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Old 03-03-2019, 06:03 PM   #1
Calibur
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Default Liberating Libertalia

"Shit."

Those Seeking Vengeance
Part III: Liberating Libertalia




Hashimoto Daisuke | Chouku Shuju | Kansei Tanryoku

Omemie.

They'd beaten him here.

Tanryoku clung to the rock shelf and flattened his body, cloak draped about a uniform that shifted from beige umber to mottled gold as the sunset lit the sand beneath him. He had arrived in the vicinity barely an hour ago to look for signs of habitation, narrowing down a search covering five square miles of undocumented territory to an area where the predominant features were labyrinthine jutting plates and scorched valleys.

The result of some vicious, earth-shattering battle? The site of an averted natural disaster? Tanryoku’s guesses were as fanciful as any, but it was the only place structurally sound enough to hide a man-made fortification that a small army could occupy. The very army these Omemie had slunk in to defeat, and which Tanryoku had been cautious not to alert. Too cautious, perhaps. Nothing was known about this region for a reason, but the SHINRAI initiate was willing to admit that even he might have been too timid, considering the stakes.

Though they represented a fraction of the power the Omemie once held, the manpower amassed by the crime family calling themselves the Severed Lotus comprised a full battalion of desert-camouflaged troops — and those were just the ones he could see. Peering over the edge of his makeshift cover, he spied at least two-dozen rough-looking sorts, some wearing cloaks, some with packs, all bearing close-quarters melee weapons. A handful of bows were strapped to sleds laden with excavation gear, as well as bundles of rope.

Wary of sentries, the hooded Jounin whispered through a handseal and slid soundlessly in the opposite direction. He needed a better vantage point. The Omemie had arrived before him, yes, but that didn’t change his mission — it only moved its timeframe forward.

At least he’d been saved the trouble of locating the crumbling temple. From a distance, its natural doorway was just another long vertical crack in a cliff face, but from his previous position, it had been possible to discern individual windows and the outlines of corridors running along the facade of the deserted architecture. Closer still, and Tanryoku would be able to identify realistic points of entry.

Still cloaked in camouflaging chakra, he ascended one of the nearby upturned, plate-like ridges, noticing a squad of ten or so detaching from the group to approach the temple, bristling with glints of metal and unlit torch staves. He scrambled higher, hand over foot, avoiding sandy surfaces at all costs and finding purchase on the cusp of a fractured spiral thirty feet overhead, seconds after all hell had broken loose.

Three members of the advance party were on the ground, bodies like pin cushions as the remaining seven backed away. Then another hail of arrows appeared against the sky, followed by a rallying cry that broke against their shouts of panic like two storm fronts crashing together. The tall crack in the cliff face lit up with an angry glow backed by a hammering rhythm of drums, though it was impossible for Tanryoku to see too far into the gap, given the angle. He could see where the archers were firing from, however, given his elevation. It was a clever, deliberate ruse, filling in the temple windows. The next volley issued from a scattering of covered alcoves in the temple heights, opening and closing their hatches in synchronicity and largely obscured from the view of those below by strategic rock shelves. Each alcove was manned by at least one bowman kneeling to take the shot. The army was most definitely here, and it was organised.

The Omemie, on the other hand, moved in disarray, retreating out of range behind the sleds, which were quickly overturned for temporary cover. The injured men and women still lay floundering where they had been abandoned, although there were five now, two most definitely dead or bleeding out.

This was his moment! Except the two shinobi he had called upon had yet to arrive. Tanryoku's mid-range communication unit sat inert in one ear and he drove a fist into his thigh, mashing the muscle.

So close!

Yet not too far. He was here. Alone, he might still be enough. The thought rattled him, but he wasn't one to retreat from the challenge. He turned his back to the lip of the spiral and hunkered down, exhaling steadily to calm the brush of doubt rising like a ghost. Plan his assault — that's what he could do. Either descend to skirt close to the rock face and through the main entrance, under the archers' noses, or get up on top of the cliff to time those arrow flights. He turned back to the fray, deciding almost immediately on the latter, then stilled.

