself to his feet in an attempt to get away from the moving head, then the black mass in her mouth unfurled and a large black beak poked it's way out of her mouth and wriggled free. Nagai stared in dumbfounded awe as the bird - a raven - fell onto the pavement, bloody but otherwise unharmed. Flapping its wings, the raven hopped a few times and then took off into the air. "Hmm... Definitely a show off." Tatsuma said, apparently unfazed by the unfolding events. "We should sweep the area, try to reconstruct what happened." He then messed around with his wristband for a moment, before a small holographic video played back on his wrist that showed Nagai falling back in fright as the raven emerged. He gave Nagai short glance. "For evidence." He explained. "My ass..." Nagai muttered, picking himself up, "Anyway, you missed the point. He's not showing off. Anyone can put a bird in a corpse. That wasn't just any bird. That was a raven. Ravens are symbols of death. They were linked to battlefields, picking from the corpses of fallen soldiers. I think it's a message." Then he shuddered, "A fucked up message." He shivered again, but his eyes were focused on her corpse, "Exactly how much of her is evidence and how much of her could just, y'know, could I just take a bit...?" "No, you can't." Tatsuma said. "And yes, it may very well be a message, but my point still stands. This was a premeditated murder, and the killer wanted a scene. We can speculate a lot of things with that information, but we should gather all the evidence we can before we decide." "You didn't even let me tell you the message..." Nagai muttered irritably, his gaze lingering on her remains. "What's the point in bringing me if you won't even listen to me. You're so unkind." He shrugged his shoulders, "And she's not even the mayor's daughter any more, she's just a girl-shaped chunk of meat. Why do people care so much..." "Because as you just witnessed, there could be many more clues connected to this corpse, and losing them could cost the case." Tatsuma said. "Now if you have something to say about this message then just say it. I cant say I'm particularly worried about the threats and promises of lunatics at any rate." "Killing someone doesn't make you a lunatic." Nagai corrected Tatsuma, "I think people just like to say that it does, because it makes them look like a moral person. He's not making threats or promises. He's exposing her. Ravens pick at the corpses of soldiers on the battlefield. Soldiers are killers. I think the killer is hunting others like himself, maybe out of a sense of justice, or revenge. Also, i'm hungry. I'm hungry Tatsuma!" Nagai said as though he was having a child's tantrum, then stood up and strode towards the crowd of onlookers. "Suck it up." Tatsuma said with a shrug, "My last Hound wasn't such a baby. You have a lot of growing up to do, and you need to stop jumping the gun. Killing someone doesn't make the killer a lunatic, but the fashion he or she has done so is... quite pointless, and will likely be the reason we make an arrest. No sane person goes to such great lengths, at such great personal risk." "You're wrong!" Nagai yelled over his shoulder as he stopped in front of the crowd of people and looked them over. Most of them took one look at his eyes and quickly left, it happened so fast that only one person remained as the crowd dispersed. A young man in his teens, he stared at Nagai with a look of shock and surprise etched on his face as the two of them locked eyes. "Yo!" Nagai grinned at the man, nodding. The man froze for just a second longer, and then he was off. Sprinting at a breakneck speed. "Oi, Tats! What d'ya think, innocent until proven guilty?!" He called to Tatsuma, and laughed. "That's fine. I like chasing things." Then Nagai reached up and grabbed his shock collar, and without resistance, it clicked open. Nagai removed it and let it hang loosely from his fingertips. "They shouldn't a' given me so much free time." His grin widened, then he dropped the collar, turned and started running. He was like a blur, and he'd cleared the parking lot before the collar had even hit the ground. As he ran, Nagai opened his mouth into an excited grin, but his teeth were no longer human in design, he now had the smile of a shark. Gone were the flat, grinding teeth of an omnivore, his mouth was now full of fangs, teeth designed for slicing through meat and shattering bone. He turned a corner, and could see the boy running at the far end of the path alongside the apartment buildings. The boy looked over his shoulder just long enough to see Nagai behind him, surging towards him like a bullet cutting through air. The boy let out a startled scream and redoubled his efforts, but Nagai wasn't panicked by the boy's youthful speed. He was faster, and he knew he wouldn't tire. Sweat did not bead his forehead, and his heartbeat remained steady despite his feet beating across the pavement. A few more feet ahead was a short, hollow concrete block, filled with soil and a small shrub. Nagai veered towards it, leapt forwards and spring-boarded off the edge of it, soaring up into the air. His jacket ruffled behind him as he came down towards the boy, who looked over his shoulder as he reached the end of the path, and saw nobody behind him any longer. He let out a deep breath, but immediately drew it back in in sheer terror as Nagai landed within arm's reach. The boy instinctively threw a punch, and Nagai stopped himself mid-sprint, on a dime. Then jerked his head back, the punch missing him by an inch. Nagai frowned at the boy, then grinned. His grin spread to a laugh to the point at which the boy found himself stood before Nagai, frozen by fear and confusion. "Alright... I reckon you have about ten seconds before a Sedan pulls up and a humourless funpire - that's a fun vampire, they suck fun - gets out, and shoots me. But before that happens, if you don't tell me who you are, and why you ran, i'm going to eat you. Only a little, so you become a Ghoul, like me, and then you can work for the funpire." "M-my name's Cho. I'm her classmate." "Thanks!" Nagai grinned, then surged forwards, grabbed the boy and whirled around to face Tatsuma, using the boy like body armour. "Ooo, hey, Tats. Fancy seeing you here, me and Cho are just havin' a chat. Why don't you go back to the car, and i'll finish up." Nagai gave Tatsuma his best 'you can trust me' winning smile - albeit with a mouth full of fangs - and tightened his grip on the boy's throat.
  9. For all your birthday wishes, pictures, love and gifts! Just leave your heartfelt messages to the people you know and care for. It's their special day after all, the day they were born, and all these years later they're on Surreality and buggin' the heck out of us!! :3
  10. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [Kokon Musou] Yuri stepped up and stood in front of Jin's front door. She wore a simple pair of wooden geta and a beautiful white kimono with pink and red flowers across it. Her skin was almost as pale as the kimono, and her long black hair fell loosely around her shoulders and cascaded down her back - a dark brown in comparison to her eyes. She had applied a little make-up to her cheeks and lips to give her face a little colour. She knew she had to be on her best behaviour for a number of reasons. First, she was meeting Jin's parents, second she would be eating a formal meal with her taijutsu master, and last but by no means least, she had both her mother's good name to uphold, and her family's name. She didn't like talking about it, but the Satomi clan were nobility, and her father was the only exception to their clan's etiquette and laws, in more ways than one. Yuri leant forwards and knocked on the door and waited patiently for an answer. There was a muffled tapping of feet, and a short pause before the door opened with a click. Jin was dressed in a simple black kimono, which he looked entirely too uncomfortable in. He cast his eye on Yuri, with a momentary expression of something like awe, but then he replaced it with his usual grin. He tugged at his kimono. "Mom said I had to dress up. Did she ask you to as well?" "Mm..." Yuri looked Jin up and down and then shook her head quietly, then a grin spread across her face and she started laughing, "I-I'm sorry!" She said, in-between fits of laughter. She'd just never imagined that was something Jin owned, never mind would wear. "Just get in already." Jin said, rolling his eyes. "Mom's been in her 'demon mode' all day." Jin stepped out of the way to let Yuri inside. He led her in to the modest home, which was sparkling clean and tidy. There was a pleasant aroma coming from the kitchen, and when they entered the dining room Saya was just finishing setting the table. She was dressed in a traditional black tomesode, with a pattern of golden birds on the bottom and a matching sash, with five silver crests pinned around the garment. Her long, red hair was tied back and as she noticed Yuri she gave her guest a warm smile and stood up. "Nice to see you again, Yuri." She said. "You look very beautiful, I hope my son was courteous enough to say so.""Uh..." Jin said, scratching the back of his head nervously. "He was," Yuri replied, smiling at Jin, "In his own way." Then Yuri bowed to Saya respectfully. "You have a lovely home. I'm looking forward to our meal, it smells great." She looked expectantly into the kitchen and took a deep breath. It seemed her father wasn't the only culinary master in the village. But something was bothering her. Jin's mother had said 'nice to see you again', but she had never met her before today, at least, she didn't recognise her face. Also, her insects were buzzing with activity. They were reacting as though they felt a familiar presence."Thank you." Saya said with a nod. "We'll be eating soon. We're just waiting for Isamu to arrive. Please take a seat and I'll fetch us something to drink." Saya left the room and Jin immediately sat himself down on one of the cushions around the table. "I haven't had one of mom's home cooked meals in so long. We're in for a treat!" He said, practically salivating at just the thought."Jin..." Yuri gazed after his mother and then slowly knelt down beside him, "What does your mother do again?" She asked, frowning, unable to pull her gaze away from the kitchen where Saya was working. Something was definitely off, she just wasn't sure why. "Uh... she..." Jin looked a little nervous. "I'm... not allowed to say." He said finally, bowing his head. "I'm sorry... it's not that I don't trust you... it's just not for me to say." "Oh..." Yuri's face tensed and then fell expressionless, silence filled the room. "... I understand..." She said finally, placing her hands on her lap and staring at the ground. So, Saya was like her sister Mira, then. Yuri bit her lower lip. Her bugs had alerted her to Saya's familiarity before she even understood her discomfort. Without Saya's mistake, without even her bugs. Yuri knew she would have realised what Saya was. Because she recognised a mask. Yuri caught Jin's eyes and she then she realised something horrible. He didn't see it. He didn't see the mask his mother wore. Yuri opened her mouth and moved her hand to touch Jin's shoulder, but she recoiled when she heard his mother's voice. "I suppose my little slip up didn't go unnoticed." Saya said as she enetered the room again with a table of drinks. "After all, I have never met Yuri before, at least not without my mask on.""Mom..." Jin said, but Saya silenced him with a brief look as she placed the drinks on the table."Jin, it's okay. I am more than certain that Yuri is no traitor or spy." She said, and she couldn't help but smile. "It's sort of strange, really. I've watched you grow up, Yuri, and yet this is the first time I have been able to truly meet you.""We all wear masks..." Yuri replied, moving her hand to indicate her own eyes, but her tone was just for Saya. "I'm glad you can see me without mine at last, and likewise..." Her voice almost broke as she stared at Saya, finding it difficult to hide her anger."You look like Masa, right now." Saya said. "She was never very good at hiding her anger." Saya took a sip of her drink and placed it back on the table before continuing. "If you have something to say, then please say it. This family holds a lot of secrets on my account, obviously. I would rather not add to it." [sadness and Sorrow] "Stop!" Yuri snapped at last, slamming her palm down on the table. She couldn't control her breaths, and they came fast and shallow."Yuri?" Jin said with concern. "What's wrong?" Tears started falling as Yuri spoke venomously to Saya, "You think you're doing your son a favour by hiding who you are?!" Yuri yelled angrily, "You're all the same! You're so used to wearing a mask you can't even take it off any more. It just becomes a part of you..." She trailed off then stood up and pointed at Saya, "You! My sister... my mother." She shook her head in disbelief, "How can you all think this is the right path?! HOW?!""You are... a smart girl, Yuri." Saya said patiently. "But there are things you do not yet understand, and in an ideal world I would hope you never do, but I expect you will one day." Saya looked at Yuri directly, and her eyes became cold and distant. "These eyes have seen terrible things. Things I would rather not have my child experience. Perhaps it is inevitable, but I will do so for as long as I can. Children... are so eager to grow up. This is because they do not know what awaits them. Adults like myself, and indeed your mother and sister, we have seen things that have changed us, and not for the better. You clearly don't agree with this, but to be frank, I don't especially care if you do or don't. You have not seen what we have seen. Don't you dare insult the sacrifices we have made, so that you might never see such things." "Enough!" Jin said, slamming his fist on the table. "Mom... stop it! This was supposed to be a nice dinner..." His hand trembled with anger. Saya looked at him, and her eyes had become warm and gentle once more, and she smiled. "You're right... I'm sorry." She said with a nod. "I'll go start getting the food ready. Isamu will be home soon." Saya got up and went back in to the kitchen, and she left behind an awkward silence.Yuri shook her head in disbelief, "... I should go." She turned and started to leave. Before she could reach the door, it had already opened, and Isamu stepped through it. He looked much as he always had, except a little more tired around the eyes. He looked up, and his face lit up as he saw Yuri and Jin, and he gave them a warm smile. "Well, well... today I get to eat with both of my students." He said, and he looked at Yuri in particular. "... I'd imagined you'd look a lot tougher by now but... well you look very pretty, all the same." "Appearances are deceiving." Yuri muttered, standing in front of the doorway patiently. "Did I...miss dinner?" Isamu said, looking a little confused. "No, dad." Jin said, and he looked down at his feet sadly. "Yuri was just... something came up, she has to go.""Nonsense." Isamu said, and before she could argue, he was leading Yuri back to the table. "I'm a very busy man now. Sarada had to... uh, I mean I had to work extra hard to afford this time with my family. And that includes you, Yuri." [Nakama] Yuri quietly sat down at the table as Isamu disappeared into the kitchen, she looked over to Jin and mouthed, 'I'm sorry'. Just then, she saw the plates of food being carried through by Isamu and Saya. She caught Saya's gaze, and for a moment, she thought her smile might have been genuine. Yuri frowned and then before she knew it, everyone was taking their seats. But before the meal could begin, there was a knock at the door."I'll get it." Jin said, and he got up and walked in to the hall, and pulled the door open.Stood on the front step, was Mira. She stared down at Jin, unimpressed. "So, you're the boy..." She muttered. "Step aside, step aside, Mira!" Ibiki chided his daughter, who seemed nonplussed at being pushed to one side by her father. "Hiya Jin!" Ibiki beamed at him and then looked over Jin's shoulder, "Hi Saya! Isamu!!" He called, "I brought sweet dumplings! Room for two more?!" He asked, grinning. Yuri stared at her father in disbelief, a small smile creeping across her face. When she told her father about the meal she was having with Jin's parents, she never thought her father would just invite himself, although that seemed in-character. "Ibiki!" Isamu roared from the dining room. "Did I hear you say dumplings!? Get your ass in here!""Hehehe..." Jin giggled, and stepped out of the way. "You better do what he says, I guess.""Made enough twice over!" Ibiki roared back at Isamu, laughing. Yuri caught Mira's eye as they walked in and silently questioned her. Her sister shrugged back at Yuri and mouthed 'free meal', and offered the smallest of wry smiles. Yuri couldn't help but smile back at her. "Aaah!" Ibiki sighed, as he fell into a chair beside Isamu and gave him a pat on the back. Mira sat down beside Saya and gave her a small nod. "So...!!" Ibiki clapped his hands together, "This looks delicious!!" "Well I do try." Saya said with a nod. "Hopefully it tastes delicious too.""I'd be a lot thinner if it didn't!" Isamu said with a smile. "Well... this has turned in to quite a gathering. It's a shame it took so long for this to happen." Isamu looked sad for a brief moment, as he remembered his friend who would have loved a get-together like this. "So... are we going to eat or what?" Jin said, rubbing his stomach. "In a minute!" Isamu said. "First... I think congratulations are in order. I heard today that my two favourite Genin made it through to the second round of the Chuunin exams. Both of you, very well done." "We sat in a room for three days." Yuri replied, shaking her head with a small smile, "It wasn't the most pleasant of experiences but it wasn't like we were fighting a tailed beast." Yuri laughed but trailed off upon seeing the strange expressions on most everyone's faces. "What?" She asked."So dad, can you give us any hints for the next round?" Jin said, changing the subject. "Nice try." Isamu said. "I'm afraid I can't tell you, obviously. It wouldn't be fair to the other Genin, and not fair to you really.""How come?" Jin asked. "Well if I help you then you won't learn anything, will you?" Isamu said. "But you'll do fine. Me and Masa worked well, and I'm sure you two will as well."Mira cleared her throat, "I wouldn't be surprised if finding a way to learn about the exam prior to it's explanation on the day would be considered within the rules. Intelligence gathering is a natural part of being a ninja." Then she stuffed two entire dumplings in her mouth - making her look like a hamster - and began to chew. "Do you think?" Yuri asked, grinning thoughtfully. "That's a fair point." Isamu said with a nod. "But I don't think asking your dad really constitutes intelligence gathering. You'll have to try harder than that.""Your father is right." Saya said. "I mean you could do so many effective things. You could assess where the most exam officials are stationed, check for areas of the village that are sealed off, heck I'm sure if you told the ANBU outside his office that Isamu sent you to collect something he forgot then they'd probably let you in, then you could raid his office for official documents.""Saya!" Isamu gasped, nearly choking on a dumpling. "I said they could do those things." Saya said with a smirk. "I'm sure they wouldn't stoop to such things though."Yuri nodded innocently, biting through a dumpling and enjoying the pleasant and subtle peach flavour jam inside, and just as subtly she caught Jin's eye and raised her eyebrow with a smile. Her meaning was clear, 'Shall we?'
  11. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [The Raising Fighting Spirit] "Sensei!!" Yuri called, speeding towards Hisato. He turned and leapt out of the way just in the nick of time. Yuri's fingertips glid across the edge of the note and then Hisato was away. She wasn't able to keep up, but she'd driven him towards Jin who used the opportunity to dash forwards, trapping Hisato in a pincer formation. Hisato grinned, they had trained well. They were faster, stronger, but they still had a ways to go. At the last second, as Jin reached out, Hisato kicked off from the ground and leapt up towards the tops of the trees, looking down to see that Jin had leapt up and was chasing him into the branches. As he neared one of the top-most branches, Hisato heard something and looked ahead. There in front of him was Yuri, crouched on top of a nearby branch, clutching something he couldn't make out in her hands and clenched teeth. He looked on in shock, as she smiled back at him. "Yo!" She growled, and then she pulled the strands of invisible webbing, and their filaments suddenly glittered in the half-light of the forest. Hisato cursed and tried to move, but he was mid-air and unable to redirect himself. The webbing hissed as it coiled around every tree, partially cutting through the trunks. The webbing stuck to every part of his body, whirling around him and trapping him suspended in mid-air, the webbing pulled tight and then his arms and legs were pulled harshly into his body, and he was trapped. Jin flew up into Hisato, grabbed the note and kicked off from his body and landed beside Yuri on the tree branch. [saika] "Hmph..." Hisato shook his head, but started to laugh, "Excellent." He nodded in pride, "Really... how did you?" "Clones." Yuri replied, loosening her grip on her webbing just enough so that Hisato could pull himself onto a branch. Then she withdrew the webbing and let go of the strands. "But... I struck you?" Hisato frowned, "And you can't use the shadow clone-- ah." Yuri and Hisato smiled at one another, and then as if on cue, two identical copies of Yuri landed on the branch beside her. She held out her bandaged arm, and they dispersed into black clouds and flew in-between the bandages, disappearing in seconds. "Looks like you underestimated us, sensei." Jin said, folding his arms. "Maybe we haven't seen each other in a while, and we don't know each other's abilities that well any more, but I trust Yuri, so I gave her the time to do whatever she was going to do." "You're strong." Yuri replied, nodding to Jin with a subtle smile. "Thanks, that means a lot coming from you." Jin said. "The old lady doesn't really do compliments..." "Old lady?" Yuri asked, frowning. "Sorano." Yuri said. "I've been travelling with her all this time. I suppose you won't remember her actually." Yuri looked from Hisato to Jin, "I don't..." Her frown deepened but then it dawned on her, "She was the woman who helped the day of the attack, right?" "Yeah, that's right." Jin said with a nod. "She came back with me to Konoha. I'm sure she's around somewhere if you ever want to see her again." "I'm sure i'll see her at some point." Yuri replied, though she was unsure if she wanted to see a reminder of that day. "Are you both ready, then?" Hisato asked, smiling. "I've been ready ever since I heard about it a few weeks ago." Jin said. "As soon as I heard... I knew Yuri would be here, so I begged Sorano to take me back here." "When are the exams starting, Sensei?" Yuri asked, standing up. "Ah..." Hisato mused for a few seconds, "About ten minutes ago." "What?!" Yuri snapped angrily. "Sensei! Why didn't you tell us earlier!?" Jin cried. "I wanted to see the extent of your abilities before I knew for certain whether i'd let you apply or not." Hisato replied simply, "Besides, neither of you have worked together in over a year, and I wasn't about to let you just dive right in without a test of your abilities. Also, its not my fault you're both back so late." "We have to hurry." Yuri turned and started to leave. "The other Genin from the other villages are all already here, it was decided that Konoha would be the staging grounds for the Chuunin exams as it would harbour good relations after the attacks. You need to get to the testing building for stage one of the exams. North-east, big white-washed building. You'll be in exam room six." "Come on, Jin." Yuri nodded confidently. "We best hurry." Hisato added, then grinned, "Good luck, make me proud. After all, I entered you as 'Team Hisato'." [survival Examination] Team Hisato had rushed to the exam building as quickly as they could. When they arrived they filed inside and through the corridors to exam room 6. However as they turned the corner they stopped as they came to a corridor full of people, all waiting outside exam room 6. "What's going on?" Jin asked. "Beats me." Hisato said. "Looks like there's a hold up. Quite fortunate I suppose, now you guys can blend in and nobody will know you were late.""So... these are the other teams then?" Jin asked. "Looks like it." Hisato said, and he inclined his head towards the groups. "See the forehead protectors they are all waiting. There's some Kumogakure over there... and those guys are Iwagakure... and-""Hey that team over there are from Konoha." Jin interrupted. "Mm... yeah... that's Team Omi." Hisato said. The two Konoha ninja were standing next to their own Jounin leader. One of them was a young man with shoulder length, straight blonde hair, who was wearing a strange visor over his eyes, and dressed in a dark blue jacket and a pair of black trousers. Next to him was a young woman dressed in a white robe shirt, with a short black skirt and fishnet stockings. Her long, black hair was tied back in a high ponytail, with her forehead protector tied around her neck. At her waist was a single katana. "The boy is Asagiri Nonoi, a brilliant tactician for his age. His family have served Konoha since it's inception. The girl is Masamune Totsuka. Her mother is a highly skilled Jounin in her own right, and her father is Masamune Kotetsu, a Samurai from the Land of Iron who swore allegiance to Konoha many years ago, and is now one of Goei Shotai who protect the Hokage.""And that's their Jounin leader, the woman?" Jin asked as he looked at the fearsome kunoichi that stood with the others. She was dressed in tight-fitting black ninja gear, and the lower half of her face was covered by a black shinobi face cover. Her eyes were a pale blue, and her black hair was cut straight at her shoulders. "That's Hizuchi Omi. She was an exceptional hunter nin before she chose to train Genin. She's one of the most dangerous shinobi in Konoha. Cold and ruthless, and not liked by many.""I like her." Yuri replied, her face curling into a slight smile as she looked the woman over. "Well that's not a bad thing." Hisato said. "There can be a lot of prejudice in this village, that doesn't mean that there is any good reason to dislike someone like Omi. As you can see she has been trusted to train two Genin, and as much as I hate to say it, they are this year's favourites for Konoha. Nonoi is showing great promise, and Totsuka is a prodigy. She had been trained in the Samurai art of Iaijutsu, and some seem to think he abiity with that art make her a Jounin level fighter.""Then why is she stuck doing this." Jin asked"Because there are no short-cuts in the shinobi life. Being a capable fighter is only one aspect of what it means to be Jounin." Hisato explained. "At any rate, I'd avoid conflict with that team.""I'd like to match blades with her." Yuri spoke, mostly to herself. "So what's going on right now? Are we just supposed to wait until the examiner arrives or is something happening inside the class?" Yuri stepped forwards, "Step aside." She barked, and the crowd of other Genin obediently pushed their way back out of her path. She banged her fist on the door and stepped back, putting her hands on her hips impatiently. "Your girl has a loud mouth, Hisato." Omi piped up, and she cast her eyes over Yuri. "...You're...I see. Mira clearly made quite the impression on you.""She's got the skills to match." Hisato said with a smirk. "We should probably leave soon anyway. This exam is for the Genin, after all.""Nothing in the rules says I can't scope out the talent and make sure my team are prepared." Omi said. "Not that they need it. They're pretty awesome, just like their sensei.""Sensei it's not cool when you boast." Nonoi said with a soft smirk. He turned his head towards Yuri, his eyes concealed by his visor. "The examiner isn't here yet. That's why we're all waiting. I'm Nonoi, by the way. It's a pleasure to meet you Satomi Sayuri. I was... deeply saddened by your mother's passing." Yuri quietly gauged the boy's demeanour and then nodded to him. "Nonoi, quit flirting and focus." Omi said. "I wasn't..." Nonoi said with a sigh. "You know it's not worth arguing with her, Nonoi." Totsuka remarked. "Sensei considers it her sworn duty to mess with us.""Hey it's not just my duty!" Omi said. "...I also enjoy it. Anyway, it's time for me to go." Omi turned to leave and stopped by Hisato. "Also, a word of advice from one Konoha team to another. Do you see they guy with the breather?"Jin looked further down the hall to see a ninja with a breather over his face, and a pair of intense, wild eyes that reminded Jin of a shark. He was wearing a pair of metallic canisters on his back. Next to him was another boy who was wearing grey shorts and a sleeveless vest, his skin was a pale grey and his teeth were razor sharp, and his head completely shaved. "...I don't want to say too much, but they are from Kirigakure. Keep away from them, they won't hesitate to kill anyone in their way." She said ominously. "But...this is just an exam." Jin said. "They don't care. It's easier to kill than to subdue." Omi replied. "Anyway...good luck!""Wait...wh-" Jin said. "Later!" Omi said with a wave and she disappeared around the corner. [Caution] "Silence!!" A man strode forwards, and the crowd of Genin naturally parted. He was wearing a dark green jacket, he looked to be in his early forties, and had a scarred, shaved head. His face was equally scarred, and part of his lip was missing in the corner of his mouth, giving him a permanent snarl. "I am your examiner, Kazuo. You will find a table along with your team, do so quietly." Yuri exchanged a look with Jin, this man was absolutely no-nonsense. He looked as though he'd been through several terrible battles, and maybe even captured by the enemy. The scars were a stark reminder of the pain that all ninja must endure in one way or another. Yuri sat down but before she could settle in, a hand coiled around her left knee. She looked down at it in apparent indifference, and then looked up to see one of the Kirigakure ninja. Grey skin, shaved head. He leant in and blew her a kiss. Yuri smiled back at the boy, and he grinned, revealing shark-like teeth. Then suddenly she reached forwards, grabbed the back of his neck and slammed his face into her table, pinning him to the wood."SATOMI!!" Kazuo barked, and Yuri's gaze darted to the examiner. She let the boy go and Kazuo returned to his preparations, while the grey-skinned boy made a 'thumbs up' and sliced his thumb across his throat. The gesture was clear. Yuri grit her teeth, trying to keep her patience in check, when the examiner cleared his throat. "This test is simple." Kazuo called out to the class so that everyone could hear, "Do not leave this room." He sat down, and opened a trashy romance novel and began reading, putting his feet up on his desk. All the Genin in the room turned to look to one another for confirmation that they'd heard right."Uh... is this a joke?" Jin said to Yuri as he sat down. "I mean, I get following orders but, this