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.

DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:32 pm

The desert swirled around Kyuuen.

She stood atop the shanty shack that had been her home for the last three days; nothing more than a pile of scrap wood hammered together to keep the wind at bay. It wouldn't have held up against any sort of attack. She wasn't even sure if it would hold up against a determined snake or an industrious scorpion.

But that wasn't something she had to consider.

She was camped deep into the northern territory of Wind Country, where Suna's typical sphere of influence had waned and the military force of the nobility began. Reports had been sketchy as to how much action the nobles had seen. Some said they weren't being touched by the new bandit influx. Others said it was already razed to the ground and that Suna was the last stronghold. The truth probably lay somewhere in between.

There, where she stood, one might not have thought there was a war at all.

But war, she had decided, was like a wildfire. Where one force met the next, it was destructive and all consuming. But once that flame had passed through a region, there was a calm to it. Here, where soldiers and shinobi had already spilled their blood, there was that same peace. Same frightening tranquility.

...where the hell were they?

Kyuuen found herself in an odd limbo. She wanted to see Ryou. It had been six weeks since they had parted ways, divided up into their separate missions. Somehow she had managed to keep word on him, and she knew that he was alive and intact. Still, it would be hard to believe until she could see and touch him.

On the other hand, she didn't want to see Toya.

Moxie was gone. Whether she was dead or merely captured, Kyuuen didn't know. Nor had she had time to care. The onslaught had struck so deep into Suna territory that she had been on the move for three of the last four weeks, going from camp to camp and battle to battle, healing everyone she could. By the time she had been given this assignment, and a bit of freedom, she decided that searching BLOSSOM's site would do her no good. The bodies would've been burned or looted, many of them eaten by sandworms.

All she could do was hope she had survived and that she would run into her again.
Somehow, she wasn't sure Toya was going to feel the same way. What was she going to do? She didn't know. She'd decide when they arrived, she supposed.

Which brought her back to being impatient.

She took a deep breath and shook out her hands. Time to practice again. Moxie's Scarlet Lightning was a miraculous sight. A new element born out of the old. It probably wasn't effective as plasma, but Moxie had wielded it so naturally. It was so uniquely hers that it had become an extension of herself. Kyuuen wanted that. Needed that. She needed to keep finding new strength for when the wild fire caught up with her again.

Ox, Tiger, Horse, Dragon.

Her fire chakra churned inside her, a blazing furnace.

Boar, Rat, Snake, Ram.

Her water chakra started to flow. She hated this water chakra, but it was her natural element. Completely useless in the desert unless she wanted to squeeze juice out of cacti. Which she didn't.

She didn't try to force the chakras to her hands, instead focusing on intermixing them inside herself. Outside her body, they were too opposite. There was no way to create a mixture. Inside, there was still maleability. The chakra danced and shoved each other, coming together and pulling apart a thousand times a moment.

There. Shape.

New handsigns exploded out of her, and her eyes exploded open. The dry air suddenly smelled of water, and the sand vibrated with anticipation. A gyeser? Some sort of steam eruption? What was going to happen?

A thousand sparkles bloomed. Bubbles, of every shape and size, soared into the air and danced in the sunlight. It was an ethereal latticework of shimmering beauty amongst the rough, drab edges of the desert.

"...what...the hell....what the hell...what the hell am I going to do with bubbles!? BUBBLES!"

She snarled and started swinging her fists at the lowest bubble cloud. The spheres of water swpet around her attacks, mocking her.

"Oh ho, beware the great and might kunoichi Kyuuen! She will unleash the sting of a thousand bubbles onto your head, and you will die from delight and mirth! She will descend upon you like a sparkling princess, and surorund you with a million gentle kisses! Bubbles! Of all the things, bubbles! How is this going to help anyone!"

Her last angry punch spun her around. Standing in the shadow of the shack were Ryou and Toya, staring up at her angry bubble battle. Kyuuen wanted to hide and cringe, so she glared and leaned forward, staring daggers into Ryou's eyes.

"And just where the hell have you been, Sunshine!"
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:58 am

Ryou wasn’t sure whether to feel humiliated or amused by his girlfriend’s latest display of bizarre theatrics.
Had it just been Kyuuen and him, it certainly would have been the latter. Sadly, even Toya was struggling to stifle his laughter at this one.

Though, Ryou didn’t entirely blame him.

Bubbles? Her specialized element was seriously bubbles, of all things? He knew she’d been working on determining the element, she’d mentioned it here and there in her letters, but after all this time, that was the best she could do? No wait, that wasn’t how it worked, was it? The element was an innate thing, something that aligned itself to her as opposed to Kyuuen choosing it for herself, but still…oh god, bubbles for crying out loud. Damnit, he wasn’t even sure what that implied. He’d been thinking about refining his own elemental abilities, and had come up with virtually no ideas as to how his own elemental affinities could combine to form something that would compliment his battle style. But then again, it couldn’t be much worse than bloody bubbles.

Heh, he felt a little better now about all his life prospects. Pity he wasn’t given too long to dwell on the sensation.

"And just where the hell have you been, Sunshine!"

Ryou decided to ignore the first half of that question. They were both far better off without Kyuuen knowing that their tardiness was entirely a result of his own endeavours to nag Toya into taking as many rest breaks as possible on their way here. As for the rest of her statement however, his response was something else entirely.

"Shut up!"

Ryou stepped forward a huff, unsure of whether folding his arms or flailing about would better convey his fury.
He ended up just twitching in limbo.

"I told you ages ago not to call me that in front of people I-"

As though daring himself to confirm his own fears, Ryou let his glance shoot to Toya's face. Of course, he was only to find that his friend wasn't even trying to mask his amusement at whatever part of this he found remotely funny.
How freaking typical.

Unfortunately, Ryou was beginning to realize that creating an even greater scene around it wasn't going to make Toya forget the stupid nickname any time soon.

Welp, fine.

"You know what, screw it. Nice to see you're as pleasant as ever, Bubbles."

He smirked at the effect of this one, hard.
In all their time of knowing each other, he and Kyuuen had managed to develop a way of never failing to counter the other’s claim in any string of arguments, not until the moment one of them ran out of breath, regardless of how illogical any part of their most recent squabble tended to be. A survival tool, he supposed, given they’d had to live together. He couldn’t deny that it filled him with a certain sense of satisfaction when he finally got the chance to instantly say something that she could only answer with silence.

“Heh.”

He tried to hold his laughter for as long as he could. The flip side of all this was that his statement left him in a state of awkward tension, and without a clue as to what to do next. It had been far too long since he’d last seen her, and this wasn’t exactly how he’d envisioned their reunion. Again, if it had just been the two of them then yeah, this might have been easier, but...

"And here I was going to say I missed you."

Screw it, no point holding it in any longer. What was wrong with a hug, anyway?
Ryou leaned forward, pulling Kyuuen into a hearty embrace. Well, as hearty as a clumsy, over-the-shoulder type hold could be. Still, he cherished every brush of her skin. He wouldn't admit it, not in front of Toya and especially not to her face, but he'd worried about her. Even he had been beginning to notice the warning signs regarding the Wind Country's stability, and Kyuuen’s involvement in the conflicts that followed had been anything but trivial. Her letters had acted as adequate reassurance at first, but as the days had rolled on and the missions she spoke of grew increasingly more dangerous, his doubts had collected - especially after he’d witnessed a piece of the war’s effects for himself through the course of his last mission. Yet now that he thought about it, and saw her as energetic as ever, he couldn’t help but wonder why he’d wasted so much time fretting about it. Kyuuen was far stronger than he was on the field, so it wasn’t like he could have done anything to help her anyway. Was this just another effect of missing her so much, or chivalrous instinct or…

Yuck. Why was he even thinking about this? Whatever, he knew now that she was alive and well, and that was all that mattered, right? There was no need to lose anymore sleep over it. Forcing himself to think past this...this shame, he let his eyes wander over her shoulder towards the scene of what had apparently been Kyuuen’s accommodation for the past few nights.