Something wasn't right. The sand on top of the cliff was moving. Shifting up and down. No, that wasn't it. There were figures in the sand, crawling towards the edge.

Of course!

The sleds had been a diversion. He could see them now, rising like wraiths, holding ropes tipped with spokes of metal that could only be grappling hooks. The ground force were the mercenaries, but these were the thieves, led by that man called Gato, already a step ahead of the shinobi and about eight or nine above the hapless archers who thought themselves secure in their little nests, while Tanryoku was marooned in his.

He shivered, checking his own blind spots as the drums waged an eery war on the chasmic walls. The Omemie were surprisingly well informed and completely prepared for their siege. What else did they know?

Then his earpiece crackled, barely audible, and he turned up the volume.

Who...?

________________________________________

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Old 03-05-2019, 05:34 PM   #2
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Shuju was pleased to be handpicked by Tanryoku as part of a tiny, but ‘elite’ squad to sneak around an entire army. Shuju hadn’t really worked with Daisuke before so he defaulted to assuming that the man wasn’t as valuable an asset, but Tanryoku was one of the few men in the Hidden Sand that the puppet master was actually willing to praise. Not to his face though. Never.

Just like the raiders, eh?” He sort of reminisced, remembering a previous mission that he had completed with Tanryoku. “Except maybe this is the other way around.

When the two of them had dealt with the raiders they had enough time to lay out an entire plan with a village and its elder while they laid traps to deal with the invaders. That day however it seemed that Shuju and the rest of the team were the raiders venturing into unknown territory and untold dangers.

Shuju was also dressed to play the role of a sneaky ninja / assassin. The donned the same jet black uniform that he usually dressed Jintao, the assassin puppet with. He also had a black hood and mask to cover most of his face. They were important items to hide his green features. Such dark clothing was useful to hide at night but it daylight it made the wearer seem like such a criminal.

So what are we dealing with?” Shuju wondered. “And what do you have in mind? I have a bunch of toys so you just let me know what sort of back up you need.

Due to their working history Shuju was willing to trust his fellow Jounin and go by whatever plan he had in mind. He saw that the numbers were very high. Butting heads was certainly a possibility given the available personnel. It wasn’t a favorable option, but it was definitely one that they wanted to avoid if at all possible. Unlike some stupid soldiers, Shuju was not one to be voluntarily reckless and he knew that Tanryoku wasn’t like that either.
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Old 03-12-2019, 02:19 AM   #3
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Daisuke, on the other hand, had made a particular habit of getting in way over his head. So long as his behavior fell within the threshold of what Enzan considered 'necessary risk,' he felt more free than ever to act in accordance with his best judgement – his official title offered him many privileges that the typical rank-and-file shinobi like Shuju seldom saw. The increase in notoriety and the weight of his responsibility had certainly gone to his head, but only a handful of Sunagakure's highest ranking officials, the Tiger of the Western Sands included, knew that his zealous approach to the village's defenses was in response to the threat of Tsuriau Iemitsu and the Dragon Palm Syndicate.

He couldn't help but wonder why Tanryoku had enlisted him for this particular engagement. It was a curious thing indeed – as fate would have it, both the acclaimed Investigator Puppeteer and his fellow Shinrai were among the few Jounin-level ninja left which Daisuke had yet to challenge to an Agni Kai – a trial by fire and by combat, derived from the Renchishin tradition of the Vayu Kai (lit. Wind Message) and designed to test the loyalty and ability of his peers. If anything, the mission offered him a chance to evaluate their skills while in the field. Alone, though, he figured he stood a better chance of making the operation a quiet one – Daisuke's skill with genjutsu enabled him to travel just about anywhere in the world without drawing a lick of attention to himself. Likewise, his ability to decimate the landscape was matched by none in the village, save for Enzan, or perhaps Hitoko on a good day... if not for the value of the site itself and the contraband within, he'd have simply erased it from history. Maybe next time.

"Sorry I'm late!" called Daisuke over the comm. unit.

The sound of rushing wind filled the frequency with static while he held it open. He leaned his head over to look down towards the ground from atop a mount crested with a fiery plumage – the Eagle, Kohaku. He counted his marks that dotted the upper levels of the temple alcove.

