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Ryuu Tsukino

"If you ever choose to make me a hero in your story, it would be a tragedy."

0 · 797 views · located in Naruto Universe

a character in “Naruto: End of Attrition”, as played by Equilibrium





So begins...

Ryuu Tsukino's Story


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zetsubō Kosan Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Akira Aburame
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Mizuki Kawagure, Eighth Hokage, surveyed the young shinobi before her with a critical eye. They were Konohagakure’s best and brightest, in one way or another, though to call any of them ideal for this mission was a stretch. She’d had to balance her need to pick the people most likely to be able to handle the Raikage’s party with the competing need to encourage diplomacy rather than violence. The Council was insistent that these peace talks go well, and she knew the newly-minted Raikage had scored himself serious points in the eyes of the rest of the world by being the first to extend his hand in this fashion… and by agreeing to a negotiation scenario that would be against he and his people from the very start. It was on her turf, surrounded by her people, and almost entirely on her terms.

She fully planned on taking advantage of that.

But in order to make sure things went as they needed to, his people would have to be watched without being caged, and for that, she needed these personnel. Kiyoko Uzumaki was the youngest, but also the most likely to succeed at being diplomatic and controlling herself, so she was nominally in charge of the team. The rest were there because they were either exceptionally talented or else because they had some ability that would be advantageous in such a scenario as this one. The Aburame’s bugs, the Tsukino’s eyes… and well, to be honest Yuhara was there because he wouldn’t hesitate to kill them if he needed to and the Uchiha present because the Hokage took great pleasure in watching him squirm… and because the Raikage was a Jinchūriki.

Folding her hands behind her back, the Hokage tossed back her rose-colored ponytail and stared them down silently for a moment. “I trust,” she said slowly, her voice on a lower register for a woman, so calm it could only be the kind of thing that masked something else. “That I do not have to remind you that the future of your village rests on this.” And because of how important their village was, the future of much of the world, not just its ninja. There was no overestimating the importance of it. “You are to be as hospitable as you possibly know how,” the sardonic inflection, ever so slight, gave away that she knew some of them weren’t capable of much in that department. “And as polite as you can pretend. Until such time as any of them act untowardly, they are honored guests. If they make trouble, you are authorized to use exactly as much force as is necessary to stop that trouble. You will meet them outside the gates, escort them to the guest facility, and see that they eat. Then, you will bring them here. Other than that, do as Uzumaki tells you. Am I understood?”

She wouldn’t usually be so stern about it, but she had a reputation for not suffering fools lightly, and she certainly would not tolerate any foolishness here. These shinobi were ANBU, medics, members of village nobility, and sometimes even teachers. Now, they would have to be diplomats. Difficult as it may be for some of them, it was imperative. Obtaining what she deemed to be the required amount of assent, the Hokage nodded. “Then you are dismissed.”

Kiyoko stood before the eight Hokage, her lips pursed deeply together as the older woman surveyed the team. Being the youngest of the group, would have normally caused her to be a little more temperamental, however; this mission required her to be at her utmost behavoir. She was to lead one of the best teams at the moment, to ensure that everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go. She wasn't sure she was exactly the best person to handle the situation, but then again, it might as well be her. Naruto was, after all, her grandfather, and that alone should have stripped her from even leading this team. But a part of her was glad that she was being given that chance to do something good, something he would have wanted.

She remained quiet as Mizuki spoke, her eyes focused on the Hokage. She absorbed the information, sorting it out into the proper order before she nodded her head. They were going to escort the Kumogakure shinobi to their facilities, feed them, and then bring them here to her. Seemed simple enough, however; she glanced over the group that was under her guidance. Akira, Ryuu, Naomichi, and Katsuro. She almost snorted at the last face she landed on. Katsuro didn't seem too pleased to be here, but she was glad he was, in a weird sort of way. She focused her attention back to Mizuki and saluted the Hokage, a grin settling on her lips.

"Leave it to us, Mizu," she replied, standing out in front of her team before folding her arms against her chest. "You heard the woman. Everything and anything I say, goes, and if any of you have anything to say about that, well," she spoke, her head tilting to the side as a bright smile crossed her face. "You are free to express it, but I don't guarantee I'll take it into consideration," she stated, the smile never fading from her face. If they had anything to say about her and her leadership, they were free to state as such, however; it didn't mean she had to listen to it. For all she cared, they could take it and shove it, even if they were all on good terms. Or at least somewhat on good terms as far as she could tell.

"Unless Mizu here has anything else to say, shall we go meet our new friends?" she questioned, taking a glance over her shoulder towards Mizuki before turning her attention back to her comrades, her eyes lingering just a moment longer on Katsuro with evident amusement.

The Hokage rolled her eyes, but waved a hand anyway. Uzumaki was like that—and probably the only person who could get away with calling her Mizu. Probably because her grandfather had been Mizuki’s teacher and so she’d been around a lot when Kiyoko was growing up. The nickname was an old one. “I already told you to leave, Uzumaki. Don’t be late—we could hardly make a bad first impression on our guests. That she was not especially happy that the Raikage and four of his best would be in the middle of her village for an unknown period of time should have surprised no one.

In sharp contrast to his counterpart on Konohagakure, the Raikage wore a big smile on his face. In all fairness, pretty much everything about him was big, and so his smiles should probably be no exception. The journey here from Kumo had taken the better part of a week, even moving at the pace of very highly-trained, very fast shinobi. It was, after all, quite a distance from one country to the other. He didn’t mind the inconvenience, though—the people he was travelling with were among his closest friends and strongest allies, and that made the distance seem shorter, at least to his mind. Perhaps some would say that mind was just simple, and in truth, perhaps Takehiko would even agree. He didn’t really see a problem with simple, after all.

“What do you think, Rei?” he asked the kunoichi immediately behind him, tilting his head back over his shoulder to glance at her from the corner of his uncovered eye. The smile didn’t disappear, even if it might have been a shade unnerving, given the fact that his eyeteeth were slightly larger than normal, and pointed. It was all Mata’s fault anyhow.

“We’re close,” the medic-nin replied, flexing one of her hands. The thin white scars on the back of her hand pulled taut, then eased when she relaxed her fingers. She was the one who had most recently been to the place, and the only one who would remember its exact location. None of the fighting had ever quite reached either village. “I don’t expect they’ll just let us walk in through the front gate, though… not by ourselves.”

“Mm… probably not,” Takko consented easily enough. “But you never know… we might just make ourselves some friends out of the deal, hm?” His grin widened, and that was how she knew there was more to what he said than a simple, naively-optimistic sentiment. Simple he might be, but Rei knew very well that he was a far cry short of stupid.

"Yeah, well you guys have your work cut out for you then. I don't need to make friends, I already have friends," Nariko replied, shoving her hands behind her head as she stared up at the sky. Her mother was related to the Nara of the Konohagakure village, however; give that she was his grandchild, she might not be as welcomed as she thought she might be. She, after all, did fight in the war too. She killed her fair share of shinobi from Konoha, and she wouldn't be able to wash that away. "Oh look, here's the welcome party now," she stated, lowering her gaze to spot the gates of Konoha in the distance. She could see the outline of five people, and one in particular caused her to grin.

Kiyoko stared at the group coming into view, standing with her arms crossed against her chest. She narrowed her eyes slightly to get a better look, and sighed. She could make the faint outline of something large, and human. If she had to guess, he was either a body guard, or he was the actual Raikage of Kumo. She was going to go with body guard. That left one of the others to be the Raikage, though it ruled out the three kunoichi. If she remembered correctly, the brief said he, not she. That left the shorter, less large male of the group. Sighing, she waited for the group to approach, glancing back towards Nariko and frowned. It had been a while since she'd seen the Kaneshiro, but now was not the time fore reminiscing.

"Alright guys, you know the drill. Be nice, introduce yourselves, and be nice," Kiyoko stated. She shifted so that her arms were at her sides now, and waited for the shinobi from Kumogakure to approach. Once they did, she remained silent for a moment, tilting her head as she regarded the large one, almost tempted to ask about the eye, however; it would be unprofessional and she couldn't exactly just ask. Instead, she cleared her throat and placed a hand on her hip. "Welcome to Konoha. I trust that your trip was pleasant," she started, putting an emphasis on the last word before glancing over her shoulder.

"Kiyoko Uzumaki, at your service. This is my team," she stated, jabbing her thumb in the direction of the others. "We are here to accompany you into the village," and in some way, babysit them, though she wasn't going to say that. She glanced back at her team, waiting for them to introduce themselves. It would be good to know everyones names first, rather than just saying hey you all the time.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Akira Aburame Character Portrait: Takehiko Yamamoto
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A blonde figure towered over most of the current shinobi present. Only two were taller than her, one significantly and one just barely. Of course, the only person in the entire world she would expect to tower over her was in fact that man, the Raikage himself. Contrary to many others around her, she was not dressed like a ninja. She wore a black suit adorned with white pin-stripes. The white shirt underneath was untouched in color, save for the red tie right down the center. Across her forehead was a string that tied down her otherwise messy blonde hair. That string tied to a mask in the shape of a fox, clearly identifiable as an ANBU Black Ops mask. Eyes of red looked over everyone arriving from Kumogakure. Her look was not one of malice, but not one of trust either. Even if she was not under orders, she would not have outright attacked them. They were here to create peace, end the killing of each other's comrades. For that reason alone, she would be civil.

Anyone standing near the blonde giant would faintly smell strawberry. It was from the strawberry brandy she had sampled from the night before that helped her keep a smile plastered on her face. A fake smile, and one certainly not caused by her visitors... but a smile nonetheless. A couple of introductions went over Akira's head as she wasn't quite paying perfect attention until someone from Kumogakure had spoken up and told the Uzumaki girl to address the proper guy. Her eyes focused around those talking as she would finally begin paying attention. First to Takehiko Yamamoto, the Raikage. It seemed like she chose the right time to pay attention. Then came the introduction of Nariko Kaneshiro, who in turn introduced Kosan. She wasn't quite sure how she felt about any of them thus far, but at least the Raikage seemed charismatic.

At this point, nobody but Kiyoko from Konoha had introduced themselves. It would seem that this would be up to her. Stepping forward, she puffed out her (regretfully small) chest and adjust her tie. With a clear of her throat, she spoke up. "My name is Akira Aburame, next in line for head of the noble Aburame Clan. I am..." She could not think of a polite and honest adjective to describe it, so she would lie. "I am absolutely happy to have you in our village. In my home." She seemed to assert that point. "Me casa es su casa. If you need anything, do not hesitate to ask. It is my job after all to make sure that you are all well-taken care of." She also seemed to assert that it was her job, and that she took little pleasure in it. Looking to the sky, a purple-winged butterfly fluttered by and down. She held out her finger for a perch for the beautiful insect. Smiling at it, she let the genuine smile from the bug carry over to the Raikage specifically. "Welcome to Konohagakure."

As Naomichi approached the designated meeting place for the meeting of the peace treaty, his mind began to wander as the cool breeze blew past the relatively plain looking shinobi. How was he selected to go on such an important mission when he himself was only good at slaughter? Could it be for protection if things turned sour? It couldn't be since he clearly expressed his distaste for anymore violence than is necessary. And he wasn't the brightest or the most socially adept of anyone in the village - in fact he was one of the worst. I guess they only wanted me for killing then... Naomichi quietly thought to himself as he heaved a light sigh and lowered his head in a sorrowful manor.

By the time he reached the Kumogakure shinobi he regained a professional look about him. Despite being a top assassin for ANBU, he didn't really look the part. His black, tattered trench coat sat open on his defined muscles, and his eye-patch didn't serve him any better to look more normal. He looked more like a street thug than anything, and the only thing that defined him from being one was the white wolf mask resting on his belt loop, the eye slits giving an intimidating glare towards the others. He felt gross compared to how nice his companions looked around him.

As he scanned the the Kumo shinobi, he found relief that there was another man with an eye-patch like him. Phew, I don't look like a crazy freak now! Thank you Mr. Patchy! Despite his relatively innocent thoughts, Naomichi looked serious and threatening like he would be ready to take on anyone that even stepped out of place. All he was doing was staring down the man with the eye-patch, giving off a vibe that he really wasn't comfortable with the guy. Unfortunately for Naomichi, all he was doing was trying to have a staring contest with him - which he wasn't noticing.

When the man stepped forward though, Naomichi snapped from his trance and listened to what he had to say. Takehiko the Raikage huh? The man definitely matched his predecessors before him in every sense of appearance. He couldn't see anything wrong with him. In fact, there seemed to be nothing wrong with any of them. They all seemed perfectly nice, despite some obvious hostile looks. They probably were not as bad as Naomichi, and if he wanted to be forgiven of his past actions, he must treat them with the kindness and respect he feels they deserve. He even chuckled quietly at their jabs at one another. He felt that they all were just a happy family... something he always wanted.

When Akira introduced himself, Naomichi felt comfort that the only person who he had any relations with was first; Plus he wasn't first to begin with anyway - that would have just been weird with him. He knew that because of their solid teamwork he would be able to springboard off his introduction with enough grace to earn him a perfect score from the Kumo shinobi. After his sincere greeting to Kohana, Naomichi felt it was time for him to step in. He was proud, strong, and ready for anything. He raised his right hand to give a polite wave to the Kumo shinobi as he stepped forward. "Yo..." And then he choked for a moment. He hadn't planned beyond that. He was sweating bullets and he knew it. "I'm... Naomichi Yuhara?" His lip began to twitch at this moment. He wanted to be strong but he didn't even know what to do. "Welcome to our humble village where we plan to have peace one way or another..." And after saying that he just clammed up and slowly slid back into the line to drift back into obscurity.

