To be Nanaya

[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: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:44 am

Damn this place is big. ‘Lot nicer than the last place too.

Thickpick City was no trashy collection of wooden hovels in the middle of the sand. It was more akin to a desert oasis, thriving with wealth and lively inhabitants.

Many of the roads remained dusty and unpaved, but the walled settlement was dotted with rows upon rows of beautifully crafted stone buildings, brightened up with colorful paints and the occasional vegetation. It felt like being back in Suna, but with a completely reversed shinobi to civilian ratio.

Dai tugged at his cloak, tightening it around his otherwise conspicuous left arm. No point in drawing extra attention to himself here, especially with such a recognizable trait.

The sound of running water filled his ears as he stepped into one of the crowded city plazas. Numerous stalls lined the vicinity, offering exotic fruits, vivid flowers, masterfully-crafted weapons, and anything a potential customer could want.

But his eyes only focused on one thing.

Ah, fountain!

The Jekial dashed ahead of his female companion with the enthusiasm of an excited child and dove forward, his torso balancing on the edge of the stone structure as his face plunged into the cool water.

It only took a second or two before he slowly pulled himself away from the basin of liquid, shaking droplets from his hair and brushing dust off his wardrobe.

Bloody hell, he had once again attracted the attention of the majority in the area, just not with swords and threats this time.

Dai warily stepped back over to Rika, water still dripping from his head onto the ground and the rest of his body.

Sorry about that…old Westland habit. You learn not to hesitate when you spot such a bountiful water source in the desert. Plus, fountains are awesome in the first place!

Damnit, he needed to stop qualifying his explanations with excess detail. He grinned as widely as he could manage.

A-Anyway, should we start looking for that address? Or is that too obvious or something? …maybe I’ll just wait until you find Senji on your own and then give him what’s coming. I’ll only make this harder for you like this.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:11 pm

At this point, it was just cute.

No, not cute. Not cute.

The city was gorgeous, but more important, crowded. As odd as Dai's fountain-drinking was, it hadn't really drawn more than a few amused glances. Most people didn't pay attention to anything that didn't have to do with themselves. People in a city especially so.

She took him by is organic arm and drew him back from the fountain a few steps, just on the edge where people were buying from stalls. Completely invisible in plain sight.

"Stop apologizing."

She scanned through the crowd. The stalls smelled like dried fruit and leatherworks. No one seemed to be lingering, though it would've surprised her to have been picked up this quickly.

"The dropoff for the letters is in the Chozawa district, according to our drunk friend. Best to just go there and do the dropoff and then tail them. Here, you take them. I'll follow from above. You then follow the mark on foot as best you can. Best to be careful though, err on staying too far away. Don't worry, I won't lose him."

She motioned for Dai to lead on to the Chozawa district, and the pair walked arm in arm through the city streets. Rika normally wouldn't have utilized a "couple cover" but this allowed her to navigate their path through the most nondescript way possible. And it would allow her to prevent Dai from bolting toward the next fountain.

...really, drinking out of a fountain?

They emerged from a narrow walkway and onto a arched bridge that passed over a sudden ravine. Apparently the city was built into two halves, and three arched bridges stretched across to the other side. They were on the center bridge.

Men with spears and glistening armor stood across the bridge while a shorter man stood upon a box in the center. He had a scroll in his hand he was unrolling and he cleared his throat a half dozen times. Rika pulled Dai into the crowd, snaking them into the center.

She tapped the hilt of her blade.

"People of Thickpick City! By order of the Kajima Family, the bridges to North Tickpick are now closed! All those wishing to pass into North Thickpick must purchase a pass to allow crossing. Passes will cost 900 ryo and can be purchased at the tax collector's office. Until then, no one may pass this bridge!"

The crowd started to yell.

"But I live on the North side! Surely I can return home to my chidlren!"

"This is insane, the wells are on the North side!"

"I can't afford 900 ryo!"

"The Kajima Family has no right! The nobility don't rule this area anymore, we're a Republic!"

"No right? No right? Do you see any Republic soldiers here? No, I do not. I only see the soldiers of the Kajmia Family, which protect you from your criminals. The Republic says they will supply us with police and supplies and doctors but they are not here, are they? No, you live off of the generosity and kindness of the Kajmia Family, and in order to continue this life you must pay the appropriate Bridge Tax."

The crowd yelled more, but the man was already winding up his scroll and stepping down from the box. The soldiers took a step forward and lowered their spears, keeping a comfortable perimeter for the crier.

Rika glanced to the east bridge, then the west. The west bridge had soldiers stationed, but not the east. Perhaps that one hadn't been closed yet.

"Come on, if we move quick we can get across the east bridge."

She pulled on Dai's arm, but he didn't move an inch.

He was like a stone.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:46 am

Dai ripped his arm out of Rika’s grip a bit too viciously, but anger and adrenaline were already surging through his body and guiding his actions.

No, we’ll all be taking this bridge. Stand back. I need to take care of this.

He pushed his way through the crowd, positioning himself between the civilians and soldiers. His right hand gripped the material of his cloak and tore it from his body, revealing his mechanical limb to everyone watching the spectacle.

Oi, dog of the nobility! What the hell did you just say?!

A pair of the spear-wielding warriors immediately moved to intercept the approaching young man and instantly flattened, pinned to the bridge’s surface in a prone position.

Dai raised his glowing and buzzing arm, unaffected by the powerful gravitational field it was producing around him, and continued to march steadily down the bridge.