...six...nine...

His goggles, designed with a zoom function, made up for the distance between them (an altitude of several hundred feet) and he could see that they were fairly well armed.

"I'm above them now – shall I make my grand entrance?"

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Last edited by Seikon; 03-18-2019 at 05:59 PM..
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Old 03-18-2019, 05:01 AM   #4
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The two unmistakable voices brought a slow grin to the Jounin’s otherwise consternated features, and he punched the air next to him triumphantly.

Backup, yes! Toys, yes!

“Glad you could make it, boys.”

And I don’t have to do this alone.

Sheets of strategy fell in layers across the battlefield in his mind’s eye, decorated with points of incursion like the dotted lines on a map. He slid down the sandy scree of his current perch and jumped the gap between jutting platforms, running up the nearest ledge to a better vantage point closer to the cliff. In his ear, the rushing sound of the wind made enough of a racket for Tanryoku to imagine he was a lot higher than a paltry fifty feet. Who was travelling that fast? It could have been either. Both men’s repertoires continued to surprise him. That was one of the reasons he’d called for them in his hour of need. New tricks meant new solutions. Healthy options that didn’t call for a daredevil mentality.

“We need into this temple. Put the invaders, the defenders, and the whole operation out of commission for good. Off the board. Secure their contraband.”

A soft shadow passed over the Jounin but he didn’t look up. Probably just a bird. His eyes were trained on the archers taking shots from the alcoves, rationing out their ammunition and picking their targets more wisely. The rock shelves on which they stood went fairly deep into the bluff, from what he could see, tunnelling back to reaches imbued with torchlight. Two men to a tunnel: one to do the firing; the other as a temporary spotter and arrow feeder. Above them, armed to the teeth, literally, and readying to abseil down, were the other syndicate members. He cringed with dismay, empathising momentarily with the defenders, all too aware of the absolute terror they were about to experience.

Better the feeling was made mutual; the syndicate couldn’t be allowed a foothold here.

“I’m above them now – shall I make my grand entrance?”

Screw the strategising. They were Jounin, and Daisuke had just offered up the keys to the castle. Tanryoku hung by a hand and foot from the side of his perch like a dust-coloured gargoyle, watching the first line of aerial invaders jump off the edge of the cliff in unison, swinging hard and fast into the archer teams below, amid cries of outright panic.

“Go,” he said.

Last edited by Calibur; 03-19-2019 at 01:55 AM..
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:00 PM   #5
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"Don't burn yourself out again. I already did you two favors today, can't be bailing you out every time you're in trouble!"

"Yeah, yeah..." despite waving his hand dismissively, he obliged the Eagle's scoldings. He mostly deserved them. "Oh--guess it's showtime."

When Tanryoku's voice came through his ear to give him the go-ahead, he took one more look over Kohaku's wing.

"Copy that," replied Daisuke, who then advised, "Cover your ears!"

If they didn't, they'd be caught in his illusion and miss their window to advance on the temple undetected.

His hands flashed through a lengthy chain of seals, first using one technique to change the location that his voice emanated from, and another to cast a potent spell over all those who would hear it. Although he was a long time smoker, Daisuke had a pair of lungs like a bellows, and this became apparent when he pressed his lips together and released a shrill, song-bird's note which echoed off the faces of rock for miles -- to all who heard it, though, it simply sounded like a brief gust of wind or something similarly innocuous.

Still whistling as he dismissed his avian companion with a stiff wave--

Seeya!

--Daisuke plummeted, head-first, towards the earth.

Below, wholly unaware of the unexpected Jounin's suicide dive, many of the teams had already planted spikes at the edge of the cliff-side and begun lowering each-other and their sleds in through the alcoves in the temple's facade, leaving a force of just nine to defend the ropes from the top. Armed and intimidating as they may have been, doing it this way was almost too easy. They were none-the-wiser as Daisuke loosed a jet of wind from his hands to slow his fall, nor did they realize that nine others appeared in neat row from a cloud of smoke after forming another seal.

