View Full Version : Beneath the City Trees

03-18-2015, 05:26 PM
Getsuei Gen - Calibur
Itsuki Hana - Wess

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v314/Calibur_X/Iron_zpsd8oa6twv.jpg (http://rhiansheehan.bandcamp.com/track/beneath-the-city-trees)

Beneath the City Trees


The thick sound of a sharp, wet brush against soft skin was followed by an irritated yowl. Getsuei Gen stumbled back, clutching his reddening forehead and scowling at the Ensign on the poop deck above.

“Nothing good’s ever come from lolly-gagging on my ship, kid.” The Chuunin supervisor eyed the young clansman expectantly, letting the implication hang in the air like wet laundry on a flimsy line. Indignant, Gen let it sink in further, until the weight of the man’s presence was close enough to give the boy a cold. A few seconds was all it took, for a verbal slap in the face was quick to follow. The kibosh. “You’re here to work. Get to it. Those boards won’t clean themselves.”

As the officer turned away, Gen puffed out his lower lip and scooped up the brush. It bristled defiantly. He glared at it stubbornly. “Don’t sit there acting all innocent,” he murmured to the inanimate object. “You know what you did.” He would put the scouring tool to work for its crimes, gripping it tightly as if to squeeze a confession of guilt from the sodden, wooden block. So what if he had been daydreaming? He was in the Iron Country, somewhere near a place called the City of Kings...the farthest he’d ever been from home, from any and all comfort zones.

He’d be a damn fool if he didn’t take a minute or two to soak it all in. Decks be damned too; they were always wet on this ship. Not like the Gallant Steam.

He was grateful to have been brought along, but going from ship's handyman for a vessel like the Gallant Steam to deck monkey for your average ceremonial frigate was, in Gen's mind, a blow to the feels. Those slippery feels, like eels, swimming around his gut and jousting with his moonlit pride... He considered throwing the brush overboard just to see how much trouble he could land himself in. Wasn't being in hot water better than being forgotten, left in this murky, grey stuff? Anonymity - he hated it. Here, he was no one, just 'kid'. One of the grunt runts, the navy brats, brought along for a good show. Well where was the show now, eh?

Apparently, the dock of this suburban port town was as far as the festivities extended for him, and now it seemed that he wasn't even allowed to enjoy that much. Not if this bloody Ensign had anything to say about it. He was just making Gen work for work's sake: building moral spirit; gathering grit. Hard labour keeps a man honest, does it? Well, honestly...I can't even. He sunk to his knees, defeated, and pushed the bristles flat as he knelt over to start scrubbing. Say he got shore leave for the day... Say he did the impossible and completed the insurmountable...

Where would he go, with no idea what to see? No one had told him anything specific about the place. Who would he take with him? Everyone here was as bored as he was, but with none of the gusto to crawl back from that listless place. And while they might be fine ignoring the need to get out into the big, wide world beyond the boarding ramp, Gen came from more. As much as he hated to admit it, there was Lightning in his blood. So there had to be a cooler, crazier life for him out there.

Look at those peaks, man!! The city beyond! He chanced a glance overboard. I could be a king of my own in those streets. He desperately wondered what the place look like, but free running alone, even in a brand new playground, was no fun. Like turning up to your own birthday party to find that none of the guests had decided to attend.

Scrub scrub scrub, scrub scrub scrub.


Gradually, he worked his way up the balustrades to the ship's railing, leaning into the motions and worrying away layer after layer of dank saltwater spray. All the while, he looked out over bare forearms that sawed back and forth as if cutting all ties with the vague, mysterious city that lay beyond those distant, impenetrable walls.

This wasn't what he'd signed up for.

03-18-2015, 06:37 PM
Hana was distant.

As she walked through the streets of Sennou no Shi in an almost aimless fashion, she couldn’t help but to cant her head in the direction of the market district. Memories were bouncing through her mind too fast for her to focus on just one, though they were all threatening to devastate her with another bout of sadness. It was with a grimace that the genin simply looked straight ahead, apparently adept at ignoring the thoughts plaguing her mind. With so much loss in such a short period of time, Hana had retracted herself into her job, racking up yet another success in Yuki following her sensei’s prompt demise. It had been weird, plowing through the snow and dismantling a mercenary camp while knowing that somewhere, somewhere close by, Ama had met a similar fate that Hana inflicted on several men and women before being swept away by an avalanche.

Clad in an off-white tunic that stopped just above her knees, the kunoichi also wore an unfastened, forest green, winter coat with a pair of beige chevron leggings. She had just sewn on the “Will of Fire” insignia to the left sleeve of her coat, and the headband she was recently given had since been replaced with a dark red belt that cinched around her waist, easily identifying her affiliation and division within Konohagakure. Hana found herself with a hand coiled around a tendril of auburn hair that she had left free from her sock bun before she reached towards a newspaper stand. Inserting a meager coin or two, she waited for the mechanism to unlock before retrieving her paper.

She continued to walk, reading it quietly to herself. It summed up the first day of the Kage Summit pretty nicely, though like all news sources, it left out a key detail: What the actual discussion was about.

With a disgruntled sigh, she followed the road down to the pier and found a nice place to rest, just a little away from one of Mist’s boats, judging from the insignia. She plopped down, smoothed out her tunic and set to reading through the sections, perhaps to get a better grasp on the strange samurai culture she had been immersed in.

03-21-2015, 09:23 AM
So monotonous was the task that Gen soon found himself a slave to the sawing motion, moving in time with the lapping of the waves far below. Iron Country, eh? Maybe that was why the water sounded so heavy, like little mallets against a big steel drum. As he finally scored a brushstroke through a particularly crusty salt scab, the schhwiff! of the bristles became his snare. The jingling of wind chimes outside the dock master’s hut provided a breezy melody. He closed his eyes, lulled into a rare moment of inner peace, or just simply surrendering to his lot.

But that wasn’t him. Furious, that wasn’t him.

His big brother, Gunko-sama, never would have stood for that either, would he? Made of more, made for more…built for more…but robbed of his chance to be, to fulfil, to step out of his older brother’s shadow.

