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.

To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:53 pm

"Chickens!"

Her boots lifted into the side of the wall, crumbling the rotting wood, and exploded out the other end in a cloud of feathers and straw. Her left arm hammered an opening between the crowd, allowing her to stride into an open length of street.

The bastard was still too far out of reach.

Rika Nanaya's fingers lodged into her mouth and a shrill whistle filled the streets. A figure appeared at the edge of a roof, cloaked as she was in drab tan. The figure leapt, wolfshead knife in hand, aiming to pin down the retreating figure.

The target juked to the left, diving into an alley. The attacking hunter dropped onto the ground with a loud thud, rolling out of the impact but losing momentum, coming to a halt in the midst of his dry dust cloud. Rika spat a swore and turned sharp into the alley.

She was running out of hunters.

The target skid to a halt at the end of the alley, looking right, then left, then bolted to the right. Rika's hand caught the edge of the wall and pulled her around the turn. Another tan cloaked figure burst out of the crowd, sidling up to Rika's left flank.

"Damnit he's slippery!"

"Where could he be headed?"

"I'm not sure - the train station is the only thing useful in that direction."

Rika dug in, taking in as much air as she could with each breath, willing her body to be perfect.

Two men carrying a slaughtered goat hanging from a pole stepped into the street just as the target passed by. They bumbled and laughed loudly and carried on as if they were retelling the greatest story ever told.

To the untrained eye the next moment was utter chaos, but Rika knew every detail. She, like hunter Toshi on her left, knew that the two goat-bearers were agents for the target and weere there to stop his pursuers. Both drew wolfshead knives jsut as the men drew their own blades, dropping the goat. Before the carcass hit the street, Rika ducked beneath encroaching arms and slid her knife between the man's ribs, puncturing his heart. She was around him before he knew he was dead.

Toshi won his skirmish, but too slowly. It took him three strikes to accomplish what she had done in one and was now a dozens steps behind her.

In a hunt, every second counted.

The street swelled upward onto a footbridge on the right while the train station settled on the left, beneath it. She watched the target push his way through the crowds, wave a handful of paper into the conductor's face, and slip aboard.

The train whistled. Steam huffed from the train's iron gills.

It galloped forward.

Rika slid her away onto the rail of the footbridge and vaulted over the side, landing hard on the train's roof. Her left hand closed around a bar on the roof. She craned her head over her shoulder, watching as the footbridge shrunk. The train was accelerating much faster than she had thought possible.

Toshi stood on the bridge, helpless as the train sped out of range.

Alone.

Seven Nanaya hunters at her disposal in this city, and they had all been outflanked, leaving her alone on the train with the target.

She got to her feet and started across the cars, walking low as the wind battered against her cloaks. The soot from the smoke tasted bitter mixed with her sweat.

If the scenario were one against one, Rika would not be so worried. A trian meant the terrain was quite limited to a single line. Her element of surprise was more or less removed; there was no guarantee that she got onto the train, but the target would assume that if not she, someone was aboard. The only question weighing in his mind would be whether Rika would simply watch him and reccoordinate later, or make her move immediately.

How he prepared for his decision depended on how many of his own men were aboard.

She had to move now. She had no idea where this train was heading, but if he got the slip on her again then it would be another four or five months before they found him. The whole reason she had come to this crackled corner of the desert was to make sure the job got done correctly.

And so she would.

A hand burst over the edge of the next car. Rika bent into a combat stance, watching as finely dressed man got this feet. He reached into his coat and withdrew a knife, motioning Rika to him. This was not the target, but judging from his stature and the make of his knife, Rika knew he was not going to be an easy takedown.

She ran and leapt. The finely dressed man lunged forward, arm poised to drive his blade into her when she landed. Fortunately, Rika had shorted the jump on purpose, sliding between the cars rather than landing on the othe side. Her left hand clamped down on the top rung of the access ladder and her body swung like a pendulum beneath it. When curled back to the top of the roof, she flung herself over, swiping with her blade at the memory of the finely dressed man's last position.

Had he been where he was, there would be a gash opened from his neck to his sternum. Sadly, he was not.

A battle between hunters was determined by the inaction as much as it was the action. The two stood just out of striking range of each other, both watching the shift of their weight and the intent of their muscles. When he looked about ready to strike, Rika leaned forward, forcing him to hesitate. When she was nearly ready to make her move, he would inch back, ruining her distancing.

Both struck simultaneously. Rika had to raise her left arm to catch the incoming knife strike, letting the blade sink into the forearm. Rika's strike bit into the man's left hip: a poor target, but better than nothing. Both slid away from each other, out of range again.

His blood was already drying on her blade.

"Are we going to stand out here all day and dance like this? Come now, Clan Leader, make your move! Earn your position!"

"If you insist."

Rika took a step backward and dropped between the cars again.

The finely dressed man didn't realize there was a tunnel until he was already smeared against it.

The dark air was thick and oppressive. Rika slid her knife into place and slid open the door for the car ahead of her. Surrounded by darkness and the crammed luggage of the witless passengers.