Akira noticed the partner of many of her missions step forward and introduce himself. In this moment he said more than she had probably heard him speak in her entire time with him. Countless missions he generally remained silent and distant, listening to her plans and generally only confirming them with a nod. Smirking, she gave him a firm pat on his left shoulder as a way to commend him. Naomichi let a soft sigh come out as Akira patted him on his shoulder, slumping his shoulders down and letting his head hang for his failure.

A stretch to the right. A stretch to the left. A shake to the legs. A big yawn to finish it all up. Yes, that is what the infamous Jōnin known to many as Ryuu Tsukino was doing as Mizuki (never the kind to do with titles and honorifics) was explaining why he and the quadro-muppets (likes giving nicknames) were there right before her or even why they were gathered as a team. Really, he could care less about the details or the pleasantries which are needed to be abide. Furthermore, this was a repetitive scene to him. It was like a broken skit which played over and over again until the audience could not bear it anymore. So, do expect some tomatoes to be thrown. That was probably the only reason he had come at all to catch the tomatoes and make some nice ketchup for his omurice. Ah... this was making him hungry.

"I have something to say teacher!" Ryuu eagerly raised his hand with the accompaniment of a broad smile. It only made his handsome face be a bit more than ever. Kiyoko did after all say they can speak freely, so he will take the opportunity to do so. He even waved his hand in the air vigorously akin to a child and he was far from that. Whether he was fully aware or ignoring the the mission they were being entrusted with, no one can tell for certain. "Can I be excused? I'm hungry..." There it is... His fickle sickness known as laziness. This was one of the primary reasons he had not been designated to be an ANBU despite his skill sets being viable for such an occupation. He was also too unpredictable and has a clear disregard for authority even towards their own Hokage which causes her no ends of grief.

"You can handle those Kumo guys by yourselves... So, too--" He was immediately cut off as someone grabbed his ear and literally dragged him away. There were even a few reprimands along the way. Technically, that is how he had come to be in front of the one called Raikage and his entourage. Well, he could also say groupies. They were also told to be nice. Come now, nice was overrated in his personal opinion. However, he did not voice that out and instead held the ear which was still red. As he stood there, he released yet another yawn, clearly uncaring about the significance of this endeavor. In truth, he was already aware what this would entail. So, why not play along in his own way.

Kiyoko stepped up to the plate by introducing herself first. He shrugged his shoulders at this. This is why he called her Teacher. It reminded him of classroom introductions. More than that, he has no need for such things really. He already knew who the Raikage and Kumogakure ninjas are which was not shared by their esteemed redhead leader. As a result, there were a few chuckles on both sides, on their part? It came from him with a smirk on his face. Anyway, their visitors introduced themselves matched with a comedy routine. Well if the peace treaty does not work, they could always find work in entertainment. That's an upside, less death, more money too.

Anyways, it was their turn as Akira started it off with a lie. Then, it was followed by the socially-awkward Naomichi. For now, he still needed those training wheels in conversing. Still, not bad at all. Ryuu then noticed the eyes of his teammates on him. His turn, huh? Among them, he was the tallest and was not hard to spot with his mismatched colored eyes of blue and gold. He wore the standard Jōnin uniform but even then, it fitted him in a way a model would. After all, he is one of the pretty boys. Taking a step forward, he gave a smile. This one rather than a lie or an empty one. It held a blurry meaning. "Tsukino Ryuu. We're here to babysit you guys. Because let's face it, scars will always be scars."

Unlike Kiyoko who would withhold her tongue under the pressure of professionalism, Ryuu was not that kind. He had always pushed the borders and that would not change anytime soon. But then again, things had already been decided as far as he is concerned.

“Tch,”the scoff at Ryuu’s words came from the Konoha ninja furthest away from him, also in the ANBU uniform, a hawklike mask attached to his belt. Katsuro didn’t like standing anywhere near that guy, because he creeped him out, mostly. There was something off about him, like all that careless laziness was some kind of sickly saccharine illusion over something else. Personally, Katsu thought the Tsukino was just as much of an asshole as he was, but covered it up with that act of his. It was stupid. At least Uzumaki was really like that, annoying as it may be. Crossing his arms over his chest, he flicked a grey-eyed glance over the assembled nin. The eyes narrowed and he tilted his head slightly to the side.

Eventually, he shrugged. It was pointless trying to form opinions on someone from just an introduction, anyway. What kind of idiot would only rely on the first impression of someone to reach a conclusion? People were certainly more complicated than that. Of course, he’d seldom met one that he didn’t hate, but he supposed even that didn’t mean he never would. “Uchiha,” was all he gave by way of introduction, and then he threw an aside glance to Uzumaki. Standing out here making awkward small talk wasn’t going to help them any.

As all of the members of her team introduced themselves, Kiyoko could feel a light twitch on her eyebrow. She turned, slowly, to stare at Ryuu, her eyes narrowing just slightly. One of these days... just one of these days she was going to break something. Shaking her head, she sighed softly and turned back to the group, and raised a brow at the kunoichi who had spoken before the actual Raikage spoke. She made to shrug her shoulders, but caught herself, and instead, rolled them back. Couldn't be too disrespectful, not yet at least. She did, however, roll her eyes at the nickname, Nariko produced. She would not fall for that, she had to keep telling herself. Once everyone was finished with their introductions, Kiyoko cleared her throat once more and glanced, properly this time, at the Raikage.

"Now that everyone is formally introduced, I think it's time we show you to where you will all be staying. After that, you, I assume, may be hungry. We will show you to the cafeteria where you and your team may get something to eat, and for the record, Kiriko," she stated, turning her attention towards the dark-haired kunoichi. "I am not the one discussing the peace treaty. That would be your Raikage, and the Hokage, so no, I do not think I should have to do either of that," she replied, a bright smile lingering on her face. Not exactly the most ideal thing to say to the Kumogakure shinobi, but it was true. She wasn't the one going to discuss anything; that was the Raikage and Hokage.

"If there is nothing else to be said," she paused and glared at Ryuu, "then if you follow us, we shall show you the way."


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zetsubō Kosan Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Akira Aburame
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For the most part, Takehiko absorbed what was said without much discernible reaction. He was not a man who prided himself on being unreadable, as there honestly wasn’t much of a point to subtlety and dissembling when you were made like a sledgehammer anyway. But just because he didn’t make a point of showing off how clever he was didn’t mean he couldn’t see the implications behind some of the words, read a little into the way people stood or talked. He wasn’t the best at it, but his position would soon demand that he became very good. It was something he liked to think the others might help him with a little, or at least the ones any better off than he was. He couldn’t say he was especially pleased with their reception, but it was better than he was expecting. He knew he should be grateful it hadn’t already ended in bloodshed, though that was not to say it wouldn’t.

Choosing to ignore the varying implications, including the one that they needed babysitters, of all things, Takko smiled affably and nodded. “Well, now that we’re all introduced, some food sounds excellent. Lead on, Uzumaki-san, and we shall follow.” The kunoichi did just that, though the route took them through a good portion of the village itself. He had to admit, it was a very beautiful place. The homes were built almost exclusively from wood, which he supposed must be in abundance, given the natural forest surrounding them with all its resources and greenery. Kumogakure was by contrast very austere, the facades carved mainly into the stone of the mountain that kept them so high up in the air. What forest they had was much sparser and more hardscrabble, and the colors of his youth were more grey and bleached-out red than all this green and rich mahogany.

He had the thought that this village would burn much more easily than his own, but he was not sure how it made him feel. It was a fact, he’d been taught, that the things that were nicest to look at were often the most fragile. Not always, but often. Austerity, by the philosophy of the first Raikage, was a form of strength. Have no more than you need to survive, and all living will eventually become living well. Or something like that. But… the people here wore softer faces than those he had seen around his own village. Many of them, he suspected, had never needed to worry where their next meal was going to come from. He doubted the Hokage ever had to send her people on resource retrieval missions when trade became too slow. Takko’s jaw tightened, but he shook himself out of it. Envy didn’t become him, and he didn’t like it, besides. He was here for peace, because more than anything, that was what his people needed now, and as their Raikage, it was his duty to put them first, to provide for that need.

“It’s as nice as I’d heard,” he remarked to the kunoichi leading the procession. He found himself strangely glad it had not been destroyed in the course of the war, despite his jealousy of its abundance. After all… the people here would not wear such content expressions if the war had reached their doorsteps.

Kiyoko nodded her head and led the Kumogakure team through the village. It had been a relatively silent leading, something she was a little grateful for. She knew Katsuro would remain silent, and Naomichi wasn't exactly talkative. Akira could be a little talkative when she needed to be, but Ryuu... Ryuu was a different story, and she had to keep checking over her shoulder to ensure the Shinobi wasn't causing any trouble. Satisfied, she blinked slowly when Takehiko's voice brought her out of her stupor. She raised an eyebrow, her lips pursing into a fine line, and tried to decide how to respond to it. As nice as he'd heard? How was anything as nice as he'd heard? Instead of asking that, though, she sighed softly and slowed her steps so that she was walking beside him. It was a little odd, really, standing next to someone who was almost twice her size.

"It's Konoha, I don't see what's so nice about it," she replied with a shrug of her shoulders. She didn't see it as he did, perhaps because she'd never actually seen other villages. The only village she could recall ever seeing, was Sunagakure when her grandfather used to take her to visit his old friend. Even on missions, it hardly required going to another village. It was more of going to towns to do their business than the actual village itself. "Once everyone is fed, we will be escorting you and your team to the Hokage's office," she stated, instead, resisting the urge to stare at the eye patch. One, it was rude, and two, it would not go over well with the Hokage if she knew that Kiyoko poked at it.

"Before that, though, you will be shown your living quarters for the remainder of your stay," she stated, stopping momentarily to gaze down the streets, before taking a left. "Once everyone is shown, the eating area will be next. It's not quite that large, so I'd advise telling your team of seating arrangements. Sounds odd, but," she stated, shrugging her shoulders in the process. They weren't children, they could sit wherever they wanted, however; they wouldn't all be able to sit together. Konohagakure wasn't built for large people, after all.

The quarters they were staying in turned out to be in what was apparently formerly the Uchiha compound, or so Takko assumed based on the fact that the crest on the gates matched the one the self-proclaimed Uchiha wore on the sleeve of his uniform. The buildings were quite well-crafted, as far as he knew of such architectural details, but he guessed it had been chosen mostly for the fact that it was relatively apart from the main part of the village, presumably to contain their damage if they caused any. He wondered how the man whose home they were invading felt about that, but decided not to ask. Everyone in his party received a room in the same hallway, though none of them were forced to stay in the same one. It was a small courtesy, but one he appreciated all the same.

Once they’d had a chance to stow their unnecessary belongings, they were led to a mess hall, whereupon food was laid out on a long table, still hot enough to consume. There was, despite Uzumaki-san’s worries, plenty of room for everyone, and Takko did not bother to legislate where his people chose to sit—he was not a micromanager in that sense. They were all smart enough to decide what to do for themselves. He personally bypassed the head of the table and sat to the right of it. The extraneous trappings of his authority had never sat well with him, after all.

When everyone was situated, he took note of the fact that the Konohagakure shinobi still stood, loosely arranged around the room in a way that could only be described as “awkward.” Frowning to himself, the Raikage tipped his head slightly to one side, declining for the moment to pick up his chopsticks. “I’m, uh… not really sure what rumors you heard about us,” he started, looking at the truly massive quantity of food before them, “but we certainly won’t be eating this much. Now, if I have my guess here, your mission is to make sure we don’t do anything… rash, and I’m guessing you can do that just as easily if you’re sitting here eating with us instead of standing there making things feel awkward as all get-out.” He shrugged, half smiling. “So… eat. Drink. Try not to kill each other for a few more minutes. I figure we can manage it if you can.”

"Depends exactly on what you mean heard. I, for one, have head a lot, but that doesn't play into this, now does it?" Kiyoko started, allowing a small tilt of her lips to grace her face. It wasn't a smirk, and yet it wasn't a complete smile. She glanced at her team, noticing what Takehiko seemed to have, and sighed. This was supposed to be as smooth as possible. If tensions were already rising, then she would have failed her mission. And if there was one thing Kiyoko Uzumaki didn't like, it was failing. It was a trait, perhaps, inherited by all Uzumaki, or from what she heard of her grandfather's clan. Stubborn? Not so much. Resilient? Maybe. "Well, you heard the Takko," she replied, staring at her group with her head lightly tilted to the side. She wasn't going to say no, she loved food. She could eat almost as much as the Raikage looked like he ate, if she were to be honest. Food now would be, perhaps, a good thing. Wouldn't want to take on shinobi on an empty stomach, now would she?

"Go eat."


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zetsubō Kosan Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Naomichi Yuhara Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Akira Aburame
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#, as written by Senpai


Former enemies or not, Akira was not one to turn down an offer when the word "drink" was used. Without hesitation, she shrugged and sat right down in a rather sloppy motion that looked more like falling straight to her bottom. Sitting across from her was the woman named Rei. Dark skin was not something she had seen too often, save for her spy missions near Kumogakure. She thought to herself that it was honestly rather pleasant to look at as she poured herself some of whatever alcohol was in front of her, she cared not what it was. "There's a goddamn elephant in this room. Maybe some of this will help clear it out..." She said this loud enough for those around her to hear as she finished pouring. To anyone who would hold out their cup to her, she also poured it for them, Kumo or Konoha alike. It was only after that she quickly downed the contents of her own cup and begin pouring another. It wasn't sweet, and burned a little bit going down. But at this point, if it helped her loosen up a bit, she didn't care if she was drinking acid. "Thank you for complimenting my village, by the way. It's the same as complimenting my home. I work hard to preserve it how it is..." That was a decent enough attempt at initiating some small talk, right?