The armored men dropped one by one like porcelain dolls if they so much as stepped in his direction. The short messenger clutched his scroll and turned to flee, but too late to avoid the Jekial’s snare zone.

The former Westlander extended his arm and tossed the man over the side of the bridge, levitating him precariously over the gaping chasm bisecting the city.

How odd, now I don’t see any soldiers of the Kajima family either! Just one pissed off representative of the Republic of Suna ready to kick any corrupt nobility asses out of this city!

You wouldn’t need any extra defenders or supplies if you greedy bastards were actually aiding this place out of generosity and not some pathetic way to grab some of your former power back!


He pulled his arm back and yanked his floating victim back over to the safety of the stone bridge, depositing him roughly onto the solid material. His fingers curled, and the whimpering man was slowly dragged across the ground until he reached Dai’s feet.

Dai’s amber eyes burned with intensity as he gripped the Kajima lackey’s collar and pulled him to his feet.

I want you all to get the hell off these bridges and never exploit the citizens of this country ever again. I can use force if necessary, but I’m sure you don’t to be drawing the full attention of the Republic to what you’re doing here, hmm?

Subtlety be damned. Finding Senji and shutting down his little rebellion would mean nothing if he stood around and let a bunch of remnant nobles oppress everyone as if their side had won the war.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:55 pm

Rika felt the crowd transform.

They had been meek. Frightened. Angry, but scared. While the soldiers collected themselves from the ground, still shuddering from the shock of the gravity, the crowd grew an inch taller. They took a step forward and squared their shoulders and narrowed their eyes. In a handful of actions and words, Dainichi Kaizoku had transformed the citizens from victims into warriors. People willing to stand up for themselves.

It electrified Rika to see it in action. She even felt her own heart stirring underneath her Nanaya concentration, which had been tempered by so many battles and so many hunts. She too wanted to throw her fist into the air and charge headlong against the Kajima Family.

The Kajima forces were fleeing across the bridge. Rika turned to face the west bridge; it too was being abandoned by the guards there, though she had no idea how they could have known Dai was making his move here. The crowd started to yell, bending over and picking up stones from the street and hurling them at the fleeing soldiers.

"All hail the hero of the Republic! The great Warrior of the Westland! Dainichi Kaizoku!"

Rika actually laughed when they gathered around Dai and hoisted them onto his shoulders. He hadn't even said his name and they already knew who he was. Perhaps when Rika had thought of Dai as a force of nature, she had been more accurate than she originally thought.

There was a loud clap coming from behind the crowd - unnaturally so. It seemed to pierce through the rest of the din like an detonating explosive tag. Popping and unnerving, the crowd turned to face the source.

He was tall and broad. A battered coat draped from his shoulders like a curtain, his high collar covering most of his mouth. His head was shaved, with a scar that ran along the crown of his skull, down along the left side of his nose and curled back onto his cheek in a wobbling, wicked spiral. He walked with the slightest limp on his left side, his weak side, and each step with his left foot stomped and jangled. There were several men around him, each clutching swords and spears and had kunai draped around them in long chains.

"Dai, my old comrade." Stomp, stomp, stomp. He spoke with a low baritone, each word vibrating in Rika's chest. "I'm glad to see you still have your senses about you. About who the real enemy is."

Dai slipped himself down from the crowd carrying him and motioned them back. The crowd parted and stood on either side of. Rika followed the crowd, leaving Dai alone in his stand off while she slipped into the background.

"I know you've been looking for me. And I don't blame you. What some of my men did in my name went against everything we stood for in the war. But I haven't forgotten the dream - even if this delightful Republic has forgotten me. I punished those men already, the way that we used to punish men when the Westlands were wild. But I suppose....the Westlands are still wild, aren't they?"

He motioned to the city around them, revealing both arms from beneath his coat. His weak side had a cane in his hand to keep him steady.

"Here we are, having won the war, and it seems like the nobility still doesn't know their place. You've seen it with your own eyes, Dai, which is more than I could've asked for. Now I want you to help me. I've been working on a way to unseat the Kajima family from power and get rid of their influence once and for all. With your power and your charisma, I can get the last pieces to the puzzle."

He bowed slightly, extending his empty hand.

"Won't you rally to the cause one last time? I'll answer any question you have. I have nothing to hide."
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:38 am

Dai stared blankly at his former ally, ignoring the offering of his hand.

Senji, you…the nobility still has this much power way out here, huh? You look like hell, by the way.

He would never claim to be the most intuitive person in the world, but he liked to think he could at least read the sincerity and fire in a man’s eyes.

The two Westlanders had fought dozens of battles on the same field, forging a bond that only constant combat could create. Maybe the man wasn’t quite as pure as he claimed, but much of his speech rang true to him.

Maybe some of his men really had just gone overboard and already received their just punishment for it. Staying in this city to wage a sort of guerrilla war against a lingering family of the nobility made perfect sense as well. But what was he going on about these final pieces he needed…?

He eyed the ragtag group of thugs flanking Senji. A dirty lot of past or present criminals. But then again, who was he to judge when the same sort of lot could have been found at his side during his slow rise to power back in the Westlands?

Listen, Senji. The world still has just as many problems as the Westlands had, but we can’t just run around doing whatever we want anymore. If you needed help defeating these bastards, then you should have come asking for it instead of getting caught up in this mess and looking like the bad guy.

I want to help you, and I will, but you have to tell me about everything. Your plan, your current resources and supporters, and what exactly you think you need from me.