The target had a ticket, which meant he would be in the public cars. No doubt to try and hide.

There was no advantage in trying to sneak up on him. He already knew their cover disguise, and if there were others on board like the finely dressed man then she'd be walking into an ambush.

She pulled out her bloody knife and held it in front of her, like it were a lantern, and stepped into the next car.

The scream from the first woman was as expected as the rush of passengers from the car. Men shoved women, women trampled children, all trying to get away.

"Well, well. Looks like my lucky day."

There was only one man still in the car. A man who was not phased at the sight of her bloodied knife and in some ways probably expected it. He sipped at his tea, as if she were not there, and let out a small cough.

"I admit, Clan Leader, I did not think you would be so tenacious or resourceful. But, then I suppose if I had a high estimation of you in the first place, we wouldn't be here would we?"

"We've cofirmed what you did. The Culling of Kasai, the summary capture, torture, experimentation and eventual execution of Sanada clansmen. And don't try to plead that you didn't get the Cease and Desist order."

"I'm above pleading ignorance, Clan Leader. I know what you asked, and I did the exact opposite of it quite intentionally because you are wrong and naive."

"Then you know what I have to do."

"Yes. Betrayal must be punished with death. So kill me."

"No."

This got Gensari Nanaya's attention. He set his tea down and stood, straightening his clothes and wiping the residual sweat from his bow. His eyes were cold and snake like - like so many other Nanaya. He was young for his rank and influence, and power still dwelled in his body.

"Do tell."

"You are to come with me and stand trial for your crimes. You will be made an example of what happens to those who defy the new order."

Gensari laughed, boldly and bitterly. "Example. Example! You wish to set an example. And you will, Clan Leader, you will. An example that you are weak and that those with enough will can overthrow you quickly and entirely. Without the will to execute traitors, you will be seen for what you are. A sentimental child. So please, take me in. Someday, one of us will overthrow you. And there are so, so, very many of us, Rika-chan. More than you'll ever find."

Gensari was atop her. She braced and raised her hands, her left hand catching his right while his left hand caught hers. She was quick enough, but not strong enough, and she found herself at the mercy of the larger man, pressing her back against a dinner table. Fork prongs stabbed her.

"Then again if I kill you now it will fall upon me to lead this clan!"

He squeezed and pressed and his eyes lit up with desperate hunger.

Rika's left arm juked and snapped awkwardly. Gensari's weight unsettled as he pressed into the arm, driving it to the table, hoping to tear it clean off.

But Rika's arm had not broken.

Her cloaks burst apart and her left arm, her true left arm, shot out like a viper. Gensari looked at the false arm in his hand, grunting as the retractable blade snapped from her wrist and pierced his neck.

He watched as the contraption hung powerlessly in his hand while the paralyzing poison in her blade poured into him.

She thought she saw a little smirk on his mouth. She also thought he tried to speak, but the poison was already taking effect.

It only took a few drops to put a grown man to sleep. She had injected everything she had. After a moment, Rika pushed Gensari and he fell to the train floor.

Eventually his heart forgot to pump.

Rika withdrew her blade and brushed off the cloak around her. She bent down and picked up the artificial arm that had been hanging from her shoulder, examining it. Some damage from the finely dressed man's attack and a few of the internal components were broken from Gensari's great strength.

She'd have to take a long look at it before she used it again.

With a sigh, she gathered up the arm and tied it into a bundle with her cloak, then tied that to her back. She rubbed off the fuuinjutsu marks on her shoulder then took a look out the window.

Nothing but sand for miles.

It wouldn't be long before whatever security was aboard would make their way back to her. She'd have to get off or let herself get captured. Getting off meant braving the desert, underequipped. Getting captured might mean a stint in prison before her people could get her out, losing precious political time to get the Gensari issue settled.

If only there were a third option.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:36 am

A young male dreamt peacefully in his seat, somehow managing to find a comfortable position leaning back against the hard seat. Only the occasional incoherent mumbling broke the silence in his tranquil little bubble.

"Goddamn sandworms. Takin all the jobs and ruining all the..."

The screams of the thunderous stampede a car or two down the train did not begin to stir him from his deep slumber. It would probably take the raw noise of a hundred explosive tags going off at once to roust him.

Or at least two of the shinobi stationed on the train shaking him violently and shouting in his ear.

"Kaizoku-sama! Sir, wake up! There's been a skirmish on the train, and your assistance in dealing with the situation would be greatly appreciated."

Dainichi sprung to his feet and nearly struck the closest man with a flail of his right arm.

"Huh, what? We're not there yet? Man, I know I was getting sick of the quiet, but the action could've waited until we were off the damn train..."

The rusty-haired teen pushed his goggled further up his head and rubbed his eyes. He certainly didn't look the part of any type of leader, political or military. His brown cloak hung loosely over an otherwise beige outfit, accompanied by thick black boots and a fraying leather belt to hold up his prized sword at his waist. The perfect picture of a vagrant desert adventurer.

