DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

[Westlands | Coast | Greater Wind Country]
From the eastern desert plains, to the infamous Westlands and the southern coast with its neighboring islands, the Wind Country covers an array of changing landscapes and other settlements. The people who live there are as diverse and powerful as the lands they live on.

Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:26 pm

The banquet hall felt empty without Ryou's voice resounding through it. Kyuuen was spellbound.

Was this really the same boy who had stammered terribly through his own celebration banquet?

All eyes were locked on the elder Noriyuka. He stared across the table to Ryou with wolf eyes, intimidating and predatory and inquisitive all at once. He slowly reached across the broken platters and scattered silverware to a glass that had miraculously not been overturned during his son's tantrum. Like Ryou, he raised it high, then took a long drink from it.

"You are quite an orator, Yutaka-san. A bit of practice and you'll find yourself a refined statesman soon enough."

He set the glass down with the same authority Ryou had.

"You are correct. The bill from Yuki is unsigned. And you would have me sign it now. But have you thought through what a treaty like this would mean? The document binds Yuki to provide water resources to Wind Country in exchange for lowered tarrifs and more free market influence in the southern coast. We can agree to that, but would good would it do them at this moment? The country is being torn apart. Infrastructure is collapsing, criminals fleeing from Wave Country are ravaging the land and the people like a swarm of locusts. According to the bill, however, we could demand that water regardless of the state of domestic affairs.

And who would protect those shipments of water? Do we demand Yuki sacrifice the lives of their countrymen to save ours? We can't ask that. Will you, the shinobi, protect it? You can't even defend your own outposts. Do we take our troops here and sacrifice their lives? You argue that we should sacrifice our actions for the good of our people.

He leaned forward, hunched like a vulture.

"But a good leader understands who his people are."

He rose, hobbling out of his chair and beginning an arduous path around his seat.

"The law dictates that everyone living within the territories of Wind Country swear fealty to us, their daimyo. But that is not the reality. The land is divided into four. Those who live here, near the City of Seven Valleys, who serve us and enjoy our protection. The Westlanders, the dregs of society who have exiled themselves into the harshest ends of the land. The Southern Traders, who live and die by profit and only care about a people so long as they have good to trade.

And you. Sunagakure.

You who were supposed to be our military hand. Ha! Perhaps our predecessors thought it unnecesary to keep a village of your size and influence alive, and perhaps their choices were foolish. But your schoolyard defense that 'we started it' is not sufficient explanation. Suna has continued to drive itself into independence. And we were more than happy to let them. The marvels you produced after the war with Otogakure were truly magnificent. The irrigation system. The medical advances. The new forays into politics and organization, the open door policy for immigrants and traitors. You have had truly remarkable leaders.

But they are gone now. Your Juudaime is a hermit. A legend, a witch that people whisper about but never see. She is incapable of holding together the empire her predecessors created. What is happening now is the price for their ambition.

He lowered himself back into the chair, wheezing. Two servants moved forward to attend to him, pouring him a new glass of water and massaging his back. Noriyuka waved them both away and sat his gaze back to Ryou once more.

"I will protect my people, son. But only when they are thoroughly and inarguably my people. We will use this moment to unite Wind Country once more, under one banner, and rid the sectarian strife once and for all."

Two armored guards stepped from the walls and lowered their halberds at Kyuuen and Ryou.

"Imprison them. Find out what they know. And make sure to find the third one."

Kyuuen grit her teeth and squeezed Ryou's hand. A guard ran for the kitchen.

"Sorry," she whispered.

- - -

"Toya, calm down."

She grabbed onto his shoulders and held him still. He didn't know Moxie was here? Then what was he doing here? It didn't matter. If she didn't get him under control, this place would be a warzone. It was hard to forget what he had done to the Nanaya complex, singlehandedly.

"I'm sorry, I thought you knew she was here. Okay, we'll get her out. But we need a plan. We are hunters, not berserkers. Mind your training."

It was odd to scold him. Part of Rika still believed it was his birthright to be leader of the clan. But he had passed it to her, and she had learned to be commanding. His actions were her responsibility, like it or not.

"Let's retrieve your friends and discuss our options. Freeing her from the dungeon will be easy, but escaping the city is another matter altogether. The valley and walls don't just keep people out; they keep them in. We have a few escape routes mapped out, but the variables are different now that you're here and we may-"

A guard burst into the kitchen and made a direct run toward the pair of Nanaya.

"Rika, they've arrested the other two and they're looking for Toya-sama. I'll mislead them for now, but you have to move."

She only nodded.

The disguised Nanaya headed back out the kitchen door, bellowing that Toya had escaped. Rika swept down the kitchen and into one of the servant's passageways. This would buy them a little time, but the guards would undoubtedly make a sweep through soon. They climbed the stairway for two floors, then crossed into the narrow hallway of the servant's quarters. She slipped out a key and opened a room, shoving herself and Toya into it. It was nothing but a scant bed and a small table. She overturned the matress and withdrew an equipment belt, slipping it around her servant's uniform.

"Well, this complicates things. I think we can still make our way down to the dungeon undetected. We can't risk an open fight, though. There are too many guards and too much distance to cover. Even if we can get out of the city, there's no safe haven for miles. We need to cause a commotion. A distraction of some sort. The only advantage we have right now is that they don't know me and the other two hunters are here. Maybe we can use that...any ideas?"

- - -

The dungeon was strangely dank for being built in the desert.

The guards shoved them down the stairs unceremoniously, jabbing them in the back with the butts of their weapons every few steps or so. They passed through a half dozen gates before finally reaching the end. A cell door was open and the younger Noriyuka stood in the opening. He was pulling his shirt back over his shoulders, his body glistening with sweat.

"Well, if it isn't the whore and the brat. Seems father does have some sense after all. This will be delightful...I look forward to playing with you."

He stepped past them. The guards shoved them through the cell door and slammed it shut.

It was dark and rectangular with a high ceiling. Chains hung from the top and sides of the wall. A mass of crumpled rags sat in the center.


A small moan escaped the rags. Kyuuen rushed over and turned the body over.


Her eyes opened. She found a small smile. Her face was swollen and blue, her cheek bones clearly broken or shattered.


"Oh God what have they done to you...oh shit..."

"This time isn't so bad. He got tired early. Think I frustrated him this time."

Kyuuen spread Moxie out. Ryou was kneeling beside them too, his eyes doing the same as Kyuuen's; diagnosing.

"He does this to you often?"

"Everyday. Then the doctor comes by and fixes me...I don't think he's very good though."

Kyuuen pressed down on Moxie's legs to flatten her. Then tried again. And again. But it felt...wrong. Like her joints were...

"Oh my monster..." Kyuuen ran her fingers along her contures. "He's...he's putting you back together wrong. He's making you deformed!"

Moxie barked out a laugh. "Thought maybe he was doing something like that...haven't been able to stand up straight for a week. Can you fix it?"

Kyuuen nodded. "Yeah I...I can. I can at least get you walking. Precise repairs are going to require a whole team, and more time than we have, but I can do the major things now...oh God, Moxie, I'm so sorry."

"Don't be. Do what you have to do...Kyuuen, about Hanae..."

"Fine. Healthy. Your sister took her and Chiaki to the Saihoushi village. I don't know where your brother is."

"Don't worry about him. He's fine. Now, if you don't mind."

"I'm going to put you under. I don't think you want to be awake when I re-break some of these bones."

"That sounds nice. I could use a break."

Handsigns and chakra molded and Kyuuen set her hand on her forehead. The technique slipped through Moxie's body and she was unconscious. Kyuuen's mind raced with procedures. She turned to Ryou.