seems a little too easy." Kazuo glanced up at Jin, and then resumed reading his novel. Yuri leant back in her chair and waited, but nothing happened. There seemed to be no danger, no tricks or mind games. Nothing. She glanced at Jin and shrugged. Minutes turned to hours, and still nothing happened. Kazuo had stopped taking their questions, he seemed engrossed in his book. "What do you think this test is for?" Yuri asked JIn, looking around the room. Many of the Genin were already getting fidgety and irritable. She had to admit, she was impatient by nature, and she was becoming very annoyed now. "Probably just stalling because they messed something up with the exam." Jin said. "Either that or they want to cut down the amount of participants by boring us to death." "I've had enough of this!" A boy two tables over from them snapped. He stood up and banged his fist on his table, "This isn't a test, this is time-wasting, and i'm not going to sit around and believe this 'examiner'! There has to be something more to this..." He strode across the room, making his way for the door. "Hey don't!" His teammate yelled, standing up. The boy opened the door and looked back at the examiner irritably, it wasn't locked, there was no trick to it. He stepped out into the hall, and like a flash, Kazuo vanished. A moment later the boy's teammate flew towards the door, thrown by an invisible force, and he slammed into the boy, and both fell out into the corridor. The door slammed shut behind them and Kazuo was back in his seat, feet up on the desk, reading his romance novel. "One down." Kazuo muttered, licking his finger to turn the page. [Anun] Two days passed. Several Genin had been disqualified already. One person had asked to use the bathroom. Kazuo had said they could, and when they left, their team was ejected. A girl had passed out from lack of water, her team had been ejected. So too had the team of a young Genin who had also lost his patience and tried to attack the team from Kirigakure. The Kiri ninja had simply grabbed him and thrown him out the front door, prompting Kazuo to forcefully eject the other teammate. "Ugh..." Yuri groaned, leaning forwards onto the table. She had excellent control of her vast chakra supplies, she knew compared even to most Jounin she was a master, but that also came with a price. Her bugs consume chakra, and in huge quantity. She had forced them to consume less and less over the course of the past two days, but without food or rest, she had been unable to regain her chakra. Her head started to dip, and her eyes began to close. Jin reached over and put his hand on Yuri's. "Hey... are you okay?" Yuri blinked herself awake and stared down at the table, "I... should have limited... their chakra consumption... sooner..." "...That bad, huh?" Jin said, and he looked down at the table thoughtfully. "...How does that work? I mean... I'm pretty tired but I can probably spare some chakra. Is that something you can work with?" "Can you... spare it...?" Yuri asked, reaching out with her palm open. "It won't... be pleasant..." "Look...if you pass out then we both forfeit." Jin said. "If we share the load then we'll last longer overall." Jin placed his hand in hers and gave her a smile. "Just take what you need." Yuri nodded and closed her fingers over Jin's hand. Then little black specks appeared across her skin, and within seconds the black mass spread over her hand and across to Jin. She urged her Tsukimono bugs to draw Jin's chakra and feed upon it. Yuri looked up as they did so, and she felt the change immediately. [Thank You] A current of warmth spread through her body, rejuvenating her within seconds, but she could see the discomfort on Jin's face. It had to feel like his body was shutting down, his body temperature dropping. His hand had to feel like it was freezing. She quickly let go of him and her bugs abandoned his skin to return home. "I-I'm sorry..." She muttered, then clasped her hands over his and warmed it as best she could. "It's fine." Jin said, but he looked considerably more tired. "Is that... do you feel that all the time?" "Feel what...?" Yuri asked, frowning. She took a deep breath and let it out, feeling better. "Well... your Tsukimono bugs... you've had them with you your whole life." Jin said. "I was just wondering if it always feels like that? It was a pretty weird sensation." "No... its..." She searched for the words, "My body was formed in tandem with the Tsukimono. My body is cooler than yours, but its natural for me. When I hold your skin it's like you're on fire. We're cooler to accommodate our insects, but it also has many benefits for us. For example, our heartbeat is slower, so we need less oxygen to survive and those ninja who use heat-detection are unable to track us." "That's... pretty useful, I guess." Jin said. "It's pretty interesting. I know a clan like the Satomi, it's important that they keep their secrets. Thanks for explaining it to me." "Mm..." Yuri nodded, half-smiling. "I'm going to try and meditate. My sister taught me, she said it would help me control my temper - among other things." She rolled her eyes at Jin and smiled, "Are you going to be okay if...?" She asked, raising an eyebrow with concern. "I'll be fine." Jin said with a nod. "I've went a while without food before. The old lady lost our money gambling one time." "Oh..." Yuri reached into her jacket and pulled out a small dark orange bar. "Here. This will hold you over." "Thanks." Jin said and took it. "What... is it?" "You're better off not knowing." Yuri smiled back at him, still unsure about his stance on bugs. "No, really." Jin said. "What is it?" Yuri hesitated, "It's..." She reached into her jacket and pulled out a second bar, "It's basically tree sap." She held the bar in her hands, "Its full of sugar, water, nutrients, minerals and fibre and my insects process it and refine out the impurities and toxins into this solid form. It's very sweet, though. But i'm sort of inclined to sweet things naturally." She took a bite and smiled as she started chewing it like a candy bar. "Hmm... neat." Jin said, and he took a bite of his own. He chewed on it for a moment, considering it. Then he swallowed the bite and gave a little nod. "That's really sweet. It's good though, thank you." Yuri smiled at him and they ate the rest of their bars in silence. [On The Road] Yuri woke with a start. The room was quiet, Jin and everyone seemed to be asleep. There was no light coming from outside the windows. It had to be night time. But why was everyone asleep? She reached over to try and wake Jin, "Hey..." She whispered, hoping that Kazuo wouldn't notice. Jin was unresponsive, but she could hear his breathing. His skin felt cold and lifeless. She recoiled in surprise and fear, looking to their examiner only to realise that Kazuo was also asleep. Were they asleep though? She looked back at Jin, his chest wasn't moving. He wasn't breathing. "Oh my... Jin!!" She knocked her chair out and shook him, "Jin!!" Then something pulled her mind from Jin's frozen, lifeless body. If he wasn't breathing, then what was? Just then, she felt a gush of hot, stinking air from behind her. Slowly, she turned around. Yuri's face fell upon a set of bars, like those in a prison. But these were each as tall as a building. As thick and wide as a tree trunk, and on each of the bars, there was a small paper seal with black writing. Another hot, heavy breath of air washed over her face, fluttering her coat and hair. She stared out into the darkness, something was on the other side of those bars. She stepped forwards, feeling drawn towards it. She could see nothing but darkness ahead of her. Then, as she took another step towards the bars, an enormous hand burst out from between them, reaching for her. Yuri screamed and turned on her heels and ran as fast as she could. She looked over her shoulder and saw the giant clawed hand stretching for her. It was a muddy golden colour and covered in scales. That was all the time she had to check, and then she was sprinting. But as far as she went, the arm stretched out to ensnare her. She reached the classroom wall, and the hand came crashing down, missing her by inches. The claws buried themselves either side of her, and raked back through the classroom floor, pulling up tiles and knocking aside tables and bodies until it retreated back inside the bars. Then Yuri noticed the pair of bright yellow eyes, they were far up, near the top of the bars, staring out at her like two great suns. It's getting dark in here... It growled, it's voice was as deep as it was terrifying. I don't like it, wake up... "Yuri!?" Jin asked. "GET OFF ME!!" Yuri screamed, kicking and punching as she pulled herself out of her chair and took several panicked steps away from Jin. The other Genin in the room turned to look at Yuri in silence as she stared back at the rest of the room. Had she fallen asleep? It had been like another of those dreams, but this was worse somehow. She felt like she was tangible in that dream. Like if she had been hurt, or... "I'm sorry." She muttered to Jin, and grabbed her seat and sat back down, missing the strained expression Kazuo had been giving her. He eventually returned to his novel, and the rest of the class went back to ignoring her, there had been a great many outbursts before hers, and so it hadn't surprised them. But Yuri had seen something in Jin's face. She couldn't describe it, but she felt further from her friend now than she had while she had been away, and that terrified her.
  12. butts

    Buttane?
  13. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [and Dark] Something had woken her. Something stirring in the darkness. Yuri rubbed her eyes and yawned, staring over the fire through to the darkness on the outer edge of the camp. She felt a strange presence. As she stared into the darkness, it stared back. A heavy wind howled and rushed through her camp, almost knocking her over. The fire spluttered and died. "W-who's out there?!" She yelled, reaching for her kunai, but there was nothing at her belt. She looked around but couldn't see Hisato, or JIn, she couldn't see her sister. She was alone. She felt a chill run up her spine, and she looked down to see water spilling over her toes. Yuri looked up, and saw a pair of bright yellow eyes glaring back at her from the darkness, she felt it's hot breath on her face, and then she shivered as the water at her feet rose. Suddenly a tidal wave crashed into her back and she was sent flailing towards the glowing yellow eyes. She panicked, swimming as hard as she could against the current, but it was no use. She screamed for help, but none came, and she began to tire, moving closer and closer towards the two glowing yellow orbs. Suddenly the darkness split and revealed a gaping maw full of razor sharp teeth, she could feel the current pulling her down towards it. Yuri was going to be swallowed whole, she she felt the teeth snap shut in front of her, casting her into complete darkness and silence. [senya] Yuri woke with a start, leaping to her feet and taking several quick steps as though she was about to start into a run. Then she remembered where she was and she slowed herself and looked around. She was stood next to two sleeping bags, her older sister, Mira was lying in one, still asleep. Somehow Yuri had managed to wriggle free during the night, she was chilled to the bone, and yet she had been sweating profusely while dreaming. She felt terrible. Any time she tried to sleep, she was greeted with those dreams. She had long fallen into the habit of going without sleep for days at a time, despite the detrimental effect it had on her. Exhaustion was preferable over her dreams. "Another one?" Mira muttered. She hadn't realised her sister was awake, she didn't seem to be, even now, "Mmm..." Yuri nodded. "Walk it off, we're almost there." Mira replied, leaning up and stretching, "Go clean up, i'll pack up." The fast-running water of the river was cool and refreshing on her face, Yuri splashed herself several times and looked at her reflection in the water. She was taller now, and she had lost her boyish figure, she now shared her sister's womanly charms. Her hair was also much longer now, but just as unruly as ever. She had tied much of it back into a high ponytail, leaving just her bangs to hang freely down to her shoulders. She had been forced to wear one of her sister's coats as her old one no longer fit. It was long, with a black band running down the middle of the front. It split from the waist down, fanning out and had one long sleeve that almost covered her hand, while the other sleeve was missing and her arm was covered in bandages from the shoulder down to her knuckles. The jacket had a high collar that came up nearly to her nose, but she had not chosen to replace her goggles, despite her sister still wearing hers. Yuri had put that part of her life behind her, she had come to appreciate the black voids of her eyes, and their uses during missions especially. If the discomfort of others was the price to pay for that advantage, then so be it. However, her lack of sleep had also cast dark bands around them, and she knew she looked tired. She rubbed the corners of her eyes and sighed then stood up and returned to her sister. Mira had already finished packing and threw her a bag. "Come on." Mira motioned for her to follow. They walked in silence for a long while until Mira spoke up when they saw the village ahead of them. "Looking forward to being back? Apprehensive?" "Yes, and no, i'm not. Why should I be?" Yuri replied, frowning. Mira nodded to herself, and abandoned the question. The two ninja stepped up to the front gate and had to show their passes to the guards. Yuri looked them over, and got a strange feeling off them. She wondered if they weren't ANBU, maybe Konoha had stepped up it's security since the attack last year? She took back her papers when told that everything was in order, and they stepped through into Konoha. The village had changed a great deal, and yet it had remained the same. Much of the same districts had remained in tact and yet many of the buildings had changed, there was a freshness to it. The way that grass smells after rain. "I'll talk to you later." Yuri said, offering Mira her bag. "Alright. We have to inform the Hokage of our missions. Don't forget." Mira replied. "Right..." Yuri nodded thoughtfully, and then turned and vanished. [Morning] Yuri landed silently in the middle of the street and saw her father's stall at the far end. She smiled when she saw him working behind the counter, same as always. She noticed a few customers sat on the stools and grinned when her eyes fell upon one person in particular. The young man with the red hair. She recognised him at once. Though, he'd gotten much taller. She looked up to the sky, letting the sun warm her face. She felt like she was home at last. Surrounded by the village, her father cooking ramen, and Jin close at hand. She walked up behind him and looked over his shoulder, he was mid-way through his breakfast. "Hideo Jin!" Yuri barked authoritatively, "What are you doing slacking off?!" Jin looked up from his bowl of Ramen, recognising the voice in an instant, and he greeted Yuri with a warm smile. "It's nice to see you too, Yuri." He said. "And who said I'm slacking? I'm going to need all the energy I can get for what's to come, and your dad has the best Ramen in Konoha!" "Damn straight." Ibiki added, beaming at his daughter. "My you look just like your mother..." Yuri smiled back at her father and then clapped her hand on Jin's shoulder and dragged him off the stool, "Come on. Mira gave me a message from Hisato, we're to meet him outside. There are things to discuss." She noticed the bowl he still clutched in his hands, "You can eat on the way." She added, dragging him across the floor as if he was weightless. "When you said you'd be stronger I didn't think you were being this literal..." Jin said through mouthfuls of ramen, apparently quite happy to be carried along. "So we're going to see sensei, huh? That's good, I've been looking for him." [Kakashi's Theme] Yuri pulled Jin out of the village and in minutes they were stood in front of Hisato, in a small clearing. Forest surrounded them on all sides and he was sat upon a tree stump. "So, my two students back together at last?" Hisato asked, grinning as he watched Yuri put down Jin. "Sensei." Yuri replied, nodding respectfully. "Yo, sensei." Jin said with a nod. "Not that I'm not glad to see you but if we had to chat, I don't see why we couldn't have done it over a bowl of ramen." Jin said. "We're not here to chat." Hisato replied, his grin turning wicked. "Oh?" Yuri raised an eyebrow and rested one hand on her hip. "I get it." Jin said with a nod. "Makes sense, we've been gone a long time. I hope you're offering real money this time." "I'm offering something better." Hisato replied, looking over each of them. "I hear you're a ninja again, Jin. And Yuri, I hear you're smashing records..." Yuri simply smiled in response and waited patiently in silence, her gaze turned to Jin though, at the mention of him becoming a ninja. "Yeah, I guess that's true now." Jin said. "But I've lost a whole year, so I need to make up for it. I spoke with my dad, he says if you agree, then I can participate in the Chuunin Exams with Yuri." "U-uh..." Hisato chuckled, scratching the back of his head, "... I didn't think you knew. Well, there goes my surprise..." Then he sighed and laughed it off, "Ah well... yes, if you two can work together to take this off me," He held up a single note with a number of zeroes on it, "Then you can use it to celebrate, and consider it your successful application to the Chuunin exams. "We took that from you before, we'll do it again." Yuri replied confidently. "I don't think he'll be going so easy on us this time." Jin said with a smirk. "But that's fine. I picked up a couple of things when I was rambling from town to town." "It's true, I was kind of going easy on you guys," Hisato grinned, "I won't make it so easy for you." "I won't feel so bad," Yuri began, as she started to turn into what appeared to be black smoke - though Hisato knew better than to think that, "When I take that from you, then..." Her entire body dispersed, leaving nothing behind. [Ripple] From the ground behind Hisato, the black smoke reformed, surging up from the ground and taking Yuri's form almost immediately. She reached forwards, clenching her fist and throwing a punch. Hisato whirled around and stepped back to avoid the strike, but Yuri was too close, and too fast. She reached his face, and as she struck, it splintered Hisato into a thousand pieces. Yuri grinned as Hisato had used a body switch technique and her attack had entirely destroyed the wooden block he'd swapped with - it was little more than sawdust now. "Ready to step up?" Yuri asked Jin, cracking her knuckles. "Hey if you keep that up I might be able to rest easy." Jin said with a smirk. Then he formed a seal with his hands and five shadow clones appeared around him. "It'll be easier to find him with more heads, let's go." Jin's clones took off in every direction, but Jin simply went off at a jog behind them. "More heads?" Yuri mused with a grin, watching him run off, "You hear that?" Yuri asked, apparently to no-one. She lifted her arms and an enormous black cloud flew out from between her bandages and spread out over the clearing and into the surrounding forest. Then she started walking towards the trees as though she had all the time in the world, mid-way there her body turned to smoke and vanished once again. Moments later, Hisato leapt out of the nearby trees and ran for the clearing, as several of the trees smashed to pieces and began to collapse behind him. He rolled to one side to dodge a falling trunk, and found Yuri was on him as fast as lightning. She leapt towards him and punched with all her force. Hisato dodged in the nick of time, grabbed her bandaged arm and threw her over his shoulder, and suddenly he was surrounded by Jin's clones as Yuri landed a few feet away. "Any time you're ready, Sensei." Yuri added, raising her eyebrow impatiently.
  14. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [Remember You] "--really unique--" "--your loss--" "--an inspiration like--" "--never fill her shoes--" She found no comfort in their words. Yuri barely heard them. Over the past two days, a stream of people had visited their home. People she'd never seen before, never known about. People who had never cared to say a word to her, were now embracing her as though she were their sister. She wanted this to be over, but at the same time she was terrified what that meant. It was very... final. Yuri sat at the end of her bed, staring at the table on the far side of her room. A chess set stationed atop it, mid-game. Yuri stared at the chess pieces, waiting patiently for their players to move them. The game that would now remain unfinished. She never got much time with her mother, but one day she'd come in with a chess set and set it down in her room and told her that they were going to play. Her words were still as clear as the day she'd said them. "But I don't want to play chess, it's boring!" Yuri huffed. She was nine-years-old, staring at the chess pieces as her mother set them down on the board, one by one, explaining what each of the pieces meant in the game, and how they would interact. "This is stupid, how's a game going to teach me to win in a fight..." "It won't." Masa replied, taking off her Hokage hat and placing it to one side, brushing her long dark hair out of the way. "It will teach you to think like your opponent." She added, "And that, will teach you how to win in a fight." Masa smiled to herself, as she placed the last piece on the board. The King. "I'll just use the King, he's the best!" Yuri leant over and picked up the King piece and held it up with a smile. "You think so?" Masa replied, raising an eyebrow. "I know so, look... you take the King, you win. Game over. He's the important piece, you have to protect him or you lose." "In a game, maybe." Her mother noted, "Just remember this is to teach you how your opponent thinks, not to play a game. Winning isn't everything, if you've lost all your pieces." "What's it matter, if I win..." Yuri muttered, sulking, then she reached forwards and knocked one of the pawns over. "Careful." Masa chided her, picking the pawn back up, she placed it gingerly back on it's rightful spot, "Every pawn is important, without them, you cannot hope to win. The King is who he is, because the pawns put him there. It's his responsibility to protect them, and win at the same time." Masa let out a deep sigh and looked over the readied board. "Okay." She nodded, and moved her first pawn. "Your move." Yuri looked down at the game she'd had in play with her mother. She had finally taken her move. It had taken her over a week, but she'd finally moved her piece. Yuri sat down and stared at the board. What had she done? Then she saw it. Yuri could see her mother was about to lose to her. Yuri had far less pieces on the board, but she'd trapped her mother's King and in a couple of moves, he'd be hers. But most of her mother's pawns remained untouched. Yuri stared at the board for a long while. "Stupid game..." She muttered, gnawing on her bottom lip. Then suddenly, something about the game made her very angry. Before she knew it she had leapt out of her chair and brought her hand down on the table. Chess pieces flew everywhere, her wooden table shattered and split in two, and then she found herself crying. "IT'S A STUPID GAME!!" She screamed, kicking the pieces across the floor in a frenzy. "I HATE IT!!" Yuri screamed at the top of her lungs, stamping on the board. She felt a presence behind her, and then a large set of arms wrapped themselves around her in comforting embrace. Her father pressed his cheek against her head and Yuri's shoulders slumped and she whirled around, crying into her father's chest. "It's not fair..." She cried, "Anyone could have been the Hokage, anyone but her..." Ibiki pulled his daughter into a tight hug, looking down at her. Both Yuri and Mira reminded him of his wife. While Mira looked more like her, he saw a lot more of Masa in his younger daughter. He felt tears in his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He had to be the rock that held their family together, even though it was killing him inside. He kissed Yuri on the forehead and took a step back to look her over. "Are you ready?" He asked. Yuri wiped her nose with the back of her hand and shook her head. He smiled at her, and adjusted her jacket, which was the same as before, but was black instead of a dark green. She was as ready as she was ever going to be. She looked out her window and saw it was raining, and in the distance, she could see torches smoking as rain droplets pelted them. An enormous crowd of people waited for them. [Good-bye Forever] Yuri stepped out her front door, she could feel her father just behind her. He handed her an umbrella, but she ignored it and stepped out into the rain. Throngs of Konoha villagers stretched on before her, and as she walked, she felt their hands stretch out and graze her shoulders, or give them a firm squeeze. Her eyes fell on each of them, their fire was all but gone. They were clad in black, just as she was. She heard their voices as she passed, their kind words. They parted before her, and eventually she came out the other side, and there she was. Her mother's body was wrapped in bandages from head to toe, wreathed by flowers which danced as the rain bounced off their delicate petals. Yuri quickly became drenched as she stepped up alongside her mother and lifted her by the stretcher along with her father, Isamu, and Mira. The four of them carried her through the village, and the crowd grew larger and larger as more of the village joined the procession until they reached the gates and walked out and up a small incline to where a pyre rested. They placed her down and her father nodded to her sister, Mira, who led her back to the front of the crowd alongside Isamu, and Jin. They turned and watched as Ibiki stood beside his wife, staring at the bandaged body for a long while. "I..." Ibiki began and stopped himself for a moment, "I'm not a ninja, I was never cut out for that life, but I always knew Masa was. I met her when I was just five-years-old..." He paused, looking up at the rain through his clear umbrella, "I'd fallen and scraped my knee, I was bleeding and crying and I was just sat there, helpless." Ibiki laughed bitterly and then sniffed and continued, "Then this girl came over and kicked me, she said 'Stop feeling sorry for yourself!'" He smiled and then started to laugh, "'So what you got hurt? Pain lets you know you're okay!'" He shook his head as tears started falling, "I know it hurts right now..." He looked out across the gathered crowd, "... but we're gonna be okay, because Masa..." Yuri quickly walked up to her father and took his hand, he smiled down at her and nodded his appreciation. He'd said enough. Isamu came forwards with a torch and knelt down to hand it to Yuri who took it, the fire hissed as the rain pelted it and she could feel the heat on her cheek. She stepped up beside the pyre, and held the torch in front of it. But she struggled to bring it down upon the base. Her hands trembled and she started to cry again. Mira walked around the pyre and took the torch in hand with Yuri, and helped her guide it down to the base and place it there. After a few seconds, the pyre went up in flames and soon the bandaged form of Satomi Masa vanished into the flames that grew higher and higher, fighting back against the rain. Yuri sniffed, brushing her long, wet hair out of her face. She was so fed up with hiding who she was for the sake of others. She was tired of being afraid, and seeing the world through a lens. Reaching up, Yuri ripped her goggles from her face, snapping the strap as she did so. Then after turning them around and looking at them for a long while, thinking about how others would see them, she threw them into the flames of the pyre and smiled. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks, but she knew she was going to be okay. She looked down at the bandages covering her abdomen, and thought about the strange markings that had been burnt into her skin. Where had they come from? Why were they there? Nobody would speak to her about it, and she felt like the people who knew, wouldn't so much as look her in the eye. She needed answers, but she wasn't going to find them here. "Yuri..." Mira whispered. She turned to look up at her sister, "N-Now...?" "Mm." Mira nodded, then picked up a bag and started down the path and stood there waiting for her. Yuri gave her a quick 'wait' sign and ran over to Jin. She smiled at him awkwardly and pointed at her eyes. "What do you think?" She asked. Jin looked at Yuri and saw her eyes for what was the first time. He stood there in silence for a moment, stunned. "... they're..." He said and a hint of a smile appeared on his face. "They're beautiful." Yuri smiled back at Jin and let out a long sigh, "So, we're supposed to go now..." Yuri nodded in the direction of her sister, "We might not see each other for a long time." "Yeah..." Jin said sadly. "I...decided to go on a trip too. I don't know when I'll be back." "Oh..." Yuri pushed a pebble about with her foot, "But you're not a ninja any more?" "True." Jin said with a nod. "But that's why I'm going on this journey. I'll get to see the world, and make my own mind up about things. I still want to help Konoha, I just need to find my own way. You know?" [Those Who Inherit the Will of Fire] "Yeah." Yuri nodded, smiling. She was glad that Jin had found a path to walk, even if it wasn't as a ninja. "I like the rain..." Yuri sniffed, feeling a little better. She wiped her eyes and looking up, she cupped her hands and watched as they slowly filled. "It's like cleaning a wound..." "Hopefully it will wash away the weeds." Jin said, remembering his conversation with Sorano. "When we see each other again, a lot of things might be different. Konoha might be different." A fire lit in Yuri's eyes, "Konoha will be stronger." She let out a breath and smiled, "And so will we." She added, grinning to Jin. Just then, she felt warmth on her face, and she let the water in her hands fall to the ground. The clouds slowly began to part, and a few rays of sunlight trickled down. "I'm gonna be a lot stronger when I see you again..." Yuri's grin widened and she held out her fist, "So don't fall behind, okay?!" "Yuri..." Jin whispered, and he just stared at her hand for a moment. He couldn't tell her everything, he couldn't tell her that he was doing this for her. He looked at her, and gave her a warm smile, then bumped her fist with his own. "I'll keep training. So that I'm ready, when you need a partner again." "Mm!" Yuri nodded. "Come on, Yuri!" Mira called. "O-Okay!" Yuri called back, "Goodbye Jin, good luck!" She ran up to Mira and they started their way down the path. Yuri looked back as they walked, and she could see Jin stood there, watching her leave. She waved to him and smiled, then sighed as she realised her time with Konoha was over, for now. She told herself it wouldn't be long, because it was still her home, and she would soon be back. She looked up at Mira, her sister's expression was calm and even. Difficult to read. Yuri didn't care. She reached out and took her sister's hand and to her surprise, Mira smiled.
