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 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:48 pm

Dai reached for the ceiling, stretching out both his arms to their maximum length and then swinging around the recently attached left limb. Adjusting to the feel was always a little odd at first, but Makon knew his specifics by memory at this point.

Hmmm, new arm, huh…

He rested his hands on the workbench again, staring blankly at the expanse of tools and parts. Knowing exactly what was even possible for technology would have probably made this a little easier, but…

Well, aside from what I already had…how about a flamethrower! Yeah, that would be useful for so many situations. Or what about a launcher of some sort? Senbon, kunai, or even explosive tags! I could use some more help when it comes to long range stuff. Also, is there any way it could easily store an assortment of useful things, like a knife and some tools? You never know when I might need some emergency maintenance and no one around has anything handy to use. Oh wait, forget holding a knife, what about like a blade that can extend and retract from the hand or wrist or something! Oh yeah, and is there any way this time I can actually shield the arm itself too? Might come in handy in case I punch any explosives again or anything similar. Not that I’m very likely to do anything of the sort, but you know…precautions and stuff…

He crossed his arms and stared thoughtfully at the ceiling, attempting to think up more awesome, if not a bit unrealistic, things to cram into his new arm. This inventing stuff really was more useful than he gave it credit sometimes. Finally he shrugged and met Makon’s gaze directly.

You know what, I trust you and Rika to make the perfect arm for me. I’ll put it all in your hands and use your creation to the best of my abilities, regardless of what it is. Okay, okay, epic story time!

The young war hero leaned in closer to the old creator, excitement lighting up his eyes.

Alright, how about the time I dueled the best swordsman in the nobility’s forces using one hand? Eh, wasn’t actually that interesting. Oh, the time on the airship, we flew right over…nah, that one wasn’t even fair for the enemy. Ah, got it! That big platoon in the sand!

He hardly paused to breathe, his words running over each other as they sped from his mouth.

So after a reconnaissance mission gone wrong, I was leading a group of my men through the desert back to one of our temporary camps. Most of us were wounded and exhausted, and our supplies were reaching their limit. And just when we were within an hour or so of the camp, we ran straight into a roaming squad of what had to be at least fifty enemy warriors. My blood level was already too low, and I had no hope of regenerating enough to fight off that many. I did have a nice reserve of chakra left, so I funneled it all through my arm and prepared to unleash a fierce gravity assault! Instead of simply tossing them all around, which would have required way too much focus and time, I surrounded the enemy with the field and increased the weight of gravity on them as much as I could. So they all sunk deep into the sand until nothing but a field of disembodied heads was visible on the surface! Pretty smart, huh? We didn’t even have to kill any of em, though I guess it’s possible they all dehydrated or got eaten by sandworms or something before they could dig their way out or were rescued.

Dai grinned and flexed his left arm, as if showing off the limb he’d used to accomplish that past feat. He then blinked and scratched the side of his head with a metallic finger, suddenly pondering something else.

Hm, that good enough for your tastes? I guess you usually like a little more action, but honestly a lot of those start blending together in my head. War is not as exciting and glory-filled as those who watch idly from the sidelines like to think…
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:32 am

Instinctively, Rika and Makon both shared a smirk. Apparently he thought Dai's methods were as adorable as she did.

Well, maybe not adorable.

"You too cool, Dainichi. Shoulda taken them as prisoners. Or impressed them into your army. Bet they wouldn't'a messed with you again after that. Smart soldier knows when to pick the winning side."

Makon had let Rika tinker around with the blank arm for a few moments while he sketched out a few technical lines on the parchment. Apparently he had ignored all of Dai's ideas for flamethrowers and explosive note launchers, which would've made his arm significantly larger than he probably wanted it to be. Instead there were marks in a shorthand that Rika didn't understand; probably some code he developed for himself.

"Not bad. Maybe you got one with a little strategy? I'll give you a minute to think about it."

He turned and gave Rika a long look.

"Gonna build the gravity amplifier. Trade secret though, so I'm gonna do it upstairs. No peeking."

Makon reached over for the ladder and ascended into the tortoise. Rika gave Dai a smile.

"I don't think we'll be giving you an arsenal like that. Not unless you want to look like some sort of lobster."

She turned the hand over in hers, studying the open compartments. She wouldn't be able to tell what they could add or modify until the gravity amplifier was installed. Who knew how large it was, or if it would be the same as the last one. Maybe Rika could find an improvement...

"You know, your story reminds me of my first hunt. Er, uh."

She hesitated, realizing what she was about to admit.