Dai slowly raised his right arm to accept the handshake.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:21 am

The day she got her knife, it was from her father.

For training, she had always carried a simple blade, the same size and shape as the one now hanging from her belt. It lacked, however, the silver wolf ornamentation, and the same quality of steel - a steel that could cut five hundred times without growing duller.

The blade had once belonged to her grandfather, and had been passed down time and again through the generations. She remember trembling when it touched her hands, realizing that it meant her ascension from child to full-fledged hunter, with all of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities.

She had only been ten.

Her father, it had turned out, had been a dark man with dark secrets and even darker motives. The last year had sent Rika into a long journey of thinking and questioning everything the man had ever told her. What was still good advice from a father who loved her, or lies told by a man pulling at the strings of his empire.

It was only because of that uncertainty that she hesitated now.

Kill.

"Always trust your instincts, Rika. A hunter does not know what is the right action through thought or logic. They feel it."

Kill now. Before he gets away.

"At times the mind goes to war with the instincts. Always banish those thoughts. Our mind tries to create safe realities where what we see and what we want to believe intersect neatly. But our instincts, our souls, know better."

If you don't kill him now, Dai may die.

"Hesitation is the difference between great hunters and good hunters. A great hunter obeys her instincts and never has regrets."

Can you trust that advice?

Could she? The Nanaya were not a good people. Not all of her training was right. Some of it, much of it, could be considered evil.

Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill!

It was louder now in her head. Time slowed, the two hands creeping toward one another, their finers outstretched in friendship and camaraderie.

Protect Dai.

The thought was barely a whisper, but it glowed inside her. It wriggled down into her heart and ate away at the doubt and the hesitation. This wasn't her Nanaya instinct, it wasn't her hunter's sense, but it felt like an instinct all the same - perhaps an older, more primal one.

Their hands met, fingers clasping upon palm.

Rika was right beside him.

Her left arm was across Senji's back, fingers gripping into his collarbone to keep control. Her right hand slid up underneath the handshake and punctured his chest. The blade slid between ribs and left a hole in his heart. Blood splashed out when she removed the knife, warm and sticky on her hand.

Senji would be dead before he hit the ground.

One motion, and her blade was back where it belonged. She shoved the dead man toward Dai, using him to spring forward at the opposite side of the crowd. Cries of panic were only now starting to burst - she was moving too fast for most to register what happened. She gripped the shoulders of another man by her clean hand and hurled him to the ground, using that motion to propel herself again through the opposite line of bystanders.

An alley. She slid into, running along its length with well-trained acceleration, sharping rounding the next corner and rushing to a stack of crates. She scrambled up their side, just high enough to reach for the balcony. She hefted herself onto it, scrambled through the apartment and out to the opposite balcony, and leapt onto a flat roof.

Rooftops put distance, but were not always the stealthiest approach. She'd gain distnace for the next minute on rooftop, then drop back to ground level where she could blend in again. From there, she would make her way back to the train.

And hope that Dai could understand why she had done it.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:34 am

Dai stood at the door to his private car in silence.

Senji’s blood still soaked much of his wardrobe, though his cloak now covered a large portion of the bright red stains. They served as a constant reminder of what had taken place just hours ago.

It took a decent amount of effort to settle down the panicked and enraged mob at the bridges, but he repeatedly assured them of his swift return to deal with the Kajima and avenge the death of another brave hero of the war.

And he planned to do just that. Well, in a way…

His old comrade had been taken away in the blink of an eye before they could fight alongside one another a second time, but not by any agent of the nobility. No, the solution would be far simpler if that had been the case.

He inhaled deeply and slid the door open, stepping inside and peering about the interior.

Rika stood at the far end of the car, facing away from him and tinkering with some spare parts lying around his workbench. Her hands froze in response to the sound of his entrance, but she did not turn.

So you did come back here…good.

Did his tone come off as threatening or relieved? He wasn’t sure which he had intended or which had come out.

I’m sure you already know what I have to ask. Why? Why like that?

Dai swallowed hard, attempting to keep his emotion in check for now. She deserved a chance to explain herself, no matter how unreasonable the situation appeared to him.

I mean sure, I can see how the timing and ease of that situation seemed a little too convenient to be true. But Senji was never an evil person at heart. He helped me save Suna, whatever his ultimate motives were.

Besides, it’s not like I was just going to turn my back and let him plunge a knife into it. I would have figured out his true intentions eventually and then either helped him or stopped him. Do you think I’m too stupid to even do that much? Am I just a big mindless weapon who needs to be told exactly who to strike and how to do it?


He paused and shook his head. It was unfair to put all those words in her mouth when he still knew nothing of her thought process here.

Damnit Rika, just tell me you have a reason! I don’t care what it is, I’ll believe it. I want to continue sharing this trust we have, but I need to understand you first. Just please give me something to work with. What happened back there?
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:20 am

"No, no, you're not a mindless weapon."

Her fingers closed around the wrench in her hand.

"You're..."

The desert. Hot, bright, intense, and powerful. A man larger than life and more alive than anyone I've ever met. The rules don't apply to you and that's...that's...

She let the wrench go.

"When I was standing there, every fiber of my body was screaming to kill him. Not because he was the target...it was just instinct. We - the Nanaya - spend years developing that instinct. And you don't ignore your instinct."

You never ignore it. Ever. And yet my instinct right now is to...

"Everything about that moment told me he was going to hurt you, Dai. Maybe not right then, but he would. And it...it wasn't about you not being able to take care of yourself, but weighing the risks. It was easy to kill him there, it might not be so easy later."