Gen's thoughts turned to his little brother. Where was Echizen now? That kid…he, stole the wind out of everyone’s sails, making leaps and bounds in the service of his nindo. He wasn’t running away; he was running towards his future, full steam ahead. How many missions had he been on now? How much stronger had he become?

I don’t even know. Gen pounded his free hand into the railing, brush skidding to a halt and eyelids twitching. The moment was broken.

“I’m…I’m not…” he whispered, suddenly breathless. Making history had been put on hold. Maybe because he didn’t know what that really meant. How does one guy make history? Gen wasn’t even a legend — his story seemed like it had ended before it had even begun. I’m treading water, here. That was the problem, wasn’t it? Here. What did that revelation even mean? “Agh…!” Sighing in audible aggravation, he lurched over the railing and leant heavily on his chest, his crisp, blue tunic pressing into the damp. “What am I doing?” he mumbled. He hung his head resignedly, exhaling in a very slow deliberate way.

His eyes took a little while to focus, tears welling up but never falling. Nothing made sense. The wind chimes were nice though, a tangle of tricking tones off to his right. He shifted his weight, jutting his chin toward he sound.

That was when he saw her: an angel in white. He rubbed at his eyes with the back of his gauntlets, making sure he wasn’t idolising a cluster of seagulls by accident. …No, that was a girl. Definitely a girl, and in green too. He cocked his head further. She looked… she looked… different. Nice different and, dare he say it, ’pretty’? He stood up, shocked. “Pretty awesome.” He was quick to correct himself, correct the slip, looking about as if checking that nobody had heard him think. Girls weren’t pretty; they were a pain in the collective asses of all boys. This one’s just…well, she’s not from Mist. Maybe a local. And that was why she was awesome, clearly. The only reason. Just a snazzy dresser from a far off, alien culture…with hair that was almost as cool as his…and a solidarity that almost matched his own levels of strong, stoic hero-syndrome. That was why.

So why was he feeling flustered? Why was his breath quickening? Why was his stomach tighten and loosening, the space behind his eyes tingling, and his heartbeat thudding louder than the waves?

Was it something he’d eaten? Gen took a step back to calm himself, straightening to reveal the chest of his tunic near-saturated with water and soap suds. His slick hands did nothing to improve that situation. Ten seconds passed but the sensations did not. In fact, they worsened, and he was struck by the sudden urge to check again, in case she’d disappeared. He was rewarded by the same sight. The girl was sitting smartly as she leafed through a newspaper, so peaceful. That must be nice. Gen, on the other hand, was all over the place today. What did she know that made her so serene, that made her cherubic features so sweet, so still? Gen had to find out.

He haltingly turned his head, conscious of how he might look to the rest of the crew. With no verbal warning from the Ensign in some time, what if the guy was standing right behind him, ready to pounce? What if everyone was looking at him? He wasn’t himself. Did it show? He whipped around, shoulder blades to the railing, but no one could seemingly care less; business continued as usual. He glanced back over his shoulder, thinking intensely about his conundrum. “Gotta-” he began, as if about to launch into a monologue, but his mind was quicker than his mouth in this instance, and it had leapt five steps ahead, “-here.” That’s what he had meant earlier. The problem was: “Here.” He repeated the breathy declaration, scanning the ship’s deck with widening eyes and an expanding sense of having hit the nail on the head. It was like that moment in The Adventures of Gunwhale Dragon, when his right hand man, Shuji (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV4-rQvrTkU) the Street Cleaner, said 'lightning has just struck my brain'. And boy, did it hurt!

The problem was here. Being here. He needed to leave — get off this ship right now. Come back, obviously, but it was this, being trapped like a caged albatross, that had him declining like stagnant water. He couldn't just leave, though. The brass would have his head for ditching a diplomatic mission out of turn. So what, then? He had to finish his duties first. Raising the matted brush and his other free hand before his eyes, he looked through the gap between them and gazed along the length of decking that he had yet to finish cleaning.

…I’m gonna need a bigger brush.

03-21-2015, 12:02 PM
She continued flipping through her newspaper, shaking her head slightly. The internalized politics of Iron Country didn’t particularly interest Hana, nor did the paper’s criticism about the samurai refusing to modernize. In fact, it seemed that the piece of literature she was reading had started to become less and less of a distraction, particularly as the kunoichi sought for anything with meaningful content. It was with a sigh that she lowered the paper into her lap, casting a vain look toward the reflective window across the cobblestone road.

So much for foreign culture… She thought bitterly. Hana set to readjusting her bun, shamelessly doing so, even as people passed by, giving her the occasional once over. This place belongs in a history book.

Crossing her legs, then uncrossing them again, the young kunoichi sat there for sometime, embracing what little torpor her mind allowed her to. It was difficult, moving on from things, but the kunoichi was tired of looking back. Her losses still stung as hard as when she had been hit with the dreaded news.

Each time, she had recoiled in horror and nearly lost herself to the throes of depression. Each time, the arms of depression wrapped around her waist and threatened to pull her back into bed. Each time, the only thing keeping her from losing herself was the presence of another.

This time, she didn’t have anyone.

Her icy blue eyes were numb, glazed over with the sake that Hana had swiped out of her late sensei’s apartment. She didn’t like the taste, but the distance it gave her, however small, was enough for her to keep drinking. Even now, she had a bottle in her purse, along with one of the cups labeled “Hana” that Ama had set aside for her when they were living together.

Cupping her hands around her mouth and nose, Hana leaned forward and let out her held breath. The scent of sake had been scrubbed clean from her mouth, though the taste still lingered. She furrowed her brow and rubbed her face, fighting the urge to scratch her tingling skin. People were watching her, and even now, Hana could feel the gaze of someone burning into the back of her skull. Kiri... The genin thought quietly, casting a glance up toward the boat. She saw someone about her age looking back, though his lower facial features were too obscured by the hull of the boat for her to properly place his intent.

His eyes, however, were so focused that Hana felt like they were boring a hole into her. Her hands tightened into fists as she let out a sigh, simply assuming that she was just unwanted. Getting into the ports of Iron was difficult enough with the barricade surrounding the harbor; it was likely that those from Water Country were just paranoid. After all, there were whispers of their Kage not actually being in attendance, but rather that a body double had taken her place.

