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 Hogosha no Oni Series

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Aviaris_Sevanthis
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PostSubject: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-01, 10:40 pm

(Descriptions, and more backstory, will come at later times, most likely in threads. The stuff in this 'series' won't appear in threads, as it's part of the past. They'll all be rather short, but usually funny.)

Scenes from a Memory 1: First Impressions




Hikari was floating. Her body was weightless, surrounded by nothingness. Sight showed nothing but blackness. Ears heard nothing but... cursing?

Hikari slowly opened her eye, blinking into what felt like very bright light. Once she was mostly aware and started to take some notice of her surroundings, she realized she was sitting, leaning against something and couldn't move her arms, even her metal claw-like one. She was now waking up very quickly.

Abruptly, the cursing she had been hearing stopped, and her eye finally focused just in time to see a set of dark red eyes looking into hers.

Suddenly, she remembered. She had lost in the forest but then... Her eye widened in fear, there was only one reason to keep a shinobi alive and awake. Torture them for information.

In a panic, Hikari desperately tried to bite off her tongue, but suddenly felt a hand shoved into her mouth, so she bit it instead.

Akuma grimaced. He knew what her initial reaction would be, but still, his hand was in a world of pain. He grabbed her head with his other hand and forced her to look at him again.

"First thing," Akuma said in a rather strained voice, "I am not going to torture, kill, violate, abuse or harm you, so for the love of god stop biting my hand!"

Hikari dug her teeth in for another second, and then let go, glaring at who she now realized was her captor. Akuma shook his hand to get the blood flowing again, then smiled politely at the struggling girl.

"My name is Akuma, and yours is?"

Hikari glared, "Screw you."

Akuma's polite smile turned into a grin as he raised his sword and brought it down sharply.

Hikari screamed.

He stopped the blade less than an inch above her head. Tears started to form in the corners of her eye.

"Bastard" Hikari growled.

"Your name?" Akuma said, his grin still in place.

"Hikari," she spat her name at him, like it was a curse.

Akuma considered this for a moment, and then nodded before turning and walking into the woods.

"Don't go anywhere Hikari-san!" He called over his shoulder.

Once he was out of her line of sight, Akuma collapsed against a tree. He had never, in all his years as a shinobi, been the one in control; he had always been someone's subordinate. For the first time ever, he was calling the shots and it scared him senseless.

He knew the 'act like Kairn' trick wouldn't hold up for long, he wasn't that good at being mean. And anyway, the girl had already seen too much of him for releasing her to be an option, so he would have to keep her nearby until he thought of something else.

Akuma resisted the urge to start cursing again.

Now alone, Hikari took time to more carefully examine her position. She was sitting on the ground with her back against a tree and her hand was bound behind her, to the sash around her waist, and her metal claw prosthetic, including it's chain was laying on the ground nearby. She noticed a moment later that her hair was loose, and pondered this before she tried to move her hand again.

The bastard had bound her with her own hair tie.

Her katana was also nowhere in sight, something that bothered her greatly.

Just as quickly as he had left, the bastard (as she now referred to him) walked back into her line of sight.

Hikari decided that she should start the conversation this time.

"I really hate you," she said, using her most menacing tone.

To her astonishment and indignation, the bastard started to laugh at her.

30 seconds later, he was still laughing and Hikari was thinking he'd maybe lost his mind when he finally calmed down and managed to respond.

"YOU hate me?" Akuma said between giggles, "Listen, little girl, there are a very large number of people in this world who hate me, and pretty much all of them are more frightening than you. Hell, I'm more afraid of my sword than I am of you."

Akuma suddenly became serious, "But all that is really unimportant. What is important is that right now, you are in my control, and you are also very pissed off about it."

Not getting any feedback, Akuma continued on, "I'm going to give you a hypothetical situation, and you need to tell me what you'd do, agreed?"

Hikari glared. Akuma took that as a yes.

"You," he said, "are a missing-nin, one who has protected their identity so well, there are 3 people in the world who know who you are. Then one day, an enemy sees you, someone who could identify you. Normally you'd kill them, but something is preventing you from doing so. What options are left over?"

Hikari had long since figured out where this was going, and didn't like the answer she was coming to.

Seeing she understood his point either way, approached her while continuing to speak.

"So as you can see, there's no point in being angry at me since I have no more control of this situation than you do, I can't kill you and I can't let you go, so now that we understand each other..."he cut through her bindings.

Within half a second, Hikari had a hidden kunai in her hand and was getting ready to stab.