  15. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [Clear Black Sea] She could hear her friend's muffled screams behind her, but the battle still raged on. Masa could barely hear it now inside her barrier, but she could feel it. She knew that every moment that passed, more people were dying. She remained motionless, a black mass of insects pooled at her feet and made her look as though she was a shadow made real. "Please," She pleaded to Akira, "If we're to fight like this, surely you can see there is no reason for our friends to lose their lives?" Akira studied the Hokage carefully and then sighed and shook his head, he put two fingers to his mouth and whistled. The crimson ANBU in earshot froze and turned to face him, then like a falling house of cards, each of them in turn whistled, and disappeared, leaving the Konoha ninja confused and alone on the battlefield, surrounded by the ruins of their homes and the bodies of their friends and families. "Thank you..." Masa bowed her head ever so slightly, but her eyes remained locked on her enemy. "I no more wish death on anyone than you, Hokage-sama." Akira returned the bow as a gesture. "Why?" Masa asked, frowning. "Why did you do this?" "I've told you already. For power. Power for Konoha, so that we might repel our enemies." Akira crossed his arms and waited patiently. "What enemies?" Masa asked accusingly, "I negotiated peace between the villages, the Kage's met and every one of them signed." "Do you really believe a flimsy piece of paper can uphold the peace you seek?" Akira replied, "That's so naive. To have peace, you must exert force." "Working down there in the dark has made you blind, Akira." Masa stalked back and forth, assessing him and their surroundings. Much that was trapped within the barrier was rubble, a few buildings remained standing, and a few trees, but the rest was little more than broken rock and bodies. "You call me blind, yet are you not the mother who took so little notice of her daughter, that I could sneak into your house at night and steal her away and return her, more or less in one piece, without so much as a murmur from you?" Akira laughed and shook his head, "You are a hypocrite." "I know i'm a bad mother, but i'm a great Hokage. I sacrificed love so that I could raise my daughter in safety--" Akira began clapping slowly, interrupting Masa, "And well done, on that." [sarutobi] Masa roared and charged Akira, raising her hands and pointing them forwards like daggers. The pool of insects at her feet exploded upwards, swirling around her arms. Akira gasped and leapt back, trying to dodge, but Masa was just as fast. She leapt up, following him into the air and sliced at him with her arms. Her insects flew around him, trying to encase him, trying to touch him. A single touch, that's all they needed. Masa wasn't trying to disable him as she would any other. She was trying to annihilate him. Akira formed seals and blew a liquid jet of fire from his mouth large enough to smother a house, and Masa countered with her own seals, and then quickly threw out her arms to either side of her, she waited until the perfect moment when she could feel the flame licking at her face and then she brought her arms back together and clapped her hands, creating an ear-splitting sonic boom. The liquid flame rippled and splashed back towards Akira. He tapped off a nearby tree trunk and soared over the top of the flames as they struck the tree and incinerated it, then he began forming more seals and Masa did the same. The two ninja matched one another for speed, their hands blurring as Masa copied Akira's movements, seal for seal. As Akira finished, so too did Masa, and two bolts of chakra lightning burst forth from their hands and formed enormous tigers. The two electric creatures struggled around one another, crackling and exploding as their bodies destroyed anything they touched. Masa pushed forwards and her tiger roared and bit into the hide of Akira's living energy, and split it in two but as she readied to send the lightning to her intended target, a kunai suddenly appeared right in front of her eyes. Biting at the air, Masa grabbed the kunai with her bare teeth, and leapt back, forcing the tiger to dissipate. She spat the blade into her hand and studied it with a confused expression for a moment, but there was no time to consider what had happened. Akira flew towards her, forming seals, and she knew she had to counter him. She threw the kunai to one side, started to raise her arms, and then Akira finished his seals and Masa panicked. Her arms were so heavy it felt like there was several tons of weight pulling them down. She could barely raise them as high as her waist, despite her strength. "See my power!!" Akira yelled, as he landed in front of her, whipping his leg around to roundhouse kick her. Masa dodged backwards, but the extra weight made it difficult for her to dodge, but in spite of this Akira's attack fell short. She dodged twice more as Akira continued his assault and then she leapt up into the air as she realised that Akira was holding the seal in place. She had to break it. She came down on him like a ton of bricks, aided by the weight in her arms. She closed her fist and struck his shoulder with all the force she could muster. She heard a crack, and Akira grunted and his left arm went limp and he leapt away. The weight lifted from her arms and Masa took no time to question how Akira was capable of performing such jutsu, she knew only that she had to kill him before he could do it again. [Narukami] "I'll show you what it means to fight a Satomi..." Masa growled, and raised her arms, holding them out at either side of her. She took a battle stance and the black mass of insects surrounding her, crawling across the ground, and hovering in the air, suddenly took to her. They covered every part of her body until there was nothing left exposed. She was just a black mass. Then, the darkness began to take shape. It tightened and locked in, rippling as it formed into plates. It was forming into armour. Within seconds, Masa emerged clad in what looked like black armour. Two pairs of glistening, gossamer wings spread out from her back, each one as long and wide as a full-grown man. Spines ridged her armour, and she reached into the air, and as she did, more insects materialised into a black katana. "Impressive..." Akira whispered, genuinely. "But just another insect to fall beneath my boot." "The problem with insects, Akira." Masa replied, whipping her sword through the air, "Is there are so many of them, and no matter how many you kill, we'll always outlive you." Akira turned his gaze to outside the barrier, and saw hundreds of Konoha ninja stood just outside the barrier. Waiting, patiently. Their eyes burned with a fiery anger that he could barely begin to fathom. "You will not survive me today, Hokage-sama..." "I beg to differ..." Masa began, and with a single wing beat, burst into the air and dive-bombed Akira. But as she did so, Akira brought his hands together and mouthed a single word. "Release." [Crisis] Yuri ushered one of the last children out of the main gates of Konoha - when the crimson ANBU vanished, their evacuation had become a lot easier. Hisato still watched over them while Jin and her both worked hard to make sure everyone was getting out alright. But as she reassured a panicked child, she felt a strange pain in her gut, "Ah..." Yuri scrunched her eyes up in pain, "ARGH!!" She screamed and collapsed to the ground, falling unconscious as a little wisp of smoke rose from her, and the acrid smell of burning flesh filled the air. "Yuri!" Jin cried, and he moved so quickly that he was at her side only moments after she had fallen. He went to touch her, when he noticed the bandages on her stomach were smoking, and he froze. He didn't know medical ninjutsu, he didn't know what to do at all. Hisato appeared next to him and calmly, but firmly moved him out of the way. Silently, he began to unwrap the bandages around Yuri's belly, and his eyes looked tense as he looked at the source of the smoke. On Yuri's stomach was the black marking of a snake consuming it's own tail, in the shape of a circle. There were several other symbols around the outside of it. "A sealing jutsu." Hisato said ominously. "What?" Jin said. "Where did it come from?" "I don't know... "Hisato replied. "I've never seen anything like it... This big one in the middle... Im not sure. The others... Five elements, maybe. But that could be used for a lot of things... ""Is she okay?" Jin asked"Right now, yes." Hisato said. "But we need someone with a better grasp on sealing to take a look. Or a medical ninja, at least." Hisato ran alongside the long line of people evacuating Konoha, his eyes frantically searched their bruised and beaten faces. They had experienced terrible things. Many were civilians, but many too were badly injured ninja. Those who were hurt but still standing were helping to organise those being evacuated. It was a small miracle that anyone was getting out alive. Hisato looked back at the village, he could no longer see the snake, but there was a strange bubble reflecting the sunlight in the distance. That can't be good, he thought to himself, then he focused on his task at hand. Yuri had fallen unconscious, and she looked like she was in pain. Then there was that strange seal on her abdomen. "Please!" Hisato yelled into the crowd of people, "Someone help me! My student is sick, there's some kind of strange seal burnt into her flesh! Please! Someone has to help me, I..." He frowned as he realised, "... I don't know what to do..." He looked at their faces, but they were sullen and vacant. "Please..." "Eesh, all you youngsters are the same..." A woman said as she stepped out from the crowd where she was helping a couple of people move along. "In my day all ninja cells were required to have a medical expert." The woman tipped up her grass hat and examined Hisato, and then her glance fell over Yuri and Jin. "Hey... how's it going there, punk?" She said with a soft smirk as Jin looked up to her. "Hey, old lady!" Jin said, surprised to see Sorano again. "In my day people respected their elders, too." Sorano said, rolling her eyes. She turned back to Hisato. "You're taller so I'm going to assume you're the one in charge. What's this about a seal?"Hisato frowned at the old woman, he wasn't sure she was in her right mind. Her breath stank of alcohol, but nobody else had stepped forwards. Reluctantly, he lowered Yuri so that the woman could inspect the burnt flesh that was formed in the shape of the strange seal. "Hmm..." Sorano said as she examined Yuri. "...Pretty accomplished work. Time released by the looks of it. It's been on her for quite some time. It's actually a series of different seals. This snake in the middle, that's the main one. Never seen it before, probably a unique creation of the one who did it. These symbols around the outside..." Sorano moved her finger across Yuri's stomach to identify each marking. "This is actually two Four Elements Seals, which are designed to seal something within the vessel. Something big by the looks of it.""How do you know that, old lady?" Jin asked. "The Four Elements Seal is an old sealing jutsu used by a Clan that's been extinct for more than four decades. There aren't many left that know how to do it, and even fewer who have the talent to do so. I'm one of the only people I know that can, truth be told.""If you know how to do it, can you undo it?" Hisato asked. "Absolutely." Sorano said. "But I'm not going to.""What!?" Jin gasped. "But you have to help her, Sorano!""Wait, Jin..." Hisato looked the old woman up and down, "You can't be... you're Sorano?!" Hisato face screwed up, "W-wh-I don't... you're Sorano?! You can't be!" He shook his head in disbelief, "Are you really the God Step...?" "Focus, hot stuff." Sorano said, shaking her head. "You've got a little girl in trouble. I can't undo this seal, because as I told you, it's containing something inside her, something big. I'm not letting that thing out to play, and besides which it would probably tear her apart in the process. What I can do is disrupt it. You have to understand though, it's a temporary measure. This seal is designed to maintain the vessel by fusing the chakra of whatever is inside of her. By disrupting it, in the long term it would do a lot more harm than good. Do you understand?" "We'll deal with that when we come to it, it's tearing her apart right now!" Hisato snapped, looking down at the young girl in his arms. Yuri's face was scrunched up in terrible pain, like she was being tortured in a dream. He couldn't bear seeing her like that. "Help her." "Fine." Sorano said. She lifted her hand, and each of her fingers ignited in a cool, blue flame. She placed her fingers down on Yuri's seal, and black ink spread around the outside of it, taking the form of a five-pointed seal around the original. Sorano suddenly jerked away, as for a brief moment, she felt a horrible presence penetrate her mind. She took a moment to gather her thoughts, and then resumed her usual demeanour. "She'll be fine in a moment. She might struggle with ninjutsu until that new seal is removed. I suggest you get her somewhere safe." "You should come with us." Jin said. "Mmm... I changed my mind." Sorano said, turning back towards the village. "I thought this was about petty inner circle politics... but it's worse than that. Get somewhere safe." And with that she was gone. [Moonset] "What have you done..." Masa whispered, and watched on in disbelief. Akira stepped towards her, his body wreathed in dark blue chakra. He looked as though he was burning alive, yet he was unhindered. A terrible, evil presence stretched out before him. It's will sought her out and paralysed her. She couldn't believe what was happening, she had never experienced fear like this before. "A-Akira... s-stop..." She grit her teeth, and tried to raise her sword arm, but Akira clenched his fist and suddenly her sword became so heavy it tore from her hand and sank halfway into a block of stone jutting up from the ground. Masa started towards Akira, but he tightened his fist, and her legs became so heavy she thought her bones were going to snap. "I won't... let you..." "It's out of your control..." Akira replied calmly. "Stop, Hokage-sama... please...." "No..." Masa growled, "Nnnnoooo!!" She took another step, laboured by an insurmountable weight. "Get out... of my... home!!" Masa took another step, and suddenly her leg gave way. She fell to one knee and then collapsed onto her front. She felt like she was being crushed into dust. She stretched out and planted her palm down on the ground, and pushed up, screaming as she did so. She started to raise up off the ground and Akira closed the gap between them, "It's over, Hokage-sama. I've won." He leant over her as she fell back to the ground and lay there, pinned. "You can't so much as raise a finger, nevermind--""E... E..." "What?" Akira frowned, he couldn't hear her. The Hokage's face was pressed so hard into the ground he could see blood pooling below her. He knelt down and listened, her voice was faint and pained, but he could make out just a couple of words. He realised too late what they were. [Orochimaru ~Fight~] "Eighth gate... Death!!" Masa yelled. Chakra exploded out from her, smothering Akira who screamed as he was burnt inside a Kage's hundredfold concentrated chakra. He tried to back away, but as he did so, Masa grabbed him by the jacket and held him on the spot. "NO!!" Masa screamed, "I'm taking you with me! You won't hurt anyone, any more!!" Then from her hand, the black armour morphed and expanded, travelling up onto Akira's jacket, he frantically tried to brush it off in a panic, but the insects spread onto his hands and started to cover him. In seconds, there was nothing left but a wriggling black mass, like an insect caught in a spider's cocoon, desperate to escape before the final bite. Masa grit her teeth, closed her eyes, and let out a sigh. First, a tiny spark. The spark bounced across her body, and multiplied exponentially until the sparks ignited into an inferno. Akira screamed at the top of his lungs as the fire spread over his body, and then expanded. The fire flashed over everything inside the barrier, smoke filled it until nothing could be seen inside and then there was an earth-shattering explosion. The ground shook, nearby buildings toppled and everyone watching remained frozen in fearful silence. Slowly, cracks appeared in the barrier, and dark smoke gushed out. Then the cracks spread, and the barrier collapsed in on itself, vanishing. The smoke rose up into the air, and the onlookers watched in hope. Konoha held it's breath. The smoke cleared, and a single body lay in the middle of a smouldering crater. Satomi Masa - the seventh Hokage - lay still. Akira's body was nowhere to be found. [Madara Vs Naruto] Akira shuffled down the path, his breaths were unsteady and rasping. He held a black sword in his hand, but as he walked, it slowly crumbled into dust and lay scattered in his wake. Akira reached up and grabbed at the armoured arm that still clung to his jacket and slowly wrenched it from him, throwing it to the ground, as it's black chitinous armour also turned to dust. His whole body was covered in terrible burns, his hair was burnt away and his face was horribly disfigured. Each breath stung his lungs, and yet he was alive. He had survived the seventh. The one that the other Kage's had called the 'Black-Eyed Demon'. Now there was no-one to stand in his way. They would all fall in line, one after another, once he was through with them. Then he stopped and wavered, staring at the figure stood before him. "Move aside..." He hissed. "Has it been that long?" Sorano said, as she discarded her grass hat to reveal a head of grey hair that was tied back in a ponytail. "These old eyes don't forget a face. Not a little boy any more, are you?"Akira stood still, trying to focus on her, when he finally did, realisation dawned on his face. He grew tense, but he knew she was no match for him. Not any more, even like this. Once, even not so long ago, she would have been able to stop him. But not with the power of a tailed beast inside him. "Step aside, old woman. I am leaving." His tone was a little more respectful, though it didn't match his words. Despite knowing he was stronger than her, he couldn't help but be threatened. He had spent his life aware of the long shadow she cast over him. She was the ninja a dozen generations of shinobi aspired to become. "Insolent, just like the rest of the youth." Sorano said, a vicious snarl spreading across her face. "You think you're hot stuff now, Jinchuriki!" Sorano practically spat the last utterance, showing her extreme dislike of even the word, let alone it's meaning. "Do you even realise what you have done?""I do... even if you... do not." Akira's laugh turned into a cough and he spat a glob of blood to the ground, "I am no host, old woman. I am the beast." He grinned and then resumed his stumbling walk towards her."Oh, a beast now are you?" Sorano replied, her look stern and disapproving. "You're just a baby beast. That damn fox had more power than you in just one of his tails, and I sent him packing, even if it did cost me.""We're a different breed." Akira replied, his grin spreading as four more ninja appeared behind him. Each were a different height and build, but all were robed in white with veils over their faces. Together, the five ninja advanced on Sorano and she was forced to relent. "We'll see you again, one day, old woman." Akira growled, and then all five of them vanished. [Family] "Yuri...!!" "YURI!!" "Wake up, Yuri!!" She blinked her eyes open and stared up at a dozen faces looking down at her. She looked at each of their faces in confusion. She saw her father Ibiki, her sister Mira, her comrades Jin, and Hisato. There was an old woman stood beside Jin, and Isamu gripped his son's shoulder. "W-what..." Yuri tried to pull herself up, her head was spinning, and she felt nauseous. Then she saw their faces. She didn't just look at them, she really saw them. Something was terribly wrong. "Jin...?" She asked, frowning. Her friend was crying, everyone was crying. Their tears flowed freely down their cheeks accompanied by a terrible silence. The wind howled through the ruins of Konoha, as Jin pointed. Yuri turned and saw a large crater, and down in the centre of it, was a body. "I..." Yuri looked back at them in confusion, and her sister stepped forwards and lifted her off the ground. Yuri wanted to tell Mira to let her go, but something about Mira's face stopped her. She'd never seen her sister cry before. Mira's lips trembled as she carried Yuri down into the crater. Yuri looked around, and she could see the forms of hundreds of villagers stood on the outer edge of the crater. Then Mira was lowering her, and she felt warm soil beneath her. She looked over, and choked on her breath as she saw her mother lying there. "Noooo...." Yuri's face screwed up, "Noooo!" She scrambled over the rubble and gripped onto her mother's shirt, "Mom!!" She cried, "Mom!!" She shook her again and she felt hot tears well up in her goggles. Yuri ripped them from her face. Her eyes were as black as night, with no white or colour to them. She leant over and pulled the goggles down from her mother's eyes and Masa's eyelids flickered. "MOM?!"Masa opened her black eyes and stared up at the sky, she opened her mouth but coughed up a mouthful of blood which ran down the side of her mouth, and Mira knelt down on the other side of her. Yuri felt her father's hand on her shoulder as she gripped her mother's other still remaining arm. "M-Mira..." Masa choked. Yuri watched her sister lean in and her mother whispered something into Mira's ear. Mira's face went pale and Yuri watched them in confusion until Mira nodded, then Yuri felt something on her cheek and she turned back to look at her mother. Masa's hand grazed her cheek and she smiled, "T-There you are..." Her arm dropped, and she closed her eyes, a smile frozen upon her face. "No... mom... MOM!!" Yuri started shaking her again, "Mom you can't!!" Mira placed her hand on her mother's chest. "NO!!" Yuri screamed, pulling Mira's hand away, "Don't touch her!!" Yuri pressed her forehead to her mother's and her shoulders shook as she sobbed uncontrollably. Eventually, she pulled away and saw Mira placing her hand back by her side, she looked down at her mother, and her skin had turned grey, and lifeless. The seventh Hokage was dead. Her mother was dead. Yuri fell onto her side and curled up into a ball. Her world had come to a crashing halt, and nothing, and no-one could fix it. Her mother was dead.