Turn. Face him.

She stared at the work bench.

"I've been sitting here trying to come up with proof that he was lying. Senji knew you were looking for him, and that man at the last town could've been a plant, a ploy to get us here. Then the bridges closing right when we wanted to use them to get you out in the right place at the right time, setting it all up for a chance meeting and a friendly reunion. All the talk of the Kajima family and their oppression and yet you, the Westland leader, never once heard about it. It doesn't feel right.

But it also doesn't prove anything. Those are just facts that I'm placing an explanation on top of. Other explanations could be placed on top of those facts too, and make just as much sense. When it comes down to it Dai, I don't have any proof that he was going to ever betray you. Maybe he wouldn't have. Maybe I just killed an innocent man.
"

She looked at her hands, which had left the surface of the workbench and curled toward her. Hands that had been recently scrubbed clean - looking as innocent as any other hands.

They're not innocent.

"That's what I am, Dai. A Nanaya. When our instinct tells us to kill, we kill and we don't look back and that's why you should stop trusting me. I...I don't want us - me - to be like that but the fact is we can't change that part of us without changing the core of who we are. We're stuck. Doomed to be nothing more than heartless assassins, and I was a fool to think we could ever change."

Rika spun around now, her eyes flashing in the dim car, meeting Dai's direct gaze no matter how painful staring into him was.

Like the desert. So beautiful, but so ruthless.

"I'm sorry. You should have never have met me. I should leave."

Rika did not move. Not one muscle.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:23 am

Dai silently returned her intense stare, his eyes not wavering in the slightest. Then, he moved.

He cautiously stepped forward like a wolf closing in on its cornered prey. His arms shot forward to bind her, his artificial hand cupping the back of her head while his natural arm coiled around her midriff. Both limbs pulled her in, pressing her body tightly against his.

For the first seconds, his senses ignited into an incomprehensible blaze.

It was his choice to constantly feel the burning presence of Rika and her blood that flowed through his own veins as well, and he did not hinder the sensation. He refused to let go of this indescribable link so easily.

No way. You’re not taking a single step away from me until I thoroughly finish proving you wrong about what you just claimed to be.

Ridiculous things like destiny and permanent identities don’t exist in this world. If they did, then I’d still be wallowing in the Westland slums cutting up other innocent victims of ‘fate’ to salvage enough food and water to last another miserable week. I’d be a death-worshipping Jekial cultist, thriving more inflicting death on others than helping create a better place for them to live in.

We’re the same. People born into horribly unfair circumstances who use the pain of the past to strive for a better future. As if I’ll stand here and let you tell me you’ve given up on that! Who the hell do you think you are, Rika Nanaya?!


He strengthened his grip, their hearts beating simultaneously from within their joined chests. The deafening sound rang through his ears, but something about that unity was comforting.

Can you feel that too? The Rika I know has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met.

She fights for her family and her friends and is willing to put them all above her own immediate needs. She leads and reforms a clan with a terrible history of unnecessary murder, regardless of the many risks to her own safety. She takes the time to help out some weird guy she’s only met once before and has enough patience to stick with him no matter how much more difficult he made her job.

Now maybe I’m just taking a big leap in logic here, but that sounds nothing like a heartless assassin who doesn’t deserve my trust. It sounds like someone I’m definitely glad I met, no matter how weird the circumstances have been. Like...like someone who already means so much to me after such a short amount of time.


Dai finally released the girl, but stayed close, tilting his head down to meet her eye level and smiling softly.

I still can’t fully understand this hunter’s instincts stuff, but I’ll keep trusting you until there’s a reason not to. You haven’t been wrong so far. Tomorrow we can investigate more about the Kajima and maybe try to contact Senji’s men to see what they’re all really up to.

That is, assuming you’re going to stick around to see this through with me.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:31 pm

Dai silently returned her intense stare, his eyes not wavering in the slightest. Then, he moved.

He cautiously stepped forward like a wolf closing in on its cornered prey. His arms shot forward to bind her, his artificial hand cupping the back of her head while his natural arm coiled around her midriff. Both limbs pulled her in, pressing her body tightly against his.

For the first seconds, his senses ignited into an incomprehensible blaze.

It was his choice to constantly feel the burning presence of Rika and her blood that flowed through his own veins as well, and he did not hinder the sensation. He refused to let go of this indescribable link so easily.

“No way. You’re not taking a single step away from me until I thoroughly finish proving you wrong about what you just claimed to be.
The heartbeat was almost unbearable. She had never felt such connection or warmth with another person before, and it terrified her. But she couldn't bear to bury it under her Nanaya focus. Rika wanted to swim in it, to let it roll over her and consume her and erase every other thought from her being. She wanted to know how much deeper the pleasures of Dai could reach.

"You're...too kind to me."

It took every thought in her body to stop herself from kissing him. She slithered away from his grasp, gently but efficiently, even though it felt like leaving the warm sun and dipping into a pit filled with ice. She took several deep breaths before speaking.

"I'll stay. Proving that my instincts were right would set me at ease, and if there is something larger at stake then we should find out what it is. Then, and only then, might I be able to start believing that we Nanaya can do something good with our abilities."

She breathed out all of the tingle and shut her eyes, finding her focus. The sooner that Rika could put this issue to an end, the sooner she could allow herself to explore what this bond between she and Dai meant.

"But not tomorrow. We move tonight."