He shrugged her off with slightly more force than he’d intended, forcing their noses a good foot apart. And then he probably gripped her wrists too tight.

"Ick! Kyu, don't tell me you've been sleeping in dumps like this all this time...when did you last even take a shower...d-don't touch me!"


He held on anyway, unable to help himself in the cute face of her frustration.
Damnit, had he seriously missed her this much?

“I suppose it doesn't matter. I wasn't going to tell you what we did to your village's water supply, but hey, you have the bubbles now.”

By this point, he knew that the best course of action in a situation like this was to laugh but gain some distance first. He stepped around her, surveying the area for somewhere to sit. On closer inspection of the area however, he decided against it.

Of all places, why here, the most brutal part of this stupid desert?

Huh.

His mirth died down in an instant.
Ryou spun around to face Kyuuen, finally beginning to remember why she'd called him in the first place.

She still wasn’t giving him a break, was she? So much for the last laugh...

“Sooo…why’re we meeting here again, anyway?”
Last edited by Klee on Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:50 pm

For maybe the first time in his life, Toya felt that his natural craving to fight had been temporarily satiated. Now if only he could end this escalating war with the wave of his hand, everything would be just perfect.

The constant traveling, the extreme weather and terrain, and the endless slew of battles all added up and were finally starting to wear him out. Being primarily assigned to the same tasks and locations as Ryou had brought its share of pros and cons, but right now he longed for a different sort of companionship that he had lacked for all these weeks.

The kind presently being displayed in front of him.

He could have never imagined just how difficult spending this much time apart would be. During the heat of battle and other assorted action-heavy missions they had been sent to perform, he could drive these thoughts away, but the many silent days of travel had really killed him. He could only argue and talk about pointless male subjects with Ryou for so long before it started to drive him to the brink of insanity.

Toya cleared his throat and took a step forward, the humor of the exchange diminishing as it continued.

If you guys just wanted an excuse to see each other, you didn’t have to drag me along under the guise of a mission. There are many better uses of my time than standing here watching you two…do whatever the hell you call this.

Ugh, that wasn’t right. As badly as their first impressions had been, he had sincerely tried to get along with Kyuuen as best he could since then. For Ryou’s sake at the very least. Unfortunately, the jealous pangs after seeing their reunion had briefly overridden his good intentions.

The question of Moxie’s whereabouts and status burned inside him, but at this point his pride would prevent him from asking her for now.

If this is actually something important, then let’s get on with it.

Toya directed his expectant gaze at Kyuuen, suddenly hoping that this really was just an elaborate excuse to see Ryou. A brief reprieve from all the chaos would be nice right about now.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Trust and Dysfunction

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:52 am

God damnit, that face, that stupid, handsome face.

At first she felt bad. She shouldn't have come out swinging like that, unloading frustration on him on sight. Watching him get defensive, though, was almost as comforting as seeing him in the first place. It was...normal, amongst a lot things that weren't. Then he stopped twitching.

"You know what, screw it. Nice to see you're as pleasant as ever, Bubbles."

Bubbles!?
"Bub-"

He took a step forward. A hundred beautifully crafted comebacks blew away like sand in the wind. Her lips moved, as if trying to remind her to do or say something, but only a few nonsensical syllables popped out.

"And here I was going to say I missed you."

Gah, the smug rich brat, of course he missed her, how could he not have, it was like going without a right hand, damnit had she become that accustomed to living with him already? How had she not noticed how alone she had been without him until he saw his dumb face again? And now he was going to be a jackass about it and not even show one-

She actually shuddered when he held her.

It was probably the most inelegant hug in the history of humanity, his arms hanging over her shoulders, hers sweeping up to his shoulders and hooking her fingertips into his flesh. Kyuuen suddenly felt so tired. Tired and sad for what was happening to her country. Her home.

"Do you...have to hug me like this it's...kinda embarrassing..."

"Ick! Kyu, don't tell me you've been sleeping in dumps like this all this time...when did you last even take a shower...d-don't touch me!"

What the! That son of a...that was it, she was going to unload the fury of-

"If you guys just wanted an excuse to see each other, you didn’t have to drag me along under the guise of a mission. There are many better uses of my time than standing here watching you two…do whatever the hell you call this."

Toya spat out the words just as their embrace slipped apart. She didn't look at him. All of the flustered pleasure that Ryou had swept into her was doused with guilt. How could they carry on like this when Toya had to be aching the same way they had? At least she had known Ryou was alive, and when they were seeing each other but...now...

Find that girl. That's my niece in there, and she needs to survive this. I don't care if I have to turn the desert to glass, she's not dying here.

Moxie, you can't let your personal feelings get in the way of your decisions.

No. No...I don't think that's true anymore. This is personal now. War has to be personal. Otherwise we'd never be motivated to stop it.


“If this is actually something important, then let’s get on with it.”

Kyuuen nodded. She took a deep breath, trying to clear her mind with the same success as trying to turn this basin into a lake. She unsnapped two pouches from her flak vest and tossed a scroll to each boy.

"Orders. Head to the capitol city of our wise and powerful daimyo and...well, it depends on whose orders you're following." She looked to Ryou. "That set is from the Council, sending us as diplomatic envoys to formally request military and financial aid to Suna. Unlike Yuki, Suna and its ruling nobility have been separate for a long time now. They have their own forces that could be helpful in fending off these bandit raids...unless..."

She gestured to Toya, but didn't look at him.

"Those orders are from Dakara-sama and ANBU. They believe the nobility is part of these attacks and want us to use the Council's mission as cover to gather as much intelligence as we can. Guess it's up to us what we decide to do."

She pushed off the sand and turned an oval with her heel, facing away from the both of them. She folded her arms and stared at her wrists.

"I think that maybe Dakara is right. When BLOSSOM fell...those troops were organized. Well-trained and well-armed. They were no bandits. Not even trained bandits. This was a display of precision and discipline. Someone is helping these bandits tear Suna apart, and it might make some political sense if it were the nobility."

Kyuuen paused. The desert paused with her.

"She wanted to be here, Toya. She was supposed to be, but her new elemental powers give her some unprecedented control of a battlefield, and when sheh eard that things at the Southern Route were going so badly, she decided she might do some better good there. But she sends her love."

She stared straight into the horizon the whole time she lied. One slight whiff of suspicion may ruin this whole mission. She needed Toya as alert and as focused as he could be. Not that he was particularly alert or focused at the moment, but she couldn't imagine how much worse he'd be if he thought she were...

Damnit, she couldn't even think of the possibility while he was around. Toya wasn't a mind reader but...maybe she was worried that thinking it might make it real.

She started walking.

"If you have questions, now's the time to ask them. And yes, Ryou, the Suna Ambassadorial Team is waiting for us with baths and fancy clothes. You'll look your best when it's your turn to prance around the banquet table showing off all your delectable airs and manners."

She rewarded herself with a satisfied grin.
At least that one was pretty good.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:57 am

"Shut it Toya, it's nothing like that, where the hell did you even get that idea I-"

Ryou was bright red. He should have known that the motion was a bad idea from the start.