It wasn't until those identical copies of Daisuke grabbed each one by the mouth from behind and felt the repeated plunges of his kunai into their chests and throats were they aware of what was happening, and by then, it was far too late to call for help. And even if they had, those troops on the ground would have likely been just as oblivious. When the last had fallen, the clone closest to the edge activated his comm. unit, then summoned the Six Eyes to his grip from dust and waved it back and forth, beaming.

"Alright, cooooome on dooooown, door's open!"

The tenth Daisuke -- the real Daisuke -- ushered his nine disciples towards the rappel lines after each tucked their goggles back into the folds of their scarves and they'd donned scraps of clothing and equipment from the men they had slain. They would hold there until he was sure his teammates had made their moves -- Tan and Shuju could eliminate some threats along the way, or not. His own next step would be to deal with the brigands that entered the structure from where he now stood -- so long as they remained under the influence of his Genjutsu technique, he knew it'd be a piece of cake.

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Last edited by Seikon; 03-19-2019 at 02:26 AM..
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:02 PM   #6
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Shuju covered his ears with his index fingers just as Daisuke instructed. Then he was given the greenlight to go ahead as his teammate’s ‘grand entrance’ had already happened. Shuju then dropped a scroll onto the ground and summoned a team of his fighters. He needed a few puppets that could hit hard and take a few hits from the mercenaries. After all he had some cleaning up to do on his way to the temple’s entrance.

Around the puppeteer appeared five of his war machines; Maru the barbarian, Yoshi the hell hound, Souma the dragoon, Sarumi the guardian and Yuu the ranger. Shuju immediately got his units moving and started running alongside them, making a charge towards the ground forces blocking the way to the temple. No one was reacting to the group’s presence, but that didn’t mean they were receiving any mercy. It was all about brutal efficiency.

Maru started by going towards its nearest target and swinged its big battle axe at the oblivious man, hitting him in the back, piercing and crushing many of his sensitive parts. The man was immediately dead. Sarumi took a simpler, more elegant approach and extended it sword as it stabbed on of them in the back and pierced his body from one end to the other, suffering a similar fate.

Yoshi on the other hand had a messier tool than the others. It shifted its weight to its back and stood on its two hindlegs then pulled out a warhammer from its front leg and smashed another oblivious man’s head with it. It was a bloody mess, but it was undoubtedly as effective as the others were. Shuju then spotted two men standing within close proximity to each other so he sent Souma their way and it hit them both at the same time, piercing one of them with its huge spear while bashing the other one’s head with its shield. The simplest of all was Yuu. It simply fired an arrow from where it stood, puncturing a mercenary’s throat and he fell down, bleeding to death like the rest.

Meanwhile Shuju was calmly walking towards the temple’s front door like he owned the place, unbothered by anything going around him as if it didn’t concern him at all. It looked as if the puppets were autonomous and knew what they were doing while Shuju was going on about his business, but there was one man standing right at the door so Shuju pulled out a single kunai from his pouch and jabbed it into the guard’s neck.

Feels like a cheap shot... but Daisuke's gotta teach me this trick.
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:23 AM   #7
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Tanryoku buckled his palms across his ears, pressing his fingertips tight against the back of his head, and held himself upright on the razor edge by the Kabenobori technique alone. He watched the silent movie unfold — of a man falling from the sky unnoticed, slowing his descent and raising a brigade of clones that moved, undetected, like ghosts. He started. Something was off about this picture. Further back, there was more movement: five puppets flanking their green-haired master and advancing on the reserve guard of syndicate men and women left behind by the detachment of ten that was now pushing up the field. Just…standing there. Taking it without a fight.

Genjutsu.

He lowered his hands, taking a moment to allow the twinge of morality to appear, realise there was no place for it here, and evaporate. The push forward was everything, no matter the methods used. He himself had said it: off the board for good. He had to live with that, run with that, own it. Try not to focus on how much Daisuke scared him, and remind himself that the syndicate dealt in extremes; that each of these mercenaries would have blood and money on their hands. It was naive of him to imagine that anything less than extreme measures were appropriate. But still, he drew the line before straight up murdering an opponent because it was the easiest option. He’d just have to be more creative.