- - -

Rika tipped her head forward, letting her body lean into a freefall. Her left hand squeezed on itself, looking for the reassuring tug of the safety line that usually rest in it, but it only felt the skin of her palm. There was no line, and though Rika knew she would be safe, her body rushed out adrenaline in response.

That annoyed her. Her body should learn to remain as calm and rational as her mind.

A foot before impact, Rika weighed nothing. Floating in mid-air, she spun herself around to set her feet under her, then landed with a whisper when gravity returned to normal. Dai did the same at her side.

The Kajima family's compound was vast and opulent, moreso than the rest of Thickpick City and that was saying something. They were now over the outerwall, landing them in a tropical garden brimming with streams, waterfalls, and ponds. It was well into night now, and the moon was cooperating by hiding itself, leaving only the sprinkles of stars to light the sky.

The two glided over to a wall of thin reeds and Rika motioned with her hands.

Don't. Drink.

She smiled wryly at her little joke, motioning to the water features.

Dai had learned the Nanaya hand signals very quickly. They were an exhaustive set with so many nuances and commands that a Nanaya could have an entire conversation with gestures alone - which was the point. No risk of giving away their position with voice. Dai wasn't quite at that level yet, but she would be able to issue basic commands.

Move.

Stone paths weaved through the garden and would take them into the back of the manor, but Rika also knew that these paths were highlighted with torches. Instead she used the paths as a guide marker, cutting a more direct line through the garden, using the foliage as cover.

There was no patrol in the garden. Apparently the Kajima family didn't think it needed. This unnerved Rika. People with something to hide always had extra guards. It wasn't enough to set off her instincts and tell her she was wrong, but it bloomed her caution.

The rear of the manor had an expansive patio overlooking a reflecting pool. The patio was at least a hundred feet wide made of marbled tile. An exquistely carved firepit was laid in the center, with dazzling brass fixtures around it, flicking in the firelight. There were several white couches were laid around the fire and several chairs down by the pool. A wooden structure overhung the entire patio, supporting twisting vines with brilliant blossoms of white, pink, and purple. There were several figures by the firepit, laughing.

Top.

On the left side of the patio was a tall marble statue - perfect for climbing atop the overhang. The pair weaved their way slowly through the garden, around the fountain and the reflecting pool and close to the statue. A guard was stationed on either end of the patio, and to Rika's dismay they were neither tired or moving, the two things that could make a guard very easy to deal with. The guard was staring into the middle distance, oblivious to their presence.

Rika's hand glided over her belt and pockets. She was still vastly underequipped for this mission, and she was going to risk throwing her hunting knife. However, she also wasn't confident enough in her climbing speed to scale the statue and strike the guard before he made his own move.

She turned to Dai.

Boost?

He understood. With a twist of his left arm, Rika was again weightless and sailing effortlessly from the ground up at the guard. Gravity restored to normal just as she was in reach. Her right hand clamped down hard on his throat to constrict air to his voice while the injector blade hidden on her left wrist clicked out and pierced his chest. The poison flowed quickly through him and he was already stiffening while they tumbled back through the air. Dai caught them before they hit the ground, and Rika took hold of the guard before the gravity shifted back to normal. The guard was completely paralyzed - but not dead.

They deposited the guard in a bed of flowers, then scrambled up the back of the statue and, with more of Dai's assistance, landed softly on the overhang. The sweet smell of the blossoms was like perfume.

Handy.

She realized at once what a horrible pun that was, but couldn't apologize with Dai's limited use of the signs, so she simply signed sorry and motioned for them to move closer to the fire pit and take a good look.

Rika flushed with embarrassment.

The people near the fire, three of them, were no longer laughing. Instead, the man and two women were now mostly naked, entwined on one of the couches, writhing. Rika was caught between wanting to turn away and needing to stay and watch and look for her next move. Her heart was racing and she realized that Dai was probably feeling her heart race. She wanted to turn and tell him to stop spying, but then she would be admitting that the sight was...having an effect on her, and that could be more embarrassing-

A servant approached the three, compltely immune to it, and said a few simple words. There was an audible groan of irritation from beneath the pile, and the three separated. It was then that Rika realized that two of them - the man and one of the women, were much younger than the third. The third was a regal, hawk-like woman whose body drooped and wrinkled slightly with age, though still held a stunning beauty. The third woman motioned for the other two to leave, and they picked up thin silk robes and wrapped them hurriedly before rushing back inside the manor. The last woman wrapped herself in a royal purple garment and sat regally on the couch.

Two men walked in - two of Senji's guards from earlier that day. Rika pressed herself tight against the overhang and positioned her ear as close as possible.

"What is it you want? I told Senji not to come here at night and I told him never to send his lackeys to do his bidding. There had better be a good excuse or you are both going to be executed."

Somehow Rika, and the two thugs, believed her. One shoved the other forward, who stammered.

"I-it's about Senji, Bakame-sama. He's dead."

The woman, Bakame, listened wordlessly as the guard related the events of the day, almost disinterested in the death of Senji. However, her cold disinterest sharpened into marked irritation the moment the thugs stopped speaking.

"So this Dainichi Kaizoku is going to take over for Senji he says? I've heard that name...do you think he would be willing to do Senji's job?"

The thugs looked at each other.

"No way. He'd kill us all if he knew what you were planning."

Bakame sighed and brushed a long lock of graying black hair from her forehead.

"Very well. We'll have to move ahead of schedule. Head to the Maeruka Mines and begin the final preparations. I hate to put dullards like you in charge but it seems I have no choice. Don't do anything until another of my men or I show up. Screw this up and I'll find a way to murder you, I promise that."