Trust Toya to take something as simple as a hug and blow the gesture completely out of proportion. He had every right to hug his girlfriend, no, any friend after being separated from them for so long. Not to mention the damn thing had only been a mere greeting - it wasn't like the entire point of this meeting was some kind of date. As if he would have traveled all this way just to go on a date. He'd have called her to come meet him some place closer to Suna if that was all there was to it.

“If this is actually something important, then let’s get on with it.”


...And it bloody hell better not have been all there was to it.

The outrageous thought crossed him, and he rounded on Kyuuen like a top. Now that he thought about it, she hadn't specified anything, had she?

God damnit, if that gypsy seriously called him all the way out here just to-

"Orders."


The scroll dropped into his hands, and with it, fell his panic.
Phew, the official looking document could only signify that there certainly was some ulterior motive to their meeting today. There was that bullet dodged.

Wait...why had he even been worrying about this? Why the heck would Kyuuen have even invited Toya along if this was just meant to be some romantic encounter, anyway? Even she wasn't that dumb. Or so he hoped.

Ack, why was he always acting to stupid around her these days?

Deciding that this was a subject that he wasn't going to think about again until he and Kyuuen were actually alone, he averted his glance from either member of his company and unfurled the scroll.
Just...forget the whole girlfriend thing, and get back to the task at hand. That was probably the best course of action.

So, they were being sent on a diplomatic visit to the wind country nobility, eh? That couldn't possibly be too difficult, given he'd spent half his life being dragged along to watch father participate in these conferences. In fact, had the entire premise of this mission been to secure military support from the nobility, he could have said the assignment was right up his alley. Unfortunately, Kyuuen's words were slowly beginning to reveal that there was more to their objectives than what was stated in his scroll.

The chance of a corrupt nobility...that had never been an issue in Yuki. Or if it had, he had never been in a position to see it. But then again, given Yuki's far more integrated political structure, the chances would have been less likely, anyway. To be honest, Ryou wasn't too sure what to make of the situation, though. On one hand, it certainly would be beneficial to Suna if they could solidly pinpoint a source of their widespread conflict, but a part of him struggled to believe that the nobility could be at so much fault. He'd probably met some of these people in the face before. In one sense, it was shame on his own blood.

At first, all he could give Kyuuen was a nod, confirming he understood the instructions. The mission itself was clear enough, and as much as he hoped that the situation wouldn't turn out as treacherous as he feared, he was in no position to just pass up the chance to investigate. Ultimately, he was fighting for Suna here. Maybe he was raised one way, but this was...his new home.

He finally made to speak his compliance, but he found that Kyuuen was initially too busy reassuring Toya as to Moxie's whereabouts to hear him.

Oh. Now that he thought about it, maybe that was the reason behind Toya's ridiculous reaction to his brief moment of 'intimacy' with Kyuuen. To be truthful, he'd almost forgotten about Moxie and the fact that she and Toya hadn't seen each other just as long. Hm.
Alright, so maybe the girl apparently choosing to continue risking her life in the war rather than reuniting with her boyfriend was a sympathy point to some degree, and he understood how much it would hurt somebody like him to lose yet another loved one, but whatever...that still didn't justify Toya's irrational behavior when it came to his romance.

Well, at least he knew she was alive now. And as much as there was nothing any of them could do, Toya could only be grateful to Kyuuen for telling him, right?
That ought calm him down for the time being, hopefully. He was forgiven, for now.

Ryou turned back to Kyuuen.

"So, uh-"
"And yes, Ryou, the Suna Ambassadorial Team is waiting for us with baths and fancy clothes. You'll look your best when it's your turn to prance around the banquet table showing off all your delectable airs and manners."

...oh what the hell, you know what, why did Toya even care about where Moxie was? Girls, he was beginning to realize, were more trouble than they were worth.

"Shut up! I'm not buying some stupid taunt about my hygiene and prancing from a bubble fairy gypsy, alright? Let's just go already."
Last edited by Klee on Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:34 pm

Relief filled his chest as he exhaled out his previously building stress. He hadn’t heard anything about a new power or whatever, but that certainly sounded like something Moriko would do. They all seemed to share the common weakness of being unable to ignore people in need when they had the power to help.

For now he could put his worries to rest. She would be fine.

Thanks for letting me know, Kyuuen. Sorry about the hasty accusation. Things have just been a little frustrating lately…

Toya briefly scanned the scroll as he followed the other two, trying to drown out their banter this time. The lack of action in this territory did seem a little strange. But could the nobility really pull this kind of thing off without a soul discovering the plot?

Dakara and his ANBU underlings sure had been giving him a lot of orders lately. He had no reason to distrust the man, but he was getting a little tired of being used as a convenient tool in this war. Unfortunately, that was exactly the job he had signed up for when he first became a shinobi.

There’s really no reason why we can’t follow all of these orders.

He paused and took a moment to furl the scroll back into its most compact state. Kyuuen technically had the most real authority here, but that wouldn’t stop him from always voicing his opinions. If he was going to continue participating in these missions, then he would make sure to only act under his own terms.

We go as diplomatic envoys and make sure to keep our eyes and ears open. If there’s no problem, our mission is still accomplished. If we stumble across something shady, then we make sure Dakara and his subordinates hear of it. In either case, we’ll be helping Suna as much as we can.

Another brief pause before he thought it best to slightly amend his last statements.

Though if either of you guys think you’ll be uncomfortable digging too deep into that, feel free to relax and leave it all to me. I have enough experience with this kind of stuff to find anything they may be hiding on my own.

Not that he was hoping there would be anything to find, but looking back at his mission track record, the worst possible scenarios ended up being the most likely. If he and Ryou had retained anything from their former team, that unfortunate stigma was definitely one of them.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:53 am

The City of Seven Valleys.

Fingers of Earth Country rested on the hem of Wind Country. Massive mountains with seven valleys formed the fortresses of the earliest kings and lords of the Wind.

Kyuuen had ignored most of her history lessons, so she couldn't rattle off the list of the Seven First Daimyo or talk about the treaties or explain the battles that were fought at the mouths of these valleys. She did understand that the mountains were treacherous to cross, even for shinobi, and that a scant few defense towers were all it took to keep invaders from making raids from above. The mouths of the valleys were long sealed off by a massive wall that stretched from mountain to mountain.

It was frightening to look at it. Unnerving to see so much stone so orderly stacked to keep people out.

There were a dozen or so gates at the entrance made of wickedly sharp steel. The roads split into the gates and travelers milled about the plains, trying to sort out which they were supposed to enter. There were still many daimyo families and lesser nobility living within the City of Seven Valleys, and each had their own sphere of control.

The soldiers wore heavy plates of dull brown armor over flowing goldenrod robes. Most carried polearms with heavy cleaving blades and shouted in loud voices to the confused travelers.

Kyuuen watched them move. No, they weren't moving like the bandit-soldiers had at BLOSSOM. They were stiffer and stronger and more rooted. If they were part of the nobility's military, then they had the sense to use different armor.

The guards at the gate hassled them, but Kyuuen had expected that. Gave them the wrong gate twice, double checked their papers with such plodding deliberation that she was starting to wonder if they could read at all, and had been called "ninja whore" exactly once.

Somehow she had resisted removing his manhood.

But once they were granted passage through the great wall, they were greeted with the remarkable construction of the city itself. The architecture was old and elaborate, made of stone and wood craftsmanship that Kyuuen had never seen anywhere else in her life. It made the buildings of Suna look shoddy and sad. Grand buildings stretched into the sky, children played in impossibly lush green parks. It was a world contained unto itself, unaware of the war churning just outside the walls.