"Not my first hunt, but my first...person hunt. I was 12. My father was the lead hunter on the trip. It was an easy one meant for me. Ethically, anyway. It was a Combustion manipulator who had lost his mind and was burning up people left and right. Local shinobi weren't investigating yet so my father decided he needed to be eliminated."

She opened the arm compartment and started tinkering.

"The easiest way to hunt is to trap. Set it and come back later. Animals are pretty simple to trick. Humans are too, if they're not paying attention, and most aren't. Aren't looking for a hunter, anyway. I set a simple snare trap near the outskirts of town, near the tavern. Thought he might stumble by drunk and I'd get lucky. I don't think father approved of my placement...neither would I, now that I think about it. It's too likely that someone else will wander into it and then you've alerted your target and might have some explaining to do.

Anyway, I got lucky. Within twenty minutes, he was dangling from the tree by his foot, completely captured. I was so excited, I ran through the town and across the woods to find my father to tell him.
"

Dai hadn't quite caught on the problem of her story yet, so she paused a moment to smile at her own stupid self.

"Thing is, I didn't incapacitate him. He was still fully awake, and not even that drunk. So obviously, when I got back, all that was left was a little bit of burned rope."

She laughed a little.

"My father was mad. Told me it was such a simple mistake. I think I actually cried that time and he had to drag me away. Horrible Huntress, he called me. But then he took me to get something to eat and had the other hunters on our team finish the job. Guess even he knew how to dote on his daughter a little."

The words rattled in her heart. She was unlocking something, opening up a thought that she had buried deep, deep inside her and chained to the darkest part of her soul so that nothing could unlock it.

But Dai was warm and bright and so fearless...surely if she let it out here...for him...

"I miss him."

Rika felt herself shrinking, fading into the background and blending with the world, trying to hide in plain sight. Her shoulders scrunched and her eyes fell to the tabletop, locked there.

"I miss my father. He was...he wasn't a good man. He did horrible things to our clan and to a lot of innocent people for the sake of power. He was killed. He had to be, it was what he deserved. Killed by my cousin, who my father was trying to kill."

A single tear dropped from her eye, streaking across like a shooting star, crashing into the table.

"But he was still my father. I just...I don't know. I miss him. He wasn't always kind to me, but he loved me. I know that, deep down. No matter what he did for the clan or to others, he really, truly loved me. And I miss him. And I can't tell anyone how I feel about this. My father is hated and revered in the clan, and there are so many that would use that knoweldge against me to shape the clan or use it to tear me down.

And I can't tell this to Toya. My father took too much from him. His mother, his father, what little family and home he had in Yuki. Almost killed his true love. Would've killed Toya too if Toya hadn't struck first. I can't ask him to miss him with me. I think he probably wants to forget he ever existed...
"

Rika realized that Dai's hand was on her's now.

"S-sorry. I don't know what got over me...I uh...you know, I think I could install a Nanaya blade on this wrist. A strong one, stronger than mine. Maybe could add the fluid injection too, we'll have to see what Makon says..."
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:10 am

Dai cut her off mid-sentence, silencing her with a kiss. He made sure to brush away all the moisture from her cheeks with his warm, human fingers before breaking their lips’ contact.

Everyone feels a natural attachment to the one who raised them, whether they’re a righteous hero or a sadistic murderer. You can’t beat yourself up for missing your father, no matter what kind of man he was. He brought you into the world, cared for you, and taught you how to survive. Like you said, he loved you. And if that cousin of yours really loves you too, he’ll understand when you tell him. Until then, I’ll be right here with you to understand and listen, alright?

He grinned brightly and threw his arms around her smaller figure, careful not to pull too firmly with his newly attached mechanical limb.

You know…there really are a lot of similarities in our histories. Unfortunately, the Jekial don’t have any sort of centralized location or a new leader to change their disgusting worship of death. I think they’re more likely to die out completely before they could ever change. But sometimes, when lie awake at night, I think about my mother.

His fiery eyes extinguished for a moment as he drifted off into somber memories.

She was a genuine follower of Jashin, a slave to inflicting pain on other people. She killed my father when I was barely old enough to remember and performed a Jekial ritual to pass on the clan’s powers of blood manipulation to me. We lived in such harsh conditions, where every man, woman, and child had to fight for survival. And yet she still was not satisfied unless she was the cause of their suffering. I swore I’d never fall to that kind of sick way of life and devoted all my effort to saving lives instead. Improving the world instead of tearing pieces of it away. Yet even so…

He glared at the air, frustrated at his own psyche for a moment.