A half second later, she was on the ground, her arm twisted around backwards and the kunai now pointed at the back of her neck.

"Ne, Hikari-san, we will probably have to put up with each other for a while, so please don't do that." Akuma said while removing his sword from his back and placing it next to her, "I need to go hunt for something to eat, you may move 20 feet in any direction, but no further, and must always have this sword right next to you."

He then released her arm and casually walked off into the forest.

As was expected, within moments he felt the sword sending him an image of Hikari getting ready to run, so Akuma sent back an image of Hikari restrained by wolf claws, along with what remained of his chakra.

Hikari almost screamed again. When she was about to run, the sword grew clawed arms and grabbed hold of her.

Akuma walked back into the clearing, "One more thing Hikari-san, the sword is intelligent," he paused, "but I see you've already learned that." He again walked into the forest.

Hikari lay on the forest floor staring at the darkening sky, her arm stretched out and the sword lying silently next to her.

"You know," she said to it, "24 hours ago I was doing a simple patrol, but now, my team is probably dead, I'm in a forest somewhere, prisoner of a demon-eyed man who manages to be polite and terrifying at the same time, and being guarded by a sword!"

Amazingly, the sword remained silent.

"Its like I'm living a twisted nightmare." Hikari rested her hand on her forehead as she felt a breeze, but suddenly jumped upright as she heard a voice behind her.

"Is it really that bad? I mean, I know the 'slitted red eyes' thing throws people off but I think 'terrifying' is a little strong. Aaaannnnnd," he said, drawing the word out, "I'll have you know that not a single one of your minions is dead, though I did cripple the blond one..."

Hikari glared yet again as Akuma grinned at her.

"So what are we having to eat exactly?" Hikari asked annoyedly, she really was hungry.

"One dead rabbit and one box of Double Chocolate Pocky" Akuma said as he grinned wider and held out both hands.

Hikari just hung her head. The boy was crazy. He had to be. She would laugh herself silly at him if he couldn't kick her ass so efficiently. Come to think of it, even his sword had immobilized her without much effort. She wasn't even as strong as his weapon!

It was these types of uplifting thoughts that occupied Hikari while Akuma set up a fire and started to cook the rabbit.

Food was eaten quickly and both were tired so going to sleep early was the first thing they agreed on all day. Hikari had the sword next to her 'keeping watch' as she insisted Akuma stay a decent distance away even though they were just lying on the ground with their clothes on.

They both soon started to drift, but Hikari regained her senses enough to ask the drowsy Akuma a question.

"In that hypothetical situation we talked about, why can't I kill the one who saw me?"

He looked over at her, and for one second, she saw something hidden within his eyes.

It was gone in the next moment and he smirked at her, "That's for me to know and you to go crazy wondering about."

It was an answer typical of him, but Hikari was awake for another half hour wondering about that momentary flicker of depth.

~~

Akuma sighed as Hikari started to stir. He felt a tug in his mind, and unconsciously gave a bit of chakra. He immediately heard a shout behind him and spun around to see Hikari glaring at his sword, Seishin Houchou. She turned to Akuma looking livid.

"Your sword just groped me!"

"...What?"

Hikari was raging "A glowing blue claw just grabbed my ass!"

Akuma looked at her skeptically, but then he started to get a feeling of satisfaction from Fenrir from within Seishin Houchou.

Akuma pinched the bridge of his nose. He really didn't need this first thing in the morning.

"Ok, you," he pointed to the sword, speaking out loud for Hikari's benefit, "no manifesting unless there's a reason. And you," he pointed at Hikari, "don't give him a reason."

Hikari looked indignant and the sword was oozing smugness.

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-01, 10:44 pm

Scenes from a Memory 2: Night at the Hotel

"Ok, your leaving this room requires one of two things, either you're with me, or you've told me where your going and you take Seishin Houchou."

Hikari got annoyed, "This place have public baths, or am I supposed to just not wash myself?"

Akuma did a few hand seals. One cloud of smoke later, he was a dark haired girl.

He grinned. "Me or the sword, your pick."

Hikari had a choice between a annoying man and a creepy sword. The sword didn't talk.

She took Seishin Houchou.

~~

Hikari slid into the water still holding onto the sword. The bathing area was empty and she didn't want to give the blade ANY chance to 'restrain' her while she was unclothed.

Once she was settled, she held the sword up out of the water. She had never actually spent much time looking at it before.