Naomichi's only orders from the Hokage were to fight back if they were to strike, not to go and interact with the Kumo shinobi. So when he was told to go and join them for dinner, he was really unsure how to handle himself in such a situation. He had never really had dinner with anyone else before, so he followed Akira like a frightened child clings their parent on the first day of school. While he may not have shown it in the way he walked to the table, strong and unashamed, he was terrified inside. With a comfortable thump onto the cushion, Naomichi crossed his legs and immediately grabbed his cup and took whatever Akira was offering to the group. Alcohol would calm his nerves and at least make him a bit more manageable if anything. He immediately downed his first cup, grabbing the bottle and quickly refilling it again. With his second cup, he was willing to take his time with it as he listened to the Kumo kunoichi's analysis of who they were.

Heard the Takko. He wasn't sure why, but Kosan found that remark oddly amusing. It wasn't incredibly clever nor did it hold a large amount of wit, but he couldn't help the small tug at the corner of his lip, at least the red headed Uzumaki seemed to have a sense of humor. Of course, the entire situation was almost laughable. As far as he was concerned, they were wasting their time; he had never desired to see their village in any shape save for in flames. The people had looked so.. content, as if the war was some far distant thought to them that it had been a harsh blow. Kosan wasn't sure what he had expected during the walk. Stifling silence, perhaps, but the odd looks he was given from the villagers was not what he expected. Having things thrown at him, being called a monster, those were things he expected and could handle, but indifference was something else entirely. Almost as if the people were doing their best to not stare at him. It was disconcerting if nothing else.

The building, itself, was large, if he had to guess, it seemed nearly six times as large as his own small, modest home that he shared with Seiko. If it weren't for the Raikage's bulk, it would, indeed, be very roomy, but one couldn't demand so much when sitting next to a mountain of muscle except to not be crushed when they feel the urge to move. Kosan didn't consider himself a small man, but the Raikage had a way of making everyone small and this did include the two Konoha Shinobi who had more then a few inches on him as well.

Still, all his pondering could not stop him from his current problem, where in the world was he to sit? His blue eyes ran over the forming groups until they landed on Rei. Although he was not close enough to truly see, his mind instantly placed the small scars on her body that she had gotten during the war marring her once flawless skin, but the scars suited her. His kimono moved around his legs as he made his way over to Rei's table, barely taking note of the tall blond man and other man with the eye-patch, his reasoning for coming over purely selfish. If he was forced to 'indulge' himself with these Konoha shinobi then he would do so with Rei nearby. He trusted himself more in her presence.

‘Elephant’ might well have been the correct word, but Rei at least was not comfortable enough to imbibe, though she appreciated the gesture, insofar as she could. It was easy to forget that it was not these people who had wronged her—or insofar as it was, they had been acting in a time of war. Just as she and her comrades had been. So she told herself—but nevertheless, the instinct to distrust was a difficult one to tamp down on. Even so, she managed something polite by way of declination, and did not glower at the Konoha shinobi as they settled themselves across the table from herself and Kosan, who was on her left.

The girl - possibly named Rei - looked... cute to Naomichi? She definitely was an attractive woman and her forwardness was definitely a good quality too. He had no idea why she was with the Raikage on this mission though. He never heard a single thing about her during the war - like she never existed.

As for the man, Kosan, Naomichi recognized him instantly. The Blood Lotus was someone he observed when sent out on recon and he would need to be someone that was watched. He wanted to put faith into everyone around him, but this man was just... unstable. Naomichi was more than intimidated by his presence since he knew the man wouldn't hold back on him even if he tried to talk him back down.

The topic of the village itself did seem to be innocuous enough, and Rei supposed that going with it would be better than eating in oppressive silence, so she raised an eyebrow slightly. “You said your name was Aburame, right? I suppose that would make you kind of a custodian of the place.” She referred, of course, to the fact that the Aburame were one of the four noble lineages in Konoha, a fact that any half-educated Kumo shinobi would know by this point. “Come to think of it, I’ve heard the name Yuhara somewhere, too…” Not in the same context though. Perhaps it was a battlefield reputation rather than a family one.

Akira seemed to be in thought a moment when asked the question, but eventually nodded. "I suppose that is one way to call it. Not the term I would use, but it's not entirely inaccurate."

Naomichi was snapped back into the dinner when Rei brought up his name. "My name is fairly common lady, It could be someone else that was a demon or somethin" The thought of someone knowing how cruel he could be made him down another glass. He didn't want to be known as a monster or anything.

Kosan waved off the offered drink, he was not one for alcohol. While he would drink under special circumstances, he did not consider this a special circumstance. Any one of them could be the ones he was looking for and, more so, he did not have a desire to drink in the midst of his enemies' seat of power. Reaching out he brought a small cup to himself and poured some of the heated water conventionally placed at the center of the table, in an unassuming little pot, into it before lowing a bag of tea leaves into it. He gently tugged on the small string, lifting it out of the darkening water just to slowly lower it back in.

He looked up from his work, his blue eyes watching the eye-patched shinobi, Yuhara as Rei so helpfully supplied, just finish watching him. Kosan had a few ideas as to why, although Yuhara did not look like someone he knew or heard about, given his job in the ANBU it fit that he would not be aware of the man's history as it would defeat the purpose of being in ANBU if everyone knew of their exploits, or at least, it would render the mask pointless. Kosan, on the other hand, as the 'Blood Lotus' wasn't someone who could be so unassuming.

On reflex, his eyes followed Yuhara's one to Rei, running over her body as he did. Rei was attractive, to deny they was to be blind, and at this distance, he could see the scars, both large and small, that marked her skin, each holding a story of their own, each adding just another interesting piece of the puzzle that made Rei who she was.

The clan name of Aburame caught his attention, and Kosan snapped his blue eyes to the tall, thin blond man that was seated and away from Rei's figure, "Aburame? I have heard of your clan's abilities, and they have always sounded impressive. I do not believe I ever met with an Aburame during the war, but I must admit I have always been rather curious as to how their abilities truly look," Leaning forward over the table, Kosan pushed his tea out of the way, forgotten for the moment in the pursuit for an interesting subject for his next tale, not even his distaste for the village in the leafs could stand in the way of a good story. "Would you be willing to give a small demonstration?"

When Naomichi heard Kosan's request, he set his drink down and repositioned himself to watch his partner at work. If it was one thing he was good at, it was working with bugs. He was proud to be his partner and wasn't ashamed to hide it.

Rei sighed softly, having a feeling she knew where this was going, and judiciously set down her bowl and chopsticks, covering the first with an upside-down plate and the second with a cloth napkin. She really didn’t want any stray insects in her food.

Akira looked up at Kosan as he addressed her, only to meet his conversation with a smirk. "Of course you didn't meet any Aburame, doll. Like our insectoid friends, we try not to make ourselves known too much... In fact, many of my clansmen complain that they never get noticed. Even by their own teammates. My great-uncle Shino Aburame especially..." She said the name and immediately realized right after that doing so had absolutely no point to it. But she shrugged, leaned back and cracked her fingers all at once after weaving them together and pushing out her wrists. "Of course, I do this for the sake of improving relations. And not showing off or anything."

"Of course," Kosan said almost on reflex as his blue eyes watched her movements, his attention hers to command.

She sat up on her knees and unbutton the pin-striped suit jacket, then unbuttoned the lower buttons on the white dressy shirt beneath it. Lifting up the left side revealed several holes on flat, smooth skin. Four bugs crawled out of four different holes and climbed onto her finger. "Meet the Bikochu, Kidaichu, Kikaichu, and the Nano-sized Venomous Insect. Not proper names, but the names of the kinds of bugs. They all feed off of my chakra and obey my whims in return. Pretty sweet, huh?" The bugs returned through the holes, though Akira kept the shirt lifted up. Looking to her partner, Naomichi, she gave a playful wink before making one more command to the bugs. From the revealed holes, and many hidden holes all over her body, masses of insects began flying out, coagulating into a purple-colored cloud along the ceiling. Buzzing of all sorts of kinds would fill the room, replacing any lingering silence before they would fly behind Akira.

"Incredibly so," he replied unsure of how to respond to something said being 'sweet', but it was fascinating. He was a little disappointed that the holes were not on her arm or some other less personal area as he would have liked to feel them.

The purple cloud of insects began taking a shape behind her, at first a purple silhouette. Quickly, details would be added as the Insect Clone took the appearance of Kosan himself. Nodding, she would speak. "Check this out, though." She stood up with a soft grunt and turned to face the clone. Clenching her right hand into a fist, she shot it straight through the clone's head. She pulled her hand away and watched the detailed head turn into a purple coagulation again before reforming to mimic Kosan again. Turning around once more, she smirked and held up her hand to the clone, which slapped hers back. Akira sat back down as sloppy as she had the first time and let her insects return to a cloud and begin filing back into her body. She also decided to leave her pin-striped jacket off as well. Her tie became looser as well as she tugged on it and poured another drink. "Enjoy your demonstration?"

Both of Rei’s eyebrows ascended her forehead as she watched the Kosan-shaped mass of insects reform itself after being damaged. “Interesting. But… wouldn’t they be very susceptible to ninjutsu? Fire and water and all that?” It was asked with a tone of genuine curiosity, academic and pragmatic more than anything. There was, indeed, no hint of a threat in it at all.

"It's a clone, you know? They're not exactly built to be sturdy. Losing them is not a big deal... Bugs don't live long and they reproduce more than rabbits." She let out a laugh with this explanation. "They don't like water at all, and they do like fire. Not that it's particularly good for them..."

Rei actually managed a small smile at that, then shrugged. “Fair enough."

"And that's what makes Akira such a good partner. Kickass bugs with a brain to boot. What's not to like?" Naomichi sat smugly with one arm propping him up. With a few drinks in him at this point he was allowing himself to become looser and more talkative with the group. He was slightly worried with the person who the bugs took the form of, but he knew Akira had reasons for doing it so he wouldn't object.

"I did, I truly enjoyed the way you hit me in the face, very good form," Kosan said leaning back once more to lift his once forgotten tea to his lips, pausing only for a moment to check the contents to ensure no stray bug had 'accidentally' been left in his cup. He wasn't quite sure what to make of the clone having been made to his likeness. A statement or was he the choice because he was the one who asked the question? Well, it didn't truly matter, his curiosity was somewhat sated for the moment.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Takehiko Yamamoto Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Kiyoko Uzumaki Character Portrait: Nariko Kaneshiro Character Portrait:
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Not bad at all. It would be his description of the food which was presented for their treasured guests. However, he was also going to eat it as well as stated by Kiyoko who had been eyeing him ever since the beginning of these introductions. It would have been wonderful if her stares were wrapped with complete adoration. He would have a wonderful time dissecting each of her feelings into something more substantial. It was already assured. Too bad, it wasn't but there was also another form of fun in that. Anyway, he has a bone to pick with the current spread before them. As a result, his opinion changed direction as quick as that of a hurricane. Yes, he is truly whimsical. Ryuu could care less about the others appearing to have a good time with the bug entertainment, because clearly he was not due to the indiscretion done to him. His eyes of gold and blue narrowed with disgust. "Teacher!" Yes, he is implying Kiyoko. He raised his hand with vindication. "I don't like the food. May I be excused?"

It might be seen as another one of his schemes to ditch everyone and go on about his own way. This was not a farfetched idea. He was rather known for such instances. Furthermore, the notion of making the Hokage mad or creating a bad impression towards the Kumogakure ninjas did not weigh into his priority at all. Actually, they do not even register in his spectrum of interest. He has other better things to place his attention on than such trivial matters. Technically, he sees this treaty as another inevitable situation where their connections are more of a catalyst to ensure the gears are to move in linear direction. Well, they assume it will. Regardless, he was getting ahead of himself. Right now, his main reason of wanting to leave was the very fact he does not like anything sweet near his prepared meal. An odd thing and a bit excessive, but this is how he is, the kind who never relents or hold himself back no matter what kind of environment he may be. If not, can I have Katsu-chan's oranges instead?

Ah yes, how could he forget? There was an alternative. He could always have the taciturn Uchiha be a balm to his displeasure. His eyes shone ever so brightly as he smiled at Katsuro. It was so out of place yet, it appeared to be the most natural thing for him. Unfortunately, it depends on who is assessing the situation. The two were seatmates as he made a move to take the Uchiha's oranges.

Katsuro’s generalized frown of displeasure deepened into a scowl. Of all the annoying people to end up sitting next to, it just had to be this one, didn’t it? Damn stupid smiley bastard. It was all so fake it made him a little sick, and now the smarmy idiot was attempting to make a move on that most precious of all sustenance, his oranges. Katsu wasn’t the type to really care about a lot of things, or people even, but hell if he was gonna let the flighty fairy have his citrus fruits. The hand that made for the nearest one was swiftly allayed by a kunai, slammed into the wood of the table millimeters from the tender spot between Ryuu’s thumb and first finger. Assorted china and eating implements rattled from the force of the blow, the knife buried several inches into the wood, a sturdy midpoint between the encroaching hand and the orange.

“Back. The. Fuck. Off.” Katsuro’s tone scarcely deviated from the flat, dull one he used typically, only slight emphasis giving truth to just how serious he was. Perhaps, if it were someone else, he wouldn’t have been so direct about it, but the unctuous little weasel was the kind of person who could and probably would pretend to miss one’s implications if one were in the least bit subtle about anything. Using the beat of silence that followed to snatch up the orange himself, he peeled it as though he hadn’t just nearly impaled a man’s hand in defense of a piece of fruit (he wasn’t aiming to hit anyway) and popped the first wedge into his mouth, glaring at the Tsukino from the corner of one silver eye.

Honestly, Katsuro didn’t even care if the little shit did leave the mission. Hell, he could leave the entire damn village, and the Uchiha wouldn’t count them as having lost much. Might even be for the better, in all honesty. He didn’t like him, he didn’t trust him, and if anyone else had half a brain, they wouldn’t either. The fact that he was an annoyance and a would-be orange thief just made matters worse.