A world in a bubble.

The Embassy was a square, utilitarian building with an unceremonious hourglass flag hanging off the front. Two older Chuunin, probably nearing the end of their careers, greeted them and escorted them in. The actual ambassador, probably the only man in the entire city who would've been helpful, was apparently gone. Back home at Suna. There was a young woman, a junior secretary of something or somesuch, who offered all their documents for study if they thought it would be useful, opening the archive room to their use.

She then showed them to their quarters. Three simple rooms that looked like palaces compared to her last month and a half of living.

"Well. We have dinner scheduled with Hazama and Noriyuka families tonight...they control quite a bit of the influence around here and are considered to be, in many circles, the big decision makers. At least we already know the Hazamas...the Noriyuka are not exactly friendly, but they're not hostile. We'll have to tread carefully." Her last word stretched out into several seconds in a great wide yawn. Suddenly she was very aware of the grime clinging to her body.

"Rest for a few hours. I know I need it." She gave Ryou a smile, Toya a nod, and retreated into her quarters.



She slept. Ate. Cleaned, a lot, including shaving things and plucking things and doing a bunch of boring things she considered a huge nusaince. She studied herself in the mirror.

Her hair was kinda ratty. Needed to be trimmed and washed more often. Her hands were rough. She had a few new scars that she hadn't had the time or energy to repair. She looked thin. Malnourished, probably.

She still wondered if Ryou thought she was beautiful. Not that she really...cared, not really. There were more important reasons to love a person. But she wanted to make him happy. She didn't want to have make him "put up" with anything more than he had to. The least he deserved was someone that was pleasing to look at...

Kyuuen shook the thoughts off just in time for her to realize she was standing in front of his door. She wore a gentle white kimono she had found in the closet and was holding her medical kit. A ruse to see him. "Need to check on you." Or "gotta make sure you didn't screw up healing yourself." Anything would do.

She was about to knock when she realized there was no light coming from underneath the door. He must be sleeping. A grin crept across her face as two fingers pushed against the handle of the door. She softly clicked it open and stole into the room, shutting it behind her.

Her heart slammed against her ribcage. This was so dangerously risky. Thoughtless, really. Somehow that was exactly what she wanted.

She knelt and set the medical kit on the ground. Then she stalked across the floor until she found the edge of his bed, where he slept soundly.

Her movements were like a snake, slithering beneath the covers and onto his back, coiling her legs around his hips to hold him down. Her body pulsed with excitement and her grin sharpened with mischeif.

She set her lips against his ear.

"Well, now that your moody friend is out of the picture, we can get...re-acquianted. Sound like fun?"

She dragged her teeth against his lobe, letting out a breathy moan -
-...completely unaware that she was in Toya's room.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:13 am

Bloody hell. Would she ever give him a rest?

It had been a whole month and a half since he'd slept somewhere that wasn't on Kyuuen's couch or inside some tent in the middle of nowhere, and still he'd made an effort to set the alarm so he could get up and get some work done here before he pissed her off. And still she'd woken up and raced off without him.

And gone somewhere that wasn't even the archive room.

In all honesty, where the hell else could she be?
The library was quiet. He was the only one here.

And as worrying as Kyuuen's disappearance may have been, maybe it was best that didn't leave it just yet. This could be his chance to find what they were looking for without being watched.
There was something comforting about the eloquent and organized surroundings, anyway.

No, he knew what that something was.

This place reminded him of home. Perhaps the district where he lived back in Yuki was far more intermingled with the rest of the city and lacked the unsettling solitude, but the similarities were still there and not ignorable. Suna was his place now, but he missed what he'd all this. The order, the regality, the brilliance of noble lifestyle. The thought that this city could be involved in something as deceitful and vile as Kyuuen suspected both saddened and sickened him.
But he supposed that even if these claims of...atrocities really were true, the best thing he could do was expose them. Especially when he was presented with a chance like this.

Unfortunately, he didn't have any idea where to start.

Alright, so since the incidents that Dakara had mentioned had all occurred within the past couple of months, he supposed that the most reasonable course of action would be to start with the most recent archives. But past that, he was out of ideas. Damnit, if only Kyuuen had been here.

There was nothing worth noting about any of these papers, and he supposed he'd held his hopes far too high to have expected anything so obvious. He flicked through stacks of records and domestic agreements, and nothing stood out as remotely out of the ordinary in any of them. There were records of military instructions, copies of signed agreements, records of treason trials and a whole heap of passed budget bills. But it was all...normal stuff. Sure, Suna was involved in all this, but there was nothing of a nature he wouldn't have seen in dad's office.

He'd just about given up when one letter, denoted by a familiar coat of arms, caught his eye. He stopped shuffling through the pages for a second, eyes skimming through the print.

What the hell was a notice from Yuki doing here in the embassy.

Ryou didn't need to read too much before he recognized the document. He snatched the sheet from the pile.

This was the water supply bill he'd asked dad to pass the last time he'd been in Yuki.
But this form specifically pertained to Suna's water, so what on earth was it doing here?

Something was a miss.

Of course the terms would have required the nobility's assent, but it should have been forwarded to Suna immediately after for implementation. A month ago. This seal of Yukigakure...that proved that this was the genuine article - it couldn't possibly be some sort of copy or forgery. Not to mention, it had certainly been opened. But then why hadn't it been sent away already, unless they had, no-

His eyes shot to the bottom of the scroll.

Sure enough, his father's script laced the section of the page reserved for the Snow Country's official.
But beneath that, there was a signature missing.

The City of Seven Valleys had never ratified the treaty.

Ryou ransacked his mind, looking for some string of logic that could possibly explain the Wind Country's rationale for blocking the agreement. Every thought came up empty. Dakara had said it himself at his trial, that Suna had been trying to secure a supply of water from Yuki for years. In fact, increasing their chances had been the primary reason for why he'd been let off in the first place. But if this supply bill was so critical to Suna, what the hell did the nobility have to gain by concealing the document from their own shinobi village?

Nothing positive, that was what.

Excitement and doubts simultaneously surged within him, bringing with them trembles that made it difficult to read anything more written on the scroll. Had he found it? Was this piece of paper the proof they needed . He thought back to the incident at the irrigation plant. He'd brushed the siege off as being the work of an uncoordinated ring of bandits, but now that it occurred to him, something hadn't been right about the sheer number of rogues they'd faced. How was it that such a large group had crossed the desert and infiltrated so far into vital infrastructure completely undetected? There were too many inconsistencies there for that much to have all been resultant of Suna's negligence.

Ryou glanced over both shoulders, ensuring that the library was clear of any prying officials. Then he folded the scroll in half, and half again, and pocketed it. All without too many shudders, he hoped. He'd pay dearly if he was caught stealing from the archives, probably with his life. But this was the type of decisive evidence they'd been looking for. As long as he held on to this, he could say with a degree of certainty that the nobility had a hand in keeping Suna's water from the village.

But was that the only thing?
In either case, there was only one way to find out.

He stood up. What was it that Kyuuen had named her suspicions about? The attack on the BLOSSOM camp? She'd linked that to a group of bandits too, hadn't she? Mostly comprised of refugees. Illegal immigration seemed like a good starting point for further investigation, then.
So 'I'. Ack, now where was that section-

"Sir."
"-Ah!"

Ryou half jumped, half turned to confront the piercing voice. In that one brief moment, he felt as though his heart had lurched out of his body.
It was the junior secretary. The one who had shown them around the complex when they'd arrived, and led them to this room.