Down. Forward.

Launching himself at the next jutting tower of rock, which was bowed like a spout, Tanryoku slipped off his hood and allowed his prior jutsu fade. The wind tugged at the fabric of his unfurling red gi as if denied the chance before, but he flashed through a tight sequence of seals and tugged back, drawing the breezes into a condensed vortex beneath his feet. He hit the splitting boulders with the force of a feather, crouching for stability as his wind board performed a sharp grind for traction, waggled back, then swept down the slope to cut the field in half and flatten any arrow in its path. Turning against a gritty curtain of sand, Tanryoku pursued the detachment of ground troops making their charge, which had resolved into more or less a staggered line led, after a short gap, by the three fastest mercenaries. Seconds ahead. Then all but in front of him.

In a springboard manoeuvre, he traded the board for aerial clearance, and soared a good four feet over their heads, body twisting and metal glinting as he then loosed a volley of seven kunai in sharp succession to pierce four feet, two knees and an ankle. The mercenaries hit the cracked, sand-strewn dirt well before Tanryoku, a heap of startled cries and anguished groans. All easily out of commission and primed for capture, but if Shuju wanted to finish the job a different way, that was his prerogative. The soldier's was the push forward.

He landed for a two-second sprint then leapt again, this time an easy six feet high over the first of the three leaders, foot snapping a vertebrae or two as the edge of his sole folded the man’s trapezius muscle in half. He used the blowback from the neck strike to flip sideways over the closest man’s head and grab him by the hair, using all downward momentum to slam the side of his face into the ground. The cannonball Jounin rolled out of the manoeuvre, never stopping to check his efficacy. He knew what he could do. Instead, he put on a swift burst of speed to slip under the final runner's spear and stop suddenly to deliver a rib-shattering roundhouse to the chest. It dropped the merc like a bad habit, out of sight, out of mind, and out of any sort of physical endeavour for at least the next six months.

Lowering his foot and correcting his form, the Shinrai waited for Shuju to finish his crossing and nodded to the other man before falling in step. The pair quickly approached the chasmic opening to the cliff face, noticing the single sentry who had been stationed to peer into the sunlight from the safety of the sheer, heavily shadowed entrance. It would have offered no protection from the auditory Genjutsu, and Tanryoku averted his eyes as the puppeteer proved his grim deduction correct with savage intensity, clicking his radio instead.

“Area's cleared," he said, raising his voice over the pounding drums, which seemed to come from all around. “We had a sentry down here so we know there's a way in. We’ll take low, you take high."

Tanryoku quickened the pace for the pair to move deeper, past backfilled doorways and illegible wall inscriptions. The near-deafening din would mean defenders immune to Daisuke's trick, and possibly a few invaders, but where and how many was anybody's guess – much like almost anything else they were about to face.

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Old 03-22-2019, 07:42 AM   #8
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As Shuju disposed of several of the mercenaries and the guard at the door Tanryoku made his way through and the puppeteer followed but with some distance between the two. Tan had announced that the area is clear, but Shuju still made his way through the entrance and hallway with his five puppets positioned around him, moving like a royal escort team. He didn’t only have the puppets around for his own protection. It was definitely the primary reason for their presence, but they served several purposes. Another important factor was that they provided extra sets of eyes, which meant that the Puppeteer was looking at the place from six different perspectives, including his own natural point of view.

It took a lot of training and a natural knack for processing large amounts of information for the keen-eyed investigator to be able to quickly scan the entire area just as they entered it despite the whistling sound that seemed to come from the pipes running through the building's walls. In once glance the investigator noted that the place was unnaturally empty as if was thoroughly cleaned out. However that didn't make much sense since a sentry had passed through and he had to have gone somewhere. There had to be an alternative exist or a very good hiding spot.

That ledge is not right.” Shuju pointed at a small, slightly out of line ledge at the other end of the room as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Shuju then walked towards the ledge and pressed against it, pushing it into a slot. The push was followed by a click and then the sound of something very heavy being moved. A wide doorway at the other end of the room had opened up. It was a very predictable way to conceal a secret tunnel.


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