"Okay, we'll need to start with the most important pieces first. We have to cut and break and then restructure it the best we can. Go off your instinct and your training. Move quick, who knows how long we'll have."

A tear fell from her cheek. Then another.

"Ryou I'm sorry...I'm so so sorry, I didn't know, I didn't know she was here, I didn't know this was happening to her..."
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:55 am

Dammit. Why?
This was much too soon.

They started out by cleaning Moxie up, and even that was enough to fill him with chilling nostalgia. It felt like it had all too recently that they’d been made to treat the very same body, following the girl’s harsh treatment at the hands of the Nanaya. But at least then they’d been provided with the proper tools and facilities for the job, and the worst they’d had to deal with was drugging and broken glass. Their present circumstances and Moxie’s horrifying current condition only rendered this operation a hundred times more tasking.

Not to mention that every time he glanced at Moxie's beaten face, Toya flashed into his mind. Ryou wasn't worried about his teammate's chances of eluding his arrest and escaping the fortress, but he shuddered to think of how he would react when he caught sight of his beloved's condition. The last thing he wanted in this twisted city was Toya on the rampage.

He supposed that was only more incentive to do a precise job with the surgery.

His initial plan was to focus on the more minor disfigurements and allow the more experienced Kyuuen to take charge of the procedure, but the idea was quick to fall through.

Kyuuen wasn't focusing.

Tears trailed down her cheeks, into her hair and dripped to the floor. With her tears descended the slightest shivers, barely perceptible but harmful to the delicate process nonetheless.

That was the thing with surgery. Even the most minuscule falter could cost them everything.

But Kyuuen knew that. He knew she did. He'd just never seen her so distressed, not in eight months of living with her.

What was hurting her so much? Was it the sheer sight of Moxie? No. She’d been a medic for so long, she’d even told him stories. Regrettable as it was, she’d seen worse. And even as powerful as Moxie was, a large wave of the city's forces was no tame threat. Kyuuen would have understood that. Then was she frightened of Noriyuka or scared for Suna? No, she'd suspected corruption, hadn't she? How could something like that affect her so much? What was it that she was talking about when they’d started? She hadn’t known? So what. If she hadn’t known that Moxie had been captured and brought here in the line of duty, she hadn’t known. There was nothing to feel guilty about, was there? Especially not now that they were going to save her.

"Hey, calm down."

He waited for Kyuuen to complete her stitch, and seized her by the wrist.

She looked around and their eyes locked.

"Listen Kyuu, I don't care what you knew and didn't know and I doubt Moxie does either. It's not your fault. Just forget about it, right now we have to focus on treating her and getting the hell out of here before that bastard gets back. What's wrong?"

A part of him wanted to do more. To hug her maybe, had this been the place, and allow her to pour all her fears, anger and sorrow into him, so he could quietly do the same. To be completely honest, he felt no more easy about this than she did, the haunting sounds of Noriyuka’s threats, the prospect of Suna’s fate, Moxie’s mauled state and the doubts regarding Toya’s whereabouts all sliding through his stomach like snakes.

The worst bit was, there wasn’t a thing he could have done to stop it.
Damnit, he’d been so convinced that he’d been on the right track there, and had presented an irrefutable claim. Yet the daimyo had still managed to effortlessly twist a way around his words and land them in this dungeon.

But none of that should have been weighing on Kyuuen's chest right now, or not as heavily. Not to the point where she was crying. And wouldn't tell him why.

After a moment that seemed to encapsulate an eternity, Ryou released Kyuuen. He was quick to turn back to Moxie.

If saying that much wasn't enough to relieve Kyuuen from her demons, he didn't know what was.
He'd failed as a boyfriend, in that respect.

That thought hurt.

Ryou paused before he begun his next incision, stringing together the words for one final afterthought.

"I'm sorry...about what's happening to your home. Maybe we can still save it, but let's all just get out of here alive first, alright?"
Last edited by Klee on Sat May 14, 2011 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:46 am

The last few minutes blurred together and passed far too quickly. He allowed Rika to pull him along in her pace, unsure of what to do or think quite yet.

Upon entering the compact servant’s room, Toya took several drawn out breaths, desperately trying to regain the calm composure he was accustomed to. His cousin was correct. He needed to look to his mental training and avoid any emotional outbursts.

Much easier said than done, unfortunately.

For some odd reason, Rika’s confident and leader-like manner slightly irked him. He had chosen her to replace him as the new leader of the Nanaya for precisely that quality in her, but right now it only served as a painful reminder that he still couldn’t always act that way in these extreme situations.

He always seemed to fall apart when things got personal for him, and that still remained one of his largest flaws.

He wanted to believe he could take on this entire palace, the city, and the entire force under the nobility’s command, but they were playing on the enemy’s turf. There would be no additional allies in this place, and they couldn’t fail here before warning Suna of the plot unfolding before them. That much he could still grasp even in his wavering state of mind.

Yeah, plenty of ideas. But we’ll have to decide on a final plan when we can meet up with everyone and determine their status. For now, let’s just get down to the dungeon and get them out of there.

He abruptly gripped the girl’s wrist when she reached for the door, but hesitated when she turned to give him an inquisitive look.

…thanks for keeping me grounded there, Rika. But I’m not sure how I’ll hold up when I see…let’s just get this done.


The downward journey to the dungeon level had been fairly smooth and uneventful for the most part. Rika seemed to know all the right passages, hallways, and staircases to take and found them the path of least resistance.

Only twice had they been required to take down inconveniently placed guards to advance, each of them employing simple unarmed blows to the back of their heads to knock them out silently.

Upon finally reaching their destination, the cells were surprisingly under-guarded. Toya casually approached the pair of guards standing in front of the seemingly only occupied cell and ran his twin blades across their throats before they could even shout out a single order or warning.

Avoiding fatalities was not exactly his highest priority at the moment.

The defenseless cell door quickly became his next victim, the obstacle shattering into a million tiny metallic shards and allowing the pair of Nanaya a wide entrance.

Toya stepped through and immediately froze up at the sight before him. Kyuuen and Ryou kneeling down and performing some sort of medical procedure on Moxie, whose body seemed almost completely covered in cuts, bruises, and assorted wounds.

Those noble sons of bitches would pay for this, just as his uncle had…


He rushed forward and dropped to his knees on the opposite side of her body, resisting the urge to reach out and touch her. His rational side knew that only a skilled medic could help her right now, but he so badly wanted to feel her living, breathing flesh with his own two hands. Assuming she wasn’t…

Panic and disbelief swirled inside him, but quickly began to be washed out by a building rage, not just directed at those who directly did this to her, but at the one who had hidden the truth from him.

Kyuuen, how could you…I mean of all people, I thought…you lied to my face, knowing she wasn’t safe and sound on a new assignment at all. What, you thought I couldn’t handle hearing that she was captured again? Maybe that I’d put everyone in danger and go off to save her on my own? I’m sure you found a dozen ways to rationalize it, huh?!

He had to constantly fight the rising urge to tear the gypsy girl limb from limb. Some small part of him knew that she probably had only good intentions in doing such a thing, but right now it was simply unforgivable. Calm and focus were completely unachievable for him at this point.

You don’t have the right…you don’t have the goddamn right to make that decision, for me or for anyone! I…I…oh god, Ryou, please just tell me she’s going to be ok…
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:05 pm

Bone snapped and mended. Muscles tore and knit back together. Nerves were strung out from their connections and plugged back in where they needed to go.

Kyuuen found herself relying on Ryou more than she anticipated. Her concentraiton was faltering and he was picking up a lot of her slack.

Save her home...Ryou hadn't figured it out. He didn't realize the implications of what she had said earlier, and what it meant that Moxie was there now, under their care. That made her happy, in an odd way. Happy that he so implicitly trusted her, that he saw nothing but the best intentions. Would he leave her when he figured it out? She didn't think so. Why? She had no reason why. Part of her simply believed that Toya was not more important than she was.