How long had she been standing in the doorway?

Perhaps too quickly, he backed away from the shelf. Probably took him too long to collect his breath, as well.
He struggled to keep himself from touching the pocket where he'd stowed the scroll.

"Oh, hello. Is there something I can do for, ma'am?"


In his present state, every transformation her features underwent as she gave him a smug smile was seen as a mark of her suspicion of him.
Ryou could only hope that that part was his mind and eyes playing tricks.

"No need to be so polite. I was just sent down here to remind you and cohort that the banquet is due to start soon, in another fifteen minutes, I believe. I'm assuming you'd like some time to ready yourself before they commence?"


Th-that was it? Again he found himself over-analyzing her every word in all his panic, searching for any signs that she may be onto him.
He couldn't find anything particularly glaring yet. Ngh, now just got to keep it up.

"Oh, oh-of course. Very well, don't worry, I'll make sure to let the others know on my way up. Thank you."

He bowed, and was past her and out without another word.

---

Ryou's head spun as he approached the living quarters. And not because he wasn't used to spiral staircases.
That had been too close. If she'd appeared even a minute sooner, who knew what would have happened. And what was to say they wouldn't figure out that something was missing eventually, especially if they'd been guarding the document as purposefully as he'd thought they were. Argh, this may have been such a stupid move on his part.

Now that he had it, there was no reason to waste his effort - and possibly, his life - and not to show Kyuuen.

When he knocked on her door however, there still wasn't an answer.
Damnit, where was that girl? Oh, please don't let her be off trying to accomplish something even sneakier than looting the archives before they'd even had dinner.

Actually, on second thought, trust her to be doing something stupid like that.
And to leave him with absolutely no clue as to what it was.

...Unless he'd actually missed her, and she'd bothered to tell somebody else.
Well, it was worth a try.

knock knock

"Toya, open up - it's me. Have you seen Kyuuen?"
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:50 am

Toya had already long reached his limit of walking in the desert heat for the day, and he was more than happy to take Kyuuen’s advice to get some rest before dinner.

He immediately shut himself in his room, tossed his shirt along with an armory of blades and ninja tools to the floor, and passed out on the ridiculously comfortable bed, wishing that he could sleep through the evening and somehow avoid their scheduled formal meal.

The last time he had attended such an event had taken place over five years ago, when he was the small, unobtrusive boy sitting at his powerful, intimidating father’s side. When Toya took over as head of the business, he always made sure to send representatives to deal with any essential gatherings. No adult in the economic world would have really taken him seriously anyway, and he had been quite fine with that arrangement.

Hunters were trained from birth to sleep with one eye open and their senses on half-alert, but just this once he could give his body a couple hours of complete rest. Even if the nobility were involved in some sort of anti-Suna plot, this was the absolute safest place in the country from outside invaders. It’s not like they could risk killing a group of diplomats who would be expected to return to the village with news.

That’s why under any other circumstances he would have woken as soon as Kyuuen took the first step into his room. Instead, his eyelids didn’t even stir until she had firmly pinned him to the bed and whispered seductively into his ear.

His body switched into high gear immediately, though his mind needed a little extra time to catch up. Regardless, no prostitute assassin was going to claim his life today!

Moving quickly, he managed to spin around until he was facing right side up, even with the weight of the girl pushing down on him. His hands latched onto her shoulders to shove her forward, and he used the momentum to pull himself up and reverse their previous positions. He straddled her waist, applying continuous pressure on her collarbone with one hand while deliberating moving the other toward her neck.

Everything made a lot more sense when he blinked a few more times and made the connection between the face of his would-be assailant and her words. He quickly retracted his arms before they could do any real damage, a sigh escaping his lips.

Geez, you scared the hell out of me. One bad move and I could have killed you.

He rubbed his forehead as a pained expression crossed his face.

Damnit, I can’t believe you had me strung along on this whole ‘important mission’ thing. Any one of us could have easily dealt with this alone, but now I see my original assumptions were actually correct."

Realizing the lingering awkward nature of his position, he pushed off of the bed with his hands and leapt to the floor below. He immediately reached for his undershirt and pulled it over his head.

And to think Ryou is always screeching about my relationship with Moriko and downplaying his own when you two are already doing…that kind of thing. Seriously, what the hell?

Toya reached down to grab his knife belt when a pounding at the door instantly froze him in place.

"Toya, open up - it's me. Have you seen Kyuuen?"

He briefly glanced over at the girl on his bed before stepping to the door and opening it a few inches. Just enough to come face-to-face with Ryou while blocking the view of anything inside the room.

Ugh, why did he feel the need to protect anyone here when he was the one being toyed around with like a fool? But no matter how much irritation he might be feeling right now, it’s not like he wanted to intentionally cause harm to his friend’s relationship. Damnit all.

Oh, hey buddy. Just woke up and was about to get changed and stuff for dinner. Haven’t seen Kyuuen around, but if you want to meet up when I’m done here I’ll help you look.

If Kyuuen wanted to come out and be up front about the whole thing right away, then he wouldn’t stand in the way, but he suddenly hoped she would just stay put. From Ryou’s viewpoint, this would probably make both of them look equally in the wrong, and right now he honestly wasn’t sure which of them his friend trusted more.

Until that moment, he didn’t know it was possible to feel so alone in the presence of your best friend.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:40 am

Shit!

Kyuuen didn't know what to do. Or say. Or feel, other than complete embarrassment. Toya had moved so quickly it had stunned her. She had wondered, fleetingly, how Ryou had grown those kinds of reflexes, only to see that he hadn't.

"Geez, you scared the hell out of me. One bad move and I could have killed you."

Pride boiled inside her. Like it would've been that easy! She was equally dangerous, equally skilled! Normally she would've flung that barb at him, but the embarrassment kept her weighed down in place.

"Damnit, I can’t believe you had me strung along on this whole ‘important mission’ thing. Any one of us could have easily dealt with this alone, but now I see my original assumptions were actually correct."

How dare he! The mission was important, if she had just wanted to make out with Ryou she would've found a way that didn't include Toya being around, that was for sure! Smug and confident, that's what he was, so sure of his own assumptions...she should be correcting him right now. Correcting with volume and certainty.

"And to think Ryou is always screeching about my relationship with Moriko and downplaying his own when you two are already doing…that kind of thing. Seriously, what the hell?"

Gah, what was it with boys!? There were other levels of physical intimacy before it got to...that! And what was so wrong about them anyway! She missed Ryou, badly, and seeing him wasn't enough to assure that ache in her heart. She needed to touch him and know he was there. Know without a shadow of a doubt. If anyone could understand that, it had to be Toya. She opened her mouth.

"Toya, open up - it's me. Have you seen Kyuuen?"

Shiiiiiiiiit!

Her mouth stumbled over itself. She tried to stand, but slipped on the kimono and remained on her knees. Toya moved to the door, dressing quickly as he did. She reached out to try and stop him, to beg him not to reveal anything, but the door was already open.

Obscuring her from view entirely.

"Oh, hey buddy. Just woke up and was about to get changed and stuff for dinner. Haven’t seen Kyuuen around, but if you want to meet up when I’m done here I’ll help you look."

W-what!?

The door shut. He didn't look at her, just set himself to gathering his belongings and laying them out neatly on the bed.

He was...giving her an out? Protecting their relationship? Why? He hadn't done anything wrong, he had no reason to protect her unless...unless he was worried about how Ryou might feel. No different than she did, she supposed. Maybe it was because they had done nothing wrong that he was able to let it go like this. He wasn't betraying his friend. It was just a misunderstanding.