The thugs bowed low several times and scattered away as soon as possible. As soon as they were from view, Bakame summoned her servant.

"Get in contact with Cobra's Kiss. I'll be needing one of their agents."

The servant rushed away, leaving Bakame with her thoughts.

Rika cursed that this wasn't a fully-fledged Nanaya mission, because now they were going to have to make a choice.

Follow the thugs, though they could catch up to them at the Maeruka Mines...but in time to stop whatever it was they were planning?

Follow the servant on his way to Cobra's Kiss. Rika knew very intimately what Cobra's Kiss was but stopping them from being contacted could save them some trouble.

Or stay here and see if Bakame could give them more information.

Ideally all three would be taken care of, but they might only be able to do one.

She turned to Dai.

Follow thugs, follow servant, or question lady?

It would be up to him.

She did take the smallest moment to savor that her hunter's senses had been right about Senji, and she felt lighter knowing that Dai could completely put that image of a heartless murderer behind him.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:31 pm

Dai stared down darkly at the scene unfolding beneath him.

So one of the Kajima family heads really was plotting something even more sinister in this region than simple extortion of the citizens. And Senji had been on their payroll, along with his entire control.

Double-faced bastard…so Rika had sensed it all along. He didn’t want to admit he had ever doubted her, but relief still momentarily washed over him.

He carefully watched the Nanaya’s signals and took a moment to consider their options.

Following the Westland brutes to the mines seemed like the most direct course of action, but jumping in blind might be a mistake, especially if grunts like them didn’t know the grander scheme in motion here.

He quickly shrugged off the second option, since he didn’t think that a subordinate of any group with such a lame name could possibly pose a threat to them at any point. He would have recognized the name of any dangerous gangs anyway.

That left him with the one option that they could accomplish quickly enough to perhaps follow up on one of the other two.

Dai raised his right hand.

Grab…

Wait, damn, what was that one Rika just did…

Bitch.

Eh, close enough. So maybe he had requested a few specific words during his crash course. If he couldn’t even curse in the new language he was trying to learn, then what was he really doing it for in the first place?

The Jekial waited long enough to let the servant create plenty of distance from the area and crawled silently until he was just above the noble woman on her couch, positioning himself a few inches behind her seat. He carefully rose to his feet and slammed a boot down onto the wooden overhang with monstrous, gravity-enhanced strength, crushing through the wood and creating a large enough gap for him to drop through.

Another gravity reversal caught him just a centimeter before his feet hit the floor, easing his crash landing into a gentle step to the patio’s surface.

His artificial arm snaked around the seated woman, the metallic hand clamping around her mouth and suppressing any potential shouts for help. His other proceeded to draw his sword and press the silver blade close to his captive’s throat.

So here’s the mastermind behind all this, huh? You know, those two punks were right about one thing. I’m probably going to kill you all when I find out exactly what you’re planning. So how about you tell us about what’s going on down at the Maeruka Mines before I get ahead of myself?

Dai kept his voice as low as possible, though it was still probably a notch or two higher than Rika would be comfortable with. He waited for the Nanaya to descend as well, knowing that Bakame would probably need some slightly more professional coaxing before giving up anything of value.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:47 pm

The guard on the opposite end of the wide patio turned at the moment he heard the crashing of the overhang, and had lowered his spear, opening his mouth to cry for help. The spear soon fell from his hands and his open mouth collided into the marble tile, his front teeth splitting from his mouth and skipping across the surface.

Rika climbed off the guard's back and rushed across the tile, crouching a few feet behind Dai. She caught his eye, and then motioned for him to drag Bakame to the end of the patio.

"That's not necessary."

The woman spoke in a calm, clear voice, her posture relaxed and unthreatened by Dai's powerful grip. In fact, Rika thought maybe she...enjoyed it. The woman made a moment of clearing her throat.

"I don't mind telling you the plan. There's nothing you can do to stop it anyway. Do you mind?"

"Actually we do." Rika moved around to face Bakame, still crouching low and keeping her features cloaked. "Talk. Quickly."

"It's quite simple. The nobility of this nation has already lost the war, and no matter how much cooperative, unified nonsense the Hazama family and its supports spout, we will not be able to live as we once did. More and more of our funds and resources are being claimed by this so-called just Republic in order to sate the needs of the people. Pretty soon we'll be forced to work and live among them, and all of the glory and honor my forefathers struggled to create will be gone. In the name of democracy.

I'm not interested in trying to start another war with the Republic. I simply want to leave this place. But as I said, our resources are not what they once were, and though I still have land and some wealth it's not enough to relocate to another country and set myself up with the power of the past. I mean, look at this manor. It must be worth millions, but who could I sell it to? No one.

So I came up with a little scheme. I bought that old mine and I took out a very large insurance policy on it, the equipment, and the workers there. Enough to fund my migration. Soon, there will be an accident at that mine and all three hundred workers will die and it will be a total, catastrophic loss. When the inspectors find that I had nothing to do with it, they will pay me my money and I will go off and resume where I left off. I think perhaps somewhere a bit more temperate would do me some good. The heat plays havoc with my skin.

Oh, and I almost forgot the best part. The accident will not be an accident, of course, but an act of sabotage from a foreign nation. So not only will I be found completely innocent of any wrongdoing, this fragile little Republic will be forced to try and strong arm another nation and demand justice from them. It might bring about a little war...though it may not. Either way doesn't matter to me, so long as I get my money.
"

The last syllable hardly escaped Bakame's mouth when Rika slapped her across the face. Bakame's fine, aloof features narrowed into angry daggers, her breath heaving in her chest.