"Alright, fine, just-"

Dai paused and sniffed the air, breathing in and out through his nose several times in succession. Something felt strangely...familiar? He could feel his own blood pumping through his entire body, and yet he could also feel it...somewhere else on the train?

But that didn't make any sense, because none of his old allies he shared such a bond with had accompanied him on this mission. Unless...no way. What the hell was going on here?

Without waiting for the two guards to react, he took off down the corridor, through two more passenger cars, and finally kicking open the door to the space where his senses were leading him. His amber gaze rapidly took in the situation. The dead body lying amidst the otherwise empty car with a young female assassin standing over it. This wasn't something he could explain away too easily...

"Kaizoku-sama, what-"

The Jekial dove forward and brought Rika down with a vicious tackle. A length of wire extended from his artificial arm and instantly coiled around the girl's wrists. He pulled hard until it tightened adequately and whispered under his breath.

"Sorry, but it's the only quick and easy out of this...relatively speaking, I guess. Hi again, by the way."

He jumped to his feet and yanked her up with the strength of his mechanical limb, his right hand casually drawing his silver blade and holding it at the ready. The pair of men still in the doorway stared in confusion.

"She must be one of Senji's agents. I don't know why he wanted anyone on this train dead, but this proves that we've finally found a legitimate lead. I'll deal with her when we reach our destination, and then I can finally continue this endless search."

Dai stole another glance down at the corpse. There was a reasonable explanation for what she had really been doing here though...he hoped, at least.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:57 am

The moment flustered her.

Her head had fogged well before the door burst open, and her reflexes were stayed by the site of Dainichi Kaizoku. He was atop her within the space of a heartbeat and a wire snaked around her wrists. Her extra arm pressed into her back.

"Dai?"

"Sorry, but it's the only quick and easy way out of this...relatively speaking. I guess. Hi again, by the way."

She was pulled to her feet like a ragdoll, her feet stumbling for balance. Two other men stood at the doorway while Dai held her a bladepoint. Three armed guards and her with her arms tied together.

It was almost a fair fight now.

But she didn't move. Dai spouted out something she didn't understand, knowing it was some sort of cover story for her presence; though she wasn't sure how much a story about being an assassin was going to help her in the long run. For now she would have to trust Dai.

They had only met once and spoken briefly and there was nothing owed between the two of them - no bond of friendship, no debt of action. So she wasn't sure why she was so inclined to trust him. But then again, she wasn't sure why she had been inclined to trust him when he had asked for her blood.

She could feel the Jekial fog in her head and her chest, a sensation that she could find no word for. She knew that her Nanaya mental training could allow her to slip out of it if she wanted, to clear her mind as clear as water.

But she didn't.

Dai led her to a small compartment, opening the door and gesturing her to sit down. She did, sliding on the seat until she was beside hte window. Dai shut the door behind them and the two guards loitered outside.

Rika watched the desert roll by.

"He was a member of my clan disobeying clan tenents and local law. He was capturing people and doing...experiments. We broke up his operation five months ago but we hadn't been able to pin him down. He wasn't actually supposed to die, I wanted to capture him but he made that...impossible."

She turned and stared into his amber eyes - the color of ale in sunset. Her pulse quickened and she found herself smiling, despite the situation. Rika offered up her wrists.

"So you think you can take care of this now? Because quite honeslty, if I wanted to give you trouble," she flipped a strand of black hair from her forehead with her hands, "-this wouldn't be enough to slow me down."
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:06 am

Dai blinked.

He had nearly forgotten why this girl had interested him so much when they first met. Such strong will and confidence, but with the strength to back it up. She intrigued him. Attracted him. And sort of insulted him just slightly...

"If I wanted to slow you down there'd be a nasty current of electricity running through this thing. Not that I'd need it to...sorry, this is my fault to begin with."

The wire came loose effortlessly and snaked back into the tiny opening in the male's arm. He stared down at Rika, pondering what she had just told him as well as his current situation. Dai never lacked something to do or say, and yet here he found himself in just that sort of scenario.

"Hunters hunting other hunters, huh? Sounds pretty crazy. Y'know, I'm actually doing a little hunting of my own. A violent rebel named Senji Kiryuu."

His expression soured as a flurry of memories resurfaced. He shook his head and folded his arms, now emanating an aura of frustration more than anything else.

"Senji was actually one of my strongest men back in the war. He may have been a thieving bastard, but he fought hard for our cause and seemed to have a good heart. But having our new country wasn't enough for him. He felt entitled to a bigger slice of the power and wealth when all was said and done. Unfortunately, a lot of other unsatisfied Westlanders agreed with the sentiment, and now...well, he and his supporters have been causing a lot of problems in the country, to put it simply."

Dai tapped an artificial finger against his temple, mentally cursing his own mistakes.

It had been naive and idealistic to think all of those criminals would integrate normally into society once the fighting had ended. But to have believed any differently would be the same as denying his entire essence. Believing that the world and all of its inhabitants could be reborn into something greater remained his rallying cry from the time he was old enough to think for himself.