Nariko, having the most fortunate seating arrangement, stared at the two Konoha shinobi. She glanced over her shoulder towards Kiyoko's table, watching as the redhead twitched at Ryuu's statement, however; it did not stop the large grin that spread across her face. Instead of focusing on her food, like everyone else was, she leaned against the palm of her hand, tilting her head sideways and cocked an eyebrow at the Uchiha. He must really love his oranges if he was willing to nearly maim a fellow shinobi. That, or he was just easily agitated. A slow smile crept over her lips as she continued watching the interlude between the two before snorting softly.

"Either you really love your oranges, or you just don't like people touching your stuff. I'd say a little of both," she stated with a light shrug of her shoulders. Not that she cared, really. She was here with her Raikage to ensure that everything went well, and no one attemtped to take his life. She knew Kiyoko's team was here to do the same, and in a sense, they all shared a common purpose. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, and turned towards the other one whose hand was almost impaled to the table. "And I take it you just like touching things that don't belong to you. Perhaps you should be more considerate if you wish to keep your limbs. Unless you can regrow those limbs, then by all means keep pissing him off. It's amusing," she continued as she smirked.

"If you wanted an orange so badly, you could have just asked. I would have given you mine instead, otherwise I'd be tempted to just throw it at Koko over there. She needs a good orange to the head," she stated, a mischievous glint tinting her eyes. She shrugged her shoulders though, and resumed poking at her food. It looked edible, but she wasn't all that hungry, and if she forced herself to eat it... she'd just make herself sick. No sense in doing that.

Someone with common sense and self-preservation would have took the kunai as a firm warning to not intrude into one's own space. Normally, people would have no need to do so without the faintest trace of permission. However, this is Ryuu we are talking about. So, a further implication was made by Uchiha through the use of such well-arranged words. To anyone, this might be considered as an achievement. After all, the so-called stigma of Konoha had only shown responses to Kiyoko or even remotely to the Hokage. As for the recipient of the knife, he was undeterred. The intended effect was rather more of a passing breeze than anything. "Selfish as always, Katsu-chan. It wouldn't kill you to share." Taking hold of the kunai, he began to twirl it with his fingers. His eyes of azure and topaz held a certain shimmer of unknown origins. "Look right here, Kaneshiro Nariko-chan is telling us off." He said with a deflated tone and a matching pout. It is a well-known fact to him that the scion of the Uchiha did not only have trust issues but it was heavily laid upon him as well. That was good and he had no intentions of changing it.

His eyes were now directed towards the only female among their table. This was one is a person very familiar to him. Of course, she wouldn't know that. None of them will yet. "I'm a very considerate person, you know." He stated as he stopped twirling the kunai and tapped its blade across his cheek. "And if you are offering, I wouldn't mind it one bit. After all, it is from a pretty girl." His other hand already stretched out waiting for the citrus delight to be placed upon it while those eyes of him held a specific interpretation, something akin to that of a looming mystery. "As for Teacher..." He threw the kunai in a specific path which was actually towards the Raikage's head. "Takko-bell needed to do some slicing." Yes, his words appeared to be of innocence. Yet, it did not reflect the gravity of his actions. And really, he could care less about it as he began doing small talk with the Kumogakure kunoichi. "Anyway, Nariko-chan not eating your food would not be an issue at all." There it was again his care free smile which hid everything that he is.

It would appear that this meal which would have been a means to raise rapport was walking on a thin line especially when the two-toned Dragon is involved. "So, how about you Nariko-chan, I am very curious about you and Koko over there. Care to share?" He added with great interest. "Since sour-puss Katsu-chan is sooo... selfish."

Katsu watched the trajectory of the knife with something almost disbelieving passing over his face. He didn’t give a single damn about the Hokage’s orders, or really even the village in general, but he knew for a fact that if the war had continued, they would have found themselves at a major disadvantage. On average, Kumogakure ninja were just better than their Konoha counterparts. Of course, exceptions existed, but when individuals were taken out of the mix and it was left to the general force, it was an undeniable, objective truth. So, in other words, starting the war back up, especially when it was the Raikage, and not Konoha, who had made the overture of peace, was basically asking for the village to get destroyed. Either Ryuu was an idiot, or he didn’t care either.

The Uchiha was betting on both.

Perhaps fortunately, what could have been a disaster for the mission was averted by the Raikage himself. When the knife whistled through the air towards him, he leaned forward slightly, blocking any chance it might have had to hit anyone else, and caught it… between his teeth. Katsuro blinked. That… was not something he was expecting to see. As though the whole thing had been intended from the very beginning, the big man took the knife into one of his hands, shrugged, threw the group a bright grin, and used it to slice into one of the plums on his own table, casually as though there was no possible offense at all.

Well, if Yamamoto wasn’t going to make a production of it, Katsuro certainly didn’t see the need to either. Muttering something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like lackwit, he resumed eating his orange, choosing to ignore the fact that either Nariko or Ryuu existed at all.

Nariko blinked, raised both eyebrows as she stared at the man. One brow ascended higher than the other, though, and she tilted her head to the side. "Well aren't you the cutest little thing," she stated, tossing the orange in her hand as she turned her attention towards Ryuu, however; she immediately stopped and glared at Ryuu. She may have been of this village, once, but her loyalties lie with her Raikage now. And that kunai had passed dangerously close to him. She was about to say something, however; it seemed that the Raikage managed to play it off, and it only caused her to frown. Kiyoko, however, had started laughing, perhaps a little too loudly. Nariko only shook her head, however; his question caught her off guard and she smirked a bit.

"Oh? Didn't you know? She and I used to be lovers. She was so in love with me that I had to let her go, and she was devastated because of it," she replied casually, taking a drink of water from her cup. She chanced a glance at the other tables, and almost smiled when she spotted Zetsubo's table. It seemed like things were going smoothly, despite the minor incident, and she returned her attention back to Ryuu. "She is, or rather was, a good friend of mine. I kind of grew up with her, but then we moved to Kumo. And Uchiha-san isn't being selfish, he's being grumpy and moody. I wonder how Koko manages that," she stated, a sly smirk crossing her features. Kiyoko had always challenged the Uchiha boy, that was a given since their childhood. She wondered if she still challenged him. She tossed her friend a glance.

"What's the ratio now? Ten to one?" she asked. The last challenge she remembered Kiyoko issuing was a game of paper-rock-scissors. She lost, naturally. "Oh, I almost forgot about the orange," she stated, leaning to place it in Ryuu's hand, however; she changed the position and placed it on Katsuro's plate instead. "I think Katsu-chan needs it more than you do. It makes him smile," she grinned.

A sliver of nonchalance echoed within those heterochromatic eyes of his. It would appear that his little stunt had received accolades on both sides of the equation. He did notice that frown marring that face of Nariko. Well, he was simply giving a hand and all. Now, weren't they supposed to be wonderful hosts? He was doing his part if the rather exaggerated laughter of his team leader was anything to go by. It will not be a far-fetched thing for him to be praised about that feat of his. At the same time, he did not need to hear accurately the muttered word care of Katsuro. It was a common term associated to his personage which he had never once denied or even approved. After all, people are derived by the necessity of identities or reputation. As such, he also spoke of it as another means of entertainment. Anyway, he closed his eyes with a smile which sparked such mischievous play.

"Childhood friends... How quaint." Ryuu mused over to himself. It is a relationship which he has no one to attach with. Of course, he does not see it as something as regretful. After all, he has no room for such matters. "As for love... Gender does not factor in such things." He stated with a singe of sing-song tune as the thoughts of romance and feverish passion had always been a curious topic. "I don't judge." Those eyes of his were revealed once more holding a twinge of serious intent as he looked at Nariko but then again, his smile seemed to deliver another message. Then, the subject was directed towards the sullen Uchiha. Ah yes, the infamous challenges issued by Kiyoko had reminded those old souls of a certain rivalry which seemed to allude with their grandfathers. "Katsu-chan isn't tired from winning yet."

His eyes glancing over to where the dainty redhead is. (almost everyone is dainty to him) Ryuu's attention did not linger as he was taken aback by the mention of orange. The one he was being given of but as fickle as a woman's mind is, it was gifted to Katsuro instead. A noticeable pout was present on his lips which made his expression rather adorable in a sense. "Not fair..." He noted with clear dejection as he stared at his fellow Konoha shinobi. But as quick as the wind he is compared to, he took the cup of water which Nariko was drinking from earlier. Taking a delicate sip, he had a rather satisfied smile on his face. "Well, I'll be satisfied with this." The cup's rim touching his lips ever so faintly as his eyes fluttered like a butterfly's wing before having a rather calm expression as his preferred mask for the day. "For now."

In the end, this is just another episode in his life... Rather, their lives.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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It was a peaceful night or so. Ryuu did not want to bother with their guests for now. They do need to get acquainted with each other because those bonds will be required of them in the long run. So, let them mingle and enjoy it. As for him, he preferred to be alone at the moment. Finding a rather remote place, there he took interest on a lone apricot tree. He climbed and rested himself on one of its branches as its pink blossoms wavered around him like silken curtains. The wind blew scattering the drops of carnation across the blank canvass of the night. Some fell on him, but it was fine. Actually, it created an enrapturing picture.

This was indeed comforting in a sense as he leaned back on the trunk. His mismatched eyes gazed into the evening sky. There were no clouds in sight allowing the moon and stars to shine brightly. "It would have been perfect if there is a storm." He muttered under his breath. It had been one of the things which he shows adoration towards without the affect of a mask. An unclouded smile was present upon his lips as he allowed the lullaby of the night soothe him. However at the middle of his relaxation, he felt the ever-familiar nauseous feeling coming over him. His eyes of gold and blue glowed eerily and soon meshed into a unified white hue. The irises were changed into a glowing golden insignia as his body entered into a stiffen stupor as images only visible to him flashed.

Soon enough, it was done as he lowered his head and covered his eyes with one hand. His breathing was ragged and his body was wracked in a series of phantom pains. Another series of images which sapped another portion of his life. It was his so-called fate as the one entitled to be Time's Vessel. The mere thought made him smile with such dejection. Sensing his body had become stable, he took a deep breath and eased himself. He allowed his hand to fall to his side. "Might as well draw it." With that decided, he procured a sketch book and began to flip through the pages. There were some incomplete sketches of people, scenery, and other things. Finding a blank page, he began drawing what he had seen. It started as a mere gray-scale, but then, he stopped midway. He tore it, crumpled it and threw it away. "Hideous... Truly Hideous."

Rei sighed slightly and lifted her arms over her head, stretching them out. In the week and a half or so since they’d come here, Takehiko had apparently handled himself well enough that the Leaf shinobi were not immediately convinced that her team was actually there to burn the whole village down, and so it was no longer necessary to go absolutely everywhere with an escort. She was taking the opportunity to have a walk, reclaiming the comfort of solitude as much as one could in a place like this. There was a sense of proximity here that she hadn’t always felt in the more sparsely-populated Kumogakure, but then it was entirely possible that she was just the slightest bit homesick. Not that she was overwhelmed by the feeling—in all honesty, she’d brought most of the important parts of home here with her. Her best friend, her only other close one (who also happened to be her commanding officer)… and even though she couldn’t claim especially significant friendships with Nari or Kiriko, she liked both of them quite a bit, and respected them, so there was that.

Really, there was only one other significant person in her life, and one did not bring small children to places like this. So while it was definitely false to say that she was relaxed—she doubted she ever could be, here—she was at least not taking her second visit as poorly as she could have, given the circumstances of the first. The night air smelled nice, at least, and was cool on the scant bare skin that her uniform allowed, which really wasn’t a whole lot more than her hands and face.

She was perfectly content to ignore the ambient chakra signatures around her, as there were several, at least until one of them started fluctuating strangely. Pausing midstep, Rei cocked her head to the side, spilling the dark purple strands of her ponytail over one shoulder. That was… irregular. At first she thought it might just be someone practicing a jutsu or something, but it seemed… stranger than that. Different in a way she could not quite explain. Being very familiar with chakra networks, she was immediately suspicious of it, though whether because she thought it dangerous of someone or to someone was not something she could quite pinpoint. Either way, her instincts as a medic-nin kicked in, and she redirected her steps in that direction, when the fluctuations abruptly stopped.

Now thoroughly convinced that something weird was going on, she continued in the same direction, albeit with less urgency. Until, as luck would have it, she caught the sound of someone disparaging something, and then the crumpled up paper that the breeze was carrying towards her face. Vaguely recognizing the ninja in the tree as the one who’d thrown a knife at the Raikage, she considered just leaving him to whatever problem he had, because she didn’t generally take well to people aiming pointy things at her friends. That said… she could almost hear Takko in her head, urging her to be kind even when the same was not received in turn. She wasn’t sure even she was capable of that in the same way he was, but she figured she could at least make the attempt, as a favor to him. She owed the big lug a lot, after all.

“Hideous, huh? I’m not gonna find a naked picture of the Hokage if I open this, am I? I mean, she looks pretty good for her age, and if you’re into that, I won’t judge you. It’s just not for me.” She was almost one-hundred percent certain that was not whatever was on the paper ball, but she’d been wrong before. “Seriously, though… something bothering you, Tsukino-san? I’m not much of an art critic, but I can take a look if you want.”

And here she is, Ryuu would have laughed at the irony of his situation right now. Here he was desiring to be in solitude. It was to give himself a release even for a moment. However, it was not permitted so. Really, he would have liked to kill the ones responsible for such events in his life. Still, he knew best that it would be futile. In any case, he did not want this one person, this kunoichi, her to see him. It was due to the threads which had been revealed to him. At the very least, he wanted to be spared from this fate. Yet again, useless, huh... He has no choice as the path had been prepared no matter what.