It might be wishful thinking. Or delusions. Or arrogance.

The only way to know would be to wait.

They were just about done when the cell door exploded. Kyuuen snapped out of her medical trance and her hand felt for a knife that wasn't at her side, chakra broiling inside her as it molded from medical to combative. But it was unnecessary. Toya was already through.

And the Nanaya girl, Rika, was with him.
What the hell?

"Kyuuen, how could you…I mean of all people, I thought…you lied to my face, knowing she wasn’t safe and sound on a new assignment at all. What, you thought I couldn’t handle hearing that she was captured again? Maybe that I’d put everyone in danger and go off to save her on my own? I’m sure you found a dozen ways to rationalize it, huh?!"

Kyuuen turned to Ryou.
"Bring her back." Ryou could handle bringing Moxie out of unconsciousness on his own. She stood to let Toya kneel down next to her.

"You don’t have the right…you don’t have the goddamn right to make that decision, for me or for anyone! I…I…oh god, Ryou, please just tell me she’s going to be ok…"

This was what she was afraid of. From the moment she saw Moxie's crumpled figure on the ground, this was the scenario that ran through her head. What would she say to Toya? To Ryou? How would she deal with the wave of shame and guilt that was to crash on her?

But she didn't feel any of those things. She didn't have any hesitation on what to say. And instead of shame or guilt, all she felt was a bright ember of indignation.

"Of course I have that right. Look at you."

Every eye was on her. Toya rose in response, squaring off to her stance.

"You can't handle that she was captured again. You're about ready to tear this castle apart for her when you have no idea what's going on or what state she's in. I didn't have to think that you would lose control, I knew you would. And I was right.

I didn't know where she was. After BLOSSOM fell, I lost track of her. She might have been captured, or hiding, or dead, I had no idea. There were no leads to follow, to messages to track. Wherever she was, she was on her own and there was nothing I, or you, could do about it. But you wouldn't believe that. You would never accept that, would you? You would've combed the desert until you found her. And we couldn't afford for you to do that.

I don't know if you noticed Toya, but there's a war going on out there. People are dying by the dozen and things are only look worse for Suna, not better. We need you. Those missions you did, I don't know if they could've been done by someone else. You did a lot of good for the people that you couldn't do if you were out trying to save her. It would be a waste of your talent and skill.

It looked like he might lunge, but Rika set a hand on Toya's shoulder, just for a second, to keep him from moving. Kyuuen pressed.

"Moxie understands that every time she steps onto that battlefield, it might be the last time. She does it willingly because Suna is her home. I do it willingly because Suna is my home. Ryou does it to help those who can't help themselves. But I don't know why you fight, Toya. I don't trust you."

She motioned to Moxie. "Your loyalty to Suna, as far as I can see, is only as strong as your relationship with her. Even then, I have my doubts. You attacked the Suna prison, on your own and against her wishes, because it served your needs. And then when it served your needs to accept their help, you did. When it served your needs to attack your own clansmen, you did that too. When it served your needs to leave Yuki, you did that too didn't you? At least Ryou had to labor over that choice.

As far as I can see, the only person you're loyal to is yourself and to whatever girl is willing to put out for you. So yes, I used you. And I hated doing it. Not because it was disrespectful to you, Toya. I hated doing it because it was risky to stake so much of Suna's future on you. If I don't trust you enough to be honest with you, then I shouldn't trust you with defending Suna. Or defending Ryou. But I didn't have a choice.

She turned around, clenching her fists and staring at the wall.

"Don't worry, I won't do it to you again, Toya. The nice thing about tools is that they can be replaced. As soon as Suna doesn't need you anymore, I'll be sure it never needs you again."
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:43 am

How Toya had found out about Moxie's capture was anyone's guess, a mystery as great as the bewildering presence of Toya's cousin, Rika. They were probably linked.
But it hardly mattered. He'd been prepared for this moment of truth from the start.

Toya knelt beside him, his savage eyes and composure rapidly darkening as surveyed Moxie’s body. And then his dismayed search came to a halt, Toya sought out his target.

The reaction was a given, but he never would have guessed the prey.


No...what was he saying? Kyuuen hadn't lied, she'd been just as clueless and Toya, hadn't she? Gr, he could hardly blame the guy this time, but sometimes Toya's 'other' side's irrationality was impossible to deal with, and almost terrifying given his teammate's typical reasonable manner. Especially given it had been such a long time since it had stepped this far out of line.

With the Nanaya's fatal rage aimed at Kyuuen of all people, Ryou couldn't help but panic.

His first instinct was to try and reassure his friend. He struggled to keep his voice firm.

"Hey mate, I'm so sorry about what happened to her. But don't worry, she'll be al-"

...turned out he would have been better off trying to shut Kyuuen up.

There was a wide array of things he would have advised her not to say in this situation. Confirming Toya's accusations was at the top of that list.
Something stirred inside Ryou's chest as she spoke so firmly, her tone failing to display a shred of remorse for what she claimed to have had done.

Just as he was about to begin returning Moxie to consciousness, Ryou froze. No. She couldn't be serious. How could she possibly do something as horrible as that? She couldn't be that much of a bitch.

A part of him felt scorned, betrayed. The other half refused to believe it.

Refused to believe either of them.

He shot to his feet, jumping to create a barrier between Toya and Kyuuen. For whatever reason, be it trust or mere surprise, his presence forced the pouncing hunter to hesitate. Their eyes didn’t meet, even for a moment.

There was something else he felt a compelling desire to deal with first.

He felt Kyuuen latch onto his shoulder from behind. He rounded on her, forcing her off with the violent momentum of his spin.

Don’t touch me! You liar.

Kyuuen stumbled backwards, the faintest cower in her poise. Was it shock? Fear? Heartbreak?
He couldn’t care less at this point.

Toya broke into the prison to satisfy his own ends? If I recall correctly, so did you. Toya deserted Yuki without a second thought? Well excuse me, I don’t see why that’s such a difficult decision to make when your family’s dead and you’re wanted for a crime you didn’t commit. Are you kidding me with this bullshit, Kyuuen? No. I know you’re smarter than that, so stop making up excuses and pinning your own selfishness on Suna. Until you give me a coherent answer, I’ll be forced to believe that you used Toya for the sake of your own personal gain and security and nothing else. And if you think I appreciate people who use my friends as pawns…or find that shit remotely attractive, think again.

Ryou still couldn’t bring himself to have faith in half the things he was saying, and perhaps that was why his words came out sounding far more savage than he’d intended. He wanted her to deny him. He’d thought that if he forced her, she would.

But she didn’t say a thing.
He could feel his heart hurting, but he pressed on.

I don’t want to think you meant it like that, Kyuuen. Or at least I hope to hell that the girl I fell in love with didn’t mean it like that when she lied to Toya. No, you lied to me too, didn’t you? When you said that you didn’t know this was going on. But that’s not even the point right now - I thought I told you not to say stupid, selfish crap like that when he’s in that state. I told you what happened to me…don’t you value your life? No, don’t give me shit about how you can put up a fight, I don’t care. Why is your priority right now really to spill even more blood in this cell where Moxie has suffered so much?

Again, his tone had swiftly risen into a furious pitch that he felt he hadn’t used for the longest time. But it was impossible to remain calm or even hopeful when nobody was providing him with the answers or explanations he craved.

Huh? Why!? I’m asking both of you!

He looked at Toya, finally mustering up the gall to face the Shiki eyes. The demon eyes gazed back at him, piercing as ever.
But this time he was willing to stare them down, if that was it took to let his so-called best friend know that there was no justification for his behaviour either.