"Sorry again for the inconvenience. I can explain the misunderstanding when we reach our stop. If you need to keep your identity and presence secret here or something, we can always find a different story to tell them. They'll pretty much believe whatever I tell them, so it won't be a problem getting you out of here a free woman. Then I'll be back on my own hunt..."

This would be so much simpler if Senji would just reveal his cowardly self and fight him to the death in a good old-fashioned duel. Killing their leader would essentially destroy any sort of organization the otherwise scattered rebels clung to and make it a simple task to clean up the remnants. But a half dozen train rides and stops later, and the leads only seemed to become fewer and farther between.

Wait a damn second...

"Woah, what am I saying with the leader of all hunters sitting right here?! You could probably find that rotten bastard with your eyes closed if he's been anywhere near the next city recently. Oh man, it's almost not even fair. I'll crush that ungrateful fool's skull with one hand. Too easy!"

Dai blinked again, suddenly realizing one potential flaw in his otherwise immaculate chain of reasoning.

"Will you help me, Rika? If you can't pick up on anything at the next stop, you can be on your way like nothing ever happened. I know it's a lot to ask of a busy person like you, especially after putting you through what I just did, but please think about it at least! I'll owe you one forever!"

He lowered his head and clasped his hands together, flesh meeting machine to convey the seriousness of his plea.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:42 pm

Rika rubbed her wrists absently.

The Suna war. She had heard it had come to its ultimate conclusion, of course, but hearing about it in the past tense reminded her just how long it had been since she had last seen or heard from her cousin. She'd make it a priority to get in contact with him as soon as possible.

"Che, you make it sound like we're supernatural hunting goddesses. Or...dogs. It's not that easy to hunt down a man that doesn't want to be found, especially if he is smart."

Rika found that her mouth had stopped speaking. She shouldn't get involved in this. Dai was a charming, dedicated man, but meddling in someone else's affairs could have lasting repercussions. Especially if she made a mistake and got the Nanaya name involved.

"Besides, hunting alone is something I try to discourage. I don't have a second Nanaya with me."

It felt more and more like she was convincing herself rather than Dai. But honestly, what did it matter? She didn't have any pressing matters to return to: the dead man in the train car wasn't going to cause her any more political damage if she spent an extra day or two helping Dai. Besides, part of the difficulty in locating Genshiro in the first place had been the Nanaya's lack of contacts in the Westland territories. A long term relationship with Dai could be beneficial.

For the Nanaya, that is.

"All right, I'll help, but only because you look so pitiful begging like that."

She raised a foot and pressed it against his knee, encouraging him to take the seat opposite her.

"Chances are, if you know your target like you do, you're always just a step or two behind him. Most people won't admit it but luck can make all the difference when you're tracking someone down. You can't control everything. Could be that whatever strategy you're using is something he's adapted to, so throwing in an unforeseen variable might be enough to tip the balance.

If you're on your way to deal with him right now, best thing to do would be to use the plan you have in place already. I'll take an overwatch position and make a move where it makes the most sense. Even if we don't get him this time, we'll rattle him and make him jumpy and paranoid for the next attempt. Plus, then I can better evaluate your approach and refine it.
"

She held out her hand and raised four fingers.

"We'll have him neatly wrapped up in four days."
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:10 pm

Dai linked his fingers behind his head and leaned back against his palms. He grudgingly decided to hold off an a response to her comment about his less than dignified manner of making his request and focus on the issue at hand.

"Adapting to my strategy, huh? I never really thought about it, but I suppose he would know my style pretty well. Alright, if you think your way will really get results in only four days, then I'm willing to try it out."

He grinned, his infamous expression radiating overconfident satisfaction.

"Consider yourself lucky to have this once in a lifetime chance to see how Dainichi Kaizoku draws out his prey!"

--

The dusty town square was barely large enough to deserve the title. The entire settlement was a collection of worn wooden buildings nestled in the desert, none taller than two stories. It was much nicer than the type of Westland, godforsaken hell-hole he grew up in, but it still reminded him of much darker times from his past.

Dai paced back and forth, scanning the dozens of people milling around the open area with watchful eyes. His target and his followers could be in any one of the many buildings, if they were even here at all. If only he could kick down every door and search them himself.

Meanwhile, Rika was...actually, he had no idea where the girl was at the moment. She told him when they first departed the train to go about his usual business while she blended in with the crowd to observe and intervene if necessary. Damn, she was even better than he thought. Those hunters were crafty people.

He finally halted in the center of the open space, inhaling deeply and slowly letting the air back out. Stomping about any further would be pointless. It was time to act.

He cleared his throat.

"SENJI KIRYUU!"

Every resident's gaze immediately turned to lock in on the source of the roaring disturbance. Dai drew his blade and raised it high above his head, the silver metal reflecting blinding light in every direction.