"A nice offer Hinode-san." He noted as his eyes were now fixed upon her form. Not a bad sight at all. "Why not take a look?" There was a small smile on his lips as his words were wrapped in ambiguity. After all, the image drawn upon was incomplete but one could see that it is a depiction of a bloody field due to its aesthetics. "Perhaps, I need a new inspiration." He added as he closed his eyes and the images he had received earlier played once more in his head. It irritated him but, it never showed on his face as it remained placid and whimsical in a sense of a word. "Do you have any suggestions?"

Dark hands, nicked with pale scars, unfolded the crumpled paper, studying the subject matter with a raised eyebrow. It could have been any battlefield she’d ever been on, really, blood and gore smeared over the ground like that. She could almost smell the blood and death just by looking at it. Technically, the art was very accomplished—she doubted anyone she knew could draw this well, actually. But there was definitely something unfortunate about what it portrayed, she would agree with that much. Shrugging her shoulders slightly, she tipped her head to the side and flashed a white grin up at the man in the tree.

“Maybe don’t draw something so familiar? I mean, at this point blood and death is probably getting a bit old, ne? Pick something that… doesn’t remind you of this.” She captured the paper between the sides of her index and middle finger and waved it lazily back and forth. “Pretty obvious advice here, but… draw something that makes you happy. There’s something like that in the world, no?”

The advice was at best common. It was as common as dust being blown by the wind. However, he could not help but lightly chuckle at that. "What makes me happy, huh?" It was more of a question to himself than anything else. He looked at the night sky and contemplated on anything which would be label as such. Unfortunately, there were none... or specifically, he wanted to have none, because he knew well the repercussions of such things. "If I do that then I will have to take the future of this world including yours, of course." He stated with a chesire cat-like smile upon his lips. Those eyes of gold and blue gazed at her as if engulfing anyone into the unknown.

"Would that be fine?" After adding that, Ryuu jumped down from the tree with a grace much like that of a feline. He walked towards her and took the paper she was waving back and forth. It was a vision which will come true. This is something he must assure to be of reality. He took back the sketch she was waving back and forth. Once, he did. The paper was rippped into shreds by a sharp passing breeze. "Thank you for the advice, Hinode-san." He smiled at her endearingly as if to shift the vague meanings of his words. Of course, another mask set in motion. A hand reached out towards her as he flicked her ear playfully. "A question, would you mind if I draw you?"

“The future of the world?” Rei echoed, huffing an amused breath. “A little dramatic, aren’t we?” Then again, quite a number of the people she lived with were fairly dramatic themselves, if in different ways and with varying degrees of seriousness or farce. It wasn’t exactly a surprise. She relinquished he sketch willingly, inwardly shrugging when it was shredded. Maybe the artsy types were really as eccentric as she’d always heard, who could say?

“The future, huh?” she repeated, slightly softer this time. “Can’t say I have much use for it.” Her life had, in some ways, been a slow process of learning to live only in the now. Dwelling on the past tended to hurt too much for comfort most days, and the future, well… that was nothing more than the consequences of the present anyway, so why bother thinking about it too much? It was the kind of thing that leaders and prophets had to do, and Rei, happily enough, was neither of those things. She rolled her eyes when he flicked her ear, but his question produced a short, light laugh.

“Draw me? You must be more starved for happiness than I expected, ne?” She kept her tone light, but there was some truth to the words. “I’ve never been a muse before; it could be fun. Sure, draw me if you want to; I don’t care.” It wasn’t like she was self-conscious or anything; what was there to be embarrassed about? Artists practiced drawing on all kinds of things, people included, and she didn’t really look like anyone from around here, so it might even be a half-decent exercise, she didn’t claim to know differently. Her lips pulled back into a catlike grin. “Just don’t go falling in love with me pretty boy; I’ll only make you cry.” Her amusement with the situation was rather obvious—she’d been asked a lot of strange questions in her lifetime, but never that one. So her choices were really either make light of it or ask intrusive questions, and she wasn’t usually one for the latter. It kind of went hand-in-hand with living in the present, after all.

It should be like that. The future should be left in the category of the unknown. If it was like that for him, then he would not have to abide by invisible strings wrapped around him like unbreakable chains. However, it is what it is. He would not complain about something which is already done. After all, he had already decided to walk this path. With that, he would have to bear everything and happiness was always as synonymous as a burden to him. Although, her point of view was at best enticing and at the same time, he had been viewed as dramatic. Well, that would be good. Life does need flair once in awhile to make things interesting.

Speaking of which, she seemed amused by his question and retorted with a comment about him being starved. Oh, how right she was at that point. "You have no idea." He noted as a glimmer within his mismatched eyes showed the intense desire he has. Of course, it was much akin to a hallucination as it ceased to exist replaced by a trivial matter known as mischief along with that vague smile of his. He nodded with approval as she was fine with the idea of being a muse. She then added much like an afterthought, a warning of not falling in love with her. Now, there is another twist with that. "That could go both ways my sun-kissed muse." He stated as he leaned closely towards her as if he has an intent to kiss her.

"But then again, this is as close we are going to get." His words were wrapped in an air of ambiguous mystery and undetermined intent. It was like he had already know what was going to happen, but then again, he acts as if it was nothing more a but a whim. "Thank you for your acceptance, Hinode-san." He pulled away as an apricot pink blossom could be seen in his possession. It was something he had taken from her hair. Now standing at an acceptable distance, he winked at her and released the blossom into the night. "A gift to commemorate." He said as he opened his sketch book and tore another paper which was notable found at the beginning which is an odd thing. Why? "Here." He handed her another sketch but this time it was a complete one, a drawing of her with a beautiful smile at Kumogakure.

Being a medic-nin left one with little option to be uncomfortable with proximity, and she wasn’t. Mostly because she knew what it looked like when someone actually intended to kiss a person, and this was not it. She tipped her head slightly to the side at his words. It seemed he was categorically incapable of just saying what he meant, without obscuring his meaning. Well, it wasn’t like that bothered her—she was just the opposite. One thing he certainly didn’t have to worry about, however, was her romantic affections. That was a road she stayed well away from, and with good reason. You don’t watch what happens to your best friend after he loses the most precious person in his life (your other best friend) and think it’s a good idea to risk that. Especially not after what happened to her parents. Fact.

She watched curiously as he tore the first page out of his sketch book, and the content actually, truly surprised her. It was her face, to be sure, but in a setting he should never have been able to see. “I don’t understand,” she admitted honestly, torn between being simply curious and the faintest bit disturbed. “You’ve… you’ve never been to this place, have you? Is this some kind of jutsu?” Her brows furrowed, and she glanced up at him, perplexed. She wasn’t accusing him of anything, it was just… very strange.

Yes, this would be the normal reaction to such an illustration done by him. Others who had been given such a duty similar to his would write the dictated timeline which will be presented as history when it has been accomplished. For him, it is done through a series of drawings which he had opted to keep himself. It was not something he had conjured through the means of a mere imagination, an imitation, or even a dream. Her visage was imprinted in a vision which made his life inexplicably short. Well, it has become something he had grown accustomed to. After all, it was his fate to see, to preserve, to ensure it all until he is able to.

"To answer your question..." He kept his sketch book and then looked at the evening sky instead. The apricot blossoms waved through the air like glimmering stars. "Nope." It was stated without a hint of insincerity, but with a rather superficial joyous tone which seemed to say otherwise. He looked at her with those mysterious blue-gold eyes of his. This woman from Kumogakure had a significant role to play. It was something he was certain of. But at the same time, she also has a part in his brief existence. "I could tell you, but..." He took a step back. "I will die." There was a bright smile on his face as he stated that as if it was not important anyway. "Well, then I will see you around." He then turned his back at her.

Looking over his shoulder, he gave her a wave. "Let's hold that modelling session for some other time." His eyes softened a bit before returning to its vague density. "Good night, Hinode-san." With those words, he walked on and soon vanished with only a swirl of pink, apricot blossoms left in his wake.

“What a weirdo," she murmured to herself after he'd left, glancing back down at the drawing in her hand. Shaking her head slightly, Rei folded it up neatly and slid it into a pocket. There was something... sad about that guy. Or at least, that was the feeling she was getting, and her intuitions were rarely wrong, even if she only infrequently understood them. Still, it wasn't like it was any of her business, so she shrugged to herself and continued on her walk.


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Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Katsuro had been on a morning patrol route around the perimeter of the village with Uzumaki when the explosion happened, so closely that it actually picked the pair of them off their feet and threw them into the air. The Uchiha himself twisted so as to land on his feet rather than his ass, dropping into a crouch. He hadn’t sensed anyone nearby, which either meant they were especially good at hiding or the explosives had been planted at an earlier time and detonated from afar. The strangest part was that there didn’t seem to be a reason to let them off here—they’d destroyed part of a wall and rained shrapnel on a few outer buildings, but there was nothing important here.

He was left to assume that it was some kind of diversion.

“Uzumaki—the Kumo ninja.” Though he was not a man much given to trust, he trusted that Kiyoko would take his meaning. Either the Kumo shinobi were likely to be targeted by this… or they were responsible. Why else attack now, during the treaty negotiations? “I’ll handle this part, just go.” Katsuro’s eyes darkened, the color morphing from a light grey to deep red, the tomoe in his irises taking the characteristic pinwheel shape of his kekkei genkai. He could still spot nobody, at least not until Uzumaki was gone, whereupon five figures seemed to materialize from thin air.

“The Total Concealment jutsu. Useful, wouldn’t you say?” The voice came from the central figure, though they were all dressed the same, covered head to toe in robes, with color variation. One was black, two red, and two gold. The garments had hoods, which made it difficult to discern their facial features. Well, difficult for ordinary eyes. Katsuro wasn’t having quite as much difficulty, not that being able to discern their features was very helpful.

He supposed this was the point where he was supposed to engage the man in conversation, perhaps get a name or a purpose out of him, but in all honesty, he didn’t really care. They were invading the village on his patrol, so they were going to die. The Uchiha’s hand went to the blade sheathed at his waist, and he lowered himself into an iaido-like stance. “Sure,” he muttered. “Right until you stop using it.”

Kiriko had decided that her best duties would most likely to not be hovering over Hiko throughout the day - after all, while she did know her duty, she did know the man was a grown up, and could take care of himself. Yet it still felt weird scouting out the village folk throughout the day, as if she were planning an invasion. Granted, the looks she got from some of the villagers suggested that they thought the same idea: after all, a few of them probably remembered her face from the war, given the dirty faces she received.

Nevertheless, she continued her recon expedition - that is, until an explosion occurred not too far off from her location. She was close to the perimeter, finishing up the rest of the recon when it happened. Instantly, her mind raced towards Hiko, and why she couldn't sense anybody within the area besides Yoko and the Uchiha. Was this a distraction to bring the Kumo away from the Raikage, and then assassinate him? Seemed like too farfetched, honestly, but she couldn't be certain with the Leaf now; in reality, she only wanted to simply race to Hiko to serve and protect-

A rustle of the leaves near her caught her attention, and something moving deadly fast swung towards her head. She managed to block it just in time, but it still connected with her small body, sending her flying towards the explosion. Regaining herself, she landed nimbly around the explosion site to the site of her attacker, who appeared out of thin air. Odd, she couldn't sense the man just a moment ago, which previously had been deemed nigh impossible on many levels due to her sensory abilities. Yet here was a man who could; correction, there were multiples, as many signatures appeared suddenly behind her as a man spoke of the Total Concealment technique, one she had never heard of. Mind racing, she narrowed her eyes as her lips curled into a snarl. "You'll regret this, you lowlife." She knew that this wasn't going to be a simple battle of wits, but a full on brawl, one that she was most accustomed to and always sickeningly enjoyed in the past: it just depended on whether or not she retained her sanity throughout.

What a wonderful way to wake up in the morning, the smell of burnt toast and the sound of thunder. Well, it would have been wonderful if that was really it. With one eye opened, Ryuu looked at the smoke coming not far from his current position. Unfortunately, it was the cause of an explosive planted by someone who was either completely bored of the calm or just wanted some attention. It could even be both. ‘Who cares?’ He released a rather disinterested sigh. Such a sight only meant that there was trouble brewing. Despite the most popular reputation of his to always be in such mischief and to plunge into danger, he was not that enthusiastic about it. Because quite frankly, he is not really a morning person by choice. He wanted to sleep in more than anything. The futon was far more enticing than any object or reason combined. Anyway, he was pretty sure the guys and gals could handle it. That was the best idea ever. He is very satisfied with that decision.

And so, he turned his back from the view from the veranda where his room was located. It seemed he had left it opened as he covered himself in his blanket and allowed the sandman to return him to dreamland. But, he seemed to have been born under the star of adversity. Why is that? The building he was in was suddenly devastated by an invisible force which acted much like a guillotine. As such, it cut through the wooden manse effectively. At the same time, it certainly woke him up in the worst possible manner. Those mismatched eyes glazed in irritation as he stood from his now destroyed futon. Actually, an ominous presence was surrounding his form. Something which is rarely seen by anyone at all. After all, he is the kind who always fluidly places a mask on his face in any given situation. His true intentions and blatant emotions are hidden with ambiguity. Perhaps, the only exception would be the mornings.

“Water Dragon…" He started as a very large water dragon formed behind him. To be noted, there was no water available at such close vicinity which boasted his skill in harnessing such great amount of liquid. He went towards the demolished veranda where the debris was falling to the ground. Those gold and blue eyes held a very sinister look within them. Something akin to that of a demon, no, it is of a demon. His yukata was in a disheveled state as his right shoulder was exposed as the sleeve stuck precariously to his flesh. Well, there was also his chest, but regardless, he was clearly woken up and was in a bad mood. He looked for the likely perpetrator of such an act, because right now he was going to devour that person until not even a bone remains. Uchiha and Gekkō were present along with five hooded individuals below. He was certain the latter group was responsible. The other two would rather die than have anything to do with him. Good call for them. “Bullet Technique.” His voice held great animosity as the water dragon plunged towards the aforementioned group with great power and rage.