Frozen, she listened to Ryou's footsteps vanish.

She picked herself up and adjustd her kimono. There was so much to say, but the guilt and embarrassment were too much; heavy weights dropped onto her chest. Whatever she said now would be cheap and pointless. There would be no arguing with Toya. She would have to prove herself.

...and, in a way, she had already failed that.

Wordlessly, she slipped out.

- - -

The clothes the Ambassador's office were nothing special. Dress uniforms, really; nice tunic-style shirts with the Suna inisgnia sewed onto them and formal slacks. Kyuuen's was green, Ryou's a regal blue, and Toya's an appropriately shadowy smoke color.

There would be no peacock tricks tonight.

"Greetings, and welcome to the City of Seven Valleys. I am called Inachi Noriyuka, the heir-presumptive to the House of Noriyuka. My father sends his regards and apologies he cannot be here to receive you in person. His health does not permit him to these lengthy discourses, I'm afraid."

Inachi Noriyuka was a refined young man, whose body looked like it had never endured struggle, his skin was so smooth and complexion so healthy. He spoke in refined, lyrical lines and regarded each of the visitors with respect. He couldn't have been much older than them; perhaps twenty-one or twenty-two. He stood at one end of a long table drenched in white linens and glistening with silver.

Kyuuen was at a loss. She had, literally, nothing to say to him. All of the concerns for the mission and the future safety of Suna seemed like distant, far away issues that hardly pertained to her. The pressures of what she had accidentally, and purposefully, done to Toya were starting to grate on her. It was taking all of her mental concentration to keep those worrisome thoughts out; ora least quieter. She wasn't sure if she was going to make it.

She might crack, right then.
The questions kept coming in a dutiful march.

"We were surprised to hear your attendance, but delighted at it nonetheless. Was your journey difficult?

Ah yes, I imagine so. Our deep condolences about what is going on in yourlands. It breaks our heart to hear of the death tolls.

Mm, no, not that we've noticed. Though our intelligence in such matters is not the same as yours. I'm afraid we've become dependent on what Suna sends us. Some find this weakness, but my father considers it a thorough use of assets.
"

She didn't answer one of them. Ryou slid into his position perfectly and started to spin circles of rhetoric around this effiminite gentleman and his dainty food. Seriously, what was with this food, it was hardly enough to taste.

Beneath the table, Kyuuen squeezed Ryou's hand once.

"I wonder, Noriyuka-sama, where the Hazama clan is? I was told they would be here as well."

Both Inichi and Ryou seemed irked by the ruined flow of their conversation, but he cleared his throat and set aside the spoon in his thin soup long enough to indulge her.

"Unfortunately, my esteemed colleagues were otherwise engaged. But I speak for all of the nobility gathered here, I have been gratned that authority and I assure you my words is bond."

An insincere smile slipped across his face.

- - -

Less than six feet away from Kyuuen, Toya was having a miserable dinner.

His soup was ice cold (literally contained ice in it), the bread he received old and hard, his shrimp rotting and beyond their freshness. He had hardly managed to scrape together a bite and a half of food. The servant stepped snapily behind him and set a silver platter in front of him.

"Many apologies for your difficulties, sir. The chef is quite embarrassed and invites you to the kitchen to watch your meal being prepared expertly and to eat whatever you can challenge him to make as a way of apology."

The servant slid the platter closer and lifted the lid from it.
A cloth with a stitched golden wolf in profile stared up at Toya.

Rika took the lid under her arm and headed back to the kitchen, waiting for her cousin to follow.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:19 am

The one good thing about not having Kyuuen around for the past six weeks was that he'd been given a complete choice in what he ate, all three meals of every day she'd been absent. Having finally restored access to his bank account, it was only natural that he'd used the opportunity to treat himself to as much gourmet dining as possible in Suna's various high class eateries.

And as a result of what had again become such a norm, this dinner turned out to be kinda...boring.

Noriyuka was nothing Ryou hadn't already seen a million times in his life. Prim and proper heir apparent who had actually listened to his tutors and spent his time secretly longing for the day his dad kicked the bucket all while being as physically capable as a blind penguin. Talking to this guy was just reliving a conversation he'd been through more times than he could count, and to be honest, he had no motivation to continue.

At the very least, Ryou had been looking forward to dining with Sora again more than anything. As much as he had...chosen Kyuuen over her that night, their conversations had pleasant and interesting. Not to mention that no matter which way he looked at it, be it demeanor or looks, she was just a beautiful girl to be around. He'd really been looking forward to catching up with her tonight, especially in her own hometown, and her absence came as a bit of a disappointment. Kyuuen's sudden inability to remember how to speak and behave at a banquet and Toya being called off to the kitchens weren't helping matters.

But the lack of anybody interesting to talk to wasn't the only thing dulling his spirits.

There was nothing to gain as far as their covert mission went from just sitting here making small talk. Sure, he hadn't...cared so much when they'd first arrived here, but the discovery of concrete proof that this city was not all it claimed to be had his veins pulsing with curiosity and determination. If it was indeed true that there was corruption in the air here, he felt that it was his duty and place, both as a shinobi of Suna and a noble by blood, to put a stop to it.

He hadn't had the chance to discuss the paper he'd retrieved with Kyuuen yet (he blamed her, still having no clue where the hell she'd run off to before they'd met for dinner), which only served to increase his frustration. Though, now that he thought about it, what would else Kyuuen know that he already didn't? Would asking her opinion seriously yield anything worthwhile in terms of their investigation? No, he didn't think so.

Obviously the best means by which to get further information would be to ask the likes of Noriyuka himself, but how on earth was he supposed to do that without making it apparent that he'd been messing around with the archives? Unless he brought dad into it, but that would be too difficult to string into natural conversation. Hm...

But then again, if he could just justify his whole position on the issue at hand, what was there to lose? If he knew anything, Noriyuka would either have to bluntly lie or tell the truth. Both, Ryou could use to his advantage.

It could just be worth the risk.

That really is a pity to hear, Noriyuka-sama. I happen to be acquainted with the Hazama, and know them to be rather fine people. However, I doubt they sacrificed a thing when they named you to represent them here. You seem to be a very refined and reliable gentleman, Noriyuka-sama. I'm sure you'll make a fine leader of this city, whenever your time comes.

Welp, he certainly was spinning bullshit here. As if he seriously believed that a pansy like this guy was capable of leading anything worthwhile. Or cared, really.
But that was how you worked with these types. Pretend to admire them until they brushed you off as some brainwashed follower, and then dish out the dirt. Forced them to actually answer their own supporters, and thus, far more effective.

Of course, Noriyuka responded to this first bout of meaningless compliments with the typical thanks and boasts and faked modest babble about how he'd never really be as successful as his father.

Bah, too easy.

Oh, no need to doubt yourself, sir. You're everything my own father wanted me to be. You see, I also happen to be the son of a daimyo. You may have heard his name, Daisuke Yutaka of the Snow Country - he played a large hand in the passing of a recent treaty with this nation actually. A water supply bill, I believe it was.

Noriyuka's eyes flashed the moment he mentioned the treaty, as predicted.
He was definitely hiding something.

Ryou suppressed a smirk, cleared his throat and pressed on.

Whatever doubts he'd previously had about his method were slowly beginning to diminish. Forcing his influence past and manipulating this guy was slowly proving to be rather...fun.

Anyway, up until a short while ago, I too held the title of heir presumptive. I renounced it though, before moving here to serve Suna as a shinobi. A good decision, I have to say after seeing the sheer standard of the nobility here in this city. Not to mention you yourself, Noriyuka-Sama. I doubt I could ever match up.