  16. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [shirotsumekusa] The walk home was quiet. A few people were walking home from a bar and waved to him as he passed, and he put a smile on his face for them, but as they passed, Hisato returned to his melancholy. It had been a long trip, and it had not ended as he had imagined. He had failed his mission, he had lost one of his students, and for what? He shoved his hands into his pockets and dragged his feet. When he put his key in the door he heard excited wheezing and smiled. Before the door was even an inch open, he saw a wrinkled snout shove its way through the gap and shove it open, and out shuffled an old, wrinkly-looking bulldog."Hey there, Goro." Hisato leant over and patted the dog on the head and closed the door behind them. Goro hobbled over to the sofa and slowly pulled himself up onto it, where he sat and watched Hisato put his keys on the table by the door. He got changed into a t-shirt and boxers and walked over to the sofa to join his dog. "Oof!" He groaned, as he sat down. Then studied his dog's face for a while, "Met a talking dog today." Goro stared back at him blankly, "Why don't you talk, huh?" Hisato scratched him under the chin and smiled, and Goro's little tail whipped against Hisato's leg happily. "It's been a weird trip..." He put his legs up on his coffee table and sighed, resting his head back on the sofa. What was he going to do now? He guessed it wouldn't be long before they contacted him. But he hoped it wouldn't be tonight, he wanted to relax and get out of his head. Hisato closed his eyes, breathing deeply through his nose, and he stayed like that until he heard a knock at his door. He didn't know how much time had passed, he'd fallen asleep. Goro was lying on his back on top of Hisato's legs, snoring with his jowels half splayed out. "Coming..." Hisato muttered, lurching up and disturbing Goro who gave a disgruntled growl before slumping onto the sofa and resuming his slumber. There was another knock at the door, this time more urgent. "I'm coming!!" Hisato barked irritably. He stretched, letting his back crick and then leapt up as though he had pulled off the cloak of age he had been wearing, and then made for his door. When he opened it, he saw the mask of an ANBU. Immediately Hisato was on alert. "What is it? What's wrong?!""Nothing." The woman replied. "I need to speak to you, but I have a mission so i'll be brief.""What's this about?" Hisato asked, frowning."It's about my sister." She replied."Oh?" Hisato raised an eyebrow quizzically. [Kikyou] "Yuri?" She heard her name called, and looked up from her breakfast. "Hm?" Yuri looked at her father confused. Since arriving back in the village yesterday, and learning about Jin abandoning his journey as a ninja, she'd been a bit out of sorts. "Did you hear me?" He asked."Mm, yeah..." She muttered, pushing the scrambled egg around her plate. "Sooo..." He left the word hanging in the air, fishing for a response. "... how was your mission?" "Fine." She replied, moving a piece of bacon that had offended her to the edge of her plate. "Fine huh...? Okay..." Ibiki nodded knowingly, he knew what that meant, and he wasn't likely going to get anything out of his daughter. "What about you, Mira? How'd your mission go last night?" Mira casually glanced over at her father, and Ibiki nodded irritably, "'I can't talk about that', yeah, alright." Ibiki looked between his two daughters, both the spitting image of his wife, though Yuri's hair was wilder, and Mira was more feminine. He loved them both, but at that moment he wished he'd had two boys. He shook his head and sighed, "Alright well, gotta get the shop open. Love you both!" He kissed them both on the forehead as he passed."Have a good morning, father." Mira replied, nodding."Bye, dad." Yuri added in a sulky tone. Ibiki hesitated at the door but eventually let out a quiet sigh, and left, leaving Mira and Yuri alone at the breakfast table together. There was silence for a long while, Yuri was used to this. Mira never said much to her. They used to be a lot closer. She could remember her sister being a guardian, someone she could rely on. Once, when she was very little, Yuri was playing outside and an angry little dog (though at the time, it seemed a lot larger) barked at her and chased her down a path. Then her sister appeared out of nowhere, which made the little dog jump out of it's skin in surprise. She'd laughed so hard that day, they both had. Now the woman sat in front of her was a stranger. "I have something to discuss with you." Mira said. Yuri blinked a few times before the words processed."Sorry?" Yuri frowned, "What did you say?" "We need to talk." Mira leant forwards and pushed both their plates aside, "And you shouldn't play with your food. You never know when you might need to leave, you should eat it while you have the chance." Mira paused and studied Yuri thoughtfully and then casually added, "That's your first lesson.""My first... what?" Yuri half-choked in surprise. [Ochihabune] Yuri walked up to the door and stood in front of it, staring at it for a little while. She looked either side of the house on the street, just another house in a long line of shops and houses. It was unremarkable compared to the clan house her family owned that was comparatively lavish (although a little old world for her tastes). The buildings were shaded in drab shades of brown, and a shadow hung over the street where the sun hadn't quite reached, perhaps it would only see the light during the peak of the day. Yuri stood on the single step in front of the door and knocked.There was a creaking from above, and the window directly above the front door slowly opened. Jin poked his head out of the window. "Hello?" He said as he looked down, before instantly recognising who was at the door. "Yuri! Hang on..." He said before disappearing from the window. There was a thudding noise from the house as Jin made his way to the bottom floor, and then he opened it with a grin. "Hey... I didn't expect... well never mind, come in!" The inside of JIn's home was homely, like she imagined a cottage might look. It was very clean, but well lived-in. There was a pleasant smell coming from the kitchen, and the house was definitely less a house, and more a home. Yuri noticed there were a lot of notes scribbled in a variety of handwriting. Notes seemed to dot everything, from the fridge, to the kitchen counters, to the dining table. They were everywhere. She would have laughed if she hadn't realised that their own family did the same thing - only with bugs. That thought stifled the laugh before it began."So, hi..." She muttered, offering a lop-sided smile."Hi" Jin said in response, and smiled back. "Is everything okay? It's just after yesterday... well, you know..." He looked away from her awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck."Mm..." Yuri crossed her arms and shrugged, "I'm fine..." Then there was an uncomfortable silence for a short while, eventually Yuri plucked up the courage and muttered something inaudible but when Jin didn't react she grew annoyed and repeated it a little louder, and maybe a little indignant, "I'm sorry, okay!?" "You're sorry?" Jin said. "I should be the one apologising. It was me that upset you.""It's just..." Yuri bit her lip and shrugged again, she felt embarrassed just for realising it, but, "I don't... I don't really have any friends." Yuri said at last, her cheeks going pink. But as she started, she began talking faster and faster, "I don't really... other kids don't really talk to me, and... you're the first one who did, really, and I thought maybe you did just because you had to because we were on the same team but then you were really nice to me, and we didn't exactly succeed in our mission, I know, but we walked away from it, and we put a dent in Ayame's plans and now..." Yuri slowed talking and tapped her forefingers together nervously, "I sort of... have to leave soon.....""Leave?" Jin said with a frown. "You mean... leave the village? For how long?""I don't know, I think a long time..." Yuri replied, "My sister said we won't be coming back until i'm ready to take the Chuunin exams... maybe a really long time then." She chuckled half-heartedly. "But... I thought..." Jin's head sank for a moment, and he was silent. Then he lifted his head, and he was smiling. "That's... That's great, Yuri. It's a really good opportunity for you.""I dunno... it's not that great... it's my sister, after all." Yuri muttered, "Plus i'm not going to see you or Sensei for, like... ever.""Yeah well there is that." Jin said with a nod. "But my mom is away a lot. Sometimes it can be for a really long time. When she's home, though... we spend a lot of time together. She really makes our time together special, because we don't know how long it will last." Jin looked directly at Yuri, as a way to punctuate his next statement. "Even if we're apart, we have a bond. I won't forget about you. So when you get back let's make up for lost time, hm?"Yuri considered Jin's words for a long moment then nodded with a smile. She still didn't like the idea of them separating, but somehow she felt a little better. "Okay!" She said at last, "So..." Her face screwed up in confusion, "What exactly are you gonna... do now?""I... have no idea." Jin's head sank in defeat. "I've wanted to be a ninja since before I can remember. I've never thought about anything else. I guess... I'll just have to figure something out." Yuri stared at the ground in quiet thought for a while. She couldn't imagine abandoning everything she had made herself into. It wasn't perfect, but it was all she knew and understood. And despite it's flaws, she knew she would always be a ninja. Even if that didn't always mean to her what it did now. But she smiled and met Jin's gaze with confident eyes, "Give it time. I know, you'll figure it out." She nodded, sure of that fact. Then she heard a noise behind her, someone clearing their throat. Yuri turned around and saw someone she had never expected to see, not in a million years, and certainly not here. "May I come in?" She asked, standing in the doorway. "Mom?!" Yuri's eyes widened in panic and she flicked her gaze to Jin. "H... H-H-H..." Jin stammered, his words apparently stuck in his throat as he gazed, wide eyed, at the woman in the door. "Hokage-sama!" He finally said as he made a swift and deep bow, so low he nearly hit his head off the floor. Another figure appeared behind the Hokage, one that was more familiar to Jin. "Hello, son," Isamu said with a soft smile. His hair was long, brown and spiky, but the way it grew out was similar to Jin's. However Isamu was tall and muscular, dressed in black ninja gear and a green flak jacket, with his Konoha forehead protector tied around his right bicep. His eyes were dark brown, and there was a cross shaped scar across his left cheek. He turned his head to Yuri and gave her a nod. "It's nice to see you too, Yuri." Yuri's mother, Masa, was a tall woman with the voice and mannerisms of a monk. She was serene and intelligent, calm yet also she had a clear authority to every word that left her mouth. She was beautiful, with long dark hair and garbed in the traditional white robes of the Hokage, with the wide-brimmed hat sat upon her head. "I'll assume that's a yes," She said, smiling and looking back at Isamu, like two old friends exchanging a look only they understood."I don't understand - why are you here?" Yuri asked, confused. "Aren't you busy?""Always." Masa replied, looking at her daughter as if she was no more than another person in the room, "But i've heard that a young boy no longer wishes to be a ninja," Masa inclined her head at Isamu, "So, I came to ask why that might be?" Yuri scowled at her mother and crossed her arms, or rather, sleeves. Masa noticed the reaction from her daughter, but it didn't register on her face. "Uh..." Was about all Jin could say. He stood with his arms behind his back just staring at Masa. Despite what he had recently decided, he was in awe of the Hokage. She represented the very apex of what he had wanted to be his whole life. Of all the ninja in Konoha, Masa was considered the best. The question, coming from her lips, had rattled him entirely. "I'm sorry, I think he's a little star-struck." Isamu said with a sly smirk. "Jin... the Hokage is just like anyone else. She's not here to scold you or anything. She just wants to know, and... so do I.""Dad..." Jin tried to look anywhere but his father. He realised that he had still not spoken with him about this either. He took a deep breath, and managed to calm himself somewhat. "I... I think the way things are now, the way ninja are. It's wrong." He said quickly, as if saying it faster might somehow allow it to slip under the Hokage's radar. "The way ninja are?" Masa asked, her tone curious. She stepped inside, glancing at Yuri as she walked in and then pulled out a chair from the dining table and sat down, placing her hands on her knees and waiting patiently for Jin's clarification."Well..." Jin paused for a moment to gather his words. "On our mission, the people we faced. They were doing pretty terrible things, but they spoke with us. They were... doing these things to right a wrong that had happened to them. At first I thought that maybe this was just how it was with other villages, but then they said they wanted to target Konoha. I couldn't imagine why that would be... but I began to think that maybe we aren't any better. I'm sure there are some bad people out there, but I think there are a lot more people who become bad through circumstance." Jin stopped for a moment and looked at his father. "We have people that we love, and we would do anything to protect them. If they got hurt, well... if my loved ones got hurt, I think I would be capable of doing some pretty terrible things. When I thought sensei was dead, I wanted to hurt the people who did that to him. I wasn't strong enough to actually do that, but if I continue down this road then I might be one day. As ninja we grow stronger, and many of us won't aim to abuse that strength, but when the things we love are threatened we will do anything to make it right. At least if I stop being a ninja, I won't be tempted through power. I'll hurt... and I'll live with that hurt, and that's all that there is to it. Does that make sense?" The Hokage stood and bowed her head to Jin and Yuri, then turned and walked out, leaving the two children inside. Masa took a deep breath and let it out, as Isamu closed his front door behind them. "This raises questions..." Masa crossed her arms in thought."That seems to be the case." Isamu said with a nod. "I'm sure we'll learn more from the ninja who were captured. Besides, my wife and her team are dealing with this now. We're in good hands... besides, I'm a little more concerned about my boy right now.""Don't let your feelings for Jin cloud your mind, Isamu." Masa replied, "I will need you clear-headed for what's to come...""You don't have to worry about that." Isamu said. "But right now my boy has just thrown away everything he has ever wanted. Saya isn't here, and won't be for quite some time. He arrived back yesterday and hasn't spoken to either of us in all that time." Isamu shook his head. "He makes a fair point, you know. Who are we doing this for, if not for our children?" [Anun] "We do this for everyone. Every living person. Every person who has yet to live, who might be refused that chance should power fall into the wrong hands. What I am concerned about, is what if Konoha is already in the wrong hands?" Masa started walking down the street, with a purposeful stride. "If that is the case, then now is the time to care for those who are hurting." Isamu said. "Because that pain can be exploited, just as Jin said. He's a smart kid but he's not beyond being coerced. He's still naive to what this world holds." "Do not let yourself be lost to doubt, Isamu. I believe your son will find the right path." Masa replied, but stopped Isamu with a hand gesture before he could speak again, "Another time, my friend. Now I need your mind... and your fists." The Hokage clenched her jaw, and her pace fastened. "As you say, Hokage-sama." Isamu said with a distinct tone of annoyance."Thank you, my friend." Masa smiled, but her eyes were grave. Masa marched up the steps to her office with Isamu just behind her, as she reached the top several attendants greeted her and asked if everything was alright, she waved them off and strode through into her office and closed the door behind them. Then she walked over to her book case and moved one of the books out of the way and pressed a button at the back. The bookcase clicked and drifted open an inch and Masa grabbed it and swung it open. This was one of the few entrances - and her personal entrance - to the secret underground training facility for Konoha's ANBU, the special ops unit."Inside." Masa said, and as Isamu entered, she closed it behind them. They walked down, further and further, for a long time. The stone floor seemed to go on forever, and it became colder as they delved deeper and deeper. Eventually, the tunnel spread out to a pair of large steel double doors. Masa reached out, grabbed the handle, twisted it and pushed. Nothing. She tried again - nothing. Locked. She glanced at Isamu, and then sighed and gently pressed her closed fist to the cool steel of the door. [shippuden] The steel doors smashed open and everyone inside scattered, ANBU or not. One of the doors flew from it's hinges and crashed into the ground with a sonorous howl of metal and then Masa and Isamu stepped inside, "AKIRA!!!" Masa called out into the large hall. The room was enormous, cavernous even. The walls and ceiling were cave-like, but the ground had been carved down to a flat surface and there were hundreds of different training machines, equipment, training dummies and all manner of lethal-looking weapons hanging on the walls. "Why are you here, Hokage?" Akira replied, stepping out of the shadows of the far wall. "Wasn't it made clear to you when you were given your position, that I had autonomy from you?" Akira was tall and slim, he had sandy blonde hair and tan skin with dark eyes. He was dressed in black with a black flak jacket on and he had a scar that ran from just beneath his nose, down through his lips and to the tip of his chin."I want to know why one of my village's genin believes that Ayame, the Crimson Field, was anything but a simple rogue ninja." "Why should I answer that? I don't answer to you." Akira growled. "My son was one of the Genin on that mission." Isamu growled back. "That information would have classified the mission as S-Rank, no Genin would have been allowed near it. Withholding that information is a danger to our Village.""It doesn't matter the rank of the mission, the Genin were simply there to make it appear as a simple retrieval mission. They were," Akira was searching for the word, "Expendable?" "What did you just say to me...?!" Masa spat, clenching her fists. Her normally serene face had been quickly replaced with rage, yet she remained motionless. Waiting, though her patience was little more than illusion now. "I am dealing with forces you cannot possibly understand. The lives of a couple of Genin are nothing compared to the lives of the entire village, or even the entire world. I was given autonomy from you for a reason, Hokage. With the benefits of my research, Konohagakure's will can spread, enveloping the other nations, unifying us.""You're beginning to sound like a mad man, Akira." Isamu said. "You may have autonomy, but that does not mean you discard our children like yesterday's trash. It is unforgivable!""What research have you been performing here, Akira?!" Masa took a step forwards and Akira tensed, "Tell me, or I will pry the information from your still-living corpse." [Orochimaru's Theme] "And I believe you could do that, Hokage. I know your clan's powers... but, I will not refuse you this..." Akira paused and a smile spread across his lips, "I am creating Jinchuuriki, well... maybe that's not the right name. They were slaves to the Tailed Beasts, little more.""What?!" Masa barked, "You're creating new Jinchuuriki?!""No." Akira replied, shaking his head thoughtfully, "I'm creating new... Tailed Beasts." "Fool!" Isamu cursed. "The Tailed Beasts caused devastation on a level unlike any other. Even when sealed within Jinchuuriki, their very existence drove the ninja villages mad with power! You cannot do this!""You've gone too far, Akira... the council gave you too much power, they laid too much trust in you." Masa was shaking with anger."Cannot?" Akira laughed, "Oh... I already have. Why did you think I sent your little group after Ayame in the first place? I wanted to see what happened when two untested Tailed Beasts met." "Oshiro Ayame... has a Tailed Beast inside her?!" Masa's voice shook as she spoke, "So, she wasn't a rogue from Kusagakure at all..." "No." Akira confirmed, "She was one of my successes. Only she escaped and I thought it would be interesting to see how powerful she had become, though I was surprised to see the young boy and Hisato return alive...""What..." Masa studied Akira's face carefully, "You said you wanted to see what happened when two Tailed Beasts met... two. Who is the other Tailed Beast, Akira?! WHO?!" Masa screamed and took another step towards him, she was desperately holding herself back. "Satomi..." Akira paused, studying Masa's expression with amusement, "... Sayuri." [Need to be Strong] A black cloud swarmed from Masa and grew to envelop the entire hall in a matter of seconds, sweeping over the lights and clouding the room in semi-darkness as she reached up and pulled off her goggles. Her eyes were obscured as she tipped her hat, and then the screams began. Each one was blood-curdling, bone-chilling, agony in it's purest form. The screams echoed out, cascading like dominos as the ANBU dropped, one after another. Unable to escape the darkness that surrounded them. Tears flowed freely down Masa's face as her lips curled back in pain.Akira formed seals so quickly it seemed like a flash, then he bit his thumb, smeared the blood on his palm and slammed his hand down onto the ground in front of him. There was an enormous explosion and when the dust settled there was a snake the size of a small mountain. Rays of sunlight flickered down into the hall and Masa quickly fastened her goggles back on and looked up. Akira was nowhere to be seen, and then she realised. "The summon swallowed him, Isamu!!" Masa yelled out, throwing her hat aside and ripping off her robes to reveal she wore a black shinobi outfit beneath. She pulled in her arms and the enormous black swarm returned to her. Hundreds of men and women landed around the snake within moments of the explosion. But they were no ordinary ANBU, their masks were red. The crimson ANBU stood there silent and defiant beside the enormous grass-coloured summoned snake. "ISAMU!" Masa screamed, leaping into the air towards the great snake, "FIGHT WITH ME NOW!!" The village alarm sounded, soon the whole village would be audience to Akira's horrors. But even now, they could never imagine the extent to which his vile grasp had already extended. Masa soared towards the snake like a bird of prey, talons glistening in the sun. She would kill Akira to save the village, to safeguard it, but most of all, to take revenge upon the man who had harmed her daughter. It was time to win, or die.
  17. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [Girei] "I'm not waiting in here like a rat trapped in a cage..." Yuri scowled, looking at the back of the cave. There really was no other way out. She stood up and held out her hand to Jin, "I-I..." She hesitated but took a deep breath, and steeled her resolve. "I'm going out to meet them." "That's suicide." Jin said, but he drew a kunai from his pouch and gripped it firmly. "But I see no other way. Let's go, Yuri." Together, the two ninja walked into the waterfall. Yuri felt the cold water crash down on her head and shoulders, chilling but refreshing her. She burst out the other side and saw nearly a dozen ninja, crouched in the trees surrounding the rocky pool, stood on the bank, and then from the shadows of the forest, came Ayame, though she still appeared as Yuri. She was supported by one of the other ninja, her leg had been fitted with a tourniquet. "I understand." Ayame said, through gritted teeth. She was obviously in pain, "I should have been straightforward with you. But I couldn't trust two children and an ANBU agent with the lives of my friends, and my family. You have to see that." Ayame straightened up and smiled, "Please, don't make me do this. If you come quietly, I will find a way to fix this. I promise." "Why should we believe you?" Jin said, his hands trembling. "You've lied to us this whole time. How can you expect us to trust you?" "I can't." Ayame replied truthfully, "I have to pursue my goals, to whatever end. If you get in my way, I will have to kill you. I'm asking you to lay down your weapons, you will not be harmed, and when the dust settles, you can return to your homes. That, I promise you." "What exactly is your goal?" Yuri asked, frowning. "You left your village, you were heading to Kumogakure, you wanted to disguise yourself as a Konoha ninja, I don't understand. It doesn't make any sense!" Yuri snapped angrily, images of Hisato still fresh in her mind. "I intend to start a war." Ayame replied simply. "Why would you do that!?" Jin snarled. "Thousands died in the last war! If you start something like that... all those deaths will be on your hands!" "And I will bear that pain!!" Ayame yelled back at them, "I have lost too much, and I will lose no more! War is a catalyst of change, people will suffer, but from the ashes a new order will rise, one free of war and hatred. To stop a fire, you must burn around it, cutting off it's spread, controlling it's destruction. So I will set Konoha aflame, and stop it's reaching embers from devouring." "But Konoha is full of families and good people! What have we ever done to you?!" Yuri screamed. "You're a child. You're both children, so you don't understand..." Ayame shook her head. "Yeah, because adults have done such a great job." Jin said through grit teeth. "If war changed anything then why have there been so many? If you hurt all of these people, then how long will it be before someone starts a war to kick you off your pedestal?" "Because war is a product of greed." Ayame replied, "A Kage is a guardian, a symbol, and sometimes a leader. But the power behind them comes from others, and it is they who control war. I will take that power from them, and put it in the hands of those more deserving to wield it. Those capable of exercising restraint." "There has to be a better way!" Yuri pleaded, "Can't you see you're just part of the cycle?!" "Enough!" Jin snapped. "There's no convincing her, and I refuse to live in a world she creates! But... I won't fight her either." Jin dropped his Kunai, and inclined his head towards Ayame. "Go ahead. Kill me, and see if it makes you feel any better. I wonder, if you care so much about your family, how will you feel when they look at you with terror in their eyes?" "They can hate me, as long as they're alive." Ayame replied, looking to Yuri. "Lay down your weapons." [shippuden] "No..." Yuri replied, clenching her fists. "What?" Ayame asked in disbelief, frowning. "Yuri, there's no need for us to fight. If we do, you will die. Your comrade will die." "Sometimes people die." Yuri replied in a low voice, "But if I just lay down, and let you kill me..." She raised her head to meet Ayame's gaze, "I won't let you!!" She screamed, "I won't let you kill my friends! My family! I-I... i'll stop you!" She pointed at Ayame, "I am Satomi Sayuri, one day I will find a way to stop all this needless killing. But until I find a way to stop it for good, i'll just have to beat you down until you give up!!" She yelled, then reached for her kunai and spun it around, gripping it tightly. Yuri knew she was no match for Ayame, and they were hopelessly outnumbered. But she had to do something, she had to buy Hisato time. If there was even the slightest chance he could recover, she had to give him that chance. "I don't want to fight..." Jin said, but he bent down and picked up his kunai once more. "But you're right, Yuri. If you want to stop all the killing then you'll have to get stronger and become a leader. I believe... you can do it. So I'll follow you." Yuri nodded at Jin, silently thanking him. She faced Ayame and stepped forwards. "Then you've made your choice." Ayame replied sadly. She faced the ninja helping to keep her standing, "How long will it take to heal, Haji?" "I can regenerate it in maybe two days." The ninja replied. "Let's go." Ayame started back into the forest. "Kill them." She added, disappearing into the brush. Yuri burst forwards, black clouds swarming around her in seconds, she raised her kunai and threw it. The weapon cut through the air towards Ayame's back, but one of the ninja leapt towards it and knocked it aside with his own. Yuri kept running, she leapt clear over the blocker and landed, tapping off the ground and leaping towards Ayame, but more ninja jumped in to block her advance. There was no getting around it, Ayame was going to escape. Yuri took a step back and brought her hands up, "I can...." "You heard Ayame, kill her..." One of the ninja strode towards Yuri and Jin. The others followed. "I must..." Yuri continued. The near dozen ninja surrounded them, drawing weapons and closing in for the kill. "I will!" Yuri roared, and brought her arms up into the air. The swarming insects descended on her fists and as she brought them back down through the air with a whipping motion, the black clouds formed around her arms and where hands once were, there were now two enormous black blades, glittering in the evening sun. [strong and Strike] "Well come on then, if you're coming!" She barked at her enemies. "There's something on those blades, don't get cut!" One of them yelled back, and then they charged. Yuri dodged to one side as a sword slashed through the air beside her and she brought one blade arm down towards the ninja, he brought his sword up to block it but she cleaved straight through it, to the ninja's great surprise and panic. She was careful not to cut too deep, just a nick. The ninja seized and collapsed as her paralysing toxin took effect. He would be like that for hours. Yuri leapt back as a kunai stabbed through the air where she'd stood a moment before, then she blocked two more strikes and whirled in the air, becoming a bladed tornado. The ninja backed off just long enough that Yuri saw several of them charging Jin, "Look out!!" Yuri yelled to her comrade. Jin leapt back and thrust his arm forward, sending a barrage of shuriken towards his opponents. One dropped to the ground and spread his palms across it. Suddenly the earth before them rushed upwards as a wall of earth. Jin began rushing forward as his shuriken suddenly dropped their transformation, and became a group of his clones. They moved around the wall on either side, a shining glint of thin wire cascading behind them. They circled the enemy ninja and went back round the wall, pulling tightly on the wire, and pinning the ninja against the wall.And then the real Jin leapt over the top of the wall with a flip and threw three kunai at their feet, which embedded in the ground next to them, each of them with an exploding tag tied to them. Jin landed with a tap and looked at the three ninja, who were thinking about how to escape from the bind. "Make a move and I set these off!" Jin yelled. As Yuri landed, pulling herself out of her spin, she turned on Jin and jumped forwards, pushing her arms out. The blades on her arms dispersed and shot forwards like a torrent of water. They splashed over the three ninja, and when they lifted away, the ninja were paralysed. Quick thinking Jin, Yuri thought. I'm not fast enough to bind them, but you can hold them long enough that I can neutralise them. She grinned, but had to roll out of the way of another attack, but as she did so, another ninja landed behind her and she was trapped. She brought her arms up, ready to reform her blades but this ninja was too fast. He tapped off the ground and kicked her in the gut with enough force to wind her. Yuri hit the ground and vomited, rolling away and trying to pull herself back up. Her arms and legs trembled, she couldn't find the strength to stand. "Jin..." She mouthed, and reached out to him, but collapsed. "Yuri!" Jin cried as he rushed towards her attacker recklessly. His chakra was virtually empty, he was tired and hungry, but all that mattered was protecting Yuri. He reached the ninja and swung at him recklessly, only for each swing to be dodged or blocked with ease. The ninja was patient, calmly deflecting each strike while Jin lashed out furiously, tiring more with every kick and punch. Finally he leapt up to kick at the ninja's chest, and the man simply flickered out of view. Suddenly he was above Jin, and brought his fist down in to his chest, sending him crashing to the dirt, blood spluttering from his mouth. He tried to get up, but his body wasn't listening any more. The ninja stood over him, and drew a kunai, leaning down and gripping it tightly. Jin caught a look at the ninja. He didn't look very proud of what he was about to do, but he was going to do it anyway. He was loyal, just like the rest of Ayame's team."Stop..." Yuri groaned, she pulled herself across the ground towards Jin, but felt a weight on her back as one of the ninja pressed his boot down onto her, pushing her down into the ground. Her hands grasped for dirt and dug into it, but she could no more pull herself towards him than she could stand. There was nothing more she could do. [The Last] "Oi!!" Ayame's ninja all looked up in surprise. Hisato leapt out of a nearby tree and landed a few feet away, "I've seen enough... your boss gave me something to remember her by, fetching huh?" He poked a thumb at the thick scar beneath his chin, "Do me a favor, will you?" He asked, "Get your filthy paws off my students..." His top lip curled back, revealing a pair of almost animal-like fangs and he snarled at them. "H-Hisato is alive?!" One of the ninja stuttered, and he dropped his kunai and fled. "It's the Lion!!" Another screamed, and followed suit. "Hey!" Hisato yelled after them, "Tell your boss i'm comin' for her next! So... four against one, huh? Hardly seems fair on you." They ignored his comment, "Kill him." One of them yelled, and all four of them charged at once. Weapons at the ready, Hisato shoved his hands into his pockets and his grin widened. The first ninja to reach Hisato slashed out in rage, but Hisato barely moved, the blade glanced over his shoulder and Hisato leapt up and kneed the man in the chin. The ninja went down in one. The second ninja slid across the ground, trying to knock Hisato's legs out from under him, but he jumped and landed with expert timing, bringing down all his weight on the ninja's knee. There was a loud popping sound and the ninja screamed. The last two came at Hisato from either side, screaming their battle cries. Hisato - still hands free - vaulted into the air, and both ninja passed one another as Hisato landed head first onto the ground and whirled around like a spinning top, clocking both of them in their jaws. When the dust had settled, nobody was left standing but Hisato himself. He looked down at his jacket and pulled out a hand to brush the dust from it and then strode over to Jin and Yuri, picking each of them up with one hand. He held them there for a moment and then grinned, "Well done..." He brought them into an embrace. Yuri smiled as best she could manage to Jin, and then Hisato patted them both gently on the back. "I couldn't have asked any more of you, i'm proud of what you both accomplished. We have a lot of work to do, but we'll stop her - together." Hisato smiled at his students, beaming with pride in their abilities. But inside, below the mask, he was enraged. Ayame had been with them all along and he'd never realised, she had gotten the drop on him and if not for the special technique his superiors had supplied him, he would have been killed. Ayame had escaped, and with a Konoha headband, she could assume any form she wished and incite war with Kumogakure, or anywhere for that matter. He had failed in his orders, and now they had to plan their next move. But for now, for Jin and Yuri, he smiled.