Power and rage or no, it was clearly not just any amateurs that the bullets were leveled against, and the ninja being targeted simply moved out of the way of the flashy attack, breaking ranks for the first time. One of the red-robes went to join the gold-robed figure that had stopped Gekkō from leaving, presumably to see to the Raikage. Katsuro would have even believed that wise, but it seemed it was impermissible for now. The other two flanking figures split off and headed for Tsukino, one of them already forming a handsign that Katsuro recognized as belonging to an immobilizing jutsu, one that used earth as the conduit. The other seemed to be trying to pin him into the trap with a barrage of abnormal numbers of weapons.

The ones going for Gekkō, on the other hand, seemed more inclined to press her with taijutsu, probably due to her size disadvantage. He wasn’t really in a position to be offering either of them any assistance, however, because predictably enough, that left the chatty one for him to deal with. His sword rang free of the sheath in a flashing arc, aimed for nothing more sophisticated that to take off the man’s head, but it was stopped, not by another weapon, but by the thumb and first two fingers of the cloaked man’s left hand. His head tilted to the side, and for the first time, their eyes met.

He almost reminded Katsu of Tsukino, the way his eyes were two different colors, one blue and one gold. The golden one, however, also sported a black sclera rather than the usual white one. “Tch,” The Uchiha wrenched at his sword, which the other man seemed willing enough to let go, then used his chakra to surround the blade with lightning. The characteristic chirping sound identified it as the Chidori Kōken technique, and this time when he swung, the man ducked rather than attempting to catch it, as the same maneuver a second time would result in a rather nasty shock.

Blurringly fast, the man’s fist slammed into Katsuro’s chest, sending him flying backward into the wall of the nearest building. The impact was loud and destructive to say the least, and robbed Katsu of his breath for several seconds as he tried to process what had just happened. He’d seen what was coming, if only barely, due to his Sharingan, but… he simply hadn’t had enough time to react. It was rare that he was outmatched to that degree in speed, and if he’d been even a second slower, that hit might well have caved his ribcage in. Hopping down from the crater he’d made in the wall, he shook himself off and stalked back to his foe, who seemed disinclined to press his advantage. “Who the hell are you?”

The man smiled, a close-lipped thing that resembled the rictus of a corpse more than anything alive. “I am Nobuo, and we are Kyūkanchi.” Well, that was direct, if terribly uninformative. Katsuro supposed it wouldn’t matter in the end, because one of them would be dead, and then his name and purpose would not matter anymore.

The amount of research that these hooligans had done on her was more extensive than she had thought, for instead of engaging her one at a time from a distance with ninjutsu, two goons came at her with taijutsu. How absolutely ludicrous that these thugs somehow knew her dossier well enough; either that, or they were assuming that since she was small, they would be able to thrash her. Wrinkling her nose in absolute disgust, she evaded both of their attacks as she tried to weave signs, only to have them block her. It seemed that they refused to let her even use one handed signs, for they made sure that both of her arms were kept busy with constant barrages of attacks. While they were by no means fast enough to land more than a few bruising hits on her, it was evident to anybody watching that she was increasingly aggravated, curses constantly being spoken under her breath at their very existence.

After one scraped her across the head, Kiriko had had enough - their existence no longer mattered, and her ability to care for their lives became null: it was time to go to war. While they went for an odd technique that required both of them rushing her, she muttered a simple phrase: ”Lightning Release Armor.” Instantly, her body was coated in a flash of lightning, and she dodged both of their attacks instantly to the side. They had underestimated her ability to perform taijutsu, and they were going to pay with their lives. Changing direction at a perilously fast speed, she charged both of them while they were caught off guard, and ran right through them, sending both flying. She knew that this wouldn't kill them, but it didn’t matter: her hair was slowly beginning to stand on end as her wicked grin slowly formed on her face. ”Get up! You wanted this!” Her words spat poison as she moved towards the enemy as they were returning to a standing position. Kiriko knew they were no ordinary ninjas, so there was no need to hold anything back: they could be elite forces, so there was no point in trying to reason with either her or them right now. She could sense them, and she planned on changing that for good.

Ryuu clicked his tongue in annoyance. His intended desire did not come to pass. It meant he had to work and really, he does not like doing so, especially when he is in a very very bad mood. He really hated it when his meal jumps around and do unnecessary things. Because in the end, all they had to do was to stay still and to be devoured by him in every delicious manner of such a deed. His eyes did not relent from its deathly gaze as two robed individuals, the hell he could care about their preference for color, went towards him. Well, this would save him a lot of trouble from the get-go. He would not waste his energy chasing them around as if they were worth it from the very beginning. For honestly, they do not.

A rain of weapons hurled towards his position as he did not move without even a hint of fear in his form. He was not going to dodge anything. Due to such decision, all of the weapons hit him without missing a spot. This meant certain death; no one could survive being a human pin cushion. ”Idiots.” That was the only word he muttered with irritation as his body disintegrated into water. It was nothing more, but a dummy. As for the real one, he was now behind the two robed figures. ”Beast Tearing Gale Palm.” Once that was said, a massive demonic-claw infused with his chakra appeared and extended towards his two assailants. He grabbed them as if they were a tube of toothpaste and then dragged them across the ground without much finesse or care. Why would he care anyway? Then, he smashed them on one of the remaining intact walls with great force and sealed with his anger. Although, he did destroy the walls in the process. But, he could care less. Right now, he simply wanted to end the existence of the ones who disturbed his wonderful sleep.

Of course, the enemies Ryuu hit were also clones, these ones composed of lightning, which upon impact lanced up the claw he had been using to drag them. One of them suddenly appeared behind him, delivering a solid roundhouse kick to the side of his head, propelling him to the side and into a wall. Or rather, it would have, had the other not had a water prison jutsu waiting to catch him in the air. Rather than relying upon it to hold him, however, the first ninja just shot more lightning at it.

Kiriko’s opponents, on the other hand, backed off quite quickly when she released her lightning armor. One of them seemed to be nursing a wound from the initial impact, when she’d sent them both flying, but it didn’t look like anything was broken, and indeed with an uncomfortable grinding noise, he popped his shoulder back into the joint. Wisely choosing not to engage at close range when there was so much electricity around, they moved back to mid-range, one of them launching a barrage of fireballs to try and force her left, whilst the other bit her thumb and summoned forth a nest of large, venomous snakes, warping the earth beneath their feet so that it swallowed them up and allowed them to travel without fear of being hit by the release armor.

They did not reappear for some time.

Kiriko stood as she watched her opponents run off from her to recover from the initial attack, and began to study them rapidly. Something about them was off: perhaps it was the fact that she could feel nothing from them. She wasn't talking about their chakra, as she could sense that: but after that? Nothing. Their chakra gave off nothing, besides the fact that they had quite a bit of it. There was no affinity she could sense, no warmth, no feeling; only power. She narrowed her eyes in annoyance at the entire situation. Of course, it had to be ninjas that had some special defect that were attacking; who else would be bold enough to cause an explosion during the day? Granted, their leader's chakra signature was still jarring her senses. Kiriko wasn't sure what was up with him, but even she was a little timid of the enormity of his signature; something about him wasn't right, wasn't normal. Then again, the whole situation wasn't normal.

Nevertheless, her opponents recovered and decided to attack midranged with ninjutsu instead of risk the taijutsu. A smirk came to her face as she watched the fireballs expell from the one's mouth and snakes tunnel into the ground. Perhaps she had overestimated them before, as they couldn't have completely read her dossier if they thought they could beat her with this. Remaining in her lightning armor, she began to quickly weave signs with her hands and spoke. "Water Release: Formation Wall." The fireballs were instantly hit by the massive wave of water created from her mouth, dispelling them and creating a hefty amount of steam as they were dispelled. Using the wave as a distraction as it roared towards the two enemies, Kiriko quickly began to weave more signs for her next jutsu: "Lightning Release: Electromagnetic Murder!" At her words, lightning ripped from her hands in the desired direction: all around her. She deduced that much of her technique would catch the water and race towards her enemies, while the rest would enter the soaked earth and flush out many of the snakes that resided within. The exact number, however, was not something she could determine.

Upon the collision of the lightning which was intensified by water, the expectation of a bloody and a burned corpse was rather high. Even more so when a scream of pain echoed. After all, the attacks connected without hindrance. This should signify effective incapacitation whether permanent or now. However, there was a sound resembling that of a balloon popping and smoke scattering about. It was but a mere clone and another four of him appeared with two on each enemy. ”Imbeciles.” Those eyes of blue and gold held a certain glint of malice and at the same time a predictable reckoning. But then again, it could also just mean that he is simply very angry about being rudely awakened, especially, when he could care less about what is going on around him for today.

The four Ryuus began to tackle their chosen enemies by releasing another set of claws infused with wind chakra. One of each pair grabbed hold of the enemies and the other pairs ensured that there would be no escape in any way. ”Flight of the Obliterating Water.” This technique resonated with all four as the area around them began to solidify and form thousands and thousands of needles. In addition to that, he had infused a certain trait in this chosen technique. It would only target the two enemies before him and would not stop from forming until the targets are dead or Ryuu had been exhausted from his chakra. The latter part was a bit debatable at best when that would be.

Indeed, Kiriko’s technique was a direct hit on both foes, one of whom proved to be nothing more interesting than a log, used for a substitution jutsu, but the other was indeed the real ninja. The one she had not hit, on the other hand, charged her from behind in what must have seemed a suicidal rush, moving in close to interrupt her with a barrage of kicks and punches. Though he did seem to be susceptible to the electricity of the armor, he fought through it for the most part, his motions occasionally erratic but not entirely without threat even so. The kunoichi that had been hit with the combination attack fell to her hands and knees, using the distraction her partner provided to regain her breath at the jutsu’s termination. Her frame was wracked with shudders, but even despite this, she stood, directing the snakes that had not been outright killed by the electricity to drive upwards at Kiriko’s feet, to ensnare and bite.

Neither they nor either of Ryuu’s opponents ever gave the slightest inclination that they were feeling pain. It was true that, when they were injured, their injured body parts would function suboptimally, but never once did any of them cry out or pull a face or in any way indicate that they felt what was happening to them in any significant way. The ones aimed at by Ryuu simply chose to endure the barrage, each cloaking himself in fire to soften the blows, but aside from this, they made no effort to dodge, and even when hit, did not fall. Due to the cloaks, neither took any hits to excessively vial areas, though their arms and legs became quite bloody.

Glancing once at each other, they seemed to mutually shrug, then both moved together, this time one making his hand signs and causing a column of earth to wrap around Ryuu’s feet, once more pinning him, while the other shot a point-blank lightning bolt for the spot. His words and insults fell only on deaf ears, as though they were just as impervious to the discouragement that another might feel at persistently targeting clones as they were to physical pain.

It was a property that Katsuro was currently wishing he had. To call what was happening between himself and the leader of these people a fight was to be quite kind. It was more like a thrashing, and the Uchiha was not used to being on the receiving end of those. From very early in his life, it had been made rather clear to him that he was just better at the ninja arts than most of those around him could ever hope to be, but that hypothesis did not seem to be holding much water in this particular field test at all. On the contrary, he was sporting a broken wrist, several large, bleeding wounds, and at least one cracked rib, but his opponent was thus far entirely unscathed. The accuracy of Katsu’s Sharingan was all that was presently keeping him alive, as it allowed him to generally dodge well enough to blunt the blows so that they were not fatal, but he was not fast enough to attack and succeed.

“I’m disappointed,” the man called Nobuo admitted, lashing his wrist such as to flick some of Katsu’s blood off his fingers. “I’d been told to expect more of you, Katsuro Uchiha. Could it be that you’ve become complacent in your quest for strength, assumed it was enough to be able to match the people here? To be able to overcome obstacles by working with them? How unsavory.”

Kiriko has miscalculated how brash her opponents could get: granted, the numerous tricks that these people seemed to be pulling out of their sleeves was messing with her. Looking towards the two opponents to whom she had hoped to fry, she was more than disappointed that only one really existed, and that the other was a log. However, that quickly lead to another question: where did the real ninja go? She couldn't sense anything yet, and since she couldn't pick up on the warmth of their chakra it made it even more difficult to find them. She didn't wait long, however, as she quickly spun around to see the missing nin appear and charge from behind her. Kiriko had barely enough time to react as she blocked his attack rather than using her superior speed, as she had no idea that they would bother trying to attack through her lightening armour. Then again, nothing about them was ordinary, so they did anyway.

It became obviously clear then that Kiriko was going to get outmatched if she couldn't either get some range: while the man wasn't as large as Takko for instance, he was big enough to easily flatten her into the floor if he so wished, and his attacks were getting stronger as he kept hitting her blocks. It was a miracle how he wasn't in serious pain from the lightening armour, but apparently they seemed to not care for pain at all. If I don't get some range soon- Her thoughts were cut off as she heard an eruption from the ground as snakes poured out. They had no chakra signature, so how was Kiriko supposed to know that so many were still alive? Now the fight was going sour fast, as she knew that she had to jump now, or face being strangled and bitten from below. Only problem was that her other opponent wasn't giving up, and if she tried to jump away now, her best guess was that he would capitalize on her opening and clock her hard.