In her own twisted way, she still did everything in her power to give me the chance to survive in the world. Without her, I wouldn’t be alive. Certainly not with this much power. Perhaps she would have only used me as her own twisted puppet if I’d let her, a weapon to inflict harm on others, but she’s still the woman who breathed life into Dainichi Kaizoku. And if nothing else, that’s the one good thing she’s ever done for this world…

Dai blinked, abruptly breaking free from the daze of his own recollections. He glanced down at Rika, who was staring back up at him with inquisitive eyes.

Heh, now I guess I’m the one who let something get over me. Guess that makes us even, though my story’s not nearly as interesting as yours. Oh, but that Nanaya blade idea sounds awesome! Even if I can’t act like a hunter yet, I can still be equipped like one, yeah?

He laughed and squeezed her a bit tighter.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:38 am

"Thank you."

She didn't say more. She didn't say that his touch quelled her grief, didn't say that his kiss filled her with hope, didn't say that sharing his life had strengthened hte bond already tightening between them.

It didn't feel like she needed to. Dai seemed to understand what words meant, that when she said 'thank you' that he knew all of that.

Or maybe that was just wishful thinking. Maybe Rika wanted him to be that inside her head so that she wouldn't have to say anything. That was a ridiculous thing to assume.

"That helped me a lot. I think...I think I will steal your attitude. My father is gone, but he's still here in me, sort of. I can pass on the good things about him with the way I lead the clan."

One last squeeze to return his and then she parted from him, picking up the arm. Makon descended from the upper decks a moment later, new components cradled in his arms.

The two worked fervently for a an hour, leaving Dai to spin tales of his adventures. The gravity amplifying components were compact cylinders, littered with fuuinjutsu seals. They also served as part of the mechanical motor to move the arm around. Efficiency of design at its finest.

Rika installed the Nanaya blade from her own; it would be a simple matter of getting a new one from the armory when she returned and woudl save them time building each of the individual components. They wired its release mechanism to the chakra relays.

"Makon, since the chakra relays not only provide power but also control the motion, do you think we could expand the range of motion? You built in joint limiters in the arm so that it behaves like a human arm but there's no real need for that is there?"

She glanced over to Dai. "What I'm saying is, we could make it so that you could move that arm in ways a regular one wouldn't be able to. A small change but those small ones can mean the difference between defeat and victory when you can do something unexpected. It'll take some getting used to, you'll have to retrain your mind but I think it's worth doing."

"Turning the mechanical limbs from disadvantage to advantage is what I'm all about. Let's give it a shot."

They broke the arm joint from joint and began the adjustments.

"Makon, what is this thing? This tortoise?"

"War machine."

Rika looked up. "Really?"

He nodded grimly. "Meant to carry troops, impervious from all shinobi weapons and plated against low ranked ninjutsu. Can plow through a wall. Also has its own weapons. Built it for Yuki one time, hoping to sell it."

"They didn't want it?"

"Said it didn't make any sense. Battles aren't fought on big fields using giant machines. They're fought by individuals who can change the world around at will. Something like this would be expensive and not that effective. I see where they're coming from."

"But don't you think this could be used in some other way other than a war machine?"

Makon shrugged. "Never really thought of it. If you want, you can have some of the plans, if I can find them."

"Yes, please."

With the new room created by the adjustments to the joints, Rika and Makon did manage to cram in a flamethrower. Dai's arm could fold back on itself, along the elbow joint to expose the nozzle.

"Only about four seconds of fuel in it. Don't hope to burn down a forest with it."

Rika chuckled as she detached Dai's temporary arm and set to work adding the new one. She liked Makon, she decided. Maybe he could teach her more mechanical magic. The connectors snapped together and Dai's arm twitched to life.

"Give it a few seconds, then move slowly. It'll move farther than you're used to, remember."

Dai stretched it out.

"Gonna have to test it before you, make sure the joints can take the stress you're gonna put it under."

An idea flickered in Rika's mind.

"I know you can throw me with gravity and make my blood boil," she tried not to blush as she realized that she meant that in more than one way, "but I wonder if you can keep up with me hand to hand. No weapons, no chakra. That should be a good start. What do you say?"

She leaned close, grinning to try and mimic Dai's.

"Unless you're afraid."
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:24 am

Dai rotated his arm in all the usual directions, enjoying the smoothness of the craftsmanship. He bent his elbow to reveal the flamethrower’s nozzle for a brief second, tempted to release a brief burst of flame, but somehow managed to retain a bit of self control.

He smirked back at Rika as she leaned in confidently, enjoying her playful defiance. It was no fun when everyone was too intimidated by his presence to behave in any other way but submissive around him

Hah, as if Dainichi Kaizoku fears anything. You may be an amazing hunter, Rika, but if you think my weapons and ninjutsu define my strength, then you’re going to be sorely surprised! Especially if this arm can really move like you say.