  18. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [swaying Necklace] Kumogakure. The village hidden in the clouds. So this was Ayame's destination. But why was she going there? If she was a rogue ninja, was she trying to join a new village or was there a different motive she couldn't comprehend right now. Her thoughts of their enemy's plans were pushed from her mind, however, when she looked back to see Jin following them a little ways back. He looked troubled. Yuri had never been very good at talking to people, about anything really, she was more comfortable with the world of insects. So much less drama in their world. The only thing that people and insects have in common is war. Right now, she couldn't imagine a world in which that didn't exist. The events today had shown her just how easily conflict is created, even when both sides feel what they are doing is right. Yuri wasn't very good at talking with others, but she had to try. "Hey..." Yuri dropped back from Hisato and Kaoru to fall into step with the lagging Jin. For a few seconds, she remained silent, unsure what to follow up with, then she nervously smiled at him and sighed, "So, are you okay?" She asked. "No." Jin said, keeping his gaze focused ahead of them. "But... I don't think sensei wanted us to be okay with that, y'know?" "Not really..." Yuri muttered back, shaking her head. She wasn't used to mind games like that, she just wanted to do her mission. What she thought was supposed to be a right and just thing to do, and go home. "So, we're going to Kumogakure then..." She said, switching topics, "I've never been there before." "Me neither." Jin said. "Do you know much about the ninja there? I know we're at peace but, we haven't always been on the same sides in past wars. I hear their village is on top of a mountain range, so high up its literally hidden in the clouds." "O-oh..." Yuri fell silent once again. She was reminded of how little she knew about the other villages. "My mother told me a little about other villages when I was very young. She once told me that Kumogakure has a village built right into the mountains. And the Raikage works in a huge building made of blue stone built right into the tallest of the mountains." She couldn't help but smile, "I bet there are a lot of powerful ninja there..." "Yeah." Jin said with a nod. "I'm... a little worried. Don't you think we should be reporting this to Konoha... and Kumogakure. I mean... They should know what's happening, right?" "Well..." Yuri frowned. She agreed with what Jin was saying, but wasn't this something Hisato already knew? He was a jounin, this was something he had to have a plan for. Maybe he'd already sent a message somehow, "Sensei is smarter and stronger than both of us, I think he... he must know what he's doing, Jin." "Well I don't like being in the dark." Jin said. "Just because I'm a Genin doesn't mean I should just follow orders blindly. I mean if we do that... How do we know if we're doing something wrong?" "You're a ninja that doesn't like being in the dark?" Yuri smiled at Jin, but she could see her attempt at lightening the mood was ill-received. "I... I guess you just know, don't you? If you're doing something wrong, wouldn't you--" She stopped talking. Kaoru had slowed down to meet up with them while Hisato scouted out ahead. "Hey, are you guys doing alright?" Kaoru asked, concerned. "I'm alright..." Yuri muttered, entirely unsure if she was. "Yeah, fine." Jin said, and he forced a smile. "Any luck with tracking Ayame?" "Mm," Kaoru glanced at both the young ninjas and then smiled, "Alright, good. Hisato and I have found tracks, they're definitely going towards Kumogakure. It won't be a long journey, we were already close to their village, we just have to leave the forest and move through some rocky terrain." "You know Kumogakure well?" Yuri asked. "Yeah - tracker, remember?" Kaoru smiled back at her. Yuri nodded quietly, then looked to Jin. "Why would you be familiarising yourself with The Land of Lightning?" Jin asked with a puzzled expression. "It's not Kusagakure territory..." "Uh, well..." Kaoru laughed and scratched the back of his head, he seemed embarrassed. "It's kind of a long story, but my parents were originally from Kusagakure. I came to Kumogakure as a child, so it's more like I know it from when I was very young." Kaoru sighed and shook his head, "I'm sorry Jin, Yuri... I didn't mean to... well I mean, I never meant to upset you both. It's true Keigo was a friend of mine, but, I also know what he's capable of. But... i'm sorry he died like that..." "He didn't have to." Jin said flatly. "But that's Ayame's fault." He added. "Yes. It is." Kaoru nodded, taking a deep breath. He rubbed his temples and then let his breath out, "She should have found a better way." "Nobody should die like that..." Yuri muttered. They had finally come to the edge of the forest. Yuri had lost track of time, but the sun was setting on the horizon. Inside the forest, it was hard to tell how much daylight was left. But here, where the forest fell away, there were endless rocky valleys misted in cloud, streams slashed through the valleys and they could see a collection of the tallest mountains in the distance. "There..." Kaoru nodded at the mountains ahead of them. "That... is pretty high." Jin said, and he looked in awe of it. "It's... defensible." He tried to sound like what he thought a ninja should sound like. "You can't just walk right up there without a welcome party. I guess that's kind of the point..." Kaoru smile at Jin and nodded knowingly. "Come on, it won't be long before we're spotted." Kaoru motioned them on. Hisato had been quiet this whole time, Yuri watched him walk alone in silence. She wondered what he was thinking about, what he had been planning. He couldn't have always known that Ayame was travelling to Kumogakure, so what was he going to do if the Kumo ninjas got pulled into this as well? The ninja quartet walked down into the valley, disappearing into the mist. Yuri held out a long sleeve and pulled it through the mist, which swirled around and re-settled. "It's thicker than my dad's best ramen soup..." She grinned, feeling the moisture bead on her skin. She liked the cool, moist air here, and her little travellers were enjoying it as well. "I don't like it at all." Jin replied, scrunching up his face. "It's hot, and wet. This kind of weather is what creates storms you know. Besides, we're no closer to finding Ayame. What if she's already inside Kumogakure?" "We'll find her Jin, we--" Yuri stopped mid-sentence, as she heard a quiet little clink, metal striking stone. [utsusemi] Lying on the ground, wrapped in black cloth, was Yuri's forehead protector. The symbol of Konoha etched into the metal. It was hers without a doubt. Kaoru was already knelt over it, picking it back up, when he looked up and saw their faces. "W-why... do you have my protector, Kaoru?" Yuri asked. "I found it." He smiled, standing back up, "Back in the forest. I said i'd look for it." "But..." Yuri frowned, and held out her hand for it. Kaoru remained motionless, as though he was weighing his options. "Kaoru... what's going on?" Jin asked, his stance becoming tense and alert. "...Why do you have Yuri's forehead protector. Give her it back, right now." "I will..." Kaoru replied, smiling. "Soon, okay?" Kaoru looked over their shoulders, noticing Hisato as he strode back towards the rest of the group. "Everything alright?" Hisato asked. "Sensei, Kaoru found my protector." Yuri replied, but she sounded unsure. "Kaoru?" Hisato asked, stepping forwards. "I'll give it back." Kaoru smiled and gripped the headband firmly. "Give. It. Back." Jin said under his breath. "That belongs to Yuri. You have no right to take it." "Rights..." Kaoru's smile turned sad, "It's not about rights, Jin. This world isn't built on a person's rights. It's built on a person's will, and their strength to wield it upon others. I've been taught that, many times. Nobody is without sin, not for that." He looked at the protector in his hands and gripped it tighter still, "I need this more than you do. If I could only make you understand..." "If you needed it, you could have asked for it!" Jin snapped. "You just don't get it, do you? You don't have a clue what it means to be a friend!" Jin's hand moved quick as flash and a kunai twirled in his hand before stopping in place as he gripped it firmly. "Yuri is my friend... I'll... I'll fight you, if you make me." "You would fight me - for this?" Kaoru held the protector up and looked it over, "What is it to you?" He asked, frowning. "This would save lives. Can it do the same for you?" "Whatever this is, Kaoru," Hisato growled, "I've had about enough of it." "I want it back now, okay?" Yuri asked, holding out her hand expectantly. Kaoru shook his head, and took a step back. "If you cared... you would have told us!" Jin snapped. And then something clicked in to place inside his head. Kaoru did not trust them. He was lying to them. He had wanted Keigo to die, before they could even attempt to extract information from him. Doubt washed over him. He didn't think he could trust Kaoru any more. Without another word he rushed towards Kaoru, his kunai drawn and ready to strike. "Jin, no!" Hisato yelled, but it was too late, Jin was already on Kaoru, reaching with his free hand to grab him. [Kokuten] Kaoru shoved the protector into his jacket, and as Jin came within striking distance. He vanished. Yuri heard a noise behind her, and whirled around, reaching for her kunai. But something splashed in her face and blinded her, then white hot pain pulsed through her body, and she felt weightless as she flew through the air and smashed into a boulder. She opened her eyes, trying to push through the pain, and watched helpless, as Hisato fell to his knees, clutching at his throat. Blood rushing down his front like a waterfall. She screamed at the top of her lungs, as her eyes widened in horror. She was covered in his blood. In their sensei's blood. Hisato dropped to the ground, dead. His blood spilled out across the dirt, turning it a reddish brown, and Kaoru stood back up and whirled the kunai in his palm. "Sorry, Hisato-san." He sighed, then turned his attention on Jin. "Sen...sei..." Jin mouthed, his body frozen in place. Everything had happened so quickly, and he had barely registered any of it. A deep feeling of dread washed over him. Death felt painfully close, and he was so afraid. But Yuri was still alive, and she was closer to the danger. He had to protect her, no matter what. He remembered what his father had taught him during their training. A tactician who thinks several moves ahead would control the flow of battle, and victory became certain in that instance. In order to win, Jin had to take control of this fight. "Kaooooru!" He roared, making sure Kaoru's attention was on him. He hurled his kunai towards Kaoru. This was merely a distraction. He took a small black ball from his pocket with his other hand and threw it at the ground. The ball cracked with a hiss and suddenly the entire area was blanketed in a thick, black smoke. Now came the hard part. He had memorised the position of each important person on the field. He formed a seal in his hand and summoned four shadow clones. In each he had given a specific goal, one to counter each move he could think of his opponent making. The first shot ahead to tackle a frontal assault, whilst two more darted off to head off an escape attempt. Jin moved for his true target. Not Kaoru, but Yuri. He found her form in the smoke, and before she managed to make a noise, he gently pressed his closed fist against hers, to let her know it was him. "Get up." He whispered. "We have to run." Yuri was huddled on the ground, shaking. Her front, from her hair to her legs, was covered in blood. It matted in her hair, and stuck to her clothes making them feel heavy and uncomfortable. Her goggles were smeared with them, and she couldn't see. But she shook from fear and shock. She could barely move. Terror had totally enveloped her. "You can't run!" Kaoru yelled out into the black mist, "I'm a tracker - remember?!" He yelled the words he had said not too long ago. Then he listened intently, he could detect minute noises hidden amongst the approaching chaos. Kaoru whirled around, dodging the first clone and stabbing it in the back before leaping into the air and snapping the neck of the next clone as it flew underneath. Two more clones grabbed him by either side, and for a moment, he was caught. Kaoru pulled one arm free through sheer strength and struck the clone in the face and turned his attention on the last, but as he did so he felt pressure in the air in front of him. Despite the warning, he was off balance from striking the other clone, and he knew he couldn't dodge or block the attack. The fist connected with his face and he fell back, but as he did so, he threw a kunai that pierced the shadow clone. "No more hiding." Kaoru growled, then formed a series of seals and blew through a hole he formed by pressing the tips of his thumb and forefinger together. An enormous gust of wind exploded outwards, forcing the black mist and the natural mist of the mountains far away, creating a clearing. Kaoru grinned and turned his attention on Jin, who was crouched over Yuri, "Let's see one another for who we really are..." He muttered, striding towards them, unaware of the irony of his statement. A strip of flesh hung down from his cheek, where the clone had struck him, revealing another layer of skin beneath it, pale and supple."I never hid who I was!" Jin snapped back, and he stood up, ready to fight. "Yuri! You need to run! Back to Konoha.... I'll hold him off." And Jin stared down Kaoru, and for the first time took a good look at his wounded face. His eyes widened in shock."So you are the stronger of the two... interesting, maybe I was wrong..." Kaoru's grin faltered as he saw the look on Jin's face and brought a hand to his cheek and touched the skin hanging from his face, "Well, that's a shame." He sighed, "I'd have rather you not seen that..." [Jinchuuriki] Running his fingers across the strip of hanging flesh, Kaoru grabbed hold of it, and pulled. Kaoru's face tore apart, splitting to reveal long, snow white hair that cascaded out from underneath. Kaoru's grin widened even as his face was pulled away from it's resting place and lifted up so that whatever was beneath it was hidden. Yuri looked up and watched in muted horror and disgust as Kaoru's skin, clothes and everything that made him him, was torn from the being beneath it. Kaoru was being worn like some kind of skin suit. The flesh was discarded, thrown aside, and only she remained. "Oshiro..." She began, bowing. Introducing herself by each syllable, "... A-ya-me." Then she straightened up, brushed back her long white hair and grinned at the two ninja. She had watery blue eyes and pale skin. She was slim, in her early thirties and wore a flattering tight-fitted black shinobi outfit. "I'm sorry, but now you've seen me, I really can't let you leave here..." "Wh... what?" Jin choked. "You're... Oshiro Ayame. You've been with us all along... but... why!?" "Isn't it obvious?" Ayame asked, smiling with a frown on her face. "I need to get to know you, if i'm going to become you. Thats the problem with transformation techniques and the like, there's just too many ways you can see through it, too many tells that give the game away. But, my clan have a kekkai genkai that allows us to absorb DNA." "What?" Yuri pulled herself out of shock and confusion, "You can...." She trailed off. "I can take you, and make me... you." Ayame replied simply, laughing. "The only weakness is it requires time to understand the person I become, and so it's not something I can use to fool someone, at least not for very long. Unless you've never met your guide to Kusagakure before..." She chuckled, and started towards them. "You think you know enough?" Jin asked. "I mean, are you really that confident?" He was stalling. He knew it, and Ayame probably did too. However, the more he spoke, the more he found an element of truth to his words. "...Do you really think the Hokage doesn't know her own daughter? And even if she doesn't... my dad will know! If he's trained Yuri then he'll know her like she was his own!" At this, Ayame roared with laughter, "Grow up, child." Ayame shook her head in disbelief, "I don't need to convince a mother i'm her child, I just need to convince a Raikage..." She made a motion with her hand, and a dozen ninja leapt down, hidden amongst the rocky outcroppings and cliffs, "... of Konoha's intent..." She then pulled Yuri's headband out, and tied it to her forehead and formed a single seal, and closed her eyes. Suddenly her body shifted, she grew shorter, her hair darkened, her clothes changed and there stood in front of them was a duplicate of Yuri. "... their intent to war." With a single motion of her hand, the ninja ran for them. [Denkousekka] Yuri grabbed hold of Jin and pushed him to the ground, quickly forming a pair of seals and the black cloud of smoke that was her Tsukimono bugs rushed from her sleeves, from beneath her collar, from every pore and enveloped them in a protective layer. Yuri roared as she held the seal and suddenly the ninjas stopped, not from her battle cry, but from another noise. A humming that was growing in intensity. It became so loud it was almost deafening and they turned to see a heavy black mass holding Yuri - who was in fact Ayame - to the ground by her leg. She was hacking at it with her kunai, but nothing would remove it. Then the humming grew louder still, and then the bugs began vibrating and then in a moment of clarity, Ayame realised what was about to happen, but she couldn't stop it. The bugs exploded. Ayame screeched as her leg was blown clear off at the knee. She collapsed to the ground, but despite her injury she was still screaming at her ninja to grab Yuri and Jin. But they were too disoriented by the light, sound and heat of the explosion. A heavy cloud of dust hovered in the air, and at last Yuri allowed her bugs to dissipate from the form she had used as a shield to protect them. As she stood up, she helped Jin to his feet and started to leave, when something caught her eye. The deep gouge that had been sliced into Hisato's neck was smoking gently, and she could see the flesh deep in the wound was knitting together. She almost gasped, but kept it inside and grabbed hold of Jin. "We have to go - NOW!!" She yelled, and together, they leapt back into the woods. They could hear the footfall of a dozen ninjas chasing them, and she knew they were maybe only a couple of minutes from certain death. Ayame had taken her form, but she had wounded Ayame. Yuri didn't know if that was enough, but it would have to be. She had a feeling Hisato wasn't out of the fight just yet, he couldn't be. They wouldn't have sent a jounin on a mission like this who couldn't take care of himself, right? That's what she wanted to believe, at least. But everything that could have gone wrong on this mission, had done, and this likely wouldn't be the last time. She exchanged a look with Jin, if not for him, she would be dead right now. She would have to thank him later, perhaps by starting with a promise never to cover him in bugs again. She imagined that was a promise she would be unable to keep. Keep going, Yuri, she told herself, they're right behind you!