"I know you and your pathetic little gang are hiding somewhere around here, you backstabbing son of a bitch! You're dead wrong if you think the great Dainichi Kaizoku is gonna stop hunting for your blood just because you evaded me a few times! Now get the hell out here and face me like a man, cowardly scum!"

Fire burned in his eyes, sending men, women, and children alike fleeing from his presence due to his sheer strength of will.

...the big waving sword probably had a little to do with that too, but whatever.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:36 pm

It hadn't been difficult to slip off the train with the rest of the passengers and make her way over to the porch of the saloon. She took a seat in one of the vacant chairs, awaiting to see what Dai's initial hunting plan was. His men hadn't taken any particular position, simply gathering around Dai and waiting.

A few ideas of Dai's plan popped into her head, but none that fit the particular layout. Perhaps he was doing something Rika had never seen before. The prospect both irked and excited her; to think that there was a technique outside of the Nanaya's vast base of knowledge that might be-

"SENJI KIRYUU!"

-wait, what?

Rika actually blinked twice and shook her head a little, wondering of all the heart-fluttering and desert heat was starting to get to her. There was no possible way a leader like Dainichi Kaizoku was just going to stand there waving his sword around like an idiot.

Was there?

Perhaps the intended effect was that shock factor; the audacity of it might lure Senji out of hiding and that was where the real trap would be sprung. Rika took a breath and sharpened her awareness, studying everything and everyone all at the same time. With this tremendous distraction, Senji would have his guard down. Perhaps Rika would be able to take him down within four minutes, rather than the promised four days.

And then wouldn't Dai be impressed.

Except that four minutes went by very quickly and stretched easily into twenty. The whole time, Dai stood there in the center of the square, waving his blade around and frightening children. But after the first seven minutes, even the gathered crowd lost interest and continued scraping out a modest life for themselves among the sand and the dust. There was too much to be done to allow any distractions by a raving idiot.

Regardless of whether or not Dai's plan had any secret merit, twenty minutes was well past the point of effectiveness. Rika stood up and crossed the square, stepping beside Dai and resting a hand on his shoulder.

"We need to talk."

Dai put away his weapon and the pair stepped back aboard the train. Instead of returning to the small compartment, Dai led them into a private car. It looked as if it had once been very opulent, but was now worn-down from use, stripped down, and cluttered with all of Dai's belongings. There was a workbench on one side cluttered with tools that caught Rika's attention.

"Uh, that wasn't...I mean, what was the plan there? Cause I think that...well, maybe I was missing out on some of the finer points perhaps because there's no possible way your plan was just to stand there and yell right? Nah, of course not." Rika laughed. "Because that would simply be...the...worst possible...hunting tactic...ever."

She thought she felt her eye twitching.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:17 pm

His cheeks flushed with color.

Since when did anyone pointing out his stupidity actually make him feel...stupid?

"Err, well...I figured eventually he'd get cocky and come out with a big gang of his men to pick me off. Then I'd make him pay for it. But I guess he's probably already seen through that one, huh?"

Dai suddenly wished he had never asked for Rika's help. What kind of proud leader did he look like now? Even if he had the most direct link to Senji, Suna should have sent someone else to deal with this problem...

He broke eye contact with the Nanaya and stared at the nearest wall, rubbing his mechanical arm absentmindedly. Years later and that hollow sensation still unsettled him at times.

"Okay, so I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I've never had any sort of shinobi or huntery training in my life. That's why I was so eager to get your help. I should have just told you in the beginning that I didn't have a plan at all, but I...I don't prefer to look like a weak leader, alright? People want to follow confident, decisive leaders, even if part of that image is just an illusion."

Appearing useless in Rika's eyes irked him even greater than usual, but denying his incompetence any further only made him look worse. Time to swallow a whole lot of pride, Dainichi.

"I know this is a lot more than you bargained for, but if you could just give me a few pointers I'd have something to work off of. Even if it's just a Nanaya tactic or two, I could do all of the actual work myself."

Dai dropped to his knees in the cramped space and pressed a fist against his chest, throwing away any semblance of dignity for the second time today.

"I understand how hesitant the Nanaya would be to share their secrets, but I swear on my blood that you can trust me with anything. I'll use the entirety of the resources at my disposal to assist you or the clan whenever you may need aid in the future. I just...I need to take care of Senji myself, as soon as possible. I can't let more innocent people continue to suffer for something I could have prevented."
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:59 am

She found herself kneeling. Her hands rose and fell onto his shoulders.

Touching him made the beating connection between them almost unbearable. It felt like her blood was flowing from her palms into his body, their hearts carrying the same blood between two bodies. Again, she could shut this sensation off with the shut of a mental door, she knew she could. Resisting the mental effects of bloodlines was something she had been doing from a young girl.

But she didn't.

"I meant what I said in Suna. You are great because you attack your problems head on, but that also prevents you from seeing the solution to every problem. You needed to rely on Moxie to find the new solution for the Westlands, and there wasn't any shame in that was there? So now you need to rely on me to solve another one. I think your ability to find the right people to solve your problems makes you a fine leader."