His features wrinkled in concentration for a moment as he extended his arm out to his side. He swung it forward and then pulled it back with a jerk to see just how far the adjusted elbow would let him reverse the normal motion of a human limb. It continued past the usual 90 degree angle and continued moving behind him. The lack of familiarity his mind had with such an odd motion prevented him from stopping it in time, and his metal hand slammed into his back with a surprising amount of force.

He quickly regained his balance and control over his body as the mechanical limb swung back around into its usual position, and he coughed casually into his right fist as if nothing had happened.

Alright, fine, I’ll try to let you down gently!

Dai unhooked the sword from his belt and rested it on Makon’s workbench, then quickly added the variety of other weapons and ninja gadgets he kept stored on his person. Might as well lose the extra weight if he couldn’t use them anyway.

He stepped to the opposite end of the room and turned to face Rika, raising his fists and punching the air a few times. Yes, this arm definitely felt good already. He had better still be able to punch something at least as heavy as a train without it breaking though…

Show me your Nanaya skills then! Take the first strike if you think you can!

Dai rushed forward with his arms raised defensively, preparing to meet her halfway if she chose to advance as well.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:31 pm

Wait, here? In the workshop?

Dai charged, arms raised, though his left seemed a little askew; then again the boy had just struck himself in the head with it, soem control issues were bound to be there. But his charge was more of a lumber.

It was the first time Rika noticed the difference in their size - really noticed. He was so powerful and imposing, but he lacked finesse in everything, down to the size of his bones. It almost felt like he was poorly designed compared to Rika's compact, nimble frame. Her hunter's perception seemed to slow time, making each of Dai's movements achingly slow.

She slipped under his arm and ran, weight exploding from her toes until she was at the mouth of the tortoise, Dai still dizzy. She yanked at the valve, spinning open the locks and exiting through the metal door.

Light burned down on her. The desert sun was still high in the sky, cutting sharp shafts into the ravine. Rika spun around, her eyes still adjusting, but still aware of the tortoise's design. She gripped onto the top lip of the tortoise and hauled herself up onto its head.

Then she crouched.

Now she just had to wait.

Dai rushed out, head swiveling like a wind vane in a tornado. She pounced, landing neatly onto his back with her feet tucked into the small of his back and her arm gripping his left one .

This was more of a test than an attack. She wanted to know if how quickly his instincts would adjust to the new arm, no thought, no process. It twisted with her grip, not cranking his shoulder upward like it should've, not driving searing pain like it was supposed to. That by itself made the sensation unnerving, like she were walking into a trap.

The mechanical hand twisted beyond the normal range of motion and grasped around Rika's wrist. It pulled, throwing her off his back. She leapt with the throw, using the momentum to spin to her feet and rise into a stance.

"Ohh, I see how it is. You only like it when you pounce me, hm? Can't handle it when a girl is assertive?"

It was corny and probably lame, but she couldn't ignore the burning need to flirt with him. It was the best she could do.

Dai was back in position and this time Rika attacked, rushing straight at him. Again he rose his arms defensively, but they would do no good. Before reaching him, Rika dropped to the ground into a slide. She would aim to snake her right leg between his, then kick her retracted left into one of his knees, slamming him to the ground, trapped against her first leg.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:27 am

Dai instinctively left his feet, vaulting over Rika’s sliding figure and avoiding whatever sneaky attack she had in mind for him. He nearly forgot about their spar conditions, barely holding off on any gravity manipulation and instead landing on his metallic palm, flipping himself back to his feet with ease.

He quickly spun around to face Rika and reached for the nothingness at his left hip. What the…had it really been so long since he’d fought completely unarmed? Even as a young Westland kid, most of his skirmishes included a knife or a little Jekial blood magic on his side. He really needed to give his opponents a good man-to-man fist pounding every now and again…

I’ve already seen you being plenty assertive, sweetheart, and I can’t exactly complain about it so far.

Before he had a chance to grin at his own charm, he took the offensive this time, charging forward recklessly as he had done in Makon’s workplace before. His movements weren’t quick or clever, but powerful and deliberate, every motion with its own purpose. Usually that purpose was crush anything in his path.

His fists erupted in quick succession, each angled slightly downward in an attempt to keep her from ducking beneath him again. His left arm felt lighter and swifter than usual, the exact opposite of the type of burden one might expect from an artificial limb. If only he was allowed to try out the news toys included with it…actually, pretty much all of those were far too dangerous to be using in training, especially against Rika.

…this was going to be so embarrassing if he couldn’t land even a single hit before his lack of formal taijutsu skills inevitably fell to the physical prowess of the Nanaya leader.

Just let me know when you’re ready to surrender!
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:30 am

Five, six, seven, eight...