Toya! Your girlfriend’s this close to death, the city’s in turmoil and we’re under arrest. And instead of quietly waiting to make sure Moxie’s alright or even directing this anger of yours at the ones responsible, you stand there and threaten Kyuuen? Get over yourself, Toya. I don’t know what reason Kyuuen had for lying to you like that, but tell me what difference it would have made for Moxie if she’d told you the truth. You’d have come charging in here some ten hours ago and what else would you have done? She’s been tortured here for weeks, Toya, and by the time we found her, she was in no condition to be moved. If you’d come here without either of us present to treat her, there’s nothing you could have done. So don’t you dare act like it’s Kyuuen’s fault that Moxie’s like this and take it out on her. Unless you want to prove her right that is, and show me that you don’t know shit about controlling yourself.

He turned away and stepped across Moxie’s body, ridding Toya and Kyuuen of the wall between them.
He’d been hesitant to do so for a moment, but his frustration was quickly bubbling to a point where he didn’t care. If they were seriously still going to hurt each other after all this, what did he need them for?

Ryou clapped his hand to his forehead.
Bah, what was he saying? Letting his own emotions get in the way of his relationships wasn't going to help anything. Deep inside, he still believed that both Kyuuen and Toya were respectable people who wouldn't fall so low without good motive. Hopefully reminding them of what was truly important here - Moxie's survival - would bring back the people whose trust he valued more than anything in this world.

Now, assuming the first thing she’s going to see isn’t you idiots tearing each other apart, I’ll bring her back. How’s that sound?
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:07 am

Just when it seemed like an ally had joined his side, Ryou immediately turned and directed his admonition at Toya. Once again, he was the object of everyone else’s judgment. Apparently no one would ever understand him completely.

The pressure of Rika’s hand prevented him from making any stupid moves, and his own restraint did the rest of the job. His cousin was correct that he was no berserker. But Midori had also been correct that he was not truly a hunter either. At the innermost core, he was still simply Toya, the upstart shinobi and self-proclaimed defender of justice. His justice at least.

Stay the hell out of this, Ryou. I haven’t threatened anyone here, and I certainly never blamed her for Moriko’s condition. But don’t think for one damned second that I’m going to stand here and let her taint my reputation and past actions with those rotten lies.

He directed his dark gaze back at Kyuuen. Somehow any urges to physically harm her had completely dissipated, replaced with the knowledge that matching her word for word and coming out on top would be far more satisfying in the end.

I’d like to believe there’s a difference between ‘losing control’ and being incredibly hurt and angry over the fact that someone I thought shared some sort of mutual trust with me intentionally hid something so important. But fine, let’s stay nice and controlled and have a little chat.

So many things to say. Too many. Whether it was completely sincere or not, the fact that someone held such a terrible and skewed opinion of him still made his mind spin. If this girl was truly this spiteful, then perhaps there really would be no resolution between them.

You think everything I’ve done was all for my own gain? You know why I was even at that prison? It was because I made a deal with your grandmother to free your father in exchange for information. And if it had gone down as planned, then that really would have been solely for my own benefit. But guess what? She had already told me the damn information, and after discovering the nature of your father’s arrest, Moriko decided we couldn’t carry out our end of the bargain. So why the hell would I go anyway?

Because I felt so damn sick about ripping off a poor family who relied on one of their young daughters to provide for the entire group in place of their father. So you can make up anything you want about that still being an action to appease my own guilt, but I was honestly thinking of your family members and hoping that your father was as innocent as Mirela told me he was.

And that wasn’t even the part that really pissed him off. He inhaled and continued.

Ryou put it best, but implying that leaving Yuki for my own benefit is somehow a terrible and selfish decision is ridiculous. In fact, until Ryou and Kei showed up to convince me to break out and run, I was fully prepared to serve my false sentence time and rot in that prison for as long as they left me in there. A village full of ignorant citizens and officials alike, all pointing their finger at the only person who remained at the crime scene. Leaving was beneficial for everyone, including Ryou.

As for the Nanaya, I had been planning to take care of them for years when I had the means and power to do so. They slaughtered hundreds and thousands of innocent people for being born with abnormal powers, including my mother. Of course revenge was a part of that decision, but I wanted to protect the countless number of victims they would create for generations to come. Moriko’s capture simply forced my hand earlier than I had intended.

The best was always reserved for last. Questioning his loyalty in general, but specifically to Moriko, Ryou, and Suna itself. She had gone too far. What did she know about him anyway? Absolutely nothing.

Yeah, I wasn’t born in this village. But it’s been more of a home for me than Yuki ever was. I’ve met some incredible people in this place, and my life wouldn’t be the same without them. Hana Saihoushi inspired me and our old team with her grand ideals of unbreakable bonds and a better world. Moriko pulled me out of a darkness I had thrust myself into and showed me how to create my own path.

A civilian engineer named Midori helped me remember that. No matter what terrible situation I was born into, everyone is their own person. No supposedly inherited identity can change that.

There’s a little band of stupid brats somewhere on the streets of Suna right now, probably planning an overly complex raid of a fruit stand right now if they already blew the money I lent them. They’re like brothers and sisters to me, and I’d gladly do whatever it takes to protect their home. All of their homes. The place I call home now.

Call me a tool if you want, but I haven’t been working so hard on these missions because I’m being forced to. It’s because I want to. And because a man I’ve grown to respect very much has repeatedly stuck his neck out to give me and Ryou the chance to help out.

I’m not trying to say I’m perfect. I’ve made some horrible mistakes, and I do act in my own interests when the situation arises. But if you can find me a human in this world that doesn’t fit that description, I’d be very impressed.

Another deep breath. He turned back to Ryou. They had wasted enough time, and now he needed to prioritize the safety of his friends and family above his desire to defend his actions.

Wake her up. It’s going to be an unpleasant trip, but I’m ready to get us home. All of us.

Kyuuen could respond however she liked, but now he was focusing on the need to plan this borderline insane escape. Hopefully the two other Nanaya hunters Rika brought with her were top notch. Otherwise…well, maybe his original plan would need to be modified a bit. He had faith that together they could all think of something. They always did.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:45 pm

Kyuuen sliced a cutting look at Ryou.

How had he managed to not tell her so much? All of this new information about Toya's life put all of his actions in a new light. One that maybe wouldn't have led her to these decisions. She didn't want to blame Ryou for her choice, but it was hard to ignore the influence. If she had understood the motivations behind Toya's actions, would she have made the same decision?

She turned back around.

"You can justify your decisions all you want, Toya. It doesn't change the fact that you act rashly and emotionally and put everyone at risk when you do. You claim full loyalty to Suna. Fine. I'll accept your word that you are one of us. So as one Suna-nin to another, let me say this."

She stepped forward, hardly an inch between their eyes.

"You're a piss-poor excuse of a shinobi. If you had been my student I would've thrown you out of the ranks. The rule of the desert is to help each other, and to help in the way that benefits the most people. You keep taking things into your own hands and expect your ability to get you out of it each time, and one day Toya, someone's going to pay for that."

It felt like the air between them was ablaze. One wrong flinch or blink and they'd be tearing each other limb from limb, and not even Ryou would be enough to calm them down.

"Surrounded by enemies...and you're arguing with yourselves..."

Moxie shoved herself to her knees with a grimace. Kyuuen knelt next to her, putting her anger away and bringing out her medical knowledge. Moxie looked to Ryou, then Toya.

"Guess some things don't change, do they?"

She was on her feet before Kyuuen could stop her. Arms flung around Toya, leaning into him.

"Missed you," she whispered.

They held each other for a long moment before she turned over her shoulder to look at Kyuuen.

"So, how am I?"