  19. Darkpine [Private]

    The woods were a quiet place of contemplation. Lex lay with his back braced against the trunk of a tree, his legs splayed out in front of him. He let out a long breath and rested the back of his head against the bark. He'd spent the remainder of his night out here, recovering from his drunken stupor. But in so doing, he'd come to a conclusion. He was better off dead. He'd spent the last few decades trying to make up for what he'd done in his past, the very worst of it. But just being witness to it, and doing nothing, was an inexcusable crime he could never be forgiven for. He wasn't sure there was any point in living. Lex looked up and saw the orange glow of the sun flickering through the branches of the trees. It was still early morning, but the sun was coming up at last. His skin felt warm, at first, it was pleasant. Something he hadn't felt in a long while, not that he was uncomfortable being a vampire. But imagine never feeling the sun on your skin. He held his arm up and looked at his hand in front of him. Little wisps of smoke rose up from his skin, and soon the comfort of the warmth turned to pain, but he grit his teeth and accepted it. As he sat there, he heard a pair of footsteps crunching through the leaves, and two familiar voices. Lex remained silent, but when he heard them react to seeing him, he spoke. "Leave me be!" He barked at them. "Ain't none o' yer business what ah do..." "Are you still drunk because that's a whole lot of stupid coming out of your mouth." Lily glared down at him before trying to pick him up. "My car isn't very far from here we need to get you home quickly!" Vivian rushed over and started trying to help Lily she simply kept muttering "Oh my gosh- Oh my gosh-" and looking back up to the sky to see how much time they had. "If ye had any sense like yer mother ye'd leave me alone, let an old vampire die, ain't nobody gonna miss him." Lex squirmed to break free but didn't want to use force as he knew he'd end up hurting them. "Just let me lie down there and ye can go on with yer day. Watch yer Hannah Montana or whatever ye girls are doin' this decade." At the Hannah Montana comment Lily let go and Vivian almost fell down with the sudden doubling of lex's weight. "Hannah Montana?? What do you think we are, six?!" She may have been upset but that didn't stop her from undoing her sarong skirt and throwing the green fabric over Lex to cover him from the sun. She was now topless and bottomless simply wearing a pair of nude colored panties. Her demeanor didn't seem uncomfortable though. "There that should buy us some time..." as she resumed trying to get Lex up. Vivian and Lily tried to hurriedly walk Lex to Lily's car. It was a couple minutes walk from where they had found him. Vivian then piped up, "I talked to my mom and despite how upset she seemed I don't think she would want you to kill yourself. You need to snap out of this!" Lily looked around the truck bed and grabbed a large sweatshirt while Vivian got Lex into the back seat of the Baja. The girls then jumped in the front and started driving. Lily glanced back at Lex, "Where is your house?" "On the outskirts, north o' town, off Park Rd. First left..." Lex muttered the details as he lay on the back seat. Lily followed Lex's directions and they soon found their way to a large modern house. "Wow this is nice..." Vivian said. She had leaned forward so she could view the whole home through the windshield window. Lily abruptly drove the car as close to the front door as she could to minimize sun time. She then turned around to question Lex, "You got a key I could borrow so we're not just standing in the sun for a while." "What ah need ah key for?" Lex muttered at her, "Keys are for keepin' people out, ah ain't got no problem wi' that..." Lily took that as the door was open. She jumped out and pushed the front door open, meanwhile Vivian walked around the car and helped Lex out making sure the green fabric was securely covering him as she ushered him quickly into his home. Lex could feel the heat of the sun burning his skin, even through the fabric of the skirt. He grimaced as the pain shot through him like wildfire through a forest. When they got inside, they shut the door behind them, and the house was enveloped in total darkness. It was only when the lights were turned on that any visibility returned, though, darkness was not a problem for Lex. "I'm goin' to lie down." He muttered, "Need t'sleep." He stumbled forwards and pulled the skirt off from his head. His face and throat were badly burnt, he looked like a burn ward victim, but as he walked, his skin slowly recovered. Burns were, thankfully, one of the few things that didn't scar. Else, he would be the most disfigured man in Darkpine, maybe the whole state. "Let the cat be." He muttered, as an afterthought and walked away to sleep off the alcohol, and UV light. "Ok, feel better... we'll uh, just be here if you need us..." Vivian watched as Lex walked off and turned to join Lily who was now simply looking around. The house was large and open, but all the windows were made with tinted glass. At first the girls couldn't see much, but they pulled out their cell phones to act as flashlights. There were numerous tall bookshelves filled with different novels. There was also a wall of doctor's degrees. The girls walked along glancing over all the different years Lex had gotten a degree. Vivian found herself drawn to all the books, while Lily stood in front of a picture she had found. It was of a woman, a bit of a tilted pout formed on Lily's face. "Wonder who this is..." She then reached her hand out to pick up the frame. Vivian glanced back over her shoulder. "Do you think Lex would mind if I took out some of these books to glance over?" "Put that down." Said a woman in an indignant tone. Lily quickly drew her hand back and spun around expecting to see someone, she flashed her phone light all around at eye level but didn't see anyone. "What the?!? Who's there." Meanwhile Vivian just looked stunned as she stared downwards. Lily saw her friend and had the light of her phone follow Vivian's gaze. "I said put that down, cretin. It does not belong to you!" Luna reaffirmed. The black cat with the long tail leapt onto the table the framed picture had sat on and twice in quick succession tapped her paw off the wood. "This instant." The little black cat warned. Lily scowled at the cat and took a few steps back, "Ugh... what on earth..." In stark contrast Vivian rushed forward. She bent down so her face was level with the cat. "Oh wow! Are you an enchanted cat? This is so neat! I had no idea there were spells that did that!" Luna pulled her head back and scowled at Vivian, "No I bloody well am not." Then turned her attention back to Lily, "Didn't you hear me? Put it down!" Lily placed the picture back on the table next to the cat, the grossed out look on her face not disappearing any time soon. Meanwhile Vivian was just thinking. "Y-you're not enchanted... then.... oh geez are you a cursed person?" Luna mimicked Lily's grossed out face then focused her attention on Vivian at last, something she'd said had caught her ear. Luna frowned and looked at the girls for a moment, then suddenly she realised why they were not currently running from the house like a couple of headless chickens. "...WITCHES!!" Luna howled, her ears folding back, her hackles raised and her tail almost doubled in circumference. Then she leapt from the table, intent on running to Lex. "WITCHES!!" She howled once again as she jumped. Lily snatched Luna up mid-leap, but made sure to hold her by the skin on the back of her neck. She held her a good distance away so that she wouldn't get scratched or bitten. "Now hey there don't go running and making a ton of noise. Lex had a terrible morning and needs some serious R and R." Vivian looked extremely upset as she circled around to Luna's front. "Look I'm sorry, by your current state I assume you must have had some bad run-ins with a witch or two, but me and Lily aren't here to hurt you! We were just bringing Lex home safe. He tried to... um... commit vampire suicide this morning." Luna hissed and batted her paws at Vivian's face in defiance until she mentioned suicide, and then Luna's rage fizzled out and she hung from Lily's grasp without resistance. She took a breath and then started squirming, "Let me go, cretin!" She mewled, returning to her usual self. "Not until you call me by my name, or at least something nicer than Cretin." Lily responded, but was met with an angry look from Vivian. Lily rolled her eyes and dropped Luna. "Fine..." She then walked back over to look at the picture again, but this time she didn't touch it. Vivian sat down on the ground giving Luna her full attention. "Is that normal behavior for him?" There was obviously concern in her voice so Luna could tell she was being genuine. "Hmph..." Luna closed her eyes and stuck her nose up at them. Instead, choosing to saunter back over to the table, whereupon she leapt up onto it and then pushed the frame back to it's original spot, then she whirled around and sat on the edge of the table and studied the two witches for a few moments. Eventually, she cleared her throat and spoke, "What do you suppose is normal?" She muttered. Vivian thought for a moment, that was a good point. "Um... I guess I don't really know..." She thought more for a while before responding. "I mean he must not try to kill himself very often otherwise he wouldn't still be alive right?" Lily whom was not paying attention to their conversation jutted in. "So miss black cat, is this you before your accident so to speak?" Luna mused on Vivian's words, but grew angry when Lily interrupted. "That's none of your bloody business who that is!" She snapped, but then she realised something. Luna studied Lily for a few seconds and then a cruel chuckle escaped her lips. "Oh, that?" She asked, raising her brow in surprise, as if she was only noticing now. "That is Lex's mate." Her grin widened and her tail flicked back and forth in little whipping motions. Lily looked saddened for a second, but that was quickly replaced with some forced ambivalence. "Mate huh? Didn't realize vampires imprinted. Thought that was a werewolf thing." At which point Vivian now perked up. "Imprinting?" Vivian questioned. Lily glanced over at her friend she didn't really want to be the one to explain that to her. "Um... ask Curtis about it. I'm not really sure on the facts anyways." "A werewolf thing?" Luna loosed a noise that sounded not entirely unlike a snort, "Maybe not the way you know it, but yes, a mate." She licked one of her paws and her hidden claws before continuing, as if she had all the time in the world. "Vampires live such long lives, that their mating rituals differ from most. After all, 'Til death do us part' is somewhat up in the air in their case, it's not a more or less guaranteed 80 years or so as humans would have it. Vampires are drawn to strength, so when one finds another attractive, they bond and stay together for a decade or two, until they decide to part ways. Sometimes vampires are closer, and remain together for much longer, but it's... unusual." Lily gave a little nod. "Got it, they're intense and probably vamp on vamp only since you know long lives and such with eternity and all... yadda yadda..." She glanced to the side with a huff, "This lady looks pretty basic anyways... guess I was expecting someone a little more badass... Figures." She then shrugged her shoulders and went to sit down next to Vivian. Vivian was still waiting for a response to her question, but when none came she asked again. "So is Lex depressed all the time or is this for a specific one time reason?" "To varying degrees." Luna replied coolly to Vivian, while quietly glaring at Lily. "For varying reasons." She added, taking a long and thoughtful breath as she looked around the house, "Long lives breed heavy memories and more pain forgotten than you will ever experience in one lifetime." Then she added, "I would not list the reasons, for you would wrongly hate him for what he is now, than what he was, as you should rightly." Then, as an afterthought, Luna leapt off the table and then pounced onto the sofa besides Lily, "Basic?" She rolled the word off her tongue like she was discarding a hairball, "You don't have a clue." She hissed and then straightened herself up and jerked her head at the painting, "That was a nordic woman called Alia. She was a human, like you. But unlike you, she was a fierce warrior. Many hundreds of years ago, Lex washed up on the shores of her village, half-drowned. A bear was ripping the flesh from his back, and eating it as fast as it would grow back. She killed it with her bare hands and nursed him back to health. They fell in love, Lex turned her, and they were together for nearly three hundred years. Come back to me when you've matched that, and we'll talk 'basic'." Lily frowned throughout the whole speech and when Luna was done she tried to shoo her away with her hands. "Alright alright, what are you? The guard cat of Lex's bitches, Christ, go back to talking to Vivian already..." Lily then swung her legs up on to the sofa and rested her head on the arm rest. Her large hoodie covered her like a short dress and she nuzzled into the couch getting comfortable. The girls had been awake all night and it was hard for Lily to stay awake. Vivian picked up Luna and walked to a rocking chair. She took a seat back and placed the cat on her lap. " You wouldn't know about anything in particular about my mother would you? Her name is Verra. I know Lex was involved with the group of vampires that killed her coven, but it sounded like he didn't actually murder any of them..." "Because he didn't." Luna yawned, resting her head on Vivian's lap. Vivian gave a little frustrated laugh. "Thanks that really cleared up everything... um... what's your name?" She asked as she slowly went to pet her. She wasn't sure if she was going to get scratched or not, but it was worth a try. Luna felt a hand slowly slide down her back, but she was too tired to complain, and it wasn't unpleasant, so she tolerated it, "Luna." She replied, "You get what you ask for." She added, in response to the girl's original question, "And it is polite to introduce yourself before asking a person's name." "Oh I'm sorry. I'm Vivian, and the smart mouth over there is Lily." Lily gave a little huff acknowledging the mention of her name before she passed out. "Well... why was Lex involved with a vampire gang... and more importantly what made him decide not to participate in killing people? I was under the impression vampires were well, a lot more evil than Lex seems to be." Vivian continued to pet Luna with a smile on her face. She interpreted this as Luna accepting her friendship, if not only minimally. "Like I said..." Luna yawned again, settling in. "Vampires are drawn to strength. They are not good or evil, they're just people. But they are attracted to challenge and hardship, and often seek it out. There are exceptions, but that is the 'norm' as you call it." She paused for a minute, enjoying a quiet moment for a while before continuing at her leisure, "Vampires don't need to kill, in order to feed. But some vampires believe that it's wrong to do so. Many vampires believe that when you feed on a person to the point of death, that a part of their essence is consumed as well, a part of their strength. So they believe they are keeping that person alive, in a way similar to how humans thank mythical beings for the animals they are going to consume. It's not good or evil, it just 'is'. Belief is a powerful thing, whether it's real or not... you'd have to ask Lex." She paused once again, the silence only interrupted by the quiet ticking of a nearby clock. "As to killing people, you refer to the night his group fell upon your coven, am I correct?" "Well yes... Not my coven though. My mother Verra's coven. When they were killed she moved to Darkpine and joined... my other mother's coven... which is now my coven." Vivian realized when she was done that explaining all that was probably irrelevant. "Yup, referring to that night." "It was your mother, Verra." Luna replied. "Lex had joined that group because their leader - a vampire called Serafino - was strong. Very strong. He united a number of fractured vampires and brought them together under a single banner. But he was as vicious as he was powerful, and he led them by his whim, slaughtering any who got in his way. You see," Luna stretched out and relaxed, "By Serafino's perspective, humans were put on this world to feed vampires, and he never cared much for their lives. Lex used to, well... he was... different, back then. Lex was sent by the council to ensure that Serafino was following their laws, but he was taken under Serafino's wing instead, and the two became the best of friends. It wasn't until Lex began to question Serafino, that loyalties began to divide. Lex stepped in to save Verra's life when she was just a child, and as a result he was forced to kill several vampires. He broke the first and most important law - vampires must not kill their own. Lex was stripped of his position, banished, but could not be killed as he should have been, as he was once..." Luna's voice trailed off as her breathing slowed and she started to drift off. "Wait wait, once... what?!" She abruptly stopped petting Luna so she might wake up and finish what she was saying. "...Once..." Luna yawned, then blinked and pulled herself awake, "What...?" She yawned, "Oh... once..." She sighed, closing her eyes again, and drifting off to sleep, muttered, "... once... was a... vampire prince..." Then she fell to sleep, purring.
  20. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [Chain Explosion] Their trap had worked. Observing Keigo and Ren from a distance, the two had separated and Keigo was almost taken out in the blast. Ren had fallen back to search for possible survivors, but he had no idea what had happened to his partner. Yuri and Kaoru followed him, quickly and quietly. Ren was a mountain of muscle, his endurance seemed neverending and they were struggling to keep up, especially Yuri. Ren leapt from a branch, breaking it as he stepped off, forcing Yuri and Kaoru to take another path in their pursuit. He hadn't noticed them yet, once he came to a stop, they could set a trap and take him out as quickly as possible. Yuri just had to get close enough to plant some of her Tsukimono bugs on him and then she'd have the advantage, a common tactic her clan employed. Weaken the enemy through their symbiotic bond with their bugs, empowering themselves so that even in an overwhelming fight, a Satomi clan member could overcome the odds by consuming the strength of their fallen foes. Yuri and Kaoru landed on a nearby branch as Ren fell to the forest floor and began to search. "Now." Kaoru whispered to her, "When I give the word, I want you to throw everything you have at him, and I mean it, Yuri. We need to stop him, if he survives then there's no telling what we could be up against. Are you ready?" Kaoru clasped her on the shoulder, reassuring her. Yuri shook her head and looked down at Ren. "But he doesn't even... what if he's not really a bad person?" Yuri asked. "He is." Kaoru replied. "But how do you know?" She whispered back. "They were a part of my village, remember?" He replied, looking down at Ren. "Now, we have only one chance..." Yuri swallowed, she wasn't ready. She didn't feel even remotely ready. Not to fight, not to take a life. But that didn't change the fact that she had to. She turned to face Ren who was busy inspecting the ground, likely looking for some kind of trail to pick up. Yuri raised her sleeves and felt the rush of warmth leave her body as millions of Tsukimono bugs evacuated from every part of her body, every pore. The black cloud flew into the air and she silently commanded them to disperse and, as always, they followed her commands without question. That was the price of the bond. She was their host, but they were her army. She could feel them disperse all around Ren. They were crawling on the ground towards him, they were flying in the air above him. They came from every direction. There was no way for him to escape now, he was totally surrounded. Yuri pulled the sleeve back from one arm and held her hand out in front of her, she turned it over, palm facing up, and then closed it into a fist with a swift motion. Her bugs surged forwards, Ren had time enough to gasp as the cloud descended on him, trapping him. The black mass surrounding him, weighing him down. He collapsed to one knee, just a black humanoid mass now. Yuri tightened her fist until her knuckles were white. "What's wrong?!" Kaoru asked, seeing the pained expression on Yuri's face. "It's doing nothing!!" She yelled, panicking. [Heavy Violence] A shapeless black arm raised up to where Ren's head had to have been, and then with a great show of strength, it ripped a great swath of Tsukimono bugs from his face. Ren's eye peeked out from beneath the human-shaped Tsukimono mass. "Company?" He asked, casually. Then he leapt into the air and slammed himself into the ground, killing the bugs on his back. He stood up and ran head-first into the nearest tree, crushing more of the bugs and toppling the tree. He did this two or three more times until there was almost nothing left on him. Yet, he remained unscathed. He had not so much as a single scratch on him. He was not weakened from chakra loss, or poison. Her bugs had been completely ineffective. "H-how?!" Yuri could barely speak. "This isn't the movies, kid." Ren replied, brushing off the last black specks, "I'm not going to explain my strengths and weaknesses to a stranger." He laughed, "I'm not that dumb." Then he took a deep breath and let it out, "Now come down from there, so we can talk." "Liar!" Kaoru snapped. He started to form seals and lightning fast, Ren launched himself into their tree, smashing it to pieces. Yuri and Kaoru fell to the ground, but before they could crash into it, Ren leapt up and grabbed Kaoru by the throat, while kicking Yuri in the stomach. She coughed blood and soared backwards, hitting the forest floor and coming to a stop a few feet away. "It's rude to call people names." Ren muttered, looking at the choking Kaoru with a sad expression on his face. "I'm--" Kaoru tried to speak. "I don't care who you are." Ren growled, and headbutted Kaoru, knocking him unconscious. He threw the boy aside and turned his attention to Yuri. "Now you, you're a Konoha ninja. You're just the sort of person i'm looking for." He grinned, and casually strode towards her. "L-leave me alone!" Yuri spat, trying to pull herself to her feet. She could barely breathe, every time she tried to draw in air it was like she was trying to inhale glass. This man hit harder than anyone she'd ever known, harder than her sister, harder even than her mother. She couldn't get hit like that again, she wasn't sure she'd survive. Yuri glanced over at Kaoru's lifeless body and a rage built up inside her. "I'll kill you!!" She snarled, trying to steady herself as she stood up. "That's more like it." Ren nodded, "Give me a fight, see if you can make me bleed." Yuri took one last breath and then raised her head, blinking back the duplicates her eyes were showing her of Ren. She raised her arms and flicked her sleeves back, bringing her hands together. She formed a single seal and held it, pressing her forefingers together to face the sky. "Bugs." Ren laughed, "What a one trick po--" [Kenkonitteki] Yuri opened her mouth and spat. The thick white fluid flew at Ren's face faster than a kunai. He was too close, and it was too fast. It splashed into his face and for a moment, he didn't react. He wiped the glob of spit off his confused face, opened his mouth to speak, and instead, a scream came out. He clutched at his eyes as darkness slowly replaced the forest and the last thing he saw, was Yuri standing defiantly before him. "What did you do?!" He screamed. "Isn't it obvious..." Yuri straightened up, clutching her stomach where Ren had hit her. "You're blind." For a moment, panic spread over Ren's face, but it was quickly replaced with rage. "You trained your body, but you couldn't train your eyes." She added, and then held her right hand up, clutching it into a fist. A fine black coating of Tsukimono bugs formed over it and then she started running. Yuri wasn't nearly as fast as Jin, she knew that. But she was strong. She was strong. She could find a weakness in his armoured skin, but only if she could disable his ability to counter her lack of speed. She started running as fast as her legs would carry her. Yuri opened her mouth and roared as she closed the gap on Ren. The enormously muscled man raised his boxing glove-sized fists to block, but Yuri was ready. Unable to see where she was, he couldn't block her. She slid beneath his guard, rose up and brought her fist up underneath Ren's jaw as hard as she could. She heard the crack as her Tsukimono-covered fist collided, and she felt give. She had broken his jaw. Ren wailed and grabbed at his face and tried to get hold of Yuri, but she deftly dodged out of the way and took a step back, when she felt a sharp pain in her shoulder and collapsed to the floor, unconscious. [Yogensha] "You're here..." Ren muttered, through clenched teeth. He tried to move his jaw as little as possible. "It's funny that you can see better now without your eyes." Ren shook his head irritably, and grunted. He sat down and sighed, rubbing his sweat-beaded forehead. He could relax at last, he wasn't running any more. He had served his purpose, been true to his leader. They were on the right path. "Now?" He asked. "Yes, now." They responded, their tone calm and soothing, "Are you ready?" They asked. "Good luck..." He winced, as he spoke. Then straightened up, and looked ahead into darkness. He felt a woman's hands grasp his head on either side, softly, lovingly. Then, there was a sudden snap, and he collapsed to the floor. A soft tap as feet left the ground, and then silence. Even the birds and insects of the forest had fallen silent. [Anun] "Yuri!!" Kaoru yelled out, running towards his friend. He knelt over her and checked her pulse, she was alive. But she was hurt. He looked over at Ren and studied the man for a moment, his neck was snapped. He knew that Yuri hadn't done that. "K-Kaoru..." Yuri groaned, opening one eye and blinking as the light flickering through the trees of the forest dazed her. "W-what happened?" "I don't know, you attacked Ren and nothing happened, we started fighting and Ren knocked me out, but when I came to and tried to help you, well... the last thing I remember is a sharp pain and waking up to find you next to him." "What?!" Yuri sat bolt upright, her head spinning. She looked at Ren, and realised then that he was dead. "I don't understand, I didn't..." "I'm sure you didn't." Kaoru nodded, "I think the same person who knocked you out, did the same thing to me." "But... why?" She asked, "They waited until I was winning against Ren to..." She trailed off, trying to think. "They likely wanted to assess your abilities, and stopped you when it looked like you were going to win." "But, they killed him...?" Yuri frowned, standing up slowly and shuffling over to Ren's body to look at him in silence. Kaoru stood and sighed, "It's a sad reality of being a shinobi, Yuri." He replied, "They were likely afraid you would get information out of him, like this, there is very little you can gain but insights into his own abilities. Nothing on his mission or goals." "It's a cruel thing to kill your own comrade..." Yuri muttered, sniffing. "It is. But sometimes the alternative is far worse." Kaoru took Yuri by the shoulder, "You know where Hisato is?" He asked. Yuri nodded, "Good, then return to him, I will hide the body for my village to retrieve later." "Alright..." Yuri started off, but stopped as she reached to touch her belt. It was where she had wrapped her konoha forehead protector, using it like a buckle, beneath her bandaged lower torso. Yuri looked down and frowned when she felt only cloth, "Oh... my protector..." "Your what?" Kaoru asked, walking up to her. "I..." Yuri looked around, "I've lost my forehead protector." "Oh, like this?" Kaoru pointed at his own, from Kusagakure. "Yeah... I can't find it, maybe it fell off when Ren hit me..." Yuri shook her head, "I can't see it anywhere. Damn..." "I'll look for it before I leave, alright?" Kaoru replied with a smile. "Yeah, but don't put yourself out, I can always get another when I get home." She smiled back at Kaoru. "You did a great job, Yuri. I know it doesn't feel like that right now, but you did." Kaoru nodded at her, and Yuri only smiled weakly in response before setting off. After a minute or so, Kaoru turned to look at Ren's body and grabbed him by one arm. He then lifted the arm, and dragged the body effortlessly into a nearby bush. Then he returned to the clearing, and let out a long-held breath. From his pocket, he pulled out a strip of black cloth and held it up, looking at it. Then he turned it over, unfolded it, and looked at the unblemished metal band of Yuri's Konohagakure forehead protector, and smiled.