Yes, eight. Eight times Rika could've taken Dai down in the space it took for him to fumble around for a sword he had just set aside. But this wasn’t a full-battle. Heck, if it were, he'd have that sword. So she didn't punish him for fumbling.

It was kinda cute anyway.

Rika glided backward, keeping her weight on her toes, her gait light and airy. Dai's strikes were powerful, but slower than snails going uphill. They were curved slightly downward, a defensive action meant to stop her from ducking under and getting some purchase and positioning.

Not bad.

Rika lashed back out with her own hands, throwing light strikes that would normally wear down the outer defenses of a mortal man, focusing her assault on his left side. His mechanical arm moved in swift, if imprecise, motions. His natural control was starting to calibrate, as she had assumed it would. The more he used it, the more his mind would wrap around the new limb.

Probably similar to how he felt the first time, if she had to guess.

It was fun to spar with Dai a little but they final adjustments to make. Time to end this.

Rika fell straight back as the sand slipped beneath her soles. Dai's arm snapped out to catch her before she hit the ground, bending over her as if they had done some sort of dance-dip.

"...fast, accurate, strong. I guess the arm works."

She kicked him hard in the gut, sending him stumbling backward while Rika flopped onto the ground. Dai looked surprised, clearly thinking he had just won the fight, but looked even more dazed when Rika pounced back to her feet and ran left.

Her blade flashed in the sunlight, halting the shrieking streaks of metal from the air. The figure was muddled and lumpy, like a rock that had learned to walk. It moved nearly invisible across the side of the ravine, swift and smooth.

Rika was on it in a moment, pinning his formless neck into the ground.

"Ack! C-clan leader!"

"Tomashi..."

She peeled back the cloak from the young boy's head. He was tearing up a little. Again.

"Tomashi, what are you doing?"

"S-sorry Clan Leader, it's just you were fighting and I thought you could use some help!"

"I wasn't fighting, I was sparring. This is my-"

She had to remember she was speaking to a Nanaya, and one of the...lesser ones, at that.

"-new Westlands contact."

A hundred excuses bloomed in her mouth at once but she had the sense to crush them beneath her teeth. She was the Clan Leader. She didn't have to explain herself - why Dai, why now, why was she being dipped by him. It was his job to accept it.

"Y-yes, Clan Leader. I apologize. Here is the message I'm meant to deliver."

Rika ripped the scroll from his hand and let up her grip, standing to read it. Nothing surprising, but annoying. Some of the other elders were getting concerned about her recent detour. Now she had to go back ad rebuild solidarity.

Again.

She wadded up the scroll and dropped it on Tomashi. "Tell them I'm on my way. I'll see them in a day."

She didn't wait for his answer, just trudged over to Dai. She took his hand and pulled him into the tortoise, away from prying Nanaya eyes.

"I...have to go."

It was suddenly far too difficult to meet his golden gaze, the gentle chisels of his jaw, or listen to his voice. She pressed a finger to his lips before he could answer, and slipped it away long enough only to kiss him softly.

"I...I..."

So many questions, so many declarations all bubbling in her like those excuses. And like those excuses, she ground them away beneath her teeth. Foolishly.

"I'll find you again."

She vanished through the door without another word.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:38 am

Another large rock plunked unceremoniously into the otherwise peaceful surface of the water, sending out large ripples in a wide radius. Dai scowled at the point of impact and then down at his raised left arm.

Damn thing still couldn’t help him learn to skip stones, no matter how fancy it was or how many cool gadgets Makon crammed into it. He bent his wrist back and curled his fingers, watching as the newly installed Nanaya blade extended and retracted in rhythm with his will.

The Jekial shook his head to clear his thoughts and stretched both arms to the sky. He stood on a peninsula-like mound of sand in the center of a rocky ravine, the narrow entrance into the otherwise hidden area dozens of meters behind him. At his front lay a circular body of water with a half dozen separate cascading falls pouring down from the jutting ledges of rock above. The consistent, but gentle roar of the crashing liquid helped ease his troubled mind.

He’d discovered this little gem of an oasis in the middle of the Wind Country a couple years ago during his epic journeys through every part of the world. The calming atmosphere never failed to help him take a step back from the rest of the world and just think. And now, several hours since his arrival here, he had certainly done plenty of thinking.

Bah, what am I doing? Getting late now…guess I do have to report back to Suna eventually anyway…

The sun rested low in the sky, lighting up the world with a brilliant orange glow and reflecting off the waterfalls as they continued flowing into the basin. For a brief moment, Dai was almost tempted to leap straight into the sparkling water. Instead, he rubbed at his eyes with his right fist and sighed.