"We uh...did the best we could. Maybe seventy percent. Don't push yourself."

Moxie slipped out of Toya's grasp and held out a hand. "Funny...I feel worse than that..."

Scarlet lightning crackled in her palm. Satisfied, she dismissed it and looked at the assembled group. "Guess you're on point for this one. Sorry, I'll try not to slow us down too much."

Rika slipped into the cell with a bundle of stolen guards uniform in hand. She tossed it to Moxie, who began to slip it on over her tattered rags.

"Right...well, if we're done having heart-to-hearts, we better head out. Seven of us total, that's too much for one group. Suggest we split up. I'll take Kyuuen and one of my hunters and go secure us a bargaining chip in case we get overtaken. You take Ryou and Moriko and meet up with the other hunter. He's down in the stables, preparing for our escape. We can regroup at the front of the city and make our way through the gate through there...assuming the whole city isn't chasing us by then. What do you think, cousin?"

Kyuuen slipped closer to Ryou. She wanted to say something. Reassure him. But she couldn't think of anything that wasn't limp and pointless. Or not a lie.

You liar.

That one was probably going to stick with her for a while...
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:29 am

In the wake of his friend's words, Ryou was beginning to feel guilty about lashing out at Toya for confronting Kyuuen the way he had. He should have known that after a bitter life of misjudgment, it was only natural that Toya would get so defensive about his reputation. In the midst of the burning conflict that had surfaced between his two closest allies, he’d managed to sacrifice logic in the hope of extinguishing the fire from them both. Turned out that that had been a mistake, or at least it had definitely been one in Toya’s case.

Eight months of living under one roof, and Ryou had thought he understood Kyuuen too. Wrong.

The more she spoke, the more ridiculous Kyuuen's arguments came to sound. No matter what angle he looked at it from, the very notion of Toya being unhelpful was impossible for him to comprehend. But her new claims weren't the only thing.
Even upon knowing the truth about Toya, Kyuuen wasn't feeling any remorse over what she had said. Or if she was, she wasn't showing it.
Given everything he did know about her, he figured it was the latter.

He hoped it was.

That was the only way her hostility even made a shred of sense. He wouldn’t allow himself to believe that Kyuuen could be so pointlessly cruel – this all had to boil down to an initial misunderstanding and her hatred of being trumped in any argument. Her disdain for losing wasn’t a negative trait by any means, in fact, her undying strength was a quality he both respected and felt attracted to. But if it worked to create a situation which pitted him against his friends, he couldn’t appreciate it.

If that was all to it though, he’d personally set her straight. If shouting hadn’t worked, he would talk to her. Anything to reassure himself that she was still the girl he had fallen in love with.

However, their bittersweet reunion with the conscious but pained Moxie only worked to remind him of what their focus was here. Escape. This wasn’t the time and place to sit around trying to make honest conversation.

Rika’s plan ensured that such a time and place wouldn’t be around until they’d made their way far clear of the city.

As reluctant as he was to split up with Kyuuen however, he couldn’t exactly deny that the groupings made sense. Placing one of them on either squad would definitely minimize any likelihood of injuries, whereas the split itself could increase their chances of escaping undetected. Not to mention that as long as Kyuuen wasn’t with Toya, there was nothing to be worried about right? He had to prioritize getting them all – Moxie especially – out safely, too.

That works for me.

Ryou gave the Nanaya his nod, but his eyes were on Kyuuen. She still wasn’t looking at him.

Had he…hurt her with his words? Damnit, that wasn’t what he’d intended at all. As much as she continued to frustrate him with her stubbornness and lies, he’d only wanted to strengthen their relationship, have her accept Toya and make her tell him the truth. How unreasonable was she? He had every right to ask for those things.

But as difficult as she'd been, he wouldn't let it end here. He'd talk this through with her.


He took the moment Rika was using to gather Toya’s response to gently clasp and squeeze Kyuuen’s hand.

"Be careful, alright."

It wasn't a great ask, more of a personal reassurance. He'd talk to her again. All she had to do was get out. All he had to do was secure-

"Shit...the paper!"

He jumped in place, the memory hitting him like a brick and filling him with both excitement and panic.

"The bill I found, it's definitely enough to prove that they're concealing information, and maybe I can still get it passed if I can grab the bloody thing, but..."

Ryou bit his lip, and gripped Kyuuen a fraction tighter. 

How could he have forgotten? If they could just-

An idea crept up to him, and he found himself blurting it out without much initial consideration for any consequences. 

"I don't want to leave this place empty-handed. I hid the bill in my room before we went to dinner and there's every chance they haven't searched it yet. It's worth a try, right?"

...However, it wasn't long before he began doubting his own words.
Dammit, he'd been an idiot. Why had he left the document unguarded in his room before he'd challenged the nobility on the contents? It wouldn't be long before the bastards figured out that the paper of interest was missing from the archives after the scene he'd caused, and a search of every last place he'd been would follow shortly after. He was spewing out false hopes.

No, finding the bill would be of great beneficence to Suna. He'd do it, one way or another. This was perhaps his chance to repay the village which had done so much for him, and he wasn't about to pass it up.
Even despite the risks, which frightened him.

But hey, at least if he was caught, the others would make it.
The sweet brush of Kyuuen's touch reminded him of that much.

"I'll go, alone. It's my fault this is going to be so complicated,  it'll attract less attention anyway. I-I can navigate my way to the stables afterward."

Ryou released Kyuuen, and spoke to the pair of Nanaya.
He didn't look at his girlfriend this time.
Last edited by Klee on Mon May 02, 2011 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sat Apr 30, 2011 2:29 am

As controlled and calm as he had been trying to appear, Toya ahd finally reached his last straw with Kyuuen’s antagonizing. He was about ready to start throwing punches when that beautiful voice he hadn’t heard for too many weeks paralyzed his limbs.

She was up and enveloped in his arms before he had a second to react. She was living, breathing, and right here in his grasp. Not even seeing her in person could ever replace the feeling of relief that came along with physically holding onto her and feeling the warm, vibrant life in her body.

"Missed you,"

Me too. I’ve nearly lost you twice already...

He was untrained in medicine to be sure, but his honed instinct told him that something about Moxie’s condition was still a bit off. He’d been around her too long not to notice. Kyuuen’s response confirmed this anxiety and continued to fuel the fire within him.

Fortunately for everyone, Rika and Ryou’s suggestions for their next actions kept his mind focused on their immediate situation. He pondered silently for several seconds before speaking up.

I think you have the right idea to split up the group, cousin. And Ryou, I think that document is definitely important enough to warrant a search. But no way in hell are you going anywhere in this city on your own. I wouldn’t even willingly assign myself to that task.

He surveyed the group one last time to make sure his thoughts were in order. All of this was incredibly risky, but it would work. They would make it work, because it had to.

Rika, I want you to go with him to find that bill. Get to the room, search, and get out of there immediately, whether you find it or not. Neither of your lives are worth sacrificing for a piece of paper, and there are still countless ways we can help Suna without it.

He paused to take a quick breath and gather his composure. He wasn’t looking forward to this order, but he was pretty sure it would sound reasonable, given the circumstances.

Kyuuen, I think you would be most effective going with Moriko to meet up with the hunter at the stables. She needs a medic with her at all times, and you’re clearly the most experienced of the two we have. We’ll all see you three at the city entrance when we’re done with our respective tasks.

Exhale. Relax. These bastards would pay eventually for what they had done to Moxie and the entire country. Some of them would just be paying a little sooner than the rest.

Finally, there’s the bargaining chip Rika mentioned. I’ll attempt to connect with the final Nanaya and work with him to acquire a hostage. The highest valued hostage within our reach, actually. As heartless as these nobles appear to be, I think even the Noriyuka will think twice about how strongly they pursue us if we have the family heir in our custody.