The sword was absolutely amazing, and it's design was incredibly intricate. It looked chipped in several places, but upon further inspection, she found that it wasn't chipped, but that the sword had been forged that way. It was rather odd, but then again, nothing about the sword could be considered normal.

Hikari realized that she had never asked how or why the sword was sentient, she just accepted it. But now she was curious. She sank deeper into the warm water and decided to ask him about it later.

Back in the room, Akuma was smacking himself in the head.

Akuma had been working over a map, planning their route through the country, when Fenrir, from within the sword, had decided it would be fun to send random pictures of a wet Hikari directly into Akuma's mind every few seconds. The demon was careful to make sure each image was at an angle such that it suggested everything and revealed nothing.

Fenrir grinned to himself within the sword. This was fun. He had never had the chance to do things like this before and it was a novel experience. Hell, he thought as Akuma started banging his head on the table, terrorizing these two was almost as much fun as obliterating a village. Almost.

Hikari arrived back at their room an hour later, wrapped in a towel and carrying her clothes. Akuma didn't even glance up from where he was laying on his bed; he knew he would blush if he did.

Hikari washed her clothes in the bathroom, as Akuma had done while she was bathing. She had spent enough time with her captor to know something weird was going on when he was quiet for this long. She estimated that he should have made at least 3 wisecracks by now.

She emerged from the bathroom a short time later still wrapped in her towel. Unlike her captor, she crawled under the covers of her bed.

Hikari stared at the ceiling for a few moments, but quickly found herself drifting off.

She was awakened sometime later, but a silent glance at the clock showed it to be only 2:00 AM. A lamp was on in the room, and a moment later Hikari noticed Akuma sitting at the table in the corner. Seishin Houchou was leaning against the other side of the table and Akuma was studying something on top.

"Are you aware it's two o'clock in the morning?" Hikari half-murmured.

"Yeah."

Hikari glanced at what he was studying on the table.

"Why are you playing chess with yourself?" she asked.

"I'm not" came Akuma's reply

"Who are you playing with then?" Hikari asked skeptically, but as she finished speaking, a clawed hand reached out of the sword and moved a piece.

Hikari blinked, "Your sword plays chess?"

Akuma nodded, "He's pretty good at it to."

"Oh…" Hikari paused for a moment; "The question I'm leading up to here is why are you playing chess with your sword at 2 AM?"

Akuma took his opponents Knight with one of his bishops. "Couldn't sleep."

Hikari paused again, "Where did you get the chess set?"

Fenrir took Akuma's rook with his queen.

"Stole it from the game room downstairs"

"Oh…"

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-01, 10:59 pm

Scenes from a Memory 3: Hunters and Food Analysis

Hikari couldn't believe it. Akuma was going to let her go. They'd come to an understanding recently, once she'd realized he really only captured her to keep her from revealing his identity. He truly had no intention to do anything to her. He also knew that his secret would be discovered soon enough, so he was just going to let her go.

Unfortunately, his secret had already been discovered.

Akuma felt his shinobi sense tingling as soon as he passed the sushi shop, so it was with relative calmness that he shoved Hikari into an alley, drew his sword and spun to deflect some senbon aimed at his neck in one smooth motion.

There were 6 hunters that he could see, and there would be one spotter somewhere. Akuma ran down the street, staying close to the buildings. Even hunters couldn't throw jutsus around in populated areas.

He leaped into the air and spun, releasing Seishin Houchou, before landing and running along a building wall while flashing through seals.

The hunters scattered as the huge sword sailed passed them, but failed to notice when it split into nine.

Akuma jumped off the wall, landing on the ground just in time to catch his sword and go into a spinning slice, dispatching a hunter who had tried get into close combat.

A second hunter came at him from behind, while the other three tried to hit a vital point with their senbon. Akuma snorted; these weaklings had no chance if they tried to take him out with something like that. He spun again, deflecting the senbon with the flat of the blade and bringing it around to face the hunter who had tried to attack his rear.

Seishin Houchou flashed again, the second hunter fell.

Apart from a few needles in uncomfortable places, Akuma was uninjured. Three hunters faced him in the street, deciding how they should attack.

He never gave them a chance. He let his body flow into the 'Death Stance' and watched them freeze up in terror. They would be able to fight it off in a few seconds. Fenrir didn't need half that much time.

The sword shadow clones came from behind, and none of them stood a chance.

Various pieces of hunter-nin lay in the street, but Akuma wasn't paying attention. There had been 6. Where was the last one…

He spun with a growl and ran back towards the alley.

To say that Hikari