"How dare you..."

"How is the mine going to be destroyed?"

The Kajima woman found her composure in Rika's question and smiled pleasantly. "I don't know. I didn't want to bother myself with such trivial details. I simply asked Senji and his men to take care of it.

Now, you will be letting me go yes? I know you said you were going to kill me Dainichi Kaizoku, but I know you won't. You're a good man. Good men fight their enemies and win their wars but they do not deliver an execution before any crime has been committed. We're not at war, and I've made very sure that nothing can connect me from this forthcoming accident to myself. Murder me here and your own Republic will have to denounce you for lack of evidence.
"

"We will find that evidence after we save the mine, and then we'll make sure you rot in jail."

"You won't find any evidence. I promise that. Saving the mine...I suppose there's a small chance at that, but even then I will find a way to get out of this burning hell-hole. Plenty of time to think of a new scheme.

Unless of course you want to join me, Dai. A virile young man like you could be useful - in more ways than one. And I can-
"

Rika's blade clicked from her palm and pierced into Bakame, releasing the paralysis solution. She was frozen within seconds, and while she wanted to keep pouring the liquid in to kill her, she managed to resist.

"Er. Sorry. She was starting to annoy me."
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:55 pm

When it comes down to it, people are really only looking out for themselves, aren’t they?

Dai sheathed his weapon at his side, a strange lack of his usual righteous fury readily apparent in his demeanor. Instead he seemed to be enveloped by a resigned calm.

Even Senji and the Westlanders were just looking to earn their way through life, whether it involved fighting for the Kajima or for me and the Republic. Sure, some of the men who fought at my side probably had pure intentions and believed in my ideals of changing the world, but how many more simply saw no other method of survival?

He turned to face Rika and clenched his metallic fingers into a tight fist, a dark, foreign expression cast across his features.

I’m not the type to doubt myself, but experiences over the years have given me plenty of reason to wonder whether all those people who called me crazy for trying to change the world were partially right. I helped transform an entire nation into something better, but what I can’t change are people’s hearts. As long as disgustingly selfish humans like these nobility bastards continue existing, the world will always be tainted by them.

So am I just keeping myself trapped in an endless loop, preaching and hoping for something that I just can’t accomplish? Sometimes I can’t help but ask myself that…


His voice trailed off, his mind seemingly in another place. His eyes widened an instant later as if the Nanaya had walked in on him during a private moment of reflection.

Hah, what am I going on about? These aren’t the kinds of things Dainichi Kaizoku even gives a second thought. Especially not when there’s an evil plot to be foiled and innocent people to save! The citizens of this Republic need their hero, not a philosopher.

Dai rested his right hand on his weapon’s hilt, his smug grin slowly beginning to resurface.

Let’s get the hell out of this place and rush over to the mines ASAP, yeah?
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:14 am

She understood how he felt. All Rika wanted to do at that moment was reach out and hold him, to tell him that it was okay to feel that way and that everyone had their moments of weakness. Including herself.

Especially herself.

But it wasn't the time or place. She couldn't let herself give into any of those comforting emotions, because if she did there might be no stopping the ones that came after...

She slid her hand into his and gave it a squeeze.

"Let's go."

- - -

Rika dozed, a half-sleep half-meditation used to restore energy and pass the time, but not to let the mind fall into fogginess. She awoke in Dai's cabin, still completely dressed and, to her approval, completely alert.

Her hands moved automatically, checking her knife and her remaining equipment, then drifting to the workbench to continue spinning pieces together idly until Dai returned. The train car slid open and he was also alert and awake.

The sky outside was black, turning lavender with the rising sun. Dawn was approaching.

"The Cobra's Kiss."

Dai looked up at her.

"They're an assassin's organization. Hidden from most people in the world, they operate outside of the shinobi system and are pervasive throughout the world. They are considered by the ill-informed to be the most deadly organization in the world. If she sent word to them, then there'll be one after you, maybe two. And they'll be at the site. They are that quick."

Rika realized that at some point she had drawn her knife and was tumbling it in her fingers as if it were a child's toy. The blade was sharp enough to slice a fingertip off if handled carelessly, yet it twirled in her grip effortlessly.

"You don't need to worry about them. We used the Kiss as target practice for real hunts. I just thought you should know they were there so you don't underestimate them. Not that you'll need to. They'll be dead before you can get close enough."

Realizing she was rambling, she forced herself to slide the knife away and stood straight.

"I don't know what we're walking into here, and there's no real advice about something like this from the Nanaya other than 'don't run into a hunt blind' but we don't have much of a choice here. So...just win the battle as best you can. You don't have to worry about me, I'll be fine. But I won't know what to do either. So let's just...work together. Your instincts and mine."

- - -

The train screeched to a halt in the first ravine.

It turned out the mines were much larger than Rika had pictured - a whole network of intertwining mining sites, connected by tunnels through the earth and through a vast rail network for minecarts. Her hidden hope, that the accident was going to be caused by a giant bomb hanging from a rope, was evaporated instantly.

They had to have set up an entire network of explosives...or have some other way of destroying so many mines simultaneously. In either case, there had to be a control center of some sort, and that was what Rika had to find.