He’d just have to be careful about his own potential desires to harm the man himself. Focus on escaping. Focus on the safety of Moriko and the others. Focus on what will be best for Suna and the most amount of people. Kyuuen may be completely wrong in her judgments of him, but she was right about protecting others.

Toya reached to his sides and felt the reassuring presence of his blades in their proper places. He had confidence that he…they, could pull this off with no casualties.

If there are no objections, then let’s be off. The faster we finish, the sooner we’ll all be safely on our way back to the village. Good luck, guys.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Tue May 03, 2011 6:07 pm

Rika's battle with Ryou in the lower levels of the Nanaya compound had been difficult. She had the advantage in hand-to-hand combat, but the boy's control over chakra and his elements had thrown her off. She had thought about that battle many times in the passing months. Would she have won?

Yes, yes she would have.
She wasn't able to answer that question clearly before, but now...

She flicked her eyes over to him, then back down at the street. The two had made their way across the rooftops, managing to wriggle their way out of Noriyuka's castle and into the city. That by itself had been a miracle. Ryou may have talent as a direct warrior, but a hunter he was not. He was clumsy. Careless. Clueless.

Compared to a Nanaya, at least. He had no sense of how to turn himself into the shadows of the night or how to be invisible in plain sight. If Rika moved like wind, Ryou moved like a giant torch that had grown legs and only recently learned to amble about. The blonde hair didn't help, a bright splotch of yellow in even the darkest shadows.

Rika elongated, her arm stretching with the rest of her body to add the extra speed to the pellet flying from her fingers. The sphere impacted into the head of the guard who had wandered too far from the others, bursting in a cloud of black dust. He coughed twice then slumped to the ground.

"Look over there, at the door. Two of them, standing watch. I think they're on to you."

She peered down at the Suna embassy. The sound of battering furniture muffled through the windows, mixed with the faint struggles of a woman.

"Guess that paper was more important than I thought. Assuming they're looking for it...this is going to be tricky. We need that paper, but we don't know if any of them have it or if they haven't found it yet. That means we need to make sure we neutralize each of them. And we can't do it by raining lightning bolts from the sky, not unless you want to accidentally incinerate it. Not to mention calling the attention of the rest of the military."

Her fingers tapped on the hilt of her knife.

"We'll need to get their attention. But after we're inside. If we cause enough ruckus, the guards outside will come in to investigate, where we'll take them out one by one. Then we can take our time to search for it and get rid of potential tails while we're at it. Going to be difficult to balance it, though. Too much ruckus and they'll call for help, not enough and they won't bother to come in and check."

She found herself smiling. She always liked the difficult hunts.

"Keep up with me." '

Rika sprang across the rooftops, landing on a building on the rear end of the embassy. Orange light spilled from the inside of the embassy and pooled onto the balcony. Her figure emerged from the cold night and took solid shape on the light. The room ahead of her was a wreck; tables overturned and drawers torn clean from their dressers. She was over to the light switch in an instant, slamming it down to bring back the darkness she craved. Carefully she crept around the corner, looking through the doorway and into the hall.

Another armored guard.

Too much damn armor.

She could make a leap for him with her wrist blade, but that might not attract enough attention. This dark room was a perfect choke point; escape way through the balcony and a room of darkness with plenty of obstacles.

She turned to Ryou and motioned at the guard.

Make some noise, she mouthed.

- - -

It smelled like horse.

"I messed up."

Moxie looked to Kyuuen. The two were nestled in a hay cart, waiting. The Nanaya hunter had neatly disposed of the remaining stablehands, both through trickery and violence, and was now tending to gathering the supplies for the long desert journey. Moxie's condition was stable, if not perfect, and the waiting was wearing on Kyuuen.

"With Toya. I told him..."

"I know. I heard."

"And you don't hate me?"

Moxie turned back to staring at the hay. "No. I love Toya, but everything he does isn't perfect or right."

"I shouldn't have lied."

"No. You shouldn't have. But I understand why you did."

Kyuuen's eyes widened. "What? Really?"

"You don't know him well enough yet, Kyuuen, but Toya carries guilt around. I'm not sure he knows how to live without it, to be honest. He's constantly trying to prove himself and trying to earn everything. He's always trying to earn my love and approval. It's how he was raised. So when something happens to me, I think it's part of him trying to earn that love by rescuing me...don't get me wrong, I'm glad that he does...when did rescuing me get to be so commonplace..." She frowned to herself, as if disapproving of her own lfie.

"So you're saying there was no way to get him to help without manipulation?"

"I guess. I guess what I'm saying is that if you can't get him to help you directly, then maybe you shouldn't ask for it."

"But we need him."

"I know. But...I don't think he's internalized Suna yet. I believe what he said, that he has grown to care for the village, but it's not his home yet. I don't know if he's ever felt like he's had much of a home. His family didn't want him, his clan didn't want him, his village didn't want him...even one of his own trusted teammates didn't want him anymore. You're asking him to fight for Suna and fight for a broader cause, but how can he when he doesn't feel it in his heart yet? There are only two people in the whole world who have ever accepted him, Kyuuen. Me and Ryou. When two people become your only home, do you have a choice other than to fight fervantly for them? Wouldn't you do the same if Ryou were in danger?"

And there it was. The question that had paralyzed Kyuuen over the last few minutes. The one she hadn't even had the guts to form in her mind, and now Moxie was confronting her with it point-blank.

"I don't know."

Her voice was a ghost of its usual tone. Moxie looked at her a long time, then raised an arm and set it around her shoulders.

"It's all right. It's scary to admit you love someone that much."

"What? That's not-"

It was the sound of cracking bone and splattering liquid. Both girls were on the balls of their feet, crouched and ready to leap. Kyuuen spied the victim; the Nanaya hunter, splayed on the ground with a polearm driven through his back. The force of the attack was enough to crack his spine and kill him before he could even utter a word.

They were compromised.

Kyuuen tensed to go, but Moxie shook her head, almost imperceptibly. The two waited. Moxie seemed to be staring at something that wasn't there, but her demand to stay still was clear.

Kyuuen ground her teeth.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Fri May 06, 2011 3:13 am

And people had the nerve to chide him for talking too much.

Seriously, was this just a common trait amongst young girls these days? He got it. Rika was clever. She'd put a lot of thought into this heist. He had stupid hair. That much had been nice to know the first couple of times she'd mentioned it.

The thing was, Ryou wouldn't have gotten this far had it been any other way.

He could only be thankful that Toya had decided to send his cousin along to aide him with the mission. Had it not been for Rika's stealth and knowledge of the city's geography, this particular quest would have been rendered far beyond achievable.

But minutes into the onslaught, and it seemed the pair of them had reached the same dead end regardless.

They stood at a bend in the long hall, meters from the entrance to the room where he'd stayed. The corridor was clear, the patrol having gradually been eliminated by Rika's skills at swift striking and his occasional distractions.

They listened through the walls. The guards were searching.
Two, he'd guessed. Rika the hunter suspected three.


The Nanaya's earlier words continued to ring true. Too much commotion, and they were done for. Yet against three adversaries packed in one room. Rika's usual tactics were powerless.

Not without darkness, anyway.
Fire would do nothing to aide her in that regard. Lightning was just wor-


His eyes fell on the hall's ceiling, lined with the decorated bulbs that illuminated the entire corridor.

An idea swam over him.

"That could work."

Lowering his voice to a whisper, he spun around to face her.

"Hm, they're still searching I think. Alright, as long as it's still where I left it, I reckon I have an idea. I'll go first, and I'll try and open them up for you. Jump in when you've got my signal, alright, and I'll snag the paper while you finish these guys off."