Kiriko did the only thing that she could do, naturally: hit the guy ahead of her and hope the lightening armour would hold off the snakes long enough to let her escape. Capitalizing on the harsh blow the man landed to her blocked arm - he placed more power since she was startled, which takes longer to recover - Kiriko quickly ducked and spun around so that her dominant arm was now turned into a backhanded chop, and she roared as she crossed him in the ribcage. "Lightning Oppression Horizontal!" Kiriko knew she did some serious damage, as the man instantly was thrown back quite a few feet by the simple backhanded attack. While she wasn't nearly as powerful as the Third or Fourth Raikage and their nintaijutsu, it still hurt like hell. Thing was, Kiriko didn't have time to worry about the amount of damage done, as two fangs pierced her ankle; the armour held off many, but ultimately one snake found its way through and bit her.

Muffling a scream, Kiriko turned her attention to the female and bolted at her with surprising speed, although she was feeling slightly off balanced. She wasn't sure what the snake's venom potency or effects were, but she knew she would have to attempt to finish this off quick, or else the effects of the venom may drag her to the abyss below before she could finish her objective. Kiriko's smile returned to her face, although the venom made it slightly pained as she charged at her enemy with the attempts of performing a Lariat. She wasn't sure how fast her opponent was, but she knew that if she wasn't fast enough, her enemy would be toast.

Kiriko’s opponent tried her best to get out of the way of the Lariat, but the Kumogakure shinobi, while comparatively lacking in physical strength, was in fact faster than she was, and she was forced to take the hit, albeit at a slightly-awkward angle that meant it didn’t do its full damage. Still the technique was a devastating one by its very nature, and the electricity surging through her body from be brutal application of lightning dropped her where she stood, and she lay on the ground thereafter, unmoving. Whether she was dead or just unconscious was hard to discern, and whatever the case, Kiriko did not have time for a coups de grâce, because the woman’s counter part was back, and furthermore, the poison in the snakebite was beginning to take effect. It was a neurotoxin, in fact, and would make it very difficult for Kiriko to move. For some reason, however, the male shinobi did not take advantage of her incapacitation, rather using the opportunity to scoop up his counterpart and throw her over his shoulder.

He looked over Kiriko’s head at something, the angle such that she would be able to make out his features beneath the hood. He was young-looking, somewhere above twenty five but under thirty, perhaps, and his face was as carefully blank as an ANBU mask was meant to be. Whatever he saw when he looked behind him caused him to glance back at Kiriko for just a moment with flat blue eyes, but then he took off, using her hampered state to make a clean getaway, his partner in tow.

Heterochromatic eyes narrowed in observation. It would seem that these opponents of his were either invulnerable to pain or zombies. Yes, he had been reading some comics about an apocalyptic end. It was interesting really. Anyway, there were no signs from his enemies that they were bothered by the damages rendered to their bodies. Normally, he would not be bothered by it. In truth, he would have enjoyed it because that meant the fun would last for a very long time. However, he was in a sullen and terrible mood. So, he found such reactions completely annoying and edges his temper to a higher level.

But of course, as everyone who has a sound mind would know, an emotionally driven psyche is not advisable against enemies, no matter how strong they are. Recklessness was also not prudent. Well, these sagely sentiments were thrown long ago by Ryuu and were only exemplified more at this very moment. He allowed more of his chakra to be taken from him due to the endless barrage. However, there was a certain folly to this choice. His awareness now lack in its refinement. He was caught unaware as a pillar wrapped around his feet implanting him heavily to the spot.

Despite that, he should be able to deflect that lightning bolt directed to him. However, his chosen actions had interfered with an integral balance. His eyes glowed eerily merging into one unified color and the archaic symbol once more present instead of his irises. Instinctively, he covered his eyes from anyone’s observation and his chakra fluctuated very dangerously. A warning and a vision overtook his entire being as the clones disintegrated into smoke and the rain of needles was put to stop. And without interference, the bolt hit its mark as he a surge of electrifying and burning pain flooded his senses.

He fell to his knees but it was not mainly due to the attack. Rather, it was mostly from the exhaustion and complimentary intake of his life. His breathing ragged as his eyes had now returned to its normal visage. There are notable damages inwardly to his body that much he is certain. After all, he could feel blood coming out of his throat. Looking at his opponents, he gritted his teeth and his hands closed into tight fists. The path had already been set. Earthen pillars which held him in place crumbled away as he managed to regain his bearing and stand on his feet once more. Blood dripped from his lips as he wiped it away with a thumb. ”I guess, we know what to do now.” He raised his right hand towards the sky as a screeching sound began to fill the area. Someone was going to be very angry at him. He could already imagine it. Enormous amount of chakra began to form around him along with the howls of wind echoing and a vortex forming around him.

The two ninja facing Ryuu appeared to examine the forming jutsu, though neither had much visible reaction to it. One cocked his head to the side, however, and met the other one’s eyes, motioning with a jerk of an injured hand to the left, closer to where Katsuro was fighting the leader of this little party. Both nodded, and with simultaneous handsigns, sunk deep into the earth, away from their would be killer.

A hand came down on Katsuro’s head, the fingers weaving dispassionately into his hair and hauling him upright by it, depositing him on increasingly-unsteady feet. He swayed dangerously, his vision fading in and out as he struggled to keep his chakra output even enough to maintain the mangekyō. It went out in one eye anyway, and he closed that one against the peculiar double-vision that resulted. With his other hand, Nobuo ran a thumb along the edge of the new cut along his cheekbone, the digit coming away with a smear of blood on it. It would seem that the Uchiha had managed to injure him after all, though not nearly so much as he himself was even now suffering. He was actually somewhat impressed that the boy was still conscious, considering just how much of him was broken, twisted, or ruptured. Still, it was disappointing. He was far from ready to fulfill his purpose. None of them were. Nobuo would have to drive them to it, like a shepherd drove sheep.

“Pathetic.” A hand shot out to wrap around the Uchiha’s neck, the feeble attempt to dodge rendered entirely moot. He squeezed the child’s windpipe until he was wheezing, one Sharingan eye defiantly glaring at him even as the precious oxygen was denied to his body. He’d been told to expect that much, at least. “If I so desired it, I could raze this pathetic village to the ground, and slaughter every last person within it. Including you. Fortunately, there are yet other designs for which its purpose can be greater than as a heap of ashes and bones.” He squeezed tighter, and the second Sharingan eye faded back into that keen, flinty silver instead. “Grow stronger, Katsuro Uchiha, you and the rest, else next we meet, all of you will perish.”

Sending a signal to the rest of his organization within the village, he signaled a withdrawal. The test had proceeded as planned, but the results had been a complete failure on the part of this place to live up to its reputation. Was this really what a ninja village was? How easy, then, it would be, to destroy every last one of them. Their complacency would do them in.

And he would be only too happy to help.

Dropping Katsuro to the ground, Nobuo made a series of signs, and then he and his entire battle party simply disappeared from the senses.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kiriko Gekkō Character Portrait: Katsuro Uchiha Character Portrait: Rei Hinode Character Portrait: Ryuu Tsukino Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Kiriko revelled in the connection between her fist and the other nin: it was something she was missing, the ability to literally rip apart her opponent, even if her opponent was still in one piece. Panting more heavily than she was used to, Kiriko gave one last smile before taking an attempt to walk forward, only to collapse. Her eyes wide, Kiriko barely got her hands down in time in an attempt to catch herself, but ultimately just fell down. What... What's going on? That was her last thought before the feeling in her legs disappeared completely, only to be replaced by an intense buring sensation. Another muffled scream was emitted as it felt like her legs simply had erupted in flames; or more specifically, the chakra of her legs was replaced with fire. Kiriko could feel the fire slowly creep past her legs and slowly make it to the torso, all the while her body was slowly losing motor function.

Kiriko was finally able to tilt her head enough to see her opponent, who instead of finishing her off like any normal person would, instead grabbed his partner and vanished. His face was still ingrained in her mind as she swore at him profusely; she had dragged her limp body towards where he had taken off before her arms simply refused their master, and she was stopped. All she could do now was muffle her screams with the ground itself while the poison continued its conquest of her body, seemingly setting her insides on fire while disabling her ability to move. She simply laid there now, unable to writhe in pain, unable to see anything as she was only able to stare at the unchanging dirt.

As her vision blurred and her speech began to slur, all she could think of was Takko and her failure. Was there any real point in continuing now that she had failed? Was this an attack on the two Kages to remove the talks of peace? Kiriko didn't really care what their motives were; it didn't matter now anyway. She was no longer fit to be the partner of the Raikage: she was supposed to be his protector and partner, his eyes where he could not see. If she could not beat rogue ninjas that threatened his life, what good was she? As the poison overtook her once again, she couldn't muffle her scream this time as her jaw no longer completely followed her directions. Her mind was cleared, as if the poison burned her thoughts away, and left her with only two words which she struggled to say. "End.... Me...."

“Not today.” The voice, as it turned out, belonged to Rei. Her team had suffered damage, certainly, including impressive cracks to the Raikage’s granite armor and her own broken leg, but a quick application of healing chakra and she was at least functional enough to go check on the other members of her team, leaving Takko and Kosan in care of Kiyoko’s abilities. But she wasn’t taking the chance that some Leaf medics would arrive and not prioritize the treatment of Kiriko or Nari, wherever they were, and let them die for that reason.

As it happened, she’d found Kiriko first, and from the state of her, that was a good thing—she didn’t look to be in good shape, and someone with as much willpower as she had wouldn’t be down like this unless there was just no way she could possibly stand again. Her pride wouldn’t allow for it, or at least that was how Rei saw things. The cause of this state was evident enough when she saw the bite wound on Kiriko’s ankle, and the medic-nin grimaced. A quick scan of the area revealed that Katsuro was unconscious—she’d have to check on him next. He had helped Zetsu out in his information hunt, after all. Ryuu was also there, but considering that he was conscious and not facedown in the dirt, she’d have to wait on asking after him either.

“Takko’s fine,” she said, knowing that Kiri’s first priority would likely be the Raikage. That was as it should be, and Rei understood it perfectly. “So is Zetsubō, but I’m not sure where Nariko is. She may have gotten caught up somewhere in the fighting.” Never one to waste time, Rei worked as she talked, reaching into the pouch tied to her thigh and drawing out a small vial of a dark fluid. Usually, this technique required that someone be restrained, because of the pain of it, but judging from the way Kiri wasn’t moving anyway, thrashing was not going to be an issue.

“Sorry, Gekkō, but this is going to hurt,” Rei informed her calmly, using a chakra scalpel to open the bite wound wider, connecting the two points of entry on her teammate’s ankle. The painful part, though, was when she had to force the fluid into Kiri’s bloodstream, using it to draw and suspend all of the poison in her arteries and veins. It was not a nice process, not in the slightest, but it did draw out the remainder of the toxin, and Rei ushered it back into the vial, which she corked. The whole thing took extreme precision even for a medic, but it worked. “I’ll have a proper antidote in a few hours tops, so take it easy until then.” Most of Kiri’s motor function would be back already, but for full recovery, the antidote was advised, but she’d need time to make it, even after she’d finished checking over everyone else.

Kiriko was genuinely surprised when she heard a voice from overhead, especially one that she recognized. She would have moved her head to acknowledge the voice, but it didn't matter even if she could: Kiriko recognized Rei's voice even if she couldn't see her. Kiriko didn't know how to respond to Rei's counteractive statement to her own -she remained motionless as Rei continued to work, unable to really focus on the words that Rei really spoke besides the fact that Takko was alive and well. While the feeling of relief washed over her, guilt instantly replaced it as she realized that she had been useless to him; her job was as his protector, and if she couldn't manage that task, what good was she? Kiri's whole life had been dedicated to finishing missions flawlessly to protect those she cared for, and yet here she was: basically a dead weight.

Kiriko heard another mumble from Rei - the word 'hurt' was used, if she heard correctly - before a dull pain ripped through her ankle near the cut. What happened next, Kiriko could not aptly describe with words: all she felt was searing pain, as if her insides were being forced out of her body through a narrow tube. The pain instantly caught her off guard, and her screams pierced the previously still air until she was able to muffle them. The next few moments of searing pain were in muffled silence as Kiri's body writhed weakly in distress, until it suddenly stopped. Panting, Kiri heard words in the distance, as each word became more and more clear; something about a proper antidote and taking it easy if she recalled correctly. Slowly, her body began to revitalize itself, and the feeling that she was actually alive began to creep its way back.

Not one for taking advice from others, as soon as Kiri felt she was strong enough to raise herself, she struggled to prop her head up from the ground so that she could see the world, and Rei as she left. Before she was out of earshot, however, Kiriko mumbled out a few coherent words: "I.... Thank you, Rei." It sounded much more bashful than she had anticipated, but it mattered not; she could always use the excuse that she had just been poisoned. Nevertheless, she wanted to get to Hiko as fast as she could - then again, it was hard to do so when your legs felt weaker than the leaves of the trees in autumn. She would have to wait, no matter how hard she pushed herself.

Rei, sensitive to Kiriko’s attitude towards such things, didn’t make a big deal out of her tone, nor of the circumstances under which she’d found her. “Not a problem, Kiriko.” At this point, she figured the other woman was best left to decide how she wanted to handle the situation herself, though Rei was sure that Takko would be glad to see her. Rather than saying this directly, however, she simply moved onto the next patient—the Uchiha.

He was in shit shape, to be completely honest, and she could hardly fault him for the fact that he was barely conscious. Kiriko’s screaming had produced some kind of instinctive reaction in him from the look of things, as he seemed to have been trying to orient himself in that direction, as if to help. Of course, there was nothing to help with, but he was hardly in a position to know that. Still, looking at him now, half-curled in on himself, bleeding from no fewer than two dozen wounds, unfocused eyes still locked in the direction from which he’d heard the pained cries of another human being… she wondered if he was really so cold as he wanted everyone else to think. Well, perhaps it wasn’t any of her business in the first place, but she couldn’t help but feel that it was when people were really trodden down that they showed you their true colors, and his just looked more red than black to her.

