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Old 10-24-2018, 03:44 PM   #1
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“Report.”

Clad in winter-camo, snow boots, and a thick jacket to match the rest of her attire, Hana looked right at home between juts of rock and ice that littered the permafrost-encrusted ground. A light dusting of snow pattered down around her, and from what Hana could tell, the journey that had taken her to the southwestern edge of Coal Country was looping around towards Grass Country, though she had yet to clear Fire’s shared border with Snow.

“We’re concluding our investigation now, Hana-senpai.”

The voice on the other end belonged to a rather cheery male, one about her age with a voice that sounded a little bit too high for her liking.

From her position amongst the treacherous peaks, she could spot her target below. About three men, with ten young children shackled together and tied to pallets attached to sleds. They were being pulled by oxen, their soft whimpers drowned out by the howling wind and muted by the gags the men had slipped into their mouths. The sight made the chuunin sick, evident by how strips of cloth threatened to peak out from underneath her clothing, pointed, ready to strike like venomous snakes at a moment’s notice.

She cast a look up above her. A rocky outcrop, with dozens of icicles hanging from it. Part of her fantasized about caving it in, crushing the men beneath her, but the forensics team wasn’t done investigating their safehouse yet. Hana knew better than to rush into a fight alone and uninformed these days.

The comm-unit rang in her ear again, and at once, she shot a ribbon out from her sleeve, anchoring herself onto the rocky outcrop before pulling herself onto it. She narrowed her eyes, gaze locked on the three men leading the caravan of children below.

“Hana, we have bad news. Those aren’t just your average targets – one is a snow shinobi, and the other two are ronin. Don’t engage: We have someone close by that’s able to rendezvous with you. Don’t lose track of them either. We’re sending him to your position now.”
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Old 11-01-2018, 04:28 AM   #2
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Far be it from Tatsuo to arrive anywhere unprepared, but on this occasion he had only proceeded at a decent clip by the grace and charity of the Nieyu elders.

Furnished with a thick grey scarf, mittens and a knitted poncho over his long-sleeved changshan jacket, the chuunin had been able to scale rock faces pocked with black ice with nary a frostbitten finger. Only his toes felt the brunt of the cold, his sandals wrapped as tightly as possible in strips of leather and wool to keep out the damp as much as possible. Not so great with the traction. He had had to inject chakra through his feet numerous times during his ascent, and he wasn’t fully recovered from Bijuu-hunter-hunting either, so climbing to meet his fellow officer had proven a much more physical task than necessary.

His shield rocked in its mount under the poncho as he pulled himself to a standing position and pinched the scarf higher until it covered his nose. It smelled of old tea and hot breath, cloyingly sweet over hints of its former owner’s history, but it kept his cheeks warm, so he couldn’t protest. Besides, it had gotten him this far, which was to say that he had arrived at the designated coordinates unscathed.

On cue, he pulled the wool down enough on one side of his face to cycle through his communication unit’s secure frequencies until he located the right wavelength, then pulled it back up. His voice was somewhat muffled but the message was clear.

“Omoi officer, be advised, Hada officer entering the scene is a friendly.”

He glared across the new, snowy terrain, which matched the cloud-ridden sky, white against white, his blue-green irises failing to immediately distinguish his contact from the craggy topography, so he turned to his other senses for guidance and followed the sounds of the oxen far below, clearer than before, to a point near the brim of his current plateau. He hung back, however, aware that his darker profile against the sky would be an easy irregularity for, say, a snow shinobi to spot, and waited for his fellow chuunin to make her presence known.

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Old 11-14-2018, 03:24 AM   #3
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The buzz of the comm-unit filled her ear once again, and Hana in turn reached for her hood, making sure that her auburn tresses remained carefully tucked inside. Despite knowing that her form was difficult to spot, given her camouflage and the abundant snowfall, the chuunin preferred being safer than sorry. As she listened to the operative speak, her eyes surveyed the horizon, hoping to pinpoint his location. Luckily for the both of them, the chuunin had a knack for detail, and while not quite on par with the Hyuuga, her eyesight was exceptionally keen.

It only took a few seconds for her to locate his form – the HADA operative’s dark attire contrasted the almost serene landscape around them. He was an acceptable distance away, enough to where their targets wouldn’t know that they were being tailed unless they set up a perimeter search. While she’d have preferred him in attire similar to hers, there was nothing that she could do unless he was into cross dressing in clothes about 3 sizes too small for him.

Her hands wove together in a flurry of hand seals, and with a flourish, swept her ribbons around her and disappeared. A moment later, she was standing in front of the dark figure, arctic-camo ribbons unfurling to reveal her form. He looked to be about her age, maybe a little older. Athletic by the looks of it, definitely someone who preferred taijutsu to ninjutsu. A good contrast to Hana’s specialties, if nothing else.

“Itsuki Hana.” She outstretched a hand, a white leather lined with fur masking her thin fingers. Judging by the girl’s face, she wasn’t one for pleasantries, but it was obvious that she was at least making an attempt. “I’m sure you already made out our targets; they’re not exactly that hard to find. From what I gather, they’re on their way to Grass Country. Ideally, we make our stand before they’re out of our jurisdiction.”
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Old 12-24-2018, 09:46 AM   #4
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Tatsuo eyed the delicate glove and clenched his own, itchy fingers in silent protest, rough woollen fibres scratching dry knuckles, before offering them for a handshake. It was nobody’s fault that he had come wholly unprepared for the mountain climate on the tail end of another mission except his own. His ego and do-gooder attitude made him quite the glutton for punishment.