He waited for a nod of confirmation, thankful that one came.
But she wouldn't be the only one forcing herself to trust him there.
To be honest, he was staking a lot on her ability to follow through with remarkable pace too. This was a risk, and had it been anyone else, he might as well have abandoned ship.

But he'd fought Rika himself. He knew better than to just discredit her at that.

"Oh, it might be noisy, so we'll have to get out quick. But don't worry, it'll take em a while to figure out just which room."

Ryou grinned and stepped around the corner.

He threw the door open to its fullest extent in one shove, confirming his suspicions. Three of them.

They turned at the sound of the impact, granting Ryou his only mercy in the form of their surprise at the sight of his very face.

He used their second of reaction time to source out the position of the cabinet where he'd stowed the document. He'd need to know that.

The men didn't lallygag forever though, and the shock was quick to subside. All three drew a weapon - Ryou had to act before they lunged. His hands flew together, fingers curling into handsigns. He forged a magnificent, crackling spindle of lightning. And aimed the bolt upwards.

The beam soared for the light bulb and cracked through the glass, sending through far more current than was necessary to overload the entire electric circuit for the hall. And destroy it.

The room was bathed in darkness.

All three men pounced at the one thing they'd managed to completely register the location of before the lights had been struck out. But Ryou was a step ahead them, forcing the closest man back in his tracks with an aimed ball of fire. He used the brief moment of light to reestablish the second man's location, and repeated the tactic to lock on to the third. Each stumbled backwards, knocking aside furniture with clunking rumbles as a blaze connected with his body.

Right where the steel guarded his neck.
Just enough to weaken it.

Now, Rika.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sun May 08, 2011 3:10 am

Understood, sir. Nothing to report yet, but I will continue my sweep of this level.

Toya pressed the edge of his palm against his helmet. The guard lieutenant returned the salute and shambled along in the opposite direction, leaving the Nanaya alone in the hallway.

It seemed the guards employed in this place were numerous enough to keep his identity safe for now, especially under such chaotic circumstances. But after nearly a half hour of fruitless searching, he was beginning to think his clan mate had either been compromised or had already moved on to the escape route with the others.

He could probably still abduct the Noriyuka himself, but where the hell was he supposed to search? Asking anyone in here about the young man’s whereabouts would be akin to openly declaring his true identity and intentions.

Ugh, this plan was far too rushed, but there hadn’t been any time to sit around thinking through every detail. Both hunters and shinobi alike thrived on quick adaptation in the field when necessary. He had trained relentlessly in both professions.

A cluster of red lines burned in his peripheral vision.

Hey, you!

Toya reached forward and grasped another guard by the shoulders, forcing him down one of the many smaller side hallways. He shoved him against the wall with enough force to keep the shorter armor-clad male helplessly pinned.

Easy, friend. It’s Toya. Rika told us about your escape plans, but we’ve modified them a bit, and now I need your help, uhh…never got your name.

O-Of course, Toya-sama. Hiroshi Nanaya at your service. What do you need?

You three should know the layout of this place pretty well, but do you know the most likely place for Inachi Noriyuka to hide out when a security threat like this arises? If you can help me find and subdue him, he will be a nice fallback plan if our escape goes awry.

There’s a sort of royal safe room a few floors up from here. It’s officially labeled as one of the grand guest chambers, but many of the higher-ranked guards circulate the information of its true function. In a crisis scenario such as this, it wouldn’t be surprising if-

Perfect. Follow my lead and we’ll be out of here in no time. Use lethal force if necessary, but let’s try not to make too big a commotion, alright?

Hiroshi nodded and saluted.

Understood, sir.


The journey progressed uneventfully, much to Toya’s satisfaction. In this state of high alert, no one had any time to stop and question every pair of guards traversing the hallways about their clearance or specific assignments.

They did seem to be getting longer the stares the closer they got to their destination, but no one attempted to question their task, much less stop them. Hiroshi signaled to indicate they were approaching the proper entrance, a surprisingly small doorway attended to by two towering guards. He nodded and stepped ahead of the other disguised hunter.

New shift coming in, so you two are relieved. Good work.

Both defenders brandished long polearms and crossed them as Toya stepped even closer.

We’re the only ones assigned to this post for the day. What the hell are you two doing up here?

Oh, my mistake. Sorry about this, sir.

A small puff of smoke signaled the release of a transformation. The black clad hunter severed the intimidating weapons with his twin blades before raking them across the guards’ necks. They collapsed in a heap of metal and flesh, unable to raise any sort of vocal alarm. Perfect.

At his back, Hiroshi peeled off his helmet and chest plate, now sporting much lighter and more hunter-like attire as well. Huh, having a competent ally with a skill set similar to his own was kinda cool.

Toya gave him a curt nod before kicking the door down and slipping through the entrance, his eyes scanning in every direction for any sign of a threat. There were none.

The expansive room was eerily similar to the one he had been dining in not long ago, though on a much smaller scale. The long rectangular table in the center of the space was piled high with fine food and drink, though only one person seemed to be partaking at the moment.

A trio of young women clothed in blindingly colorful robes had stood and fled into a back room the instant the two would-be assailants entered, leaving no one but a wide-eyed Inachi Noriyuka sitting in his grand chair at the head of the table.

Both Nanaya darted forward, devouring the distance to their target in seconds. The young heir dropped his glass and tripped over his own loose wardrobe in a futile attempt to run. Toya closed the gap quicker than his clanmate and gripped Inachi’s collar, lifting him back to his feet with an angry strength.

Still wallowing in your excess even now, huh? I’d love to kill you for what you and your family have done. You’re slowly trying to destroy Suna. You imprisoned and tortured Moriko. You even used my own misguided brothers and sisters to further your selfish grab for power. Lucky for you, I can’t take your life yet. But don’t get too comfortable, because I’ll do it the instant I don’t need you anymore.

The pure terror in Inachi’s eyes suddenly vanished, replaced by a sort of smug realization. What the hell? Every sense in Toya’s body screamed at him to move, but even his lightning-quick reflexes weren’t quite enough.

He released his prey and immediately lunged sideways, but the bloodthirsty blade still took a bite out of his left shoulder. He shrugged off the pain and crossed his blades, assessing his new situation.

Hiroshi stared at him darkly before plunging his blade into Inachi’s throat without a moment of hesitation. Their important hostage vanished as quickly as he had acquired it.

You bastard, what are you doing?! You just threw away our effort and lowered all our chances of escape!

Shut the hell up, demon. I’ll see Satoru-sama’s wishes fulfilled no matter what the price is. You may have tainted Rika and many of the others, but some of us still remember the truth. Abominations like your kind are not needed in this world!

Toya’s stomach turned in response to those familiar phrases. He had known from the start that not all Nanaya would be so easily persuaded that everything they were taught for generations had been manipulative lies. But to see it like this, with his own eyes…his heart pained him far more than his bleeding arm.

Don’t do this, Hiroshi. We all have the same blood. You’re not stupid enough to believe that certain people deserve to die because they have unique abilities or their eyes look a little different. Don’t make me kill you instead.

SHUT UP SHUT UP! Your tricks won’t work on me too, Shiki!

The hunter’s speed nearly rivaled Toya’s when he charged, his single Nanaya blade waving wildly with only one intended target. His target had only seconds to think and react.

The young man was just too quick. He couldn’t focus on any fate lines at all, on his body or his weapon. He had no clever trick or convenient elemental technique to stop him. Dozens of choices flooded his head, but none were ideal. There was no best option to choose. No happy ending.

Flesh tore and blood splattered. Two blades sunk deep into Hiroshi’s chest, the young man’s blade arm extended fully, but piercing nothing.