She put the thought from her mind, though, as she knelt at his side, talking even though she was uncertain whether he’d even be able to process her words. A voice in the proximity, lacking panic, was sometimes enough to be of assistance. “Hang in there, Uchiha, I’ve got you.” She wondered where his own village’s triage teams were, though honestly they were probably overtaxed, working from the inside out, and wouldn’t be this far to the edge of the village for a while yet.

She didn’t want to risk moving him too much, for fear of aggravating his injuries, but she did need to get a look at them. The uniform shirt he was wearing came off easily enough under the edge of a chakra scalpel, and the fact that she had to peel it off his skin was not a good sign. She heard him make a sound, something like a hiss, when she removed it as efficiently as possible, and she winced at the crosshatched wounds. Whomever he’d been against had not been kind to him—this looked more like ritualized torture than a real fight, and Rei swallowed thickly. She knew the difference better than most people would ever have to. “I’ve got you,” she repeated, the words Shizu had once spoken to her the only ones easy to her lips in this particular moment.

Putting him back together as well as she could wasn’t quite the advanced process that poison extraction was, but she had no doubt that it was taking a lot out of her. She’d used a considerable amount of chakra already today, and while she was always working on increasing her reserves of it, she was only a bit better than the average ninja in that area at the moment. By the time the worst of Katsu’s wounds—the largest slashes and the most shattered of the breakages—were done, she’d had to use her chakra to empty his lungs of blood three times, and that took a bit more than healing the average cut.

He was out cold by then, the strain no doubt more than his body could really take at present, and she was just glad he had so much chakra of his own to work with—almost as much as Takko had, actually, when he claimed Matatabi was being a bit more cooperative than she usually was. That much meant that however brutal the battle, it had not been all used up, and she could put some of it to work helping heal his body.

Rei sat back, exhaling in a sigh and wiping the back of a hand across her head, turning to the last of the shinobi still present. “Anything I can do for you, Tsukino?” she asked, though she was showing signs that her fatigue was catching up with her. Her breaths were steady, but abnormally deep, and she’d forgone the crouch to sit seiza, so as to conserve energy.

Ryuu looked towards the voice who addressed him. His mismatched eyes were glazed with something. However, it quickly dissipated and reflected the visage of someone he knew well about. It was none other than her. He noticed that she was not exhausted by physical effort, but of tending to the wounded shinobi present in the area. She apparently used her chakra intensely and judging by that, it only meant those two suffered heavy injuries. In any case, his answer to the question did not come easily as he prioritized looking at the others who had been treated already. Uchiha was still alive as well as Gekkō. Of course, they should be. It was expected on his part.

"I'm fine."It was a short answer as he turned his back on her and began to walk away. Right now, he would like to be alone and get some sleep which had been unceremoniously disturbed. Yet, he ignored the fact that he has some internal bleeding and more importantly, his hand and arm were now sporting cellular damages from the jutsu he was about to use earlier. It was a backlash he had expected when it was not thrown away or even stabilized. That is why he had concluded before that there would be a furious scolding from that person. Well, he would accept that.

Midway in his walk, he stopped as blood came out of his mouth. He covered with his other hand as the other was now unusable until proper treatment had been done to it. If not, he would probably be maimed but that was not his concern at all. "Tsk." He clicked his tongue as he wiped his mouth with the back of his uninjured arm and continued to walk on. It would seem that he needed some medical assistance, but, he would not be seeking the one who had offered if she can do anything for him. Instead, he would be seeking the help of another. That should not be difficult, however; the question is if he will reach there with enough provisions of his present condition.

He was simply being stubborn at the wrong time. It seemed his bad mood was still a continuing process.

Rei didn’t miss the faint splash that accompanied a few drops of blood hitting the ground, nor could she mistake the sound for anything else. Sighing, she glanced down at Katsuro. “Are all of you Konoha shinobi this stubborn, or did I just get stuck dealing with the proud fools?” Being unconscious, there was of course no way he could answer her, and she sighed again, knowing this was going to be murder on her still-tender foot. But it wasn’t like anyone else was in a fit state to do it. So it was with some difficulty that she lifted the taller—though not much taller, thankfully—Uchiha, slinging him over her back and leaning forward slightly so that gravity would do some of her work for her.

Glancing over at Kiriko, she pressed her lips into a grim line. “I’ve got to get this one to the hospital for more treatment. Do you think you can go check on Takko?” She expected that the Raikage would be fine, in all honesty, but Kiri really needed to see that for herself, if Rei’s intuition about her current mental state was anywhere near correct.

Fortunately, the hospital, located near to the Hokage’s building, seemed to be the general direction in which Ryuu was heading as well. Birds, meet stone. Jogging a bit so as to catch up, she tried not to wince when the pressure on her foot sent little needles of pain up from her ankle. They really hadn’t been kind with that one, had they? “Oh for goodness’ sake,” she groused, shaking her head upon observing the blood streaking across the back of his one arm and how the other hung uselessly at his side. “It’s fine if you trust one of your own village’s medics more than me. I won’t be offended. But at least let me stabilize you so you can make it to one of them.”

Kiriko did not acknowledge Rei's first comment as she went to help out the other fighters that were just as unlucky as Kiriko, but in a completely different manner. Kiriko struggled to keep her head up as she watched Rei walk over to the absolutely battered Uchiha, and studied the reclusive man. He reminded her of herself, really - only with a chakra that was so potent with potential it was sickening. The fact that she was able to sense his chakra once again meant that she was regaining a lot of her cognitive abilities as well, even if the sense was somewhat dull for the amount of chakra she had read off of him earlier. Kiriko used that as a marker that she should be able to move soon, and made the mistake of attempting to prop up to a possible standing position. Instead, her body collapsed on her, and she was instead on her elbows, panting. Seemed as if the poison's effects felt like holding on for the fun of it, and weren't the speediest to give her back the strength to get up yet.

As she struggled to get to a standing position, her mind wandered into some seriously dangerous territory - almost as dangerous as after the war. The faces of her new enemies kept going through her head as she finally made it to a sitting position. Their every feature would be engrained into her mind as she knew she would hunt them to the ends of the earth. She had no other purpose if she didn't; Hiko would find somebody more suitable to guard him, seeing as how she failed miserably at performing a simple task, and she would devote her life to the extermination of those that dared to ruin her reputation. Kiriko's mind continued to dwell as she finall pushed herself up into a shakey standing position as she began to envision how she would find them, what she would do to them: she could even taste the blood that they would gush after she was done-

Rei's comment took Kiriko out of her dark corner, to which she was silently grateful for. That was a place in which she rarely came out of, for it required Hiko to make a comment, her mother scolded her for brooding or some sheer willpower, which she had none currently. Kiriko made a stern nod in Rei's direction - as stern as one coming off of the effects of a neurotoxin could, anyway - and watched as Rei hobbled off with the Uchiha. With her sensory ability limited, Kiriko had to guess that Hiko was still in the Compound, and began the slow walk over. For onlookers, Kiriko probably looked like a frail old woman with little to no ability to walk; her head was only tilted up enough to make sure she didn't run into things, her back hunched over, her pace slow and jagged. Each step was exhausting, but at least her legs were obeying her and moving at a pace, instead of lying limp beside her. Count the small blessings, she guessed. Her train of thought began to wander a bit as the walk painfully continued forward, as she mulled over how horrid her kimono must look from the outside, with its new stains and tears as well as her missing sandals.

When Kiriko thought that she would have been out of the village by now, she looked up a little more to realize she almost ran into the pole to the Uchiha Compound, and gave a ragged sigh of relief. Putting up a hand on the pole to stabalize herself, Kiriko caught her breath before moving towards the building she had been sleeping in for a while now. She couldn't really see the destruction that had been caused, nor did she care. Her thoughts became narrow as she reached the door and nearly collapsed in exhaustion, panting profusely as she thought of only one thing: finding Hiko.

There it was again, the persistence which Ryuu currently does not appreciate at the moment. If it has been any other day or perhaps even time, he would have taken such a trait as an interesting note. Unfortunately, he was not in the mood to say at the very least. His wounds? Injuries? They were inconsequential to him. Really, they were. He was not going to die from them. That fact was pretty much he was certain of. So to effect, there was really no need for her pestering. Yes, he was starting to see her as a pest. "Should you not treat yourself first?" He stated with a tone wrapped in concession without even looking at her direction as he continued with his pace. It would appear that he had noticed her condition even if it had appeared that he did not care about anything around him right now.

His two-colored eyes reflected the visage of the hospital which meant that they were near. All he had to do was to endure a bit more and soon enough, this will be over. However, his body failed him a bit as he made a sudden stop. With his available hand, he covered his mouth as blood spilled forth much like a riveting fountain. As it would appear, the internal damage caused by getting hit directly by that lightning jutsu did more than he had anticipated. Really, he would like nothing more but to crush those attackers until there would be no traces of them even bones. Yes, that would be fun. Yet, there was a different intended course for them to take and he must allow them.

There was another fit of vomiting blood as he ultimately sat on the ground unceremoniously. He was getting tired from such actions and soon enough made himself comfortable by lying down. Closing his eyes, he felt the aches, pain, and the tiredness engulfing his entire body. It was probably due to the adrenaline pumping within him earlier had already dissipated. "Hinode-san." He stated with a voice akin to that of child with a dislike of waking up early. "You shouldn't force yourself too much." There was once again his mask put into place that even beyond those fictitious smile provided a tint of concern. "I just need rest." He decided on that as his breathing seemed to endure a normal pace. However, his wounds would not heal without the needed stimulation by the medics. "So do you."

She wasn’t sure what was the cause of this stubborn insistence on being fine. Sometimes it was a pride thing, usually a male pride thing, though women could have it too. Sometimes, other shinobi considered the skills of medical nin to be somehow inferior, because their skills were not the flashiest or most straightforwardly combative, and apparently some people took that to mean they were less respectable. Still others had a paranoia about others interfering with their own bodies. While this might just be some kind of pride, she was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the other possibilities, leaving the other option to be that he just had some personal issue with her.

Well, fine, but whatever it was, it wasn’t a good reason to refuse help, and she shook her head. They were both heading to the hospital anyway, and she just decided that if something happened on the way, she’d address it, and if not, she’d let him have his way. Shifting the Uchiha slightly on her back, she responded with the sort of calm straightforwardness that characterized her medical training. “I have treated myself. My leg’s a bit tender, but if you’d seen it before, you’d understand.” She left it at that—there was no need to whine or waste too much breath. It would probably only annoy them both at this point.

She drew the line, however, when he collapsed into a seated position on the ground. Lowering herself a little more carefully, mindful of her passenger, she eased Katsuro onto the ground so that she could move a little more freely. “Sure we do,” she agreed readily enough. “And we’ll both get it—when we walk into the hospital under our own steam. I can’t carry two of you.” She raised an eyebrow and half-smiled, but it was pretty clear that she was entertaining exactly no objections about whether or not she was allowed to stem that internal bleeding. Her hands were already encased in the needed chakra, and she splayed her fingers over his back, where his lungs were located, such that her hand was lodged against the ground, and her other hand mirrored the positioning in front.

It wasn’t a full heal by any means, just enough to stem the flow of his internal lacerations. She could not help but notice, however, the extensive cellular damage he’d undergone, and traces of scarring from the same, over an extended period of time, as though he repeatedly did something that caused him serious internal injury. It was similar in principle almost to a technique she knew for rapid cellular regeneration, one that called on the body’s ability to replace all of its cells early. There were a finite number of such things in any person’s lifetime, just like there was a finite number of times he’d be able to do… whatever it was, before he expired.

He had to know. There was no way you could do that to your body and not be aware that something was terribly wrong. She could only assume it was the side effect of some jutsu or another, but it seemed a steep price to pay. Her lips pressed together, but she remained silent on the matter. It wasn’t really any of her business—he owed her no explanations. So once she was sure he’d stopped bleeding and could breathe more easily, she withdrew her hands. “There. Wasn’t so terrible, I hope?”

That was pretty much useless for having his bravado about not receiving any kind of her aid. There are certain reasons in which he did not like her to help him. Of course, he could not say that outright to her. Which would be odd if one is judging of his persona, well, it was just temporary. Eventually, he will be able to say it or she would find out. But, it was not now. In any case, he could not help but sigh in light irritation as he closed his eyes. This time, he did not resist nor say anything against her initiative to stop his internal bleeding. Actually, it truly helped as his body felt a bit better. He could not deny her an answer as she asked about his opinion in regards to her assistance. "You just can't keep your hands off me, can you?" There was a smile filled with mischief upon his face and a tone which insinuated a certain matter.

Regardless, he stood from his position. It is true that she stabilized his condition. So, he was not a person without manners. Actually, he really was as it is more fun. But then again, he is aware of his responsibility. Instead, he looked at the unconscious Uchiha. The prodigy was beaten rather badly. There was no doubt in his mind that Katsuro's pride had been damaged. Anyone will suffer the same outcome as the enemy group left them in a complete bind. It seemed like they were nothing more, but a toy when they are bored. Well, it was fine. The people will rebuild what was lost. So, there should be no problems. For now...

"I will be taking him." With one arm, he heaved Katsuro to his shoulder without even an ounce of delicacy. Well, he was knew that Uchicha was tough. So, that should be no problem. In addition, he would not be taking any complaints from her, this is simply how it is needed to be done. His mismatched eyes glanced at her form. He knew that she had been presented with something odd about his personal health. But, this would remain a secret and he does not owe her anything to explain. Moreover, he has no intentions for anyone to know about his odd condition. So, it will remain the same. Although, there will be something he will do. "Thanks." Without much warning, he placed a kiss on her forehead and then fluidly went on his way to the hospital.

Rei sighed, bringing a hand to her forehead for a moment before she dropped it again. “Weirdo."