Come on, hero. You still have an entire country, and someday a world, to protect. She’s just one girl, so get over it already. Go back to being the invincible Dainichi Kaizoku!

He crouched down and scooped up one last smooth stone with his mechanical hand, rising back up to his full height and launching it forward with a frustrated grunt of exertion. It sailed into the back wall of the canyon and deflected back, once again sinking to the bottom of the water.

Eh, close enough to a skip.

Dai turned to head back down the sandy path, ready to leave his hidden sanctuary and make the return trip home on his train.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:53 am

This hunt was the most important of her life.

It pulsed in her blood, pounded in her head, drove every beat of her stupid heart.

The Nanaya problem was petty and had only taken a handful of hours. But from there, hunting had to be done. The target was elusive, always moving across the landscape, the endless curves and crevices of Wind Country.

But she would find him. She could see him in the sand. Smell him in the wind. Taste him in every breath.

She ran. She ran until her muscles burned, her bones ached and her lungs wanted to pop inside her. She ignored the sun, ignored the cold, ignored hunger and thirst until they were aboslutely unbearable.

She ran until the sun was nothing more than a dying ember on the horizon.

Rika jumped. Her body sailed through the air, free from all the aches of moving.

Then it stung from head to toe. The water slapped her skin, stabbed her with ice that infected her veins. She thrashed and fought against it, her feet finding the ground beneath and hurling herself through the surface. Step by step she trudged out, her cloak and clothing trying to smother her back into the water.

She peeled off the cloak and dropped it at the shore.

Dai was staring.

"What am I to you!?"

The words were too loud and too forceful and they lingered in the ravine a few moments, the edges of her echo scraping against her ears. She could hear her breathing too, her chest rising and falling with striking detail as the fabric clung to her.

"Am...am I...do you..."

She swallowed. The water on her lips was cool and clean.

"Am I just a friend? A...a comrade? Do you...feel for me any deeper than that? Am I just someone to use? Someone to have fun with? Or..."

Everything seemed to clench all at once. Her eyes slammed shut, her fingernails dug into her palms, fingers balling into fists, jaw grinding at her own teeth.

"I love you, Dainichi Kaizoku!"

She felt so light saying it. But also very, very stupid.

Rika Nanaya, clan leader. Not Rika Nanaya school girl.

"I...I should go."

But her feet had turned to lead and her eyes unable to look at anything other than him.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:07 am

Dai recovered from the shock of her appearance and bold declaration just enough to take a single step forward and raise his right hand.

No, not that again! This time you’re not disappearing until I get to say something too!

Another few steps closed the gap between them. His hands shot forward and lightly grasped her wrists, afraid to let her slip away a second time.

I do…I mean you…you’re much more than a friend or ally. I’d never toy with your feelings if I didn’t really feel something too. You’re my…err, well…what is the right term for it anyway?!

His heart pounded against his chest as Rika stared dazedly at him. He was not a man who found himself at a loss for words very often, and it was a maddening feeling.

Girlfriend? Lover? I’ve seen plenty of relationships around me, and I hate the ones like that. They’re so temporary and cheap. You have so many responsibilities to manage with the Nanaya, and I still owe so much to the people of this new nation. How can we hope to make something so weak last in circumstances like this? But I want to make it last, because…I love you too. I love Rika Nanaya so much that it hurts to even think of you leaving me forever.

He squeezed her wrists gently as he sunk to his knees. The sun had nearly set completely below the canyon walls, only a few scattered rays bathing the scene with their fiery hues.

Never in his most vicious battles had he felt such a surge of adrenaline pumping through his body. But it was a rush that he embraced, propelling him forward and not allowing any remaining hesitance to hinder his decision now.

So, yeah…I don’t know exactly what you are right now, but I know what I want you to be. I want the privilege to call Rika Nanaya my wife. We’ve been together such a short time, but I know this isn’t a fleeting love. I don’t want our separations to feel painful and final ever again.

Somehow, amidst the chaotic swirl of emotions spinning inside him, he managed to gaze up into her eyes and grin brightly.

Will you marry me, Rika?
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:56 pm

It was the last thing she expected him to do, but it was exactly what she wanted him to say.

Rika pulled him up by his wrists, bringing him back to his feet, and leapt up to reach his broad shoulders, winding her arms around him. She drove their lips together, releasing everything that had been bottled inside her since the day they met: her passion, her fear, her longing, her happiness. Her eyes squeezed out hot tears that splashed onto his cheeks.

She separated a moment later, realizing that she hadn't answered his question.

"Yes. Yes, and...we can do it right here."