Toya had closed the distance between them, meeting in the middle and striking before his opponent had even registered the change of position. He closed his eyes and pulled his knives from the body, the sound of the lifeless corpse collapsing onto the floor echoing through the open chamber.

Somehow this hurt more than any of his past kills. Like he had failed on multiple levels in just a single action. But there was nothing he could do to change it now. He had to focus on the present and his next steps.

Sorry, brother. I still can’t seem to save all of you, no matter what I do. Someday I hope that everyone in our family will have the same sense of justice that Rika has found. Until then…farewell.

With his intended hostage dead and no other easily accessible alternatives known to him, Toya’s only choice was to head down to rendezvous with the others near the city gates.

He carefully retrieved Hiroshi’s fallen blade and exited the room in silence.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Wed May 11, 2011 4:01 am

Time was a tapestry and the threads were their lives.

Staring into space while the Nanaya bled into the ground and Kyuuen coiled like a snake, Moxie watched time bloom.

She had to get them out of there. There were too many variables, too many ways for the rescue to go wrong and they'd loes someone else. It was her fault that they were in this position, so it was her responsibility to find the way out. It was there, weaved into the fabric of time, weaved into every possibility of everything.

Her mind stretched itself. Beyond the future and to the present, exploding in a thousand narratives of what could be happening at that moment. A hundred Toyas died in a hundred ways. Ryous and Kyuuens and Rikas all died around her too but that sight had become too common to phase her anymore. Amidst the chaos and the death and the utterly impossible, she saw the truth.

She stretched it further. Into the past, into the events that could have caused the reality that confronted her. She saw nothing but the blinding golden vortex of everything that could have been and everything that could be.

There were not many options. If they were all to survive in one piece, she was going to have shoulder a mighty burden.

She thought of Toya and smiled.

The world returned, clear and finite. Her hands snapped through handsigns and one reached into the air, palm upturned. Kyuuen was already reaching out to stop her.

The sky cracked in scarlet.

Rika's blade dripped with crimson, one hand clenched around a scroll marked with the Yuki seal. The red lightning bolt struck the roof of the Suna embassy, hurling stone from the roof and igniting it ablaze. She ignored it, gritting her teeth and leaping out a window, hoping Ryou was behind her. They both shattered through an opposite window, rolling across a living room floor. She was on her feet and kicking through the front door, charging down the hallway and out the door to the street. She kept throwing glances over her shoulder, hoping Ryou would keep up.

Toya dug his fingers into the shoulders of the armored guard. Fatelines bent and split, tearing flesh and bone apart. He shoved him to the ground and broke into a dead run across the courtyard. His own shoulder throbbed with a pain that was too easily shoved away. The courtyard was filled with the cries of other guards. Arrows whistled across the air and bounced across the cobblestone near his feet. He had to keep running straight, never stopping, never waiting. It was his only hope.

Three red lightning bolts spindled from the sky, roasting guards, setting buildings ablaze, and turning an iron gate into a lump. Toya had never seen lightning like that before, but he didn't have to guess whose it was. Warm and deadly at the same time. That meant only one person to him.

Across the city, fires glowed. The lightning seemed as if it would go on forever to the citizens of the City of Seven Valleys. Thunder shook their skulls. Everything burned and melted and exploded around them.

Moxie fell to her knees, hand clawing at her chest. Kyuuen bent down to scoop her up over her shoulders. She was speaking, letting out an avalanche of medical words that Moxie ignored. She knew what was wrong.

Her curse mark was gone. Chakra use hurt like hell now.

But there was nothing to be afraid of. It was all as she had seen.

The civilians screamed in the streets. Guards hurled dust and sand into the buildings as fast as they could, trying to suffocate sand. Without water to spare, Rika wondered if the city would turn to ash within the hour. Could they put out this many blazes with just sand?

She didn't know. But she wasn't going to wait and find out. She and Ryou were standing in the main road leading to the many gates. They were all shut. Apparently amidst all the flame and chaos there was still enough semblance of order to be looking for whoever was causing demon lightning to raze the city inside. Kyuuen and Moxie wouldn't be waiting there. If they were going to get out of the gate, they'd need Toya.

Back to the castle.

The northwestern tower to the castle's inner walls had been bristling with arrows and archers, ready to unleash a hailstorm of sharpened death.

So Toya broke it.

A half dozen strikes to the walls and the tower fell in on itself, cobblestone crushing equipment and men with its tremendous weight. The same thing that gave the tower power was now what made it lethal. It wasn't the most subtle approach, Toya knew this, but subtlety had left when the red lightning started. Whatever their new escape plan was now, they were going to need a clear path to the gate.

Where was Moxie? She should've been along this part of the road by now, it was the fastest way from stable to-

His eyes caught a glint of something in the orange glow of the fires. A sparkle, a swirl. Something he had only seen once before but hadn't yet forgotten.


The Iron Soldier smashed his fist into the closest guard. The guard behind him stabbed his halberd clean through the Soldier's chest. The Soldier punched that one too, continuing his lumbering walk with halberd sitll hanging in his torso.

Kyuuen stumbled, keeping Moxie moving forward as much as she could. Stubborn girl, she was still directing her chakra through the lightning attack and causing her waves of pain in the process. She weaved her hands together, sending a pack of dogs leaping from her ankles and clearing the path ahead.

"Are you sure this is the way? Hell of a lot of guards this way."

"I'm sure. Just get us in."

The tiny elephant, who had been marching just ahead of Kyuuen, exploded in size and stampeded through the road until he broke through a large set of double doors that reminded Kyuuen of a barn. She and Moxie stumbled in after him, the dogs and Iron Soldier taking up a defensive position at the doorway.

"Oh you gotta be kidding me."

Ryou spread his hands apart, drenching the rooftop with blue light. The lightning leapt hungrily at the armored soldiers, embracing them until they collapsed. Rika let out a breath of relief.


Idiot. She had gotten them too fast across the rooftops, moving in the open and making too much noise and the enemy got the drop on her. Sloppy and inexcusable.

She hopped from the roof and onto balcony, then over the balcony rail and back to the ground level, crouching in the darkness of the alleyway. Ryou did his best to follow, climbing down with too much regard for safety and far too much hesitation.

"Are you sure we want to find bubbles?"

Ryou didn't answer. He kept pushing on.

The pain cleared from Moxie's head. Her chakra flow had ceased, and the lightning outside with it. But the damage was already done. Hungry flame blanketed the city, just as she had intended it to. The Iron Soldier let Toya in next, who bled from his shoulder. He wasted no time scrambling up the rope ladder and onto the deck. Rika and Ryou were next, both staring in disbelief and awe at their spoils. Rika shoved Ryou up the ladder first, jamming the document into his belt. She was up soon after, rolling up the ladder when she reached the top. Toya had already pulled a Nanaya blade and was cutting through rope.

The luxury dirigible started skyward. The vast hangar's roof was wide open, showing the millions of starpoints above them. The ink guardians at the doorway melted and soared through the air, sliding back onto Kyuuen's skin. She twisted her face in pain for a moment, then went back to the task of steering the thing.

The sides were marked with the Noriyuka family mark. The vessel itself was much larger than the ones Moxie had been used to using. Dad had clearly built this one as a gift. It reminded her more of a sailing vessel than an air one, with a long hull and multiple rooms.

Below, the City of Seven Valleys glowed orange. The cries of the citizens drifted into the wind, merging together as one mourning wail. No one would have died in the lightning attacks other than guards, but there was no way Moxie could guarantee the resulting fires wouldn't harm civilians.

When the airship climbed to its necessary height, it started forward. Moxie collasped onto the deck, rubbing the skin where the mark once was, and slamming her eyes shut.

She hoped that mom would forgive her for what she just did.

[End Thread]
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