Oh god, just thinking about what he was saying was enough to make him feel sick. Okay okay, that was enough praise and banter to water down any first impressions.
Time to corner him.

Ryou grinned a grin glazed with enough fake empathy to rival Noriyuka's own.

He'd never truly appreciated how ruthless the business of politics could be.

By the way, my father sends his sincerest regards. He hoped that the water bill would aid Suna, and in turn, your nation, as much as your people had wished for. I personally take it - and pray - that the treaty has been of at least some benefit?
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:15 am

Everything seemed to be going wrong tonight.

His fancy new clothes felt a bit too tight, and he found himself pulling at his collar every minute or two. The stifling aura of excessive luxury made every minute uncomfortable enough without any added factors.

Ryou had instantly struck up a conversation with their host and would be unavailable for who knows how long. Kyuuen was…well there was no way he could initiate any contact with her yet. The awkward tension still lingered heavily above them.

But at least he could focus on the fine meal and just ignore the rest, right?

Yep, the frozen soup, stone bread, and putrid seafood was just what he needed to get his mind off the rest of this mess of an event. What the hell was going on around here?

He almost choked on a small bite of his concrete roll when he noticed a familiar face amongst the ranks of the servants waiting on the dinner guests. This could not be happening right now. Maybe this entire crazy day, starting even before the mishap with Kyuuen in his room, was all just an incredibly irregular dream he was having.

Any minute now he would wake up to a perfectly normal world where…

As if fate itself had decided to slap Toya in the face and completely shatter his foolish hopes, the female in question approached his seat and invited him back into the kitchen.

The voice was already unmistakable enough, and the embroidered cloth was complete overkill. Apparently the ancient art of Nanaya subtlety had not quite taken root in his clearly insane cousin’s mind.

No one at the table seemed to bat an eye when he stood, so he simply followed her through the double doors into the kitchen without saying a word.

He tried to convey an extreme level of exclamation in his words without actually raising his voice too high, which ended up sounding like an incredibly hoarse, whispery tone.

Really, Rika?! There were a million acceptable ways to get me out of there without seeming suspicious, and you go with this? As if I wouldn’t recognize your face or voice in the first place, but the clan symbol too? And did you really have to prevent me from enjoying a simple meal too? What the hell are you even doing here anyway?

He paused to inhale and took a moment to look over his silent, wide-eyed cousin. Was there really any point to blowing up on her like this before he’d even heard a word of explanation? Damn, all of the building tension with Kyuuen and Ryou and his growing feeling of loneliness were really starting to affect him.

Bah, whatever.

Toya took a step forward and slipped his arms around the shorter girl, pulling her into a tight embrace. It had been far too long since he’d seen his only remaining blood relative in this world.

I’m really glad to see you, Rika.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:37 am

"Oi, come on, that's not fair, I spent a lot of time cross-stitching this stupid wolf scarf and it just doesn't seem to ever come up. And how was I supposed to know if you'd recognize me, better safe than sorry right?"

She rolled her eyes, but returned Toya's hug nonetheless. They were stowed away in one corner of the vast kitchen, ignored by the rest of the staff. There were too many demanding mouths to feed to worry about who might be stealing secrets in the shadows.

"Yeah, me too. I was starting to worry you weren't going to show up. Things have been crazy here, moving so fast. Been hard to keep up on everything, I'll be honest. Guess the Nanaya don't have a lot of training in espionage, though. Only three of us, including me. We have everything committed to memory and we'll have a scribe take it down later and send you what we know, but the short version is that the nobility is working against Suna. Actively.

Takanari was working with the Kizuatorui as part of a contract against the Suna nobility, which we knew. What we didn't know was who hired him. As far as we can tell, the contracts came from the other nobles. The funds mostly came from Noriyuka family, and it was all of the Noriyuka enemies that fell. Most of the noble houses have either collapsed or grown too weak to stand up to Noriyuka in his decisions. He and his partners have practically consolidated all of the power.
"

Rika seethed and punched her palm. "Damnit, to think we were used in a political game..." She sighed and shut her eyes, gathering up her thoughts. Had to do that too much these days. "They're attacking Suna, supplementing the bandits with their own troops. And they gotta be stopped. How...I don't know. I'm glad you're here, maybe we can finally make sense of this."

She peered around Toya and glanced along the walls. No one there. Hard instinct to break, checking for predators, but there was an odd comfort to it. Just as there was an odd comfort when she realized that Toya had done the same in that same moment. She tapped her blade, just to remind her where it was, and continued.

"And maybe you can finally talk to some sense into Moxie. I know she's strong and all, but I think she's pushing herself too far. Been telling her for two weeks now that we need to get her out of there, but she just won't listen. I think she'd take down the whole city herself right now, if she could. But she can't. They...I don't know Toya, she just doesn't move right. I think she's still injured."

- - -

Kyuuen's eyes were wide open. This was new.

She hadn't seen Ryou at work before, not when there wasn't some emotional stake. Sure, standing up to the daimyo of Yuki was one thing, but they were father and son. Deftly skirting around this peacocking idiot was one thing, but cornering him was another. The water reclamatino bill from Yuki. One of their many prizes they took back to Suna. It was a vital prize too, to accept water from Yuki whenever Suna's supplies started to diwndle, which seemed like every day. This agreement could change lives.

And it hadn't been signed? That was why he was bringing it up, wasn't it? What the hell? When had Ryou found this out? And why hadn't he said anything?

Suddenly the stakes were much higher than they were before. Kyuuen had been content to use this as an opportunity to spy on the nobility, not get any actual work done.

Noriyuka's face grew cold, his attention suddenly preoccupied with his food and drink. Kyuuen searched Ryou's face, but he was focused on his prey.

There was something oddly attractive about that.

"Yes, well, the treaty is quite an act of friendship I must admit, but the stability in Suna hasn't been conducive to implementing it, as you imagine. That is why you are here, are you not? To ask for aid for Sunagakure?" Noriyuka dropped his fork on his plate distastefully. "Some nerve, you shinobi have. You spend decades mocking us, moving your power and society and protection away from me and my family and when things get a bit tough the first thing you do is come a demand help as if you deserve it."

"It's not our fault. Your predecessors started it back with the 4th and 5th Kazekages. Then you didn't help during the reconstruction during the 6th, or the terror of the 8th. By the time our Kyuudaime was around, we couldn't depend on you anymore so we depended on ourselves." Kyuuen found her words, and her indignation, and slammed a hand on the table. "And we're not asking for help for ourselves. We're asking for help to protect the commoners. The civilians. Your citizens, the ones who fill your coffers with taxes so you can keep living a comfortable life. It's not an unreasonable demand."

"Shut your filthy mouth, you common whore!" Noriyuka swept off his plates and sent them crashing to the floor. "You come here representing Sunagakure and expect us to take you seriously? Ha! You are only children. Either Suna is slighting us, or they have run out of adults. In either case, you aren ot worth dealing with a moment longer. I should have you taken away to the dungeon and tortured there until you beg for mercy-"

"Enough, boy."

The room was stark silent, save for some ambling footsteps. A much older man made his way to the head of the table. The young Noriyuka was on his feet and bowing his head.

"Father, ah...I apologize, it was just-"

"It was just you making a complete idiot of yourself and a shame to our family. Leave us."

"Father, I-"

"Leave. Us."