  21. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [Morning] "I'm so hungry..." Yuri muttered, holding her stomach as it growled. "I'm going to order everything on the menu, my dad's ramen is the best!" Hisato gave her a wary glance as they walked down the street, noticing the sign, 'Ibiki's Ramen' just ahead. He shook his head and grinned at the two young Genin. Ibiki looked hard at work behind the stall, several customers were sat on the stools enjoying the warmth of the sun on their back, and the heat of the ramen in their bellies. A man and a woman got up, thanked Ibiki and left. "Ahoy, Ibiki!!" Hisato called, raising his hand. "Oh, Hisato!" Ibiki nodded to the man and they greeted one another as friends. "I see you've brought a couple of hard-working shinobi-in-training." "Hi, dad." Yuri grinned sheepishly. Ibiki turned and looked at the other Genin, the young boy. "Red hair, blue eyes. You're a Hideo, if ever I saw one. You must be Jin." "That's me." Jin said with a short bow. "I didn't expect people to know that. I mean, most people only know my dad and he looks nothing like me." Ibiki and Hisato exchanged a look. "So," Hisato clapped his hands together, "What are we getting?" Ibiki looked at Yuri and then turned to look back at the clock on the back of the stall, "Yuri, you gotta be going, don't you?" "Huh?" Yuri looked up from behind a large menu. "Oh, Mira!" She thumped her fist off the counter, "I have training, I totally forgot." Hisato turned to face her and shook his head, "You'll get your training during our mission, we're eating and then we're leaving." "Oh... alright, Hisato-sensei." Yuri replied, looking back at her menu. "--and that." Hisato turned to hear Jin finish ordering and Ibiki handed him the bill and began cooking. Hisato took one glance at the bill, muttered something about it not being a real number, then wished Yuri well on her training and told her to return as quickly as possible. He really didn't need another mouth to feed. "Right!!" Yuri nodded and leapt off the stool. She was going to be late, Mira wasn't going to appreciate that one bit. [Different Sky] It took a few minutes to reach her house, even sprinting there, but she made it. She ran through her house, and walked out the back door into an expansive garden. Well, to call it a garden would be an understatement. It was more like a small wood. Perfect conditions for secluded training - and insects. "You're late." Mira stated, her voice was even and quiet, but still upheld absolute authority. It was in those respects that out of Yuri and Mira, her sister was far more like her mother. "We're going to train twice as hard, then." She added. Yuri groaned, but one look from Mira silenced her. "Get ready." Mira walked away, turning her back to Yuri and waited in silence. "Are we picking up from last time?" Yuri asked cautiously. "We are." Mira replied. Her sister was beautiful, but cold. Mira had long silky hair, unlike her unruly, wavy mess. She was tall and well-proportioned, and she wore a long dark green coat with one sleeve missing. Her exposed arm was covered in bandages. Her sister had an enormous gourd on her back, and a similar pair of goggles to her own, obscuring her eyes. Before Yuri could ask her next question, Mira whirled around, launching herself at her without reservation. Yuri had time enough to raise her hands to block, but that was all. Mira collided with her, and Yuri flew across the ground and landed roughly. She drew in air, gasping. Her forearms were numb with pain. "Faster." Mira commented. [Keisei Gyakuten] "Alright!" Yuri snapped, lifting herself off the ground. She cracked her knuckles and then lifted her long-sleeved arms. A thick black cloud flew out from the ends and swiftly swarmed towards Mira. She was completely surrounded, there was no escape. "You can't expect to beat me, not with them." Mira replied, "Your Tsukimono are in disarray, maybe a casual observer can't see, but they have no cohesion, see?" Mira lifted one forefinger and from it spewed a thick, black cloud. It was far smaller in size than Yuri's but it expanded and swarmed over Yuri's insects. In seconds, the larger cloud fell away until there was a fine coating of dead insects laying on the ground. "Now, see the strength of a cohesive Tsukimono user!" Mira barked, and held her arm out in front of her. The dark mist of insects descended on her arm, as a black mass swept over it and spiked outwards, forming a blade. The form held tight, and glistened with moisture. "My insects have locked and formed a structure, like this, their shells are harder than steel. Their saliva can excrete any chemical I choose, and apply it to the blade. Don't get hit!!" Mira leapt high into the air, Yuri tried to follow her movements, but to her surprise, the body in the air dissolved into a black mist. She leapt forwards, sure in the knowledge that her sister had to be right behind her. Her guess was spot on. She narrowly avoided being gutted. But despite her instincts, the blade still knicked the back of her leg and as she took her next step, her leg failed her entirely and she crumpled to the floor, unable to stand back up. "They feed on chakra, you should know that. But more so, in this form, they can temporarily absorb the chakra pathways, disabling an opponent's ability to form chakra to that point, or even control their body." Mira walked around and looked down at her sister. "You expected to dodge me? You're too slow, too weak. Our clan can't use genjutsu, nor can we use powerful ninjutsu outside our Tsukimono bugs. You have to rely on them, and on your taijutsu. Those are our strongest tools, and yet you haven't mastered either." [Caution] "You're really startin' to piss me off..." Yuri growled, holding her leg in discomfort. It felt as though she'd lost a limb, she couldn't feel it at all, just a dull pain above where she'd been struck. "I know you're stronger than me, I can't... it's not my fault, you're a Jounin and i'm just a Genin!" "It's not my fault, i'm too young, you're too strong." Mira shook her head, the blade surrounding her bandaged arm melted away and dissipated into nothing. "Excuses. When I was your age, I wasn't nearly as weak-willed. I've seen your comrade, even he has a stronger will than you." "Shut up!" Yuri's eyes welled up and she grabbed hold of her sister's ankle, "You're so mean! Just stop it, alright! Help me up!" Mira yanked her leg out of Yuri's grasp and then bent over and grabbed her by her jacket and harshly pulled her to her feet. "I'm only doing this, because you have a mission. You cannot be allowed to hinder your comrades." A warm rush of energy cascaded over Yuri's body, and she felt her leg return to normal, she even felt as though she hadn't just fought her sister. She felt good as new. "Why can't you be more like dad..." Yuri muttered, pushing her sister off her. Mira looked at her but didn't reply, eventually she took a deep breath and answered with something else. "The chain is only as strong as it's weakest link." Mira started to leave, "You are the weak link. In our family, and in your team. Change that." Then Yuri was left in the wood on her own. She slowly tried to unclench her fists, she had held them so tight that it hurt as she uncurled her fingers. She took a deep breath and tried to shake off her sister's antagonising attitude. She was often insulting and difficult to live with, but she'd never been quite so hard on her before. Right now, she wasn't sure her sister even liked her. No, she thought to herself. She was sure Mira didn't like her. [The Raising Fighting Spirit] "What in the hell?!" Yuri yelled, though her voice was drowned out by all the commotion. She arrived back at Ibiki's ramen shop to see her father trying to grab Hisato-sensei, while throwing bowls, ladles and all manner of utensils. Hisato dodged them expertly, but then noticed Yuri, "It's time to go!!" He called to her, then a stray spoon clocked him in the side of his head and he went down. Her father dashed out from behind the stall and made to grab him, but as he laid his hands on Hisato, he vanished in a puff of smoke. Ibiki barely had enough time to yell an obscenity as Hisato disappeared into the horizon, literally dragging Jin and Yuri by the scruff of their necks. "Sorry dad!!" Yuri yelled back. [Evening] "Hey, uh, sorry about that." Hisato said at last. They'd been on the road for a little while now, and the sun was waning in the distance. They'd covered a lot of ground, but everyone had been fairly quiet. Yuri figured if it was anything like her, it was the anticipation of their first mission and everything that meant. "I didn't realise Jin was gonna eat quite so much, and--" He pulled out his wallet and opened it. A little moth flew to freedom and he sighed. "Yeah, well... we'll make a lot on this mission, so i'll be able to pay your father back when we get home, alright?" "Y-yeah..." Yuri replied, a bemused expression on her face. "Where are we going anyway?" "We're heading to Kusagakure." Hisato replied. "The... hidden grass village?" Yuri frowned in confusion. "Mm!" Hisato replied, "Kusa have no allegiance to the other major villages, but they lie on our border, so sometimes they ask for assistance, and we've always had an amicable relationship with them. Weird place, though. Forests of bamboo and giant mushrooms." Hisato scratched his beard thoughtfully, "We hold the Chuunin exams there, sometimes." "W-wait!" Jin said, his voice a little panicked, "We're not doing the Chuunin exams now, are we? I-I'm not ready!" "Ha ha!" Hisato's laugh was deep and throaty, "You ain't kiddin', kid." He shook his head, "Well neither of you are, but that's alright. We're just starting out, that day will come. No, Kusa has asked us for assistance in dealing with a rogue ninja.""They abandoned their village?" Yuri asked."Mmm..." Was Hisato's only response, his face was grave."But why are they asking us?" Jin said. "I mean, they have their own ninja, right? That doesn't make much sense.""True, they could send out more of their own ninja to deal with the rogue element." Hisato replied, "But there's a lot of politics involved." "I don't care about politics." Yuri muttered, folding her arms. "You're gonna have to, soon enough." Hisato muttered back at her, "Whether you like it or not." He groaned, obviously from personal experience, "Anyway... Kusagakure are a small village. They don't have the same systems in place as other major villages. They don't have hunter-nin's, for one. But that doesn't mean they couldn't track down their own ninja. The problem is that Kusagakure is surrounded by several different nations, to recapture a powerful rogue ninja, without a dedicated capture force, would require a lot of manpower. They're concerned that if they empty their village of shinobi, then they could be attacked by a hostile force." "So they think two Genin and one Jounin can help?" Jin said, raising his brow questioningly. "Am I the only one who thinks that sounds kinda stupid?""You're right." Hisato replied, "It's not the best solution. But it comes back to politics and the facts of life." "Ugh..." Yuri groaned, "Wait... are we supposed to capture a Jounin?!" "Yes." Hisato replied, without a beat. "Unfortunately, Konoha is stretched thin right now, and we didn't have the resources to commit a stronger force to this. But Konoha couldn't refuse, either. Kusa asked in order to foster a better relationship with us, so we can't really refuse without breaking all ties with them. Politics are stupid." Hisato let out a short sigh, "But," He added, with a hopeful tone, "I'll be able to track him down and capture him, with both your help, of course.""Awesome." Jin said, rolling his eyes. "I'm gonna die on my first mission because a bunch of old crusties want to play nice. Just great.""Now you're gettin' politics." Hisato replied with a throaty laugh and patted Jin roughly on the back. Up ahead, the path veered into a darker section of the forest, and to the right-hand side of the road, was an old tea house. It looked as though it had seen better days."Last stop before Kusagakure, I should think. Let's get something to eat and drink, take a little break, then push on, okay?" Hisato smiled at them. "But... you don't have any money." Yuri frowned. "I didn't say I was buying." Hisato grinned, clapping them both on the shoulder, and marched them inside. [senya] The tea house was laden with the heavy scent of perfume and cooked fish. For such a small and out of the way place, it was surprisingly busy. Most of the seated areas were taken. The ceiling was clogged with a layer of smoke and the kitchen at the back looked like it had a lot of orders on. The hot food smelled delicious and they hadn't eaten since breakfast. In fact, Yuri hadn't eaten at all. Her stomach was past the point of growling now, and had gone on the offensive, giving her hunger pains. She ran to the front desk and ordered food immediately, as Hisato and Jin sat down on padded cushions surrounding a short table. She joined her comrades and sat down, looking forward to the hot food."A lot of people must come through here..." She mused, looking around at the other faces. Most of them seemed uninterested in their group. "Hey Jin, have you ever left the village before?" Yuri asked. "Once or twice, I think." Jin replied. "Sometimes my mom and dad would take me to a little village by the coast for a few days. It's actually one of the few times we got to be together. My mom... well... she goes on a lot of important missions. So she isn't home all that often. What about you, Yuri?""Not really, well..." Yuri thought for a moment, "I mean, outside the village, in the forest, sure. But never this far. I think when I was really little, my parents took me out like that, but, I don't really remember." Yuri was pulled from her thoughts when her food arrived. She'd ordered half the things on the menu, and she started eating ravenously. Soon after, a tray of green tea and sweet cakes were brought to their table, they thanked the waiter and ate in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere. "Excuse me, may I sit?" Yuri looked up to see a tall man. He had short black hair, pale skin and dark green eyes. He was covered with a dark green poncho. He glanced in her direction and she blushed and went back to eating - though with a lot more decorum than before. Hisato looked him over and then nodded, "Go ahead, it's busy here." "It often is." He replied, sitting beside Jin. "Hello.""Hi." Jin said with a mouthful of food. "I'm Jin, nice to meet you.""And you." The man replied, "My name is Kaoru." He bowed to Jin, "I see you are from the leaf, what brings you into our fine country? I'm travelling to Kusagakure, is that also your point of destination?" He asked, smiling. "Uh..." Jin looked over to Hisato for some help. "...We're... going to visit... a... uh... my grandma... is sick?"Kaoru smiled at Jin and turned to look at Hisato, "I didn't know ninja took their leaders on personal errands." "He's just trying to protect his team. Albeit he is a terrible liar." Hisato replied with a grin, "Good to finally meet you, Kaoru." "And you, Lion of the East." Kaoru replied. Yuri watched the interchange between the two men and glanced at Jin, giving him a 'what the hell is going on' look, as best she could. Kaoru caught her look and laughed. "This is Kaoru," Hisato smiled at Jin, "He is our contact with Kusagakure. He's going to assist us in recapturing the rogue ninja.""Well that's a relief." Jin said with a sigh. "So you're a Jounin as well, then?""I'm sorry, no." Kaoru scratched the back of his head, slightly embarrassed. "Well, y'see, uh... haha..." "Kaoru is a Genin." Hisato replied for him. "As I said, Kusa can't lose so much as a single Jounin right now." "But, I know our forests like the back of my hand, and i'm also a tracker!" Kaoru folded his arms, "Better at tracking than half our Jounin, anyway..." He added, proudly. Yuri wasn't sure how much of that was truth, or just boasting. But either way, she didn't care. She liked Kaoru, but she wasn't sure she could talk to him right now, so she just continued to eat in silence. "That's cool." Jin said with a nod. "Yuri is pretty good at tracking too. Maybe with both of you helping each other we can get this job done in no time, right?""Yeah, I hope so!" Kaoru replied excitedly, "I have my own training to get back to, though if I finish this mission successfully then I can take part in the next Chuunin exams. Have either of you taken your exams yet?" Kaoru asked, looking to Yuri. She looked up for a moment, shook her head and lowered it once again. "Oh, well, not to worry." Kaoru laughed his question off, "So, what are your strengths and weaknesses, Jin?" "I'd say I'm pretty fast." Jin said. "I learned Taijutsu from my dad, and he's the personal bodyguard of the Hokage. In terms of weakness... hmm... well I don't really know that much ninjutsu."Yuri choked on her food and swallowed with a degree of difficulty, coughing loudly. She reached forwards and drank her tea in a single gulp and, once she'd found her voice, it was framed by disbelief, "Isamu-sama's your dad?!" "Uh, yeah." Jin said, looking a little confused. "I thought you knew. I mean everyone knows who my dad is..." "W-well..." Yuri frowned, "I... my mother introduced me to him, and he trains me sometimes, but...""Really?" Jin said, looking excited. "Hey! We should spar sometime! We can see which one of us he taught the best! Oh... who's your mom?""Uh, well..." Yuri touched her sleeves together like a monk, and beneath them she pressed her forefingers together nervously, "My mom, she uh..." Yuri swallowed and looked at Hisato, but his face was expressionless, "Satomi Masa. The Hokage." Kaoru's attention immediately refocused on Yuri."Uwaaaah!?" Jin cried as he fell over on to his side, his legs dangling in the air. "You're the Hokage's... daughter!?""Mm..." She nodded quietly. Yuri looked up and saw her team and Kaoru focusing on her, her face felt hot."That's..." Jin sat up, pausing for a moment. "That's... pretty awesome! Yuri... your mom is a badass!"For a moment, Jin's comments didn't register. Yuri blinked (though nobody could have seen it) and frowned. She wasn't used to people her age reacting in that way. Mostly, they just told her to 'buzz off', or some other insect-related insult. Yuri had never had many friends as a child. She perked up and smiled at Jin. Okay, he didn't like bugs, but maybe this could work. "Alright, that's enough of that." Hisato let out a content sigh, "Ready to go Kaoru?" Their guide nodded, and so they stood and left the tea house."Oh..." Yuri spoke up as they walked back onto the path, "What's our target's name?" She asked. Hisato glanced at Kaoru and they said her name, together. "Oshiro Ayame... The Crimson Field."
  22. Darkpine [Private]

    The forest was quiet tonight. The birds had stopped singing, the insects had stopped chirping. Only the sound of the wind, and a set of uneven footsteps working their way towards the residence of the Clearwater coven. He was finding it difficult to walk in a straight line, in spite of his usual grace. "Bad idea Speirs, ye gon' get blown up, ah tell ye what..." He muttered to himself, then stumbled into a tree and had to use it to support his weight for a few seconds. He took a deep swig from a large bottle of whiskey and then he slowly pushed on. It wasn't the first time he'd gotten drunk and gone for a stroll in the woods, but it was the first time he'd done so when the Clearwater coven had been in town. At least, with their new addition. Verra. Verra Clearwater was the reason Lex was walking up towards their house, guided by the lights left on in the house, and the distant sound of voices he could hear. Many years ago, he had been part of a clan of vampires that took to drinking the blood of witches. Not an uncommon thing, as witch blood is like opium to vampires, not only that, but it lets them walk in the daylight, albeit only for as long as the blood is in their system. The unusual thing was the voracity and the frequency of their attacks, and Verra's coven had been his last stop with his clan. It had been the turning point in his eternity. You might call it a revelation. Needless to say, he had done much wrong in his life, and had spent a long while trying to make it right. He wasn't even close to that, and maybe he never would be, but tonight was another night that he went through the woods drunk. Drowning his self-hatred in cheap alcohol. But tonight, he wasn't going home. Lex half stumbled up the stairs of the porch, almost falling in the process, and knocked on the door. One of the many issues with being a vampire is, unlike most of the myths and legends, in most cases a vampire can't enter a house uninvited. Thankfully, as he was pressed up against the door, trying not to collapse where he stood, he heard voices outside. Lex took a few breaths, and then marched on like a good soldier should. After a short and semi-diagonal walk, Lex saw a large bonfire, and behind it an enormous tree. His eyes drifted up to see where it ended, when he heard a gasp and he looked back down. Stood in front of him were Vivian, and Lily - who was naked from the waist up, with muddy hand-prints on her breasts. "Y'all 're naked?" Lex's face screwed up in confusion, and then his gentlemanly disposition slowly pushed through his drunken stupor and he apologised and started to turn around, unfortunately he lost his balance and collapsed to the floor and tried to rest his forehead on a raised knee. Vivian and Lily stood staring at Lex a bit dumbfounded at first. When he mentioned Lily being naked Vivian quickly jumped in front of her friend to block her body from view. As she darted over Vivian finally found her words. "Lex?! What are you doing here?" After he fell down Lily piped up. "Um... he looks drunk." Vivian gave Lily a confused look. "Vampires drink alcohol?" Lily shrugged in response. Vivian then walked around to Lex's front and looked down at him on the ground. "...hi..." Slowly, Lex raised his head and narrowed his eyes, trying to focus on Vivian, "Y'all 're dressed now, ah jus'..." He tried to pull himself to his feet but fell back on his ass, "Ah shouldn'uh... stand by... can' jus' take it back, y'know?" He shook his head and took another swig from his bottle, then rested his forehead against the lip of the bottle and after a moment's silence, he half-shouted, "Vampire's drink!! ... like anyone is like... somethin'..." Lily was standing behind him clutching her mouth and stomach, doubled over in laughter. Meanwhile Vivian was just flabbergasted. She looked down at the drunken vampire with no idea what to do. "Lex what are you going on about..?" She began to ask, but then realized none of this mattered, before he could answer she continued. "Nevermind- you have got to go, if you are here when my mothers... when the whole coven gets here! I have no idea! Oh my gosh!" Vivian quickly bent down and tried to help Lex get to his feet. She looked over Lex's shoulder at Lily and yelled, "Help Me!" "Gerroff me, woman! Don' man-handle me now!" Lex pulled away but felt a second pair of hands hoisting him to his feet. He wobbled, but managed to remain upright and then narrowed his eyes at Vivian and shook his head, "Yeh got ah stupid face... ah got ye..." He looked down and held out the bottle to her, "... this." Then started to walk past Vivian, "VERRA!!" He yelled out. "I'm sorry... VERRA!!" Vivian took the bottle, the perplexed look on her face quite permanent now. Then when she heard him yelling her mother's name she was even more confused. "Wait! H-how do you know my mom!? Lex? Sorry for what?!" She ran over back in front of him to stop him. "Hey stop right there. What are you going on about?" Grinding to a halt, Lex swayed in front of Vivian for a few seconds before becoming indignant, "What yeh stoppin' me for? Jus' tryin' ah make it right..." He muttered, and pushed past her and sniffed the air a few times, trying to scent Verra. Vivian just stood and looked at Lily. "Do you have any idea what is happening?" Lily nodded her head very seriously. "Um, yea. A drunk vampire is looking to make things right with your mom. Pretty obvious V. How bad could that possibly turn out?" Lily's voice was dripping with sarcasm. Vivian's phone chimed and she looked down to see a text message from Penelope. - Me and your mom are on our way! Need any help with set up? - Vivian then began to shake her phone up and down. Looking at Lily desperately. "What do I do?!" "Gimme that!" Lex held his hand out expectantly, "I'll call 'er an' explain ah am tryyyyin' to say i'm sorry." He let out a deep breath and then something changed his mind and he turned and stumbled back towards the house, "Say ah can go inside, else ah can't, so go on now..." Vivian instinctively threw the phone to Lily who immediately began to type a response while Vivian chased after Lex. "No! No no no you can't go into my house!" Meanwhile Lily texted Penelope back. - Actually we could use some more dye for the mud and we can't find our moonstone crystals. Could you get those before coming down here? - "Can' tell me what t'do... god-dammit..." Lex clomped up the steps and stared at the closed door of the Clearwater home for a few seconds before indignantly grabbing the handle and breaking the lock by twisting it sharply, the door swung open and he strode inside. At least, he attempted to. His foot pushed forwards into the house and then it was as though an enormous hand had grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and thrown him back out. He flew a good distance and hit the ground roughly where he remained stationary, too tired and drunk to pick himself back up. "Stupid house, 's just ah curse don' matter t'me, is all..." He let his head drop and rest against the cool ground. Penelope came out of the house looking confused and angry. Verra stood behind her trying to see what was happening. Penelope rounded on Vivian who was standing next to Lex. "Vivian what on earth is happening here?" Vivian shook her head frantically. "I... uh... you see..." Completely lost for words. Lily managed to just catch up, she then looked from Vivian's phone in her hand up to Penelope and spoke up. "Heh... well we don't need that stuff anymore Mrs. Clearwater... um yea... probably not." Penelope came down the stairs and glared at Lex. "Who are you? And why are you on my property?" Meanwhile Verra now stood in the doorway looking at Lex with widened eyes as if he was a ghost, utter horror on her face. "Who're you?!" Lex retorted at Penelope, turning onto his side, trying to find a more comfortable position to sleep on, "Nobody, thas' what..." Vivian let out a sigh. "He's sort of a friend... who is drunk." Penelope gave her a stern look. "Well he needs to go home, we have a lot going on tonight. Everyone will be arriving here in a matter of minutes. You know better than this Vivian." Verra looked bewildered at how normal everyone was being. She ran out and pulled Vivian back towards her and onto the porch. "Everyone inside now!" She then grabbed Penelope and pulled her back as well. Verra wasn't the sort to give orders so Penelope looked at her a bit concerned. "Honey what's wrong?" But Verra wasn't listening to her. "IN THE HOUSE!" While that commotion was happening Lily walked over to Lex and with medium strength kicked him. "Hey, buddy, you gotta go. Come on..." "I'm shish hundred, ok?!" Lex half-yelled at Lily, thinking he was being attacked by Curtis and confused about where he was and what he was doing. He soon returned to muttering to himself, "I'm sorry, Verra..." Lex's eyes welled and he curled up. Verra froze again and then her fear turned to anger. "...you're sorry...?" Her voice was scary calm before she erupted. "YOU'RE SORRY!?" There was a lot of cursing in Spanish as she took a couple quick steps forward and raised her arm. As she did a ball of light began to form in her hand. Penelope who was knocked out of her stupor wrapped her arms around Verra and picked her up. "Whoa whoa whoa!" She lifted her and brought her into the house. In the confusion Vivian ran after them and looked back at Lily before she shut the door. "You gotta get him outta here." Lily rolled her eyes as all the Clearwaters were now gone inside the home. She looked down at Lex as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Can't take you anywhere... jeez." "Ain't goin' nowhere with ye... gon' stay right here." Lex muttered with his eyes still closed, letting out a tired sigh. Then after a few moments of silence he slowly opened his eyes and pulled himself up, stumbling back out into the forest.
  23. Konoha Gaiden [Private]

    [Nakama] It had been a long, sleepless night. It had been quiet, dark and uneventful. But she had still remained awake throughout. Now she could hear the sound of birds chirping in the trees, and minutes later, a knock on her bedroom door. "Yuri? Are you awake yet?!" It was her father, Ibiki. Her name was really Sayuri, but her mother, leader of the Satomi clan - who also, to Yuri's great chagrin, was the Hokage - once said to her that her husband had wished for a boy during her pregnancy, had taken to calling her 'Yuri', so the nickname more or less stuck. "I'm awake!" She called back, with a groan. Yuri's head beneath the covers, she reached over to her bedside table and grabbed the black goggles and pulled them on, obscuring her eyes. She felt practically naked without them. Once she was awake enough to get dressed, she bound her abdomen and sections of her lower legs in bandages for support, then put on a pair of black shorts and combat sandals, then a short-sleeved black top that stopped at the bottom of her ribs, over which she pulled on a large dark green jacket. The jacket had flared sleeves that were so long they hid her hands entirely, and a wide stiff collar that almost came up as far as her nose. The jacket itself was no longer than her top, stopping just below her ribs in a half-cut. Yuri shared many features with the rest of the women in her clan. She had pale, porcelain skin. Long, wavy black hair. And she had an explosive temper when angered. The only thing she hadn't inherited, at least yet, was her womanly figure. She was very petite, and it was something of a sore point for her. Especially as her older sister, Mira, made most the men in the village turn their heads when she walked by. Her family was unusual to say the least. Never mind the fact her mother, Masa, was the Hokage. Or her sister, Mira, was a hunter nin. Both incredibly dangerous and important jobs in their own rights. On the flip side, her father was the owner of a ramen shop he had cleverly called, "Ibiki's". Though, her father was quick to point out that running the ramen shop was indeed, both important, and dangerous. At this, she always laughed, but then she'd spent a few summers helping him in the kitchen, and he wasn't entirely wrong. She loved her family, in spite of, or perhaps because of their flaws. She considered herself blessed, though it wasn't always easy being the daughter of the Hokage. With that, came expectation. Her mother was always very formal and distant in public, never showing her any attention or favour. Sometimes her mother would arrange strenuous training sessions with a man called Isamu, who no matter how well she performed, he always criticised. She found it difficult to make friends too, because of who her mother was. So no, as much as she was thankful for what she had, she didn't have an easy childhood at times. But, that didn't matter any more. She had worked hard to get to this point, she had aced her exams, finishing amongst the top in her class and now she was a genin. She was going to be assigned with a partner, and a teacher and she was hopeful she'd make new friends in them both. Yuri wandered downstairs and got herself something to eat, her father was running around getting ready for the morning food rush, gathering ingredients to take with him to work. Her mother was long gone, as she usually was by the time Yuri came downstairs in the morning. She didn't know where Mira was, but then she never did. Sometimes she would be gone for days or weeks at a time, then one day she would just be home, acting like nothing had changed. Picking up a slice of toast, Yuri took a bite as she ran out the door, wishing her father a good day at work. He offered her no advice, for he'd married into their clan and never been much of a fighter, his advice was always more worldly. Like how to talk to boys (which began, 'don't hit them without good cause'), and how long you should cook ramen noodles for (three minutes, no longer). She had to get out of her head, so many thoughts whirled around about her life and her first day. She stepped out onto the path and started towards the meeting area. She marched past the academy where she had trained, and the Hokage's office where she knew somewhere inside, her mother could be deciding the future of the village. She walked past her father's shop that had yet to open, and then on to the outskirts of the village. She left via the east exit and walked, skirting the forest until she came to a large open space with a bench placed in front of a pond. Yuri stood up on the bench and sat on the edge and sighed. She hated waiting, it didn't help that she was impatient as well as short-tempered. A few minutes passed, and at last, she heard footsteps. She wanted to impress her new partner and so she vaulted backwards off the bench and landed with a tap, and came face-to-face with a green jounin jacket. "What are you doing?" The man asked, he had a deep voice. She looked up but his face was obscured by the bright sunlight, but he was tall. Much taller than she was, and she wasn't a short girl for her age. "I... well..." She pursed her lips as she tried to explain. "Alright." The man replied, not letting her finish. And then, she heard it. Another pair of footsteps approaching, she turned and saw a young boy with fiery hair and ocean blue eyes, a smile spread across her face and she waved. So, she thought to herself, these are my comrades. [Rakujitsu] His name was Hisato. That was the only name he gave them. He was tall and slim, but his voice carried an air of authority and finality to it. His requests were more like commands. He had short scruffy mane of sandy coloured hair, and a short blonde beard. His skin was deeply tanned, and he had a thick scar running down the left side of his face. His left eye was a milky white, and the right was a dark brown. He had a look that reminded Yuri of a lion. She liked him immediately. As for her partner, she was unsure about. He hadn't said too much, but then, neither had she. Their jounin leader hadn't given them much chance. The moment the boy had arrived, Hisato launched into an explanation of their duties and responsibilities as genin. But his speech was long, and she was starting to get bored. She shuffled her feet and let out the quietest sigh. "Am I boring you, Sayuri-chan?" Hisato asked. "My name's Yuri, okay." She corrected him. Hisato crossed his arms expectantly. "Yeah, i'm bored! I want to, y'know... do missions! Save people, or something. This is boring." She growled, crossing her long-sleeved arms in a mimic of her jounin leader. "Boring? Mmm..." Hisato stroked his beard thoughtfully, "Sometimes being a ninja is boring, Yuri-chan! How very observant of you." "Huh?" Yuri raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Sometimes, you have to remain still, for days at a time, or remain incognito as a traveller in an inn, for months, doing nothing but eating sweet cakes and drinking green tea. You will long for those times when i'm done with you!" Yuri turned to look at her partner, as she was genuinely confused. She was getting the feeling that she'd won some kind of booby prize, or somebody was playing a trick on her. Maybe she was in the wrong team, or they'd sent some kind of 'joke' teacher. This man didn't seem to have all his marbles. He finds drinking tea and eating cake fun activities. She wondered what he'd experienced to make him so... zen. Regardless, she didn't like it. "Can't we just do something fun! Something physical!?" Yuri asked. "Something physical..." Hisato mused, and then a smile spread across his face. "Alright, we'll play a game, so I can test your abilities. I have here, a little money, if you can pull it from my belt, you can keep it." Hisato then pulled the note from his pocket, and Yuri saw it had a great deal of zeroes on it, her eyes lit up. "That's gonna be mine!" She took an excitable step towards Hisato. "But wait!" He cautioned, "For every failed attempt, you must tell your teammate something incredibly personal and private! Sharing secrets amongst yourselves is the best way to start friendships, it garners trust and comradery. After all, shinobi are all about secret keeping. Trust one another with your secrets and form the bonds of friendship. BEGIN!!" He shouted the last word, and in the same breath, vanished. "Aww, crap..." Yuri muttered, then turned to her partner, "Er, hi..."