She slipped out of his arms and tried to think past their heartbeats pounding in her ears. Dai's clothes were stained with the shape of her soaking body. She fished around one of her pouches, pulling out a small scroll which dumped out a steady stream of water when she tipped it to its side. Holding her breath, she unrolled it. The seals were still intact.

"Right, just...give me a few minutes."

She didn't look at him. Suddenly she felt very...aware of herself. Her cheeks flushed and her hands had a slight shake to them.

"It won't take long, just...a few minutes."

...she just said that.

- - -

It took longer than a few minutes.

Night was settled now, trails of diamonds circling a wide and curious moon. The ghostly light soaked the sparkling waterfalls, broken only by one circle of orange. The small fire sent long, languid flames into the sky, burning at the end of the peninsula.

Rika surveyed her work. Her survival tent was set up nearby, just within the edges of the firelight's perimeter. Her clothes, soaked from her dive, were spread across several rocks. It hadn't left her with much to wear - she managed to tie a brown survival blanket around herself to create a makeshift strapless dress, held together only by her utility belt, which had her Nanaya blade, and a few clever knots.

She felt...very exposed, especially with no undergarments beneath the odd dress but...well it wasn't like...

Her hair was adorned by a single white blossom that Dai had plucked from a cactus.

Dai waited for her by the edge of the fire, where she had told him to stand. She walked beside him, slipping a bare arm underneath his mechanical limb. She had already told Dai that the Nanaya ceremony would be just the two of them, sharing sacred vows that had been passed down from generation to generation. Rika was trying her best to hold onto them in her head; she'd been taught them when she was twelve, but her heartbeat was too loud to think through.

She took in a long breath and nodded to Dai. They walked into the ring of light until they were beside the fire. They both turned to face each other, taking their hands and kneeling to the ground.

"T-"

Her voice was crackled and shuddering. She swallowed and took a breath, giving Dai's hands a squeeze. His eyes sparkled in the white and orange light, spiraling like galaxies. She found comfort there, finding her center.

"To be Nanaya..."

She let out a breath.

"To be Nanaya means to rely on yourself. To be Nanaya means to carry the strength of our ancestors in our veins. To be Nanaya means to stand alone against the world."

Rika reached over and pulled out her knife, watching it glisten in the light. She set it between them, the blade handle facing Dai.

"But when a Nanaya finds another of same heart and mind, it becomes proper for the two to join together, merging their strength as one and passing it to their children and keeping the power of our forefathers alive."

As he had been instructed, Dai drew his sword and crossed it over Rika's knife, facing the hilt toward her.

"When two such decide to join together, let nothing tear them apart. Not their own foolishness, not any other enemy of the Nanaya. Only death shall rend them asunder."

That was it. The end of the vows. They were married.

...but that didn't feel right.

"Dai, I...I love you. I love every part of you, even the things I have yet to learn about you. I think I've loved you from the first time we spoke. I'm not very good with feelings or love or affection but I swear to you here and now that my heart is yours, that my mind is yours, that my body is yours and that I will do everything I can to make you happy. I know that I will make many mistakes, and that I am not a perfect person. But know that my love for you is absolute."

She was smiling so bright now, her whole body filled with a radiance that can only be from a girl who is in love.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:52 am

Her glowing smile was infectious, and Dai couldn’t wipe the big grin off his own face. Ironically, his own wedding was the first he’d ever actually attended, and the Nanaya ceremony certainly was…well, quite different from the type he’d always heard about. But that was the last thing on his mind now.

You already do make me happy, Rika. More than anything. I doubted whether I’d ever meet someone I could love more than I love protecting the people of this world, but you’re the one. When I’m with you, I don’t want to be anyone else’s hero but yours. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about me, as long as I’m still worthy in your eyes. I am yours as much as you are mine, and I swear that my undying love and loyalty will always belong to you.

He gave her hands another tender squeeze and leaned in to kiss her softly, somehow feeling more connected to her than ever as their hearts pounded softly in parallel rhythms. Just a few simple words between them, and she had become his wife. Wife…the word sounded so foreign to him still, but it felt so right.

They parted, and Dai stood, gently pulling Rika to her feet and gazing at her in the moonlight. Even clad in nothing but her odd makeshift dress, she was still the most beautiful woman in the world. It was that very lack of clothing now causing his skin to burn with physical desire…

He led her away from the fire’s edge until they stood just in front of the tent, turning to face her again.

So, uhh…if we’re…I mean we…

Dai released her hands and clutched his left arm, suddenly unable to look her directly into her eyes. After all his recent bold declarations culminating with a proposal, he was suddenly at a loss.