The younger Noriyuka bowed formally to his father, then to them, though Kyuuen suspected he didn't mean. Then he rushed off. The elder Noriyuka, balding and with a bushy mustache, sat himself down in the ruined seat and laced his fingers together.

"My apologies. The boy is headstrong and rash. Now, am I to understand you have a request of some sort?"

- - -

At the bottom of a serpentine staircase, past two heavy doors, Inachi Noriyuka stormed. Guards snapped erect when he rushed by, trying to hide into the walls to avoid his wrath. One guard opened a cell of the dungeon without being asked to, and was not thanked for it.

Inachi stripped off the top of his kimono, leaving him bare chested, glistening with sweat and reeking of frustration.

"He treats me like a child! Five minutes away from death and he dares to treat me like a child!"

He moved past the body that hung silently in the center of the room and over to the table that held his instruments. Thoughtlessly he withdrew a hickory baton and felt the weight of it in his hand. Hard wood, nearly brittle, unforgiving. He turned to the hanging girl and struck her back with a loud crack.

She grunted, but did not scream.

"Scream, damnit!"

The girl hung from her feet, her arms chained to opposite walls. She was being kept fresh for him, courtesy of Doctor Okura's expertise. But she had yet to scream.

Maybe that was why he bothered to keep her alive.

He swung five more times, each blow crackling bones and swelling up neat bruises along her bare back. Nothing more than the smallest grunts.

And then a sound. A piercing, high sound that bubbled through the cell, one that unnerved him to his core. He stormed around her, looking at her laughing face and golden eyes.

"What! What's so funny! Do you find this amusing? Pleasurable!?"

Moxie sneered.

"Not much longer."

She shut her eyes and smiled.
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Klee » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:18 pm

Ryou was on his feet, stiff with his fingernails snaring into Kyuuen's shoulders. Even as Noriyuka's footsteps died away into the hallway beyond, he didn't release her or resume his seat.

He was stunned. And frightened.

Perhaps he had been conditioned into believing that a person of Noriyuka’s background wasn’t capable of behaving in such a heinous manner at a banquet, but he never could have foreseen his attempts to have the man confess end as shockingly as they did. Even now, the violent rant which had thrown Suna's very existence into the mud ran chills down his spine.

The room had descended into a complete silence with the elder Noriyuka's words, but Ryou's frustration continued to run deep.

Even in the daimyo's eyes, there was a certain coldness that filled him with unease. Headstrong and rash? That was all he had to say about the man who had just destroyed the banquet, fouled Kyuuen's name and threatened them with such archaic means of torture? That was all anyone had to say?
How? How could they all just allow that man to carry on like a tyrant for so long without even a word of protest until the last minute, and then act as though nothing had happened the moment Noriyuka had left them? And if the daimyo had known that his son had a tendency to behave like this, why had he granted him so much authority? Not to mention, where the hell was Toya? Surely the people in the kitchen would have heard the commotion, especially Toya with his heightened senses. Why had nobody come to check what was going on?

Something was very wrong here.

Ryou sank back into his chair. Under the table, he gripped Kyuuen's hand as tight as he could. He turned to face Noriyuka.

A request? No, we have nothing of that sort. Daimyo-sama, what Suna comes to you with tonight is a plea.

There was no more use here for typical give and take diplomacy. No more false affection or praise. Cut to the chase and get what what they came for.
If these people were genuine, they would excuse his his tactics and give Suna what it wanted. If not, then he was prepared to leave with all the answers they already had.

They weren't staying here tonight.

The people of our village are deep in a state of turmoil. One that is ultimately the result of a lack of resources. In the wake of the surging numbers bandit onslaughts, we require military assistance. In times of rapidly increasing taxes and prices, which we owe to you, we require financial injections. And following the fate of a certain predominant medical camp known as BLOSSOM, our levels of health supplies have reached an almost critical low.

With every case he mentioned, Ryou observed the faintest shifts in the old daimyo's face. But falters like those could mean a lot of things, from sympathy to boredom.

One way or another, he was going to find out what.

But above all other things, we need water. You may not have heard, but an incident a couple of weeks ago cost our village its primary irrigation plant, which was located about halfway between here and Suna. An absurdly large group of rogues had infiltrated the system, somehow going undetected by either city until it was too late. Regardless of why this happened, the fall of the plant only marks our village's desperate requirement of water, and yet the Yukigakure bill remains unsigned.

His throat was growing tight.

For the first time, Ryou let his vision falter from the daimyo's face. He slid out of Kyuuen's grasp, got to his feet, and retrieved a crystal jug that had been situated just outside his seated reach. He poured himself a drink, raised the tumbler to his lips, and drank.

Then he sat the glass down with just enough force to create a commanding sound without spilling any liquid over the edges.

His eyes shot back to Noriyuka.

All humans need water to survive, Noriyuka-sama. Shinobi, civilians and nobility alike. Both to hydrate us and to satisfy the plants and animals that feed us. If you want, you can stand there and try to justify your hatred of shinobi like your son did and see if I care, but there is no logic as to why you would wish to see the innocents who pay for your life of luxury suffer the deprivation of their necessity. I plea that through ratifying the bill and otherwise, you grant Sunagakure the supply of water it requires in order to sustain its population.

Ryou slammed both hands against the table, and bowed his head just a fraction.
But he didn't allow the firm look in his eyes to relent.

That is...unless you-” he glanced down the long table, taking into account every face, searching for whether even one shared the views of Noriyuka junior. He was sure somebody did. “-any of you, can give me one good reason why the leaders of this country would rather see their own people perish!
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Re: DECAY: Shatter - Bursting Bubble

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:19 am

Something stirred within Toya, but his mind was still racing to catch up with whatever the hell it was. He steadied himself against the wall with his right hand, a strange, disoriented sensation breaking his focus for the moment.

Nearly everything Rika stated seemed to fit perfectly with the suspicions that they had been sent here to confirm. The nobility were conspiring against Suna. The Nanaya received payment from Noriyuka’s faction to thin out the ranks of his opposition within the ruling families. Every attack and setback for Suna was being planned and executed directly by its own country’s leaders.

And then suddenly none of her words made an ounce of sense. She clearly must be mistaken, because that would mean…

Rika, what the hell are you saying? Moriko is here? We need to get her out of where? No, this can’t…but Kyuuen said…

No. No way. No goddamn way. Maybe he had been overreacting earlier about being manipulated, and maybe Kyuuen really had brought him along for the sake of the mission, but to pull something like this…no way.

Where…

His hands grasped her shoulders in an iron grip as he tried to stabilize his own state of mind. Everything was going to be okay…

Where is she, Rika? Damnit, she’s been locked up in this fortress and tortured for weeks? I swear, if Kyuuen knew all of this and didn’t say a word, I’m gonna…no, this isn’t the time for that. We all need to get far away from this place, now.

He turned his head to glance out the kitchen entrance and quickly reconsidered. He couldn’t even be sure how he would react to seeing Kyuuen’s face just yet. Or even Moxie’s in her current state. He thought he had made substantial progress with controlling his emotions and actions, but it seemed that matters of the heart could still void any such mental training.

Where are the other two hunters? One or more of you need to warn Ryou and Kyuuen to get the hell out before the Noriyuka realize that we know everything. I’m going to free Moriko myself, even if I have carry her out the front door and through every damn one of these seven valleys myself.

She had already suffered far too much time in painful captivity in his uncle’s grasp, and the memory of her in that helplessly weak state made him feel sick.

His knuckles began to turn white as he clenched both his hands into tight fists. Time was running out for all of them with each passing second spent in this house of corruption.

Now tell me where I need to go.
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