Rika's focus shifted back to her hands. Her right one had drifted down along the mechanical expanse of Dai's artificial limb, the fingertips dipping into the rough edges and rounded nooks, sliding across joints. Realizing what she was doing, she snapped back both hands and set them in her lap.

"Besides, you can't just pick up a few Nanaya pointers and expect to get anywhere. Hunting is a very dynamic process, you have to make a lot of decisions very quickly. It'd be like giving you a screwdriver and telling you to build a house. If you wanted to really learn you'd have to come to the compound for at least a few months and undergo intensive training. Probably from me, since I am the lead hunter and-..."

It was starting to sound like she was inviting him. She cleared her throat and stood up, grasping Dai's hands and pulling him to his feet.

"What I'm trying to say is that I'll help you. As long as it takes. I don't have anything pressing to get to, and if it'll help maintain the peace my cousin helped build, then it's worth my time. And, if you pay close enough attention, maybe you'll learn a thing or two."

Rika spun around to the workbench.

"Give me an hour."

- - -

It was nearly dark when Rika finally emerged from the train, re-equipped and ready to go. She was again cloaked in the tan garment - it was nondescript enough to not draw attention while she was about with the civilian population of Suna. Dai was waiting for her on the train platform, watching the blazing sunset vanish behind the rolling dunes.

"Since you already made a pretty big ruckus, there's no sense in trying too hard to conceal your presence. In fact, we're going to do what you did again, but concentrated. When the prey sees you get close, they either get cocky or panicked. Either way, they stand out."

The pair started to the saloon. Yellow light crawled out from beneath the doorway and through the murky window panes.

"When we get in there, I want you to start making a scene and interrogate whoever I point out. I'll move into a different position and see if we can't flush out someone useful. I'll whistle to signal you to stop. Like this."

She slipped her fingers into her mouth and let out a quick pierce of sound.

"We'll meet up where we can. If you can't find me, head back to the train. I'll make sure I'm there."

She didn't give him time to ask any questions. They were already through the saloon's front door.

It smelled about as run down as it looked. Watered down alcohol, dried up sweat, cooking oil that had been re-used too many times. Smoke threaded through all of those smells. The tables were scuffed and cluttered with empty drink glasses and playing cards with frayed edges and still burning ciagrettes. The majority of the patrons were ruddy men with muddy clothes, trying to find a few moments of pleasure in the endless churn of their lives.

A man played the piano badly. There were a few women drifting around with stretches of their legs and scoops of their breasts on display.

Most people were laughing.

It was easy for the average-sized Rika to slip in behind the much taller Dai unnoticed. Most eyes drew to him, not only because of his presence and arm, but because of the...show, he put on earlier.

Rika's eyes swept through the room. An old man with a long beard, a young man with too much alcohol in his body to not be able to resist the whore pressing herself all over him, a man with a slight limp that shouldn't be doing physical labor anymore, a bald giant with a frighteningly tiny voice-

"That one."

Rika motioned to a man at the bar. He was average in just about every way; average height, average build, plain brown hair and nursing a tankard of ale. Probably a family man, if Rika had to venture a guess, which meant that he'd have plenty of friends coming to his rescue when Dai started roughing him up.

Which is what she wanted.

She managed to slip her way through the crowd while Dai made his way to the mark, and found herself climbing the stairs to the upper balcony that encircled the saloon. The dark corners of the balcony were piled with couples stealing a few moments.

Rika leaned on the rail, waiting for the display to begin, sharpening her senses to be aware of every movement and moment.

She spun around and snapped out with her right hand, grabbing the young pickpocket by the scurff of his neck and tossing him to the ground.

"Hey! Assault! This guys is assau-"

Rika stomped down on his back with her boot, holding him in place.

"Keep it down." Fortunately the din of the saloon swallowed up the noise the boy was making.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:16 pm

Dai casually approached the indicated target from behind, lightly pressed his hands against the male’s back, and shoved him face-first into the counter. His mug of liquor overturned, the pungent liquid cascading onto the floor and soaking through the man’s clothes in the process.

The hapless patron spun around

Hey, what the hell?

Come on, man, this is a pretty small town you got here. If anyone’s showed up recently and has been lying low for a couple weeks or so, you’d all notice. Now work with me. I’m looking for a man named Seniji Kiryuu and his thugs.

So, seen anyone new around here, lately? Really ugly, stupid, and inferior to me in every way possible?


The young man grinned, but received only an incredulous stare in response.

You’re nuts. I don’t know anything about any outsiders hiding around here, and it’s not my problem even if they are. So just-

Dai rammed his organic fist into the guy’s stomach, sending him reeling and gasping for breath. He took a second to scan the nearby drinkers, but no one seemed willing to interfere.

Hm, so much for drawing anyone out…

Fine, people always gotta make things harder on themselves. If no one feels like talking, maybe someone will after a little physical persuasion.

He raised his right arm to strike a second time just as the dagger’s tip bit into his side. The blade was ripped viciously from his flesh as quickly as it entered, releasing a torrent of warm, red liquid.