The moment the train slowed, a mob of men and Rika leapt from the open car and onto the ground, rushing into the mine site as the train began to lumber itself backward; no sense for it to get damaged if they somehow failed in preventing the mine collapse. Dai's men split up, as per their orders, to try and spread the word about the impending accident and to find out what they could about what might cause it.

Dai and Rika stood together. On either side of them there was a twisting ascent of steel and wood, with minecarts perched along the edges. Tunnels and openings dotted the ravine-side and weary men were milling about, preparing for their day.

She spotted them several hundred meters up, talking quickly and pointing at Dai, then breaking into a run. Two headed across the bridge to the left, while one went to the right.

Rika sprang forward.

"Go right!"

Rika rushed up the left mine track, leaving Dai to take to the right. One of them would catch someone important. Or they would lead them straight to the controls, which would be even better.

Senji's men were better embeded than Rika had anticipated. A miner, content to fiddle with his tin cup full of hot coffee, suddenly roared to life, grasping the edge of a minecart and shoving it down the track, letting the hunk of steel rush toward the Nanaya. Unfortuantely for him, she was too nimble and leapt onto the edge of the cart and over without so much as breaking her stride. One arm flicked out, sending a throwing knife into his throat. He clutched at his neck, unsure of how to remove the blade or how to stop the bleeding.

Rika ran past him.

As she passed by the first opening, a muscled man with a crowbar took a horizontal swipe, aiming to knock her head clean from her neck. She dropped to her knees, immediately snapping out her knife and driving the blade into the attacker's left foot. He roared and tried to step back, but Rika's knife held him in place, searing pain as he fought against it.

She ripped the knife free, dragging the cutting edge across the man's stomach and up through his chest. He fell backward, not dead but bleeding profusely. Rika slid her knife away and scooped up the crowbar, continuing her climb.

The next attacker was dressed like a bandit, but hefted a pickaxe. He swung it deftly, as if he had practiced with the tool before, taking scooping arcs at Rika, trying to yank her flesh from her bones. She dodged the first few attacks, keeping her distance, then went in with her crowbar. The crooked neck of her weapon caught on the pick blade, but his superior strength and weight forced Rika to drop her weapon from the clash, losing ground. The attacker used his momentum to bring the pick around and aimed for her upper-torso, a clean positioning of the strike.

Rika ducked low, spreading her stance wide and pressing down like a cat preparing to pounce. She snaked the hooked end of the crowbar between the attacker's legs just as his pick struck the side of the ravine, the stone clamping down on the head. Rika sprung up, catching the crowbar at the back of his leg and ripping him off balance, dropping him to the ground.

The next swing crushed his nose.

Rika slipped into the first tunnel, her eyes adjusting to the sickly yellow light from soot-covered lanterns, and stalked in the darkness. Here, she had to take her time, but she also had the advantage. Hopefully the men she was looking for would run right into her.

And she hoped Dai was having an easy a time as she was.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:03 pm

Dai vaulted over another minecart using a combination of his left arm as an anchor and a little help from some distorted gravity. His feet plunged into his would-be attacker’s chest and flattened him.

The Jekial sprinted down the tracks without hesitating for the briefest instant.

The fate of every miner in these tunnels rested on his and Rika’s shoulders. If he couldn’t determine the method of the mine’s destruction, then that was it. Everyone would be dead, and the Republic could end up forced into a conflict with an innocent power they had no business challenging in the first place.

He raised his arm to intercept a crushing swing from an enormous axe, its wielder blinking in confusion as sparks spewed instead of blood. He shoved the weapon away, knocking the brute off balance, and drew his silver blade with his unoccupied arm in the same moment. A methodical pair of slashes across the stumbling man’s chest dropped him to the ground in a bloody mess.

Dai leapt over his fallen victim and charged right into a dimly lit tunnel where he was immediately confronted by a pair of figures. His eyes needed more time to adjust in the new lightning, but he rushed forward regardless. A vicious strike from his synthetic fist shattered the majority of one target’s facial bones while his blade danced through the air and left several shallow gashes across the other’s torso.

The rampaging warrior abruptly froze, the initial chamber he had entered now devoid of all sound but his heavy breathing. In the distance he could hear the resonating echoes of footsteps pattering along the stone floors of the tunnel. If the target he was following happened to be one of Senji’s agents then maybe he would lead him straight to their mine destroying device…or whatever it was.

He dashed through the next section of tunnel and burst into the next larger chamber in seconds. The instant he set foot inside, what little light existed vanished, drowning him in complete darkness.

A searing pain began at his right wrist and traveled all the way up to his shoulder, forcing his hand to release his weapon and let it clatter away in the dark. Hot blood gushed from the lengthy blade wound and enveloped the majority of his arm before it began spilling onto the dusty ground.

He extended his left palm and channeled a constant stream of electricity, shooting up a bolt or two into the air to illuminate the black space. At least a half dozen armed “miners” surrounded him, including the sword-wielding scum who had just wounded him.

His eyes smoldered with grim determination as a vicious curved blade materialized from his bloody wound, beginning at his wrist and extending into the air a good five feet. He angled his arm horizontally, and his deadly thin, crimson creation followed.

Meanwhile, the pool of liquid blood on the rocks below slowly rose into the air and swirled around menacingly, waiting to be utilized.

When are you fools ever going to learn…

Senji’s thugs in the previous town’s tavern had already received this lesson the hard way, and this group would soon join them in enlightenment.

Inflicting anything but a fatal wound on Dainichi Kaizoku is the same as delivering one’s fate directly into his hands.
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