She supposed with that much secrecy, they must be hiding something. Her curiosity had been peaked, though only for a moment. She realized that on this neutral grounds, any infraction would be met with a repercussion swiftly. If a fight broke out, it could start a war.

So, Hana decided to remain seated on the bench, and she went back to looking at her paper. If Mist had a problem, they would be free to address it.

04-05-2015, 04:05 AM
On a ship this size, there was always a bigger brush. Having retrieved a sopping broom from the other end of the deck, the scoured the iron and wood surface with an evaluative eye. There was no quick fix — only hard work — so he got to it, bristles to the floor and small fingers curled tightly around the damp, gritty handle. Charge!

Gen moved like a seal chased by an orca, although his pursuer was time. Sandalled feet clipped the floor behind the drag of steady brushing with such hunger, eating into the free space, that heads turned at the impossible sound of a jazz drum solo. Other than that, and the occasional grunt when he reached one end and pole vaulted over the broom head to make a sharp return, the young clansman was uncharacteristically silent. Some would even say he was uncharacteristically focused, and the ensign on the top deck looked on with just that impression, but this opinion was simply not true. Gen had incredible focus — it was his single-mindedness that was usually the fault. Here, however, it made him mighty.

Gone were his worries, his troubles, reduced to mere whispers like ghosts clinging to the corners of his mind.

Within minutes, his allotted floor and starboard wall spaces were thoroughly scrubbed thrice over, his arms aching with a more advanced form of the ‘sailor burn’ regularly bemoaned by deckhands. But he was not yet finished; his S.O. would need more from him to grant shore leave so quickly…a real tour de force to earn that precious time.

Gritting his teeth, he scooped a fresh brush off the deck in his final pass, running first into then up the single-storey wall below the poop deck and flipping off as he switched tools. The broom clattered into place as he twisted and landed, tracking right, back towards the railing. He corkscrewed over the water bucket, soaking his brush and whipping soapy droplets into orbit, then found his mark. The top of the railing was still crusty where he’d left the job half finished.

Gen turned in his stride and dragged his brush behind him as he sea-doggedly worried away at the salt crystal formations, gauging his effectiveness in the clarity of his wake. A bit of chakra-enhanced wall running wouldn’t go amiss right now to get the outside bits, but he made the best of what he had, and, considering the pace of his progress, who could argue?

Certainly not Mr. Big Shot Chief Ensign over there — yeah, the guy who’d disappeared — no, the guy who was walking over to him from the other side of the deck… Wait, what’s with that expression?!

04-05-2015, 05:54 PM
Hana watched, from the reflection in the window, as the boy atop the massive sea vessel rushed back and forth, to and fro with one of the largest brooms she’d ever seen. It was weird, thinking about how different things must be for each village: Genin where she was from tended to spend their early days saving cats from trees and planting gardens. It looked like the ones from Mist ended up scrubbing the poop deck. The genin rolled her eyes at term, wondering whose idea it was to label part of a boat such a thing. It was almost juvenile; surely it had been a child to come up with such a term.

She watched the boy aboard a bit too intently, to the point where she had forgotten to be discrete about it. As if realizing her error, the kunoichi readjusted her newspaper, inhaling a heavy breath as she fought back a blush trying to grace her features. This wasn’t like her at all; Hana focused on her missions and training, not boys her age. Especially not them; the last time she had had a “moment” with one, he ended up getting mad with her, misinterpreting the entirety of her attempt to connect with him. They were confusing creatures; all of them were a collective pain in her ass. Figuratively, of course. Her blush burned at the literal interpretation.

Still, the amateur way that Hana had watched the boat from her position on the dock had garnered the attention of the ensign, and so he too watched her. It made Hana wriggle uncomfortably, but she remained seated nonetheless, ready to face whoever approached her. It wasn’t like she could get in trouble for sitting, and she doubted a mid-leveled navy officer would be dumb enough to try to make trouble in such an established city.

No, instead, he approached the boy, eying him with a hard look.

“Genin.” His voice boomed, etched with a hardness that may be mistaken for irritability. “See that girl down there? She’s been checking this boat out for quite some time.” He gave the boy a hard pat on his back. “Hurry and finish up, and make her go away. Kapeesh?”

05-23-2015, 06:46 AM
Gen floundered for a moment, mouth agape and eyes frantically skittering to and fro. Wait, what? That was the last thing he had expected the man to say. “You- y-….” he stammered, jerking his head around to meet his superior’s gaze, struggling to find the strength to question the ensign’s judgment. Going down to talk to her was the last thing he would ever want or need to do. It was such an incredible fail… Maybe Mr Hotshot Ensign couldn't see the whirlpool for the waves but she was a girl — a pretty fascinating girl — but…didn’t he understand the basic laws of boys and girls?

Despite what Gen might consider from afar, there was no way at all that going down there was a good idea. He liked his idolised image of the mystery girl in the mystery land; that was something he could control, keep at arm’s length. Now he barely had an arm to stand on. He had a mission. “Yes sir,” he sighed, resignedly.

His dark eyebrows pinched together as he rocked back from the railing, his frustrations mobilised, and he tossed his brush into the nearest bucket of soapy water. It landed, like his crushed spirit, with a plop.

Maybe this would be the last of his chores for the day. He took a breath, steadied himself. Maybe this was just a final test. He was at the gangway, fingers frittering at the corner of the balustrade and eyes cast balefully over the safety of the ship’s deck. Or maybe the ensign was just a dick. “Yeah,” he breathed, “that’s probably it.”

He straightened up to his full height. No use skulking down the ramp; as far as that girl knew, Gen was someone important, even if he was doing grunt work. When he finally returned his focus to the docks, his eyelids framed a narrowed gaze of silent determination, of strength.

One last mission. Then freedom.

He chanced a furtive glance at the girl in green as he descended. Man up. He had little time to do anything else, and so approached with that customary military stiffness propping up his limbs. He came to a curt stop about six feet from the smartly-dressed ‘spy’, as close as he dared in order to project a non-threatening yet assertive presence. His thumbs were looped under his belt, his feet planted squarely.

“Pardon me, miss. Gonna have to ask your business, here.” Well, that wasn’t a question. It had certainly sounded formal in his head, but in his head he was seven feet tall and wearing an admiral’s dress whites, with a full beard and a voice that could crack the heavens. And a bloody big pair of great-swords on his back. And a ship that was his own. And a certain ensign who was his personal butler-slash-manservant-slash-whipping boy.

Ah, a boy could dream.

05-24-2015, 12:20 PM
The boy was cute, sure, but Hana couldn’t help but to laugh gutturally at his stance. Her head tilted back in a loud guffaw, giggles falling out of her mouth like foam from a rabid dog. Indeed, the ‘spy’ as she may very well have been labeled, didn’t seem to possess quite the amount of resolve that the boatmen did. Wiping away a tear, she eyed him up and down once more, shaking her head in amusement, the occasional snicker or chuckle still managing to sneak out.

“Ahem.” She cleared her throat, trying to address him in a similar manner. After uncrossing her legs, Hana stood up and adopted a similar stance to him, looping her thumbs underneath her elastic waistband in place of a belt. She puffed out her chest, and adopted a faux-haughty air about her, the crashing waves starting up a breeze that blew her hair back. Her normally serious demeanor had completely disappeared; something about this kid just seemed so pretend. Like they were playing a game or something, and to be honest, Hana hadn’t been able to do that in a while.

Leaping at the chance to throw her maturity into the wind, she deepened her voice, perhaps a bit more than the strange Mist boy himself. “That’s Ma’am, kiddo.” Her icy blue gaze sharpened, and she did her best not to lose her composure. “And I don’t think that’s any of your business: You’re the one who parked a vessel in neutral territory. I’m not on your boat. I’m not disturbing the peace. I’m sitting, so stop being so paranoid, yo.”

She dropped her characterization and let out another giggle, a hand retreating from her waistband to gently cuff the boy on the shoulder.

“Nah, but really though. I’m Hana; a genin from Konohagakure. I thought it’d be cool to walk around a bit; I haven’t been here in a while, and I was interested in seeing how things had changed.” Huh, weird. Normally she didn’t open up to people that fast. Whatever; maybe it had something to do with the childishness that he had inspired. “Figured it’d be, uh… Good, if I used the time to regain myself mentally.” She let out a sigh. "Sometimes, bad things happen, and you wonder how you managed to not die too, you know?"

05-25-2015, 10:53 AM
Gen listened, face immutable despite the surprise that stirred within. The genin considered all that was laid before him and puffed out his cheeks with a sigh. His body bowed at the hips, arms relaxing as they embraced the exhaustion of holding his act of bravado for so long.

“Heh…” he began, at an uncharacteristic loss for what to say. Her explanation made so much sense that he couldn’t help but laugh, his diaphragm tightening with a jolt of relief. Never mind her attitude. “Guess you’re on the level, then!” Gen didn’t know what he had been expecting to hear. He had barely allowed himself to consider the possibilities, let alone the most obvious one, as his mind had been chaos condensed to a single point — a duty to take his mind off thoughts of freedom; service spurred on by an officer who… clearly has nothing better to do than take advantage of his post…man, what an asshat!

Gen’s little ruse crumbled to dust and he scratched his head to pad out the awkward silence that followed his realisation. This girl had some nerve laughing at him; any other kid might take immediate offence, but Gen had been playing a part. Any offence lay at the feet of the character he was playing, not his own. His hands and feet were clean. Still, even as he found himself grinning, there was uncertainty in schizophrenic smile, which faltered and fluctuated at its corners between amusement, indignation and the formation of words. What now, eh? Come clean?

As he searched her eyes for understanding, he thought about her words. There was much she was hinting at, things he found himself curious to know more about, like what was that last part about?

At the very least, there was something he needed to do first. He would decide how to proceed if there was an after that.

“Just a sec.” He turned abruptly and walked back up the ramp with deep, purposeful strides, leaving the girl where she stood and without an explanation. She seemed alright. Strangely amicable. He wondered if she’d be game to take this ruse further.

Maybe this whole situation could work in his favour.

He glanced up. Ensign Jun was conversing with a sailor, but dismissed her at the sound of the clansman’s sandals on the gangway. Gen clicked his heels closed when he reached the top and saluted formally.

“She’s legit. Just a civilian on neutral ground, so we’ve got not cause, sir.”

Jun looked past Gen, clearly weighing opinions and options alike.

Seriously, what needs that much thought?! The genin had had just about enough of all this posturing. The guy had been doing it since being left in charge of the vessel, strutting around like its new owner. Gen was so done. One last play to the ensign’s vanity, then he was outta here.

“But, if you’d like, I can clear her out of here and set up a perimeter until our T.O. returns? Make sure we keep the other riffraff out too.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder, then whipped his first finger in a loop. “I’ve scrubbed my part ‘o the ship spotless so it’s the least I could do to keep on cleanin’, street sweepin’…” It was a risky ploy, but if Gen’s request kept him working in some sense, then the man could hardly complain that he was slacking in his duties. And if there was a way to do so, Ensign Jun would find a way. He just seemed to be that kind of guy.

Jun blinked, tonguing his teeth in thought. Something had changed in the minutes Gen had been on the docks. In the end, he just shook his head and waved his hands dismissively. “Fine. You want to be useful? If you can do that, then do it. Then get out of my sight. Just make sure you check in with Ops when you get back onboard.”

Gen back-pedalled, stunned, and was clipping down the plank to freedom before he even thought to ask himself why his request had been so effortless. Well, he wasn’t entirely free — he still had to live up to his task and convince this Hana to move along, or Jun might not let him leave after all. By the time he had returned, he was already wondering how much the girl had heard, and what he could possibly say that might begin to convince her.

Again he approached, but with none of the forced stiffness from before.

Words…would be good right about now.

She was looking at him.

The right ones…like, now!

What had she said earlier?

“So…” he floundered, hands on hips, then head, fingers stuck into the thick hair at the back. “You’ve, uh…been here…before?” Okay Gen, good start. Now where was this going? He blinked, clearing his throat, then chuckled in desperate realisation. Oh!! So simple.

“Know anywhere a guy could run?” He accompanied the earnest query with a toothy, trademark smile, unable to help himself from taking pride in his pursuit of the extreme sport.

Call me crazy.

Gen happened to be in the business of outrunning death too.

06-05-2015, 08:07 AM
Hana wasn’t stupid.

As the boy returned to the docked boat, the kunoichi replaced herself upon the bench, unfolding her newspaper. She broadened her stance, forming a right angle with one leg as she let her foot rest gingerly on its opposite thigh, and she held the article away from her, perhaps in a display of adolescent rebellion. She doubted that the higher ups would like hearing that she was so close to another country's property without express clearance from either village, but it wasn’t like her just to abandon station because she had ruffled a few feathers.

A burp escaped her lips just before the boy had returned in all of his commodore-esque glory, the scent of sake filling the air once more. She grimaced; if these Kiri-nin decided to report her, she doubted underaged drinking would be something that she could get out of dealing with. I guess I can humor them. Just this once…

She rubbed her face as the boy began talking, his unusual pep making her shrivel a little bit. She cast the newspaper aside, crumpling it up and making a rimshot into a nearby waste bin before returning her gaze to the young navy-man in front of her. All she did was nod intensely a few times, and when he finished, she leaned back on the bench, arms reaching for the sky as she let out a shrill yawn, vertebrae popping in the process.

“Yeah, I wasn’t paying attention to a word you just said.” She cocked her head to one side and offered him a smile. “But I guess your sensei or whatever it is you foreigners have is giving you a hard time, yeah? Something about me swiping all of your secrets because I’m sitting here reading a newspaper?” She let out another guttural laugh, standing up, puffing out her chest, and grabbing her waistband again, imitating a captain this time. “Lil’ boy, now see that lil’ girl down there? Totally threatening. Out to steal our secrets, all of ‘em, yo! Aaaaarrrghhh, get ‘er out of here, totally a threat. But don’t use violence: She looks like she could kick all our arses and then bury ‘em next to our treasure! Avast!”

She stared at him for what seemed longer than a few seconds, wordless.

And then she burped again.

“Well, come on. You can come pretend to be productive with me, at least.”

06-27-2015, 05:10 PM
It wasn’t exactly the response he had expected, or anywhere near an answer to his question for that matter, but the young genin took what he could get, and the proposition was at least genuine. He stood there for a moment, processing the girl’s act, frowning at her pirate impression, then simply dropped his guard, forgiving her for not listening, and shrugged. “Works for me!” He did it too. He spun on his heel, giving his ensign a dramatic salute mid-way round then fell forward into his first step and straightened his back like the very caricature of town dandy to continue striding away from the ship.

After only a few seconds, however, he deemed it time to clear the air before proceeding further with the kunoichi. It wouldn’t do to take this ahead under false impressions. Spinning again to backpedal, he chided his new companion with a wagging finger. Two bounces. “Although we don’t say ‘avast.’” He beamed. “I don’t, at least. Way too young to sound like a fogey. Got a rep to maintain.” He skipped back to face front, narrowly avoiding the corner of a small crate that would otherwise have jabbed into his calf. As he hopped on one leg, he slowed his pace, tutting at his carelessness.

“Ah-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta! Close one!” Then he rubbed the back of his head distractedly, fingertips ruffling his short, dark hair. These, he balled to fists, which he shook out to either side in a swing that sent him skipping ahead again. He was hanging out with a girl who didn’t even know his name. That was weird. Plus, the image that he had built up from afar was changing. Also a weird sensation. She was still interesting at face value, but there was something about her demeanour that set him edge — something hyper-mercurial. At first cordial, then condescending, she gave the impression of somebody that Gen wouldn’t normally hang out with, which had both positive and negative implications.

Maybe it was normal or maybe it was just her mood today, but the problem was that Gen couldn't tell which. He had trouble reading people for the first time. That usually changed after the first foray into conversation but theirs had been forced and, well, yes, pretend. That made the second icebreaker, the real one, all the more difficult to get right. And drawing it out like this, with him finding reasons to avert his gaze as he trundled just in front, would only make it worse. He felt like he should just stop.

Gen ground his heel into the cobblestones and shifted his weight to face Hana. “Sorry, I’ve been, uh…” He pounded his fist into his temple then made an exploding gesture with his fingers. His features contorted to match the expression. “Dumb.” And slow. This was different. This was Captain Armadillo being the better version of himself; this was what the hero did. “I’m Gen.” He extended a fist in greeting, awaiting the customary bump. “Not the best pretender, I guess.” Unlike you... he secretly added. “But thanks for the save back there.”

06-28-2015, 01:03 AM
This boy, there had to of been something wrong with him.

Or maybe is was just Mist ninja in general? Whatever it was had Hana’s brow furrowed into a scowl, particularly as he chastised her for her use of “avast." He even did the finger thing that academy teachers were notorious for: Every over the top action just seemed to make the young Leaf ninja’s blood boil. And it probably didn’t help that no small part of Hana wanted to just lean in and bite his finger off so that she could watch his generic dreams for stardom be destroyed. After all, what good was a ninja that couldn’t form hand seals?

Shaking her head in a vain attempt to clear her mind of any further negative thoughts, Hana gave the boy a long stare as he narrowly missed one of the crates stacked on the dock. Despite her utmost wishes, the girl calmly informed herself that she wasn’t going to shove him into the nearby fishing nets hanging from the docks, and she most certainly wasn’t going to chuck him in the ocean. ...Even though she wanted to. Really, really badly.

In general, the girl remained quiet, her breathing controlled and her fingers balled into fists along her hips. Something about how the Mist shinobi acted seemed forced, like it wasn’t really him, like it was all some big joke or game to him. And while Hana had been apt to play at first, she was beginning to grow ever so weary.

So naturally, when he apologized for being a dumbass, the kunoichi was taken quite aback.

“Oh. Uh. You’re good dude.” She said, feigning a smile. “I didn’t even think anything of it, but, uh. Yeah. Do me a favor and don’t act like that again?”

She clapped her hands together before turning down a beaten path flanked by rows of pine trees. “You feel like more a person when you’re not so crazy. But yeah, like, uh…” She scratched the back of her head. “You’re welcome, I guess. You still want to go running?”

06-28-2015, 03:11 AM
So he’d been acting crazy? Fine, yeah, whatever, girlie. It was five minutes into their meeting and she wasn’t screaming at him, all a’fluster, so whatever he was doing was clearly working this time. Some people just didn’t take to Gen and he was cool with that. You’ve got your pleasers, your two-faced geezers and your self-…debilitating…nah…defecating…deprecating? Well, one-of-those-long-word-‘cating’ other guys. Gen was one of a kind, and wouldn’t change that for anything, least of all to pander to a stranger’s sensibilities. But he could do other things within his power, and acting as a more wary ambassador for Mist was one of them.

So far, Hana had seen the worst that the Navy had to offer, and that wasn’t a very good impression. It was as the ship’s Captain had said before taking her leave: ‘Don’t feed the locals’. No, wait, that wasn't right. It was: ‘Don’t give the locals reason for fear us’. Gen was pretty sure that despising the Navy was right up there with that risk. In other words: Don’t give anyone reason to want to feed us a fist or two. Because that had happened before. The genin had learned from his mistake, little more than a year ago, when his gung-ho, can-do attitude, which practically bled patriotism, had irritated a visiting dignitary’s assistant so much during a tour of the Hidden Village that the teenager had erupted with a red tide of offensive language and gestures. Naturally, Gen had shrugged it off, or acted as such, treating it like water off a duck’s back, but at ten years old, it was difficult not to take some of the criticisms to heart.

So what had Gen done? He’d taken the best of the advice in spirit and made every effort to forget the actual words. Don’t be a tool if you don’t have to be. But equally, Don’t break, just bend, and if whoever you’re doing it for still can’t handle it? Pity them, yo, because they’ll never be as awesome. ‘Yo’, there it was. He breathed a slight sigh of relief as the girl finished talking. I can finally be myself.

Naturally, he made this realisation into something more, and clapped his thighs as if he was out of breath — like the charade was physically tiring him out. He accompanied this with a weary whistle. “Whooo…yeah, feel more like myself already, yo.” He raised his hand in a three-fingered scout’s salute, passing it off as something legitimate. “Sailor’s honour, or whatever this means, I’m done being Ensign’s pet. That guy can kiss my ‘avast’ and keep his shiny ship.” He grinned like a damn fool at the olive branch pun and turned to gaze down the colonnade. “I’m all about the freeness.” About the running. He pouted and frowned as it dawned on him that Hana might not be. What would he do if she couldn’t run with him? Was this where their fledgling friendship was left in the dust?

That’d suck. He was actually starting to accept this real, not imagined, girl. He was still a way off liking her, but it was early days yet. “Uh…do you run?” To Gen it was like asking if somebody breathed, like it was the most natural thing to do, but he was well aware that his and Echizen’s exploits were at the more extreme end of the Village’s youth culture. Still, because they knew it was a global pursuit, that’s what Gen was now banking on.

06-28-2015, 01:19 PM
The park that the two genin approached had once been a training grounds for the Last Legion. Characterized by a long track running around the centerpiece with what looked to be training dummies and an obstacle course, several stacks of logs had also been piled in the center for any ninja that might have wanted to make use of them. Surrounding the park, however, was an increased patrol of security, intent on making sure no violence erupted from a martial contest between two headstrong ninja. The two stationed between the pines gave Hana and her accompaniment a harsh look before returning the boy’s salute, mistaking it for a sign of respect.

“...Not really.” Hana shrugged, approaching the track. She took a look at the training dummies and boards. “Those are more my thing, yeah?” The kunoichi gestured toward them, and approached one of the smaller logs. Picking it up, she chucked it into the air before spinning around, and with a resounding roundhouse kick, splintered the board with her explosive chakra, ripping it asunder.

“I was never ever really into the whole speed thing. Some Leaf ninja are, and I might be eventually, but hitting things makes me feel a lot better than just sweating out my frustrations. But then again, I was never physically tuned to begin with, so it’s more of a matter of whether or not my chakra skills can make up for my lack of physicality, you know?”

With a shrug, she removed her jacket, followed by her tunic until she stood in something akin to underarmor, a form fitting piece of spandex that matched her jacket and juxtaposed her leggings rather nicely. She slipped off her boots too, standing in a pair of long socks with colors that looked like they had no place on her person.

“Though, the obstacle course might be fun, if you don’t mind me moving a little slow.”

...Why did she agree to this again?

07-08-2015, 01:08 PM
Initially baffled by the guards’ odd decision to return his gesture, Gen’s jaw skewed and his brain drew a blank. For the two seconds it took for him to make sense of the action, he held his meaningless pose as he ambled along beside Hana.




The boy gulped in realisation and clenched his fist. He offered a genuine salute as soon as he could, recovering from the misunderstanding, but too amused by the guards’ response to be embarrassed by his own actions. To be safe, he put a bit more stiff-limbed swagger into his strut, raising his chin and pinching his eyebrows together for effect. Serious business, this ambassador stuff. As soon as they had passed the two, however, he relaxed instantly, having quite recently been dressed down for his silly act by his companion. Best not to piss her off again — she seems to know where she’s going.

As magnificent as Gen was, he was pretty clueless when it came to directions. So if this girl ditched him here, he’d be like an ant on a molehill. Then there was that other reason not to piss her off, revealed to him in a shower of wood chips. As he flicked timber shards from his hair, he gazed on, visibly impressed. His eyes were fixed on the space formerly occupied by the log and he held his lips in a weird, duck-faced expression of contemplation, nodding his head as he retrieved a suitable complement from the depths of his dynamic vocabulary.


He held the final consonant, teeth and gums bared and features frozen, then broke from the reverie and looked sharply at the girl, listening to her motivations. Fingers interlinked behind his head, thumbs resting below his ponytail, Gen made a quick comparison of her strengths with others from his graduating class. By this standard, Gen was no prize pony, himself, seemingly balanced in his combat style between blade-work and chakra, but he’d been learning a fair bit more about the latter in recent weeks. It was easier to practice that stuff while working on the Gallant Steam than pulling out a blade on deck and expecting Ren-sama to be cool with finding chips in the woodwork the next day. It’d be Gen’s ass on the line to fix that up, anyway.

He lied despite himself, all bravado and denial. "Lack of physicality? Wouldn’t know anything about that!" Just thinking about his ship had cast his thoughts to Echizen, who was pulling out all the stops to make good on his Number One Rookie status. In his heart, Gen supported his little brother in everything he did, but in his mind, he still wasn't even a contender for that title. So he covered for his failings, talking the talk but quickly taking Hana up on her offer so that he wouldn’t have to walk the walk and trip over the foot in his mouth.

"Let’s do it! Don’t worry about speed, though." He shrugged off the small backpack he forgot he’d been wearing this whole time and gripped his shoulder, circling his free arm. "I’mma work on my tricks, anyway." Nothing else needed to come off - if it did, he’d be in his underwear…and awkward wouldn’t even cover that situation. He simply jerked his thumb in the direction of the nearest starting zone and grinned. "Let’s test this sucker out." He checked over his shoulder then back to Hana, fingers flicking open as a broad grin dawned on his features. He performed a little bow and gestured toward the obstacles.

"Badass kunoichi first."

07-08-2015, 01:49 PM
Bad ass kunoichi, ha.

Hana hadn’t thought of herself as a “badass” for a long time, particularly once she realized that when it came the shinobi hierarchy, she was one peg from the bottom. Sure, she was capable of killing, torturing, interrogating — heck, she had learned a lot over the past few months — but she was also a child. And while she didn’t like to think of herself in such a “negative” light, Hana had learned that everyone else did, and when she pulled out a lethal trick, it surprised most of them. The majority of people discounted her on the fact that she was a “pretty little girl” that had yet to reach adulthood, but Hana already considered herself an adult. Loss had put her up in a cheap, tiny apartment; she earned her own wages, and she killed. She was losing herself for the sake of her village, for the sake of keeping herself afloat and in a place she could barely afford. It was strange.

Still, the boy’s joke broke the girl out of her trance. Despite him also being a shinobi, he seemed to possess quite a bit more of humanity, despite the two being the same age. Hana debated asking him the question most genin found themselves asking their friends, but she decided against it. It was too morbid, and to ask if he had killed anyone just to sate her own curiosity felt like it would be a step above rude. He might have immensely regretted it, like how she did sometimes, or he could simply not be affected. Certain deaths did have more effect on Hana than others, and with Ama’s recent passing, the genin found herself cringing at the thought of her making someone else feel like she did.

It was also a vicious cycle that she’d like to forget. Hana’d prefer to embrace her childhood, however fleeting it may have been.

“Oh? You do seem to be quite the musclebound Adonis.” She figured teasing him would be the best course of action; if she could get back into a social standing, Hana knew that it would be easier to distract herself. “Let me guess; you bench four-fifty and run one hundred laps around your boat everyday.” She leaped onto a nearby platform, the start of the obstacle course, and landed with a grace characteristic of a kunoichi.

She too flicked a stray wood chip out of her hair before advancing toward the edge.

“...Me too~” She joked, before flinging herself at a nearby rope, curling it around her waist as she advanced toward the monkey bars above. The rope itself was pretty short; about three feet long, there was no way anyone could advance to other side without the aide of the bars above. So when Hana reached them, she took her time, pivoting in between two like a gymnast before spinning forward, using her legs to gain a foothold before she pulled herself up.

It seemed like Hana would be walking across instead of swinging.

07-10-2015, 04:34 AM
Gen shrugged and scratched the back of his head, fingernails chipping away the last of the splinters lodged in his spiky mess. “Eh,” he offered, as the girl leapt past him. “Something like that.”

He followed suit, palm to the platform before vaulting onto it, crouching and rising as the girl took off. The jump was good. He padded forward, watching her ascend before levelling his gaze at the first obstacle. You take the high road. Eyes darting about like a hawk searching for prey, Gen made his peace with the challenge he was about to set himself. I take the off-road.

He rubbed his hands together gleefully then shook them out, readying his front feet at the forward lip of the wooden platform. He flicked the side of his nose, all professional-like, even though the act of even thinking such a thing undermined its purpose, but then grinned all the same. Then, and only then, did he jump for high heaven.

He caught the rope six inches from the bottom, fingers tightening as he kicked off from the corner support strut and swung around to the right. His soles quickly connected with the opposite strut and clamped around either side of the squared post. Tensing the adductors in his thighs, he yanked hard on the rope and pushed with his legs to pull himself a foot higher, whereby he could grasp the outside length of the monkey pars with his free hand. He released the rope, now supporting himself like human bracket clinging to the inside of the monkey bar frame.

He could swing along from there, but why would he ever do something so blasé? And why do that now when his objective was so clearly to take the road less never travelled. That’s what pioneers, trailblazers and history-makers were all about!

Lining himself up, he pushed his body back until he had enough bend in his legs to put considerable distance behind them, fingers clasping the top bar as it stretched away before him. Unlike the initial leap, where he had propelled himself upwards in order to reach the dangling rope, this next move would jettison him across the frame, skipping out half the monkey bars in one go. It took about the same amount of time, prep included, but challenged him that much more. Granted, this was only the first obstacle, but as a great man had once said: ‘Begin as you mean to go on.’ It was a lesson he had taken to heart, and no, it wasn't Gunwhale Dragon this time.

Gen forgot where he’d heard it, but he didn’t have time for semantics. Dilly dally, shilly shally — another gem he’d picked up somewhere.


He exploded from the back of the frame, the fingers of his outside hand gliding alongside the upper line until he felt gravity take control and he tightened the digits of both hands. Gen was of the school where you took your life in your hands with every act, leading to one of two options: exhilarating success or a painful face-plant. It was a steep, self-imposed learning curve but it worked because it meant he never put in less than his absolute best. That effort showed today, and as his fingers hooked over the top of the bar, he threw his legs forward at the end of their pendulum arc, releasing his hold and landing on the far strut, albeit slightly lower than he would if he had been using the bars. Nonetheless, he gripped the post like a real monkey and shimmied up the post before circling the it in a 180 revolution and leaping onto the next platform.

Success also yielded one of two general responses from onlookers: ‘How the hell did you manage that, you stupid idiot?’ or ‘Well done, you stupid idiot’, either verbatim or in various bewildered looks and guttural tones. Usually he didn’t care, but this time he was surprised to find himself curious as to what Hana would make of his special brand of hackrobatics.


07-10-2015, 03:40 PM
From her position on the next platform, Hana eyed Gen with an amused interest, watching him overwork himself to reach the same point she had. It looked pointless, in all honesty: Maybe he was trying to impress her with his physical prowess, or maybe he was trying to outdo a previous record, but whatever he was doing was blatantly excessive. Good for gymnastic training, sure, but in the real world, if you did all of those shenanigans, trying to cross something, you’d have wasted an extra five minutes. That could have been the difference between meeting a patrol or not, of escaping your pursuers…

So when he landed next to her with an expectant look on his face, Hana rolled her eyes. “Showoff.” She teased, before eyeing their next challenge. It was a near vertical wall that ran up to the next platform, obviously more for samurai training than a ninja’s. Most shinobi could walk up walls, so naturally, Hana wouldn’t have a problem running up the ladder, but Gen, she wasn’t so sure. But given his previous display, she doubted that he’d have much of a problem… Though she also wasn’t sure if he’d manage to make it theatrical like he had before.

Kicking one leg out behind her and bunching the other close to her chest, the kunoichi leaned forward, with either hand on the ground. And then she shot off, as fast as she could, rushing towards the pillar. She made it a little over halfway up before she channeled chakra into her legs and finished the climb, anchoring herself to wall like her shoes were made of glue.

Hana looked back down with an amused look, feet dangling off the new platform, eager to see if Gen could make it.

“C’mon, it’s not that hard...”

07-20-2015, 12:31 PM
Gen’s silence during Hana’s display was uncharacteristic, true, but harboured the secret workings of a mind running overtime on dead-end scenarios that might take him up the side of the wall. Rising to its cusp was another matter entirely, and looking good while doing it…that was difficult with a side serving of impossible. He chewed frustratedly on the side of his tongue as he watched the girl put him to shame, stumped at only the second hurdle. Nevertheless, he met her gaze as she eyed him from up on high. With one hand on his hip and the other making an upwards spiral in the air, it was his turn to roll his eyes in a bluff of confidence. “Look who’s talking.”

He paced across the lip of the stage, peering down at the short drop to distract him from the glaringly obvious problem: this was a course designed for grown-ups, and his short legs alone wouldn’t carry him more than half way up that pillar. Hana’s coy goad further ruffled his feathers. Without his eyes still fixed on the problem, he merely back-pedalled and wagged his finger in an attempt to buy more time. “For some…” He would neither confirm nor deny the fact that he was quite possibly stumped, but if he stood around any longer, it wouldn’t matter. Even a blind man could tell that this boy wasn’t running any time soon.

Then a thought occurred. For a moment there, he had been considering doing a wall flip to draw out the suspense, pretending to gauge the traction he could get on the pillar, but he suspected Hana would realise the ploy for what it was. It was stupid idea. But he was nothing if not resourceful, and had plenty of other stupid ideas to spare, like defacing public property for the sake of his own pride. Wary that the guards were glancing every so often in their direction, Gen was hesitant to do so, but realised that he had very little choice in the matter. He craned his neck back and let out a long, slow breath like the chimney on a steam ship, fists to his hips. Then he regarded the girl and called out a competitive warning. “Watch your feet! Incoming!”

Gen’s body was always in a state of readiness, joints poised for random bursts of acceleration, so when he set off, there was none of the decorum that the kunoichi had demonstrated. His hands did, however, slip to his belt, each one pulling a kunai from its side pockets. These, he flung in front of him, angled up to the midway mark. The double thud of impact had barely reached his ears by the time his feet had left the platform’s edge. Again, he committed one hundred percent. Knees bent as his legs absorbed the shock of contact and he scrambled four steps higher, just within reach of the kunai. This time, he put all haste into his actions, the kunai shifting lightly under his weight. His small biceps bulged as his palms slid around he pommel, transferring his strength from the pulling motion into a push, and then from his arms to his legs. Hoowah!

The iron footholds clattered to the ground as Gen’s white-knuckled fingers found the ledge, but he didn’t look down. Instead, he scrambled up out of his cat grab position and sprang into the air, landing in a kneel and panting lightly. His mouth was as dry as a dead eel but, boy, was his mind alive! Not bad, Gen. However, now that the genin’s skill disparity was clearer, so was Hana's lead. All Gen could do until he caught up was pretend he didn’t know or care. He did so with a toothy grin on his face and a chip on his shoulder, shoving his hands in his pockets and making a show of ignoring the guards with a nonchalant, cocksure “Next?”

07-20-2015, 03:37 PM
Hana watched Gen prepare himself yet again, a bit curious as to what he would do. So far, the Mist genin had been nothing short of a wild card, eager to one up himself in a number of crazy stunts to overcome a series of training obstacles. Why ninja just didn’t learn the basics like they were supposed to was a bit perplexing to the young kunoichi, but she couldn’t herself to appreciate the boy’s… artistic approach? The kunai that he threw echoed into the board on either side of her, and she continued to dangle her legs rather unphased, quite curious actually.

So when he used the kunai as a pivot to leap over her, Hana watched with quite the amused expression as he soared, landing on the platform behind her. She clapped, slowly, almost as if the ingenuity of his ploy was inspiring. But more importantly, she felt something catch in her throat. Did Mist only have… water? Surely they had use for kinobori and the boy was just clumsy with chakra, but something made her unsure about the whole situation. Hana laughed it off; it was a weird thought. Though she made a mental note to check when she got back to Konohagakure.

Before she could issue the next challenge, however, the two samurai guards appeared, a scowl on their face. “...defiling government property, using chakra in a violence free zone—”

Like a cat, Hana tensed. “...Uh, we’d better go.”

And like that, ribbons shot out of the girl’s sleeves, forming a dragon’s head where her hands used to be. A spare one snaked out of her pants leg and with a kick and swivel, wrapped itself around Gen before the two of them shot off like a rocket, picking up her discarded clothes in the process.

She didn’t stop until they got back to the deck, and after leaping over a building through the dragon’s aid, the navy ship came back into view. The men waiting on the boat didn’t seem to happy that she was back, but as her ribbons unfolded, they saw their charge with her.

Hana met one of their eyes. Yep. Definitely unhappy. Maybe even angry.

“...Uhm... Stay out of trouble?”

She grinned at the boy sheepishly.

And then she was off.