Goddamn, that hurts!

Finished with stating the obvious, Dai took an awkward step back and turned to face his assailant. Assailants…

The group flanking the lanky knife-wielder looked to number about five, assuming there weren’t more scattered throughout the bar looking for a good chance to pounce.

Each had the tell-tale air of a Westlander, though any desert vagrant down on their luck would look the same, physically. But the battle-hardened eyes of those forced to fight for survival every day of their lives…you couldn’t replicate that.

’Ey there, Dainichi Kaizoku. Senji-san ain’t coming out to play, but we’ll have some fun with you in his place. Our numbers and that wound should be enough a handicap for one of Suna’s great saviors, hm?

Dai’s eyes narrowed, and his lips smoothed into a grim line.

Funny. I thought everyone knew by now that if you strike me, you’d better do it with the intent to kill. Otherwise, you’ve done nothing but seal your own fate.

The Jekial raised his right hand and formed a half-sign. The blood-soaked blade in his opponent’s hand exploded, the blast evaporating the knife and most of the man’s arm along with it.

The remaining brutes jumped back from their fallen leader, who had immediately collapsed in a fit off agonized screaming.

But it was too late to back out now.

The blood pooling at Dai’s feet rose into the air, combining with the stream still flowing from the gaping hole in his side and arcing upward before honing in on the scattered Westlanders.

The blood lance split into four large prongs, each one plunging into the chests of their targets. They divided again, again, and again, the tips finally finding new exit points and bursting forth from multiple positions of the bodies they had entered.

Dai dropped his arm, the intricate structures of blood reverting into liquid form and covering the wood floors with corpses and crimson stains. He froze the flow around his injury, temporarily slowing his blood loss to nothing.

He stepped over to his sole living victim and knelt beside him.

Senji ready to play yet?

His metallic palm crushed down on the man’s chest. A faint blue glow surrounded the artificial limb as the force of gravity increased drastically to multiply the effect of Dai’s natural strength.

Tell me where he is if you still value your life.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:58 pm

Rika didn't panic.

The situation could go to hell very quickly in every hunt, and it was those with a cool head that still got the job done. Dai was attacked and was retaliating, and she might need to-

A mixture of terror and awe filled her when the blood consumed the first attacker's hand and weapon.

She wouldn't have to worry about him.

All sound vanished, leaving only the beat of her heart and the whisper of her breath. The world seemed to move slowly, every detail sharpening. A hunter's instinct was not something that was conscious. It was the culimination of her entire life's training working in harmony.

There.

A man was struggling with a window on the opposite side of the balcony. The window finally gave and he swung his leg through.

Rika glided like a ghost, stepping off the pickpocket and passing through the scrambling whores - some were fleeing into their rooms, others leaning on the rail to get a better look. Despite her best efforts, however, the man scrambled through the window.

She pounced, catching the windowsill and threading both legs through without hesitation, landing on the slanted roof. The man was already hugging onto a beam and shimmying down to the ground. Rika bent over and gripped the edge of the roof with her artificial arm and swung over.

The fleeing man finally realized he was being pursued and let out a cry. He was very clearly drunk; his flesh slid around his bones like a rotten peach and his eyes were watery and red.

It was a short jump from where she stood to his back. The handcuffs snapped onto his wrists easily and his drunken cries were washed out by the shrieks splitting from inside. Rika yanked the man over her shoulder, the smell of sweat and booze tainting her cloak.

"No...noo, please, don't...he'll kill me..."

Rika ignored him and marched to the train. Whether or not Dai dispatched with the local leader didn't much matter. They had one informant in captivity now, and he was not brave. He had probably been bullied into working for them in the first place, which would make bullying him to give up what he knew very, very easy.

As for Dai, well, slaughtering a team of Senji's men wouldn't hurt. Senji already knew Dai was looking for him. Now he'd just realize how serious he was about it. He might move, hide deeper in the desert or hire more people to protect him.

But it wouldn't matter. Not with Rika around.

She couldn't help but hum a little as she entered the train, waiting for Dai to finish up his party.
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:39 am

The desert had plunged into complete darkness by the time Dai sauntered back to the train and entered his private car. He grunted in pain and pressed down harder on his side.

That bastard and his dirty knife. If he wasn’t a Jekial, he might actually be worried about some sort of blood infection.

Rika sat casually in her seat from earlier, a thoroughly bound man struggling against wire in the opposite chair.

I see you found a friend. I guess I got a little carried away in there, huh? Sorry if I almost compromised your plan for nothing. There’s no way those losers would have known where Senji is right now.

Dai released the grip on his wound, the skin already beginning to seal over the once bloody mess. His stamina began to replenish at an accelerated pace as his body rapidly produced blood to replace the quantity he had lost.

I let that last guy live, by the way. If that will screw up your plan at all, I can go back and take care of it. I just felt like maybe living with a big chunk of his humanity missing might be a more fitting punishment for him than a quick death.