  24. Darkpine [Private]

    Slowly, Lex leant over inside his coffin - yes, some things about vampires are true, but more out of tradition - and turned the volume up on the speakers. The radio started playing the news on his surround sound in the basement. He listened quietly as he tried to blink the sleep out of his eyes and then pushed the coffin lid open and stretched. He felt well-rested, if a little frazzled from the other night. He hadn't exactly been in any danger, but it had been a long night and he'd had to deal with a lot he wasn't expecting. He wondered just how many enemies he'd managed to make in a single night. Not likely his record, but even so. As he pulled himself out of the coffin, the thought of coffee sprung to mind and he slowly wandered upstairs in his boxer shorts. Walking up the stairs to the ground floor, he opened the door and saw a little black cat with a long tail and bright yellow eyes. "Mornin' Luna," He walked past the feminine feline, whose eyes never strayed from the vampire. As Lex came back from the kitchen with a cup of coffee, Luna remained sat in front of the basement, "Not talkin' to me now, are ye?" Lex mused, taking a sip of his coffee. Just then, something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. Lex turned and saw a small package, floating in the middle of his front hallway. Confused, he looked around as if someone was going to jump out and yell 'surprise'. He wandered over and poked it with his forefinger, and it bobbed forwards a few inches and then slowly drifted back into place. "Alrighty then..." Lex muttered, and opened the package. He picked up the vial and shook it, inspecting it for a moment and then looked at the note and his face pulled into a lop-sided grin. "Don' remember gettin' mauled by a puppy last night," He muttered to himself, but he smiled all the same. Lex took the vial, opened it and poured the contents into his half-drunk coffee and swirled it around before taking a sip. Lex let his shoulders drop and let out a deep sigh and closed his eyes for just a few moments, when he heard the crunch of a car driving over gravel. Footsteps. A knock at the door. Checking his watch - as it had only just gone sundown - Lex opened the door and stood in the doorway, looking at Curtis with a bemused expression. "Don' need t'yell, boy. Hear ye half way 'cross the forest." He grinned and stepped to one side, "Come on in," He offered, then added as an afterthought, "Don' pet the cat, she's cantankerous." Lex sucked in air through the corner of his mouth as Curtis stepped inside, Lex closed the door behind him. "Coffee in the kitchen." Curtis stepped inside and eyed the cat cautiously. "Uh... cats don't really like weres. Neither do dogs... or, well, any animal really." Luna crossed the room and leapt up on the table in the middle of the dining room just a few feet from Curtis. "Can't imagine why." Luna, the cat, replied. She then brought her right paw up to her face and began preening. Lex smirked and took another sip of coffee and sat down at the table. Lex watched Curtis' face with great amusement. "Wha-" Curtis said, backing off from the cat. "You just...just...ta..ta..." "Talked. Better than you, apparently." Luna finished for him, pulling her paw away from her face. "He smells of wet dog." "He's ah werewolf." Lex replied, finishing his coffee. Cats can't roll their eyes, but then neither can they talk. Luna could do both, and demonstrated so by punctuating her comment with the former. "Ah told ye she was cantankerous." Lex leant over and picked the newspaper off the table and began to read, giving Curtis time to gather his thoughts and if he chose to, continue his conversation with the cat. "Uh... so how does that work, then?" Curtis asked, not sure if he should be directing the conversation to Lex, or to Luna. "How does what work?" Lex asked, not looking up from his newspaper. "Uh... how does she talk?" Curtis said. "In complete sentences." Luna replied snarkily. "It's not complicated. Both myself and another woman were interested in marrying a man of wealth and good standing, but I came from the right family, and I was far more attractive, so when she realised he was going to pick me, she turned me into a cat." Luna paused and then added, "No matter what they tell you, men do not, in fact, prefer eight nipples over two." "That's... pretty fucked up." Curtis said, nervously scratching the back of his head. "I'm sorry to hear that." "That makes me feel so much better." Luna replied sarcastically. "I'd give you a thumb's up, but it's halfway up my leg." "Uh... right." Curtis said, deciding it was probably best to heed Lex's advice and leave Luna alone. "So I brought my tools. I can get your door back on for you just now. And if we get the car down to the shop at some point I can do some detailing for any dents or scratches." "Sounds good. Ye want some breakfast or somethin' 'fore ye start?" Lex asked, putting the paper down. He'd just finished reading an article on the infamous Joyce Kelly. Just some fluff piece about neighbourhood watch, but she was on the front page. Full story on pages sixteen and seventeen, he could barely believe it. "Ugh, thank you, bacon." Luna replied with an exasperated tone. "Wasn't talkin' to ye," Lex shook his head, to which Luna let out a mewling growl and then hopped off the table and wandered off into the kitchen. "I had breakfast already." Curtis said. "...and lunch, and dinner." "Mm-hmm..." Lex nodded and then it dawned on him, "Oh right, it's... dang, get my times mixed up. Ye want a snack or somethin'? Don' wan' ye goin' back t'yer folks sayin' ah wasn't ah good host." Lex stood up and walked into the kitchen, pushing Luna aside with his foot. "Oh..." Lex muttered, "Ah got... oh positive, or... beer." Lex looked back from around the corner of the fridge door with a sheepish grin. "Not a good time for beer for me." Curtis said, "And I'll skip on the... blood. It's okay, don't worry about it. I'm supposed to be making things up to you, you don't have to do anything." "Mm-hmm, alright." Lex shut the fridge, beer in hand, "Ah ain't the one sportin' broken ribs an' whatnot, but i'll give ye that." Lex walked over to the door that led into the garage, "Come on then, if yer comin'." Lex walked through and passed his car to open the garage door and let a little fresh air in. "Gon' be long? Want someone t'explain which tool is a torque wrench to an' then pass it ye?" "I wouldn't mind a bit of chatter while I work." Curtis said. He opened the rear door to the car and took out the broken door inside. He lifted it in one hand with relative ease and propped it up against the big hole where it should have been. He examined the area and gave a soft sigh. "Looks like I fucked your wiring up. Should be able to re-attach the door but I'll need to take this to the shop to fix the wiring. Until then your lock mechanism won't work." "Do whatever ye think's best, ah don' really play with technology." Lex replied, eyeing the strange collection of tools Curtis was setting out. "Alright well I'll get the door on for now." Curtis said, and he got to work. "So about the other night, again I'm sorry. I'm not entirely sure what happened myself, I only just got the story last night after it happened." "Don' matter. Nobody got hurt, 'cept the offendin' party." Lex laughed and popped the cap of his beer with a claw before taking a swig. "So, ye got the hots for that gal then, huh?" "Geez you don't beat around the bush, do you?" Curtis said, smirking. "But since you asked. Well, I'm not blind. She's pretty cute." "No ah speak my mind, always have." Lex took another swig of his beer and got into the seat of his car and reclined, "Y'all make a cute couple, i'm sure." Lex sniffed and sighed to himself, scratching at the paper wrapper on his beer. "It's not like that." Curts said, shaking his head. "Turns out there's some old family curse or whatever. All my life I didn't know, but I'm supposed to protect her from harm. Something her grandmother did to my grandpa a long time ago. Well, the shit trickles down, as they say." "Ain't that the truth." Lex muttered, "Still... curse, no curse. Don' matter. Curses everywhere these days. Luna cursed, vampires cursed, Archers cursed. Life goes on. Ye only fucked if ye start sparklin' an' gettin' angsty." "Heh." Curtis gave a little smirk. "I suppose those vampire films give you a bad reputation, huh?" "Weren't the best thing to come outta Hollywood, say that much." Lex sniffed, "Like to think o' myself as more a Gary Oldman sorta vampire, y'know? Got that tophat an' cane. Man knew how t'dress. People got no style no more." "So how old are you, then?" Curtis asked, quickly adding, "If that's not too rude to ask." Lex just grinned. A story for another day maybe, he thought to himself. Lex and Curtis talked a while longer, then Curtis left for the night. Lex stayed in the garage a while longer, absorbed in his thoughts until he was pulled from them by the jarring sensation of a heavy little body leaping onto his lap. "And what, pray tell, do ye want?" Lex asked, eyeing Luna who stared up at him with an unimpressed expression. "Taking in strays now, are we?" She asked. "Started with ye, didn't I?" Lex replied, "Thought i'd keep that train rollin'." "One weirdo is enough for me, if you please. Before that harlot turned me into a cat I never had any notion there were things like witches and vampires and werewolves. I had a very pleasant life, now I eat kibble and lick myself." "Can't have it all..." Lex mused, pursing his lips, then a thought occurred to him and he grinned wickedly, "Least ye can put yer leg behind ye head now." Luna hissed at him and hopped off his lap to seek adventure elsewhere. Lex checked his watch, he was to start his shift in an hour, better get ready. After all, there were two reasons he became a doctor. To save lives, and get women. Not always in that order.
  25. Hallowed - Private Kyo& Val

    "Will you let me take these off you?" Violet pulled herself from troubled dreams and tried to wake herself up enough to process the question. She had a moment of panic when she couldn't see, then she was brought back with gut-wrenching clarity, of where she was, and what her life had become. Violet tried to sit up in bed, but as she tried to move she felt resistance. Of course, she'd been bound to her bed with restraints. "Will you?" The woman asked again. "Y-yeah." Violet replied, shakily. She felt the belts loosen, one by one. "Don't make me call the orderlies." The woman warned her, "I don't appreciate bites or scratches or spitting, or God knows what else." "Alright." Violet replied, she wanted the woman to stop talking. She felt like she was a child that had been put in time out. Privileges revoked, tantrum brewing. She had to keep that in check though, else it meant a needle and an afternoon drooling into her pillow. She'd learnt that one early on. "Okay, there you are." The woman took a step back and Violet slowly pulled herself up and out of bed. Something hurt. Violet reached over and touched her back. "Ouch..." She muttered. There were painful welts, bed sores. "How long was I...?" "A few days..." The woman replied, who Violet assumed must be a nurse. She waited in silence, until at last she broke it with, "I'll let some air in." She strode across the room and heaved open a window. There were bars on that window. No escape there, she was sure of it. And it wasn't like she was going to turn into a sparrow and just fly out the window like her dreams told her she could. But she couldn't discuss that either, if she did, she got 'corrective surgery'. What the doctors liked to name when they take a couple of rods put them on either side of your temples and run dangerous electrical currents through them. Violet took a deep breath, she could smell the fresh air. Could even hear a lawnmower outside, and a few birds twittering and singing to one another. It was calming. She felt much better for it, even if she was still trapped and confused. "What's your name?" Violet asked the nurse who had just finished fluffing her pillows and was making to leave. Violet heard her stop in the doorway. "Nurse Winters." The nurse replied, and opened the door. "You can leave your room if you like, walk about, maybe talk to the other patients?" She walked out into the hall as Violet followed her to the doorway and stopped there, holding the frame for support and so she knew where she was. "What's your first name though?" Violet asked. The woman opened her mouth to speak, stopped herself and leant in, "We're not really supposed to give our first names to patients." She chuckled a little. "I won't tell anyone." Violet replied, with a smile. She couldn't see Nurse Winters, but she must have been sizing her up, as a few seconds later she cleared her throat and, "Dede, but, my friends just call me Dee, alright?" Violet's smile dropped. She heard the sound of Nurse Dee Winters footsteps echoing quietly into nothing, "Wait!!" Violet yelled, and ran out into the corridor. She held her hands out in front of her and reached for a wall, trying to find something to hold onto. She found the wall on the other side and tried using it to move along the hall, but she only got a few steps before her probing fingers knocked into something, it felt like a cage of medical supplies. She tried to find her way around, but even as she did so someone asked her to step back as they brought a wheelchair-bound patient through the opening next to the cage. By the time they'd passed, Dee was long gone. Her voice had sounded strangely familiar and the name was the same. But then a horrifying realisation dawned on her. All the characters from her dreams seemed represented in the hospital. Had she overheard names, made acquaintances, been a part of group therapy sessions. Had she just collected this information, forgotten most of it, but somewhere in her subconscious she had used that information to supply her fantasies? Violet felt dizzy, her face was hot and she was having trouble breathing. She lowered herself down the wall of the corridor and sat on the floor with her knees pulled in, next to the cage and hoped nobody would find her for a little while. The world changed around him, and suddenly James found himself in The Void. He was in a facsimile of Vincent's apartment. He had to leave immediately, he was likely already being tracked. As much as he hated to think about it, he had to stop the inhabitants of this place finding him before one of the nastier things here could get to him. Those that were close to this location would be here before her, but not by much. Vael would have sensed him enter The Void the moment he arrived, and she could likely travel almost instantaneously. That, combined with her ancient knowledge of this place meant it wasn't if she found him, but when. It wasn't her ability that dictated the speed with which she would find James. It was her interest, curiosity, perhaps she had other things going on. The Nagloshi could be too unpredictable, that was one of their most dangerous traits. That and magic laser beams. James descended the stairs as the lifts weren't working, when he reached the ground floor, he found the lobby surprisingly empty. He breathed a sigh of relief. Usually monsters and other nasties congregate at the site of new arrivals. Soul-bearing mortals usually bring the biggest crowds, but he knew from experience that creatures bound to mortals were just as tasty. For monsters, that was like licking the inside of a chocolate bar wrapper. James crossed the lobby and started making plans. It was simple, more or less. Avoid the nasties, find Vael, and somehow get her to follow him back to the human realm, and aid Violet, without killing him, preferably. Though two out of three would do. His plans fell apart. James pushed the doors open and stepped outside. The sky above was a dark, tumultuous green, riddled with darker clouds that rolled across the sky in great waves. It was raining heavily, and the pavement outside the apartment was semi-waterlogged. James walked down the couple of steps in front of him, leaving the apartment behind and stepping down into an inch of water. But this water wasn't clear, nor did it reflect the colour of the sky. It was a deep, crimson red. James opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out as his eyes fell upon the scene in front of him. Dozens, if not hundreds of bodies lay in the inch-deep water. Their faces contorted in horror, burnt or partially turned to ash. There were so many that James could barely take another step without having to first push one of them aside. It was too late for plans. "Found you." Vael sneered. James looked up and saw her. A body of dark purple energy, voluptuous and naked, yet featureless. The same could be said of her face, as pillowy lips framed a cruel grin, and almond-shaped eyes held nothing but white light. She floated down until she was just a few inches above the carnage and James tried to steel himself. "Vael, we need to talk, Vi--" A blast of purple energy collided with the ground beside him. Several bodies disintegrated and James ran without shame. His feet splashed through the water as he ran. Another energy blast struck right behind him, he could feel the heat on his back, and it burnt the hairs on his neck. He leapt towards the nearest object that looked like it might withstand a direct hit, but as he did so he was knocked aside. He crumpled to the ground and inhaled as white hot pain shot up his spine and he choked on the water he drew in with his first breath. Pulling his head up from the water, James let out a retching cough as he tasted the blood of a dozen monsters and then looked down. half his right arm was missing. It stopped a few inches beneath his shoulder, at which point it turned to blackened, smoking flesh. James wailed and tears streamed down his face as he quickly pulled himself behind the car and tried to think. He couldn't think. Every time he called for a plan, his brain just came back with, 'MY ARM!!' and that wasn't much use to him right now. He winced as the immediate white hot pain turned to a mind-numbing ache that was far worse than he thought possible. "Would you like this back, James?!" Vael called out from across the courtyard. James risked a glance around the edge of the car and saw Vael bent over, her face hidden by her writhing light purple hair. As she straightened up and brushed the living hair out of her face, she held up his arm, or what was left of it. It stopped just a few inches after his wrist. "I don't suppose you do," Vael continued, musing. "Not much good to anyone now, really." "BITCH!!" James screamed at the top of his lungs. "James." Vael clicked her tongue, then laughed. James yelped as his other arm touched the side of the car, it was so hot it had burnt him. He took that as his queue to flee. James pulled himself to his feet and started running just as a thin, focused beam of magic penetrated the other side of the car and shot through where he had been sat moments before, boiling the water where it pierced and leaving a long, smouldering hole in the pavement. He was running now, sprinting. He was fighting for his life, against an adversary that didn't care. Didn't plan. Didn't have emotion, at least as he knew it. Couldn't be bargained with. He had to run, or die. He was at her whim now. This was her game. He had spent his life being a cat, and now he was going to die a mouse. James ducked as a blast of energy struck the edge of the apartment building as he ran from the courtyard and around the corner, as he ran the city fell away and soon he found the water beneath his feet turn to slush, and then snow. He couldn't run any more. The snow was almost at his waist now. He pushed ahead, but the buildings ahead of him warped into disrepair, as though they hadn't been used in ten thousand years. The rain turned into a blizzard, and James cried out for help, his voice lost in the howling wind, though he knew nobody could have heard him regardless. He was freezing, but he could feel a heat at his back. James realised then, as he heard her laughing, that the chase was over. She was behind him, watching him flail and push on, despite getting nowhere. Freezing, in terrible agony and terrified, James turned to face Vael. In the realisation that he was to perish here, he would do so facing her in defiance, cursing her in every language he knew. What Violet would call 'throwing everything and hoping something sticks'. He opened his mouth to speak, but instead of a curse, James said two words as Vael raised her hand to strike him down. "It's Violet." Vael's hand froze in the air, hesitated. Her grin fell into a snarl and James immediately wished he had remained quiet and let her disintegrate him, or whatever it was she had been going to do. Vael glided towards him, closing the gap between them. Her feet touched down on the snow, and weightlessly she stood upon it. Vael crouched down so she was face-to-face with James and studied his face for a few seconds, the heat and light in her hand was so hot and bright that James couldn't look at it, and recoiled when she brought it anywhere near him. She reached out with her other, empty hand, and touched him on the shoulder. James' whole body tensed, and then he began to shiver, but not from the cold. Vael shushed and cooed at James, trying to calm him, but it came across more like a cowboy calming her lame horse as she loaded her rifle. "'It's Violet', what, James?" Vael asked, in a calm, quiet voice. She brushed aside his tears with her thumb and smiled at him. "Vi-Vi-Violet i-is h-hu-hurt..." He swallowed, trying to control his stuttering, "C-c-co-coma, s-she w-wuh-won't w-wake up." A deep purple hand moved across his eyes and he closed them, hoping for release. He felt her hot palm press up against his forehead, and he felt a piercing pain and then strangely, all sorts of thoughts and memories came flooding to the surface, unbidden by him. He watched helplessly as they came, one after another, until everything that had happened in the last few weeks had passed by and then, the pain stopped and the memories faded once more and Vael stood up and took a step back from him. "Interesting..." She muttered, the light in her hand vanishing. Then she turned, and walked away with just her voice in the wind, "Go home - if you can." Her laugh was the last thing he heard before she vanished. Vincent was sitting on the armchair in his apartment reading over the Grimoire. On the sofa Meredith was sitting with a pile of books from his bookcase and was reading through them for any chance of some answers. David was in the kitchen making more coffee for them, and Al was stood at the foot of the bed Violet lay on, just watching her. "This some ol' world shit, hoss." Al said, shaking his head. "I can't tell ye rightly what it is, but it's older than you or I...""You're not helping." Vincent said irritably, not looking up from the book. "I don't care what it is, we'll find a way to sto--" He lifted his head from the book and looked across his apartment blankly. "Something just passed my wards.""Are you sure?" Al said, turning around. "I taught you those wards ma self, they ain't that flimsy.""Positive." Vincent said as he stood up, finding his cane and picking it up. "Not just that, they've disabled them. Get ready... I think it's her." A bright purple ball of light exploded into existence in the middle of the room. Anything that wasn't nailed down was swept up into the air. Books and papers flew everywhere, the furniture groaned across the floor, there was a huge thrumming vibration of light and sound that washed over the entire apartment, and then the ball of light was gone, and Vael had taken it's place. Levitating a few inches from the ground, she held out her arms and at the same time, opened her mouth. A terrible screeching filled the apartment as Vael spoke something in her native tongue, and everyone present instinctively clamped their hands over their ears in pain. A brilliant light filled the apartment, blinding everyone. The screeching slowly fell away, echoing until there was nothing. The light receded, and Vael closed her light-filled mouth, and then there was stillness and silence. She looked out across the apartment. It was as though everyone was frozen in time. Meredith was frozen in shock on the sofa. Vincent had begun to reach for something in his jacket, but he too was stuck in time, a look of pained determination on his face. David held a pot of coffee in one hand, and a partially unsheathed blade in the other, droplets of coffee poured, floated up through the kitchen in slow motion, as though they were in space. Papers floated around, gently colliding with other light objects in the room. At last, Vael turned her grin upon the last figure in the room."Alphonse Regulus Blackmire." Vael purred, her grin widening as Al straightened up and let out a gruff sigh. Whatever he'd done, he'd stopped her magic from reaching him. Vael licked her lips and studied him for a little while, "You've gotten old, mortal." "Maybe. But I'll never be as old as you." Al said calmly. "Now, if yer done with the light show would ye kindly tell me why yer here?""It's rude to comment on a lady's age." Vael retorted as though she were hurt, then her white eyes drifted in the direction of the next room, "I came for my daughter, you should give her to me and then we can be on our way." She held her hands behind her back and looked around the apartment with genuine curiosity. "Violet ain't goin' anywhere with you." Al said matter-of-factly. "If fer no reason than to uphold Eli's wishes.""I have less right to my child than my husband?" Vael asked, floating over to Vincent and inspecting him thoughtfully, the way a collector might inspect their most prized item. She brushed a hand through his hair and picked a bit of fluff from his jacket before grinning and turning back to Al, "She's not human, you know." "Eli wished her free, and she'd ne'er be that s'long as she's with you." Al said. "Human or not, she's still a Hallow. She carries the same power Eli has, the same power that Vincent has awakened. A being like you would only exploit it." "Oh please, I have no interest in exploiting anything - except maybe the forces of nature, but that's a discussion for another century." Vael raised her eyebrow in momentary irritation before returning to what she deemed a 'pleasant conversation'. "She is my daughter, and she has every right to reach her full potential." Vael paused and took a deep breath, "I can feel it happening now, what's left of that frail fleshy bag of water is evaporating as we speak." She sighed pleasantly, but quick as a bolt of lightning, her expression turned nasty and her tone became accusatory, "Why is she asleep?!" "Took you long enough." Al said, shaking his head. "Thas why her nitwit brother sent fer you. We don't know why she's sleepin', we were hopin' you did."Vael hissed a word in her native tongue and crossed her arms irritably. After a few moments of stewing in her temper, she cast her gaze over the room, and released the hold she had over the room. Instantly, the papers and books and debris dropped to the ground. The coffee pot smashed as David released it to draw his sword and everyone surrounded her in an instant. "Touch me," She growled, "And that will be the last thing you touch," She paused as an image came to mind and she chuckled, "Just ask James...""You sure about that?" Vincent growled, and raised his cane to point it at her. "How about you ask what happened to the last Immortal that threatened me.""Wh... what did you do to James?" Meredith asked, she was the furthest away and looked genuinely terrified by Vael's presence. Her gaze turned to Meredith and Vael simply sneered, but then her eyes widened as she stared at Meredith. Her eyes lazily drifted back to Vincent and then she laughed, "You don't know..." She burst out laughing and lowered herself to the ground. "Oh, my... I haven't laughed like that in a thousand years, thank you." She shook her head in disbelief, and started towards the next room. "Enough." Vincent said. "I am tired of all the games you immortals play. Violet is dying, and I'll do anything to save her. Help us, or leave.""Dying?" Vael parroted the word, her eyes narrowed in suspicion of Vincent. She carried on her way into the next room, unhindered. There, she saw Violet lying on the bed, asleep. She looked tired, and in discomfort, but what was most shocking to her was that she could see the magical energy inside her, and it was flickering like a dying candle. "Nooo...." Vael muttered, panicking. She crossed the room quickly and bent down beside Violet and placed her hand against her daughter's forehead, "No... I...." Vael shook her head, "Something's wrong... this shouldn't be happening.....""No kidding." Vincent replied. "I hope you've got more to go on than that." "BE SILENT!!" Vael roared at Vincent. She turned her attention back to Violet and stroked her hair in silence for a short while, when she spoke at last, her voice trembled, "To use your term..." She began, "We... 'Nagloshi' do not have children often, less so even with... mortals." She rolled the word off her tongue like she was choking up bile, "With mixed parentage, children are always born mortal, and not all become one of us, but," And with this, a prideful smile spread across Vael's face, "Then if you are strong enough, and the change takes hold... well, eventually a Nagloshi must fall into a deep sleep to let the process complete, it is the only way we can do this. But something ancient has invaded her dream state and taken control. It is trying to stop her from transforming." "Like I said." Al piped up. "Ol' world magic. Problem is the ones who know 'bout this kind o' magic are long dead. Even the Wise don' have that kind o' knowledge.""What about the Grimoire?" Vincent said. "I've been trying to find information, but it takes a long time. The Keeper needs to be asked specific questions to supply the information.""Tha' book is the knowledge of a very particular family, hoss. Ye might not like what ye find.""If it means saving Violet then it's worth it." Vincent said simply. He walked over to the Grimoire that he had placed on the table and picked it up, opening it. "So... what exactly am I asking it to look for?"Standing, Vael crossed her arms and looked down at her daughter. She had no choice. "Ask your little book what a God would want with a living battery of magical energy." Then she held out her hand and an armchair from the next room slid across the floor and came to rest at Violet's bedside. Vael sat down in it and kept her eyes focused on her daughter.