I know it doesn’t make me any less human, but it’s a fact that part of me…well, isn’t. I love you, Rika, and I want to fully express it, but I also don’t ever want to make you uncomfortable. So if you want I could…err, well…

Could what? Never touch her with his artificial arm? Temporarily remove it? This wasn’t exactly a short-term issue that would disappear in time…

…I’m not sure, exactly.

He finally regained the will to glance up, his amber gaze clouded with hesitation and concern as he searched her face for a reaction.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Tue Aug 23, 2011 5:44 pm

Rika felt her fingers tighten in a deathgrip around Dai's hands, each step feeling like an eternity as they drew ever closer to the tent.

Was she...scared?

Hurtling headlong against a hundred enemies armed only with a knife didn't even quicken her heart, but the idea of making love to her husband was practically freezing her up?

Husband. That...that was the word, but...

His hands disengaged from hers. Her fingers throbbed and remained in stiff claws.

"I know it doesn’t make me any less human, but it’s a fact that part of me…well, isn’t. I love you, Rika, and I want to fully express it, but I also don’t ever want to make you uncomfortable. So if you want I could…err, well…I'm not sure exactly."

Their eyes met.

"I...er...uh...can...we...if..."

She bit down on her lip, taking in a long breath and holding it.

"No, Dai. I said I love every piece of you. Mechanical pieces too."

She stroked the arm to reassure him.

"I mean, I don't know how that'll work but...it's not like I know what to do-...no, I mean, I know how it works physically I just don't know what to expect or...I...I haven't done this before so I mean if something is strange- no not strange! I didn't mean strange, I just meant that if we..."

Her hands grabbed hard on her belt. It was unhooked and thrown across the desert sand in the blink of an eye, letting her dress lift from the shallow curves of her frame.

"There's a lot I don't know. We'll just have to explore and figure it out. Together."

Rika's fingers were nimble, untying the knots holding the blanket in place. She slid the whole thing from her shoulders and tossed it through the limp opening of the tent, letting out a shuddering breath. She realized that she was unconsciously rolling her shoulders forward, concaving her chest, as if she didn't want him to see it.

That wasn't true. Not at all.

She stood straight, her muscled form tightening in the orange-white light of the moon-flame. She prayed that he wouldn't be repulsed by the few scars trailing across her legs and arms, by the one crescent mark above her left hip bone. She hoped that her very un-feminine body would be enough to satisfy him.

A desert whisper wrapped around her naked body. She leaned up and kissed Dai gently, reaching down for the buckle of his belt.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:54 am

His gear-laden belt soon joined hers in the sand, both of their hands working to unfasten and discard it, lips still locked in sweet passion. Already none of their previous physical displays of affection could match the level of burning intimacy they were creating.

Dai pulled back an inch just long enough to continue the cumbersome but necessary process of undressing, shirt, pants, and undergarments all joining his cloak in a disheveled pile near the fire.

His arms enveloped her smaller figure and pulled her close, their bare chests pressed against one another for the first time. He worried for a brief moment that the metallic touch of his arm would startle her, but he felt nothing but intense heat radiating from both their bodies. His lips brushed against her ear as he leaned to whisper softly.

You always manage to ease my stupid doubts. I love you, Rika…

He carefully led her forward again, this time pushing through the tent’s loose flap and pulling them both to the blanket-covered ground, perhaps miscalculating exactly how concussive such a crash landing would be. Adrenaline let him immediately shake it off and roll atop her, straddling her hips and taking a brief moment to gaze longingly at his wife’s exposed body.

He pressed down on her, his mouth leaving fiery kisses from her collarbone to her neck and finally returning to her lips once more. His right hand eagerly ran across her torso, exploring every inch of her curves, while his left arm seemed to have frozen awkwardly at his side, unsure of what to do. He briefly used it to cradle her head as his kisses escalated in intensity, but he couldn’t ignore its unwieldy nature forever.

Rather than an extension of his body, the mechanical limb felt more like an article of clothing he’d much rather just strip off at the moment. He pushed himself up with both arms in an attempt to reposition in a way that would make them both more comfortable, instead managing to painfully knock his knees against hers and end up in nearly the same situation.

S-Sorry, I…

Dai knelt over her, his human hand rubbing the side of his artificial arm, his mind already reverting to a state of hesitant worry.

I mean I don’t know if…

Damnit, enough. He didn’t stand for indirect nonsense during battle, so why should this be any different? Deal with the issue before it overwhelmed you.

He cupped her cheeks in his hands and lowered his head until their faces were practically touching.

I want to do this and become one with you, Rika. But I already said I won’t do anything uncomfortable for you. You’re right that we need to figure this out together, so just tell me if this feels…strange, to you. We’ll make this work either way, I promise.
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