He turned his head and stared blankly at the assortment of tools and spare parts on the workbench in the corner. He’d never regretted surviving that sand worm attack for a single moment of his life, but it was hard not to think about how much had changed for him after that brief event.

Shaking his head to clear his mind of such ridiculous thoughts, Dai clenched and unclenched his mechanical fingers in anticipation.

Anyway, what now? We gonna beat this guy until he talks or what?
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:25 am

Rika's smile was softer than she had anticipated.

"Dai, I may have been...a little harsh before. About doing things a right and a wrong way, that is. There isn't, really. Hunting to the Nanaya is an art, not a science. There are no rules, only guides, and even then those guides fail you. In reality, our training isn't about being prepared for every possible situation. Our training is to develop our instincts."

She reached out and took his flesh hand.

"You have good instincts. You could be a really good hunter."

She released him, trying to ignore the pang of loss she felt when she did, and moved back to their drunk companion. She nudged his head and it rolled limp to the other side. His jaw slackened and a thin line of drool dangled from his lip.

"He's drunk. And asleep. I don't think we could trust anything he said even if we could get him to talk. Better to let him sleep it off. But, I did find these." She pulled a sheaf of papers from beneath her cloak and handed it to Dai. "Letters. In code of some kind, can't figure it out, but they're posted for an address in Thickpick City. We should start heading in that direciton. We can maybe get some more solid information out of our delivery man in the morning."

Rika furrowed her brow a bit and crossed her arms. "Say...do you own this train? I mean, you have this car but it hasn't moved since we got here. And if you do...how the heck did you get a train?"
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Uchiha Sasuke » Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:29 pm

Dai glanced up from studying the papers and blinked.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, the train is mine. It's not really that interesting of a story, but since you asked and all..."

His grin and sparkling eyes betrayed his obvious lie. His voice dripped with ego.

"It started as a normal up to a northern city for some diplomatic thing, pretty close to our next destination actually. A lot of wealthy people were aboard at the time, and the train was hijacked about halfway through the trip.

Not only were there about a half dozen of them with me as the only trained warrior aboard, but they announced that a bomb had been placed at the front of the train after they killed the conductor. So obviously, I had to stop these thugs before they robbed or killed the entire group.

I beat and sliced my way through all of them without taking a single scratch. Those punks probably hoped their numbers and threats would be enough to achieve their goal, but clearly they didn't know that Dainichi Kaizoku was on that train.

Anyway, I got to the front car of the train and gabbed the explosive device. I had no knowledge on how to disable it, and even I 'm smart enough to realize just zapping it full of electricity probably would be a bad idea. So I got to a window and launched it as far as possible with a nice gravity-powered toss from this left arm.

Y'know, thinking back, no one really knows if it ever went off or not. It was never found, but there were no reports of any people or towns blowing up or anything, so it worked I suppose.

After that, the owners of the railways and the rich passengers all really wanted a way to repay me. I'm not much of a money or materials guy, but I did need a practical way to get around the country whenever I wanted. So with a lot of favors, I ended up with this train. I do still let people ride around whenever they want, but the condition is that we go wherever I want when I'm aboard.
"

Dai's grin appeared a bit more embarrassed now rather than confident, and he rubbed the back of his head to release some nervous energy.

"Heh, I dunno if you're right thinking I could ever be good at that hunting stuff. Nothing I do is subtle in the slightest way, is it?"

He tossed the papers onto the workbench before meeting Rika's gaze again.

"Alright, if there's nothing else we need here and your curiosity is satisfied, we can get rolling to Thickpick City. Senji can't hide from us for much longer!"
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Re: To be Nanaya

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:33 am

Rika looked at him for a long moment.

"That is probably the most ridiculous story I've ever heard in my entire life. It...can't possibly be true, but for some reason I believe you."

She found herself taking a quiet step forward, so slick and subtle that she managed to take another before it registered to Dai that she was in fact closer. She pushed the cloak's hood off of her head, letting her black hair hang freely around her neck.

"You're something of a force of nature, Dai. Trying to make you a proper hunter might be like trying to put a tornado in a bottle. But I promised you that I would take care of Senji, and I will. Even if we have to leave you in the train."

She smiled and took another half step forward. The door of focus she had shut so tightly in the saloon had swung open again and the back and forth of their heartbeats hammered in her ears. It was becoming...addicting, she supposed. That was bad. A hunter had to be sharp and alert. Every distraction meant another chance of death.

"I need to focus on the hunt, though. Complete and total focus. So I'm just going to get this out of the way. I'm going to do it, then I'm going to stop thinking about it until the target has been neutralized."

Their eyes met, her gaze cold and hard and determined, driving the sincerity of her words home as hard as she could. She was dead serious, and Dai had to know it.

Then her hands snapped and snared Dai's shirt, pulling him off balance ever so slightly as she lifted herself onto her toes.

Rika kissed Dai.

Then with the same suddeness and fluidity, she swept around him and stood beside the door, sliding it half-open.

"See you in the morning, Dai."

She smiled like an idiot all the way to the passenger car.
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