“Muramoto Tatsuo,” he said, pulling the scarf down again with his free hand while he grasped Itsuki Hana’s with the other. He appreciated the formality of the introduction, which was a rare quality among partners in his recent experiences. He took care to return the favour, sensing the moment to be brief by design. “Pleasure.”

It had been a marvellous entrance, that ribbon jutsu. Tatsuo was a lumbering meat soldier by comparison. He smiled, fixing the scarf just under his chin. He could only imagine the puff of red that would be quick to colour his nose and cheeks. He could already feel it. Not the worst conditions of his career, fortunately — he’d have to venture back in time and north into Snow for that. Focusing on Hana instead of the painful memories therein which threatened, at any moment, to rear their ugly heads, he listened attentively to the other chuunin’s assessment of the pair’s situation.

“So we monitor,” he surmised, nodding thoughtfully, “and keep our distance until an opportunity presents itself or they reach the border.” He crossed his arms, a classic thinker pose. “Or we decide we need reinforcements. Or find a way to redirect them onto, say, a route that more directly favours our needs.”

He didn’t have a map to hand, and his estimates for distance were a little sketchy this far into the wilderness, but, spitballing here, all of those options sounded like reasonable suggestions to consider out loud. Naturally, they came with a respectful caveat: a chuckle as he rocked onto his back foot, rubbing his hands together and busying himself with the renewed task of listening.

“But look at me, getting ahead of myself. I reckon you’ve been able to consider a fair few more effective stratagems in the time you’ve been tailing them. I know that’s not meant to be HADA’s bag, but a grunt’s still got to be able to think on his feet, right?” He bowed his head briefly in deference and self-deprecation, but with that smile still fixed encouragingly to his features. Not that it mattered. Tatsuo could tell that this girl was the kind to already be six or seven steps ahead of whatever he might suggest. So, most likely, he was the reinforcements — the only ones they'd be getting, at least — and now the light entertainment too, playing catch-up with a pro.

He cut to the chase.

“I’ll follow your lead, Hana-san.”

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Old 01-07-2019, 08:42 PM   #5
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Hana nodded at Tatsuo, inhaling a sharp breath of the cold air. Like her compatriot, the younger chuunin’s nose had begun to take on a soft pink color, given the climate.

“Tailing them shouldn’t be an issue, so long as we stick to the cliffs and crags. Like I said, they’re moving on a direct route towards Grass Country.” She folded her arms, keeping them tight against her body for the extra warmth. “Taking them out wouldn’t be too much of an issue if it weren’t for the hostages.” She gestured back along the mountain range. There was ample opportunity for what could very well be considered “collateral damage.”

“We do have multiple options though. We can tail them, wait for them to take a break once we get to warmer temperatures. But who knows how long that could take?” She shrugged. “Our best bet is to pin them down. Concentrated explosions just ahead of and behind them. Block the passage off, and move in to incapacitate them. There’s less space for them to maneuver.”

She stamped her foot for a moment. “We’ll need to deal with at least one of the three first though unless we want to risk one threatening to kill one of the children. I’ve been observing the ronin, the one in the back is moving slower than the others – they keep slowing their pace for him. I haven’t been close enough to see if it’s an injury, but it’s a start.”

Hana looked back in their direction with a furrowed brow. “I’m not sure how you are with katon ninjutsu, but you’re bound to have at least a few explosive tags, right? I can scout out a position up ahead, set off an explosion for them to reach, and then you can get yours into place behind them. After you set off your explosion, we can aim for a quick kill and then engage the remaining two.”
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Old 02-10-2019, 05:55 PM   #6
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Tatsuo tracked his gaze along the winding ashen bluffs above the caravan, agreeing with Hana’s unspoken implication and listening to her options. He tucked his hands into his armpits and hugged his body also while his companion continued to identify the pair’s natural advantages and explain, in reality, how there were actually very few options. Only potential opportunities, the ronin being one.

“I’ll take the rear, then. Observe the ronin, try to get some intel we can use before bringing down the house and sealing off the rooms.” He scratched the back of his neck. “My Katon should be able to handle that. It’s nothing to write home about but it’ll be able to remote detonate a tag or two.” Behind the clouds that puffed from his mouth, he momentarily lost sight of Hana’s features, so he dragged his scarf back over his nose to compensate. “We coordinate on comms.” He nodded and made to leave, but stayed his foot.

“Just for the sake of playing devil’s advocate,” he added, turning slowly, “what if the explosion only draws one of them? What if neither go?” His words were muffled but clear enough. He drank in the sweet, honey warmth they lent his lips. “And if they see through it and come up here looking for a couple of nuisance interlopers, do we have an extraction scenario? We’re fine having the high ground now, but the moment they even the odds we’ll need a contingency.” He held up his hands and bowed, apologetic. “I’m confident enough in our own abilities, as you seem to be, but they’re an unknown quantity with hostages. A lot could go sideways. Just…think on it.”

He thought he had sensed impatience in Hana’s plans, from the way she narrowed in on a precise strategy likely formulated and prioritised well before his arrival, so he accommodated the need for action. And, truth be told, his own need to start moving and stop freezing. The beauty of their communication units was that they could devise and adapt on the fly, while spoken words were not much clearer face to face in the worsening conditions that swirled about. So he nodded, backing away, and began to search the other side of the canyon for a suitable crossing point that wouldn’t alert the travellers below. Maybe from there, he might observe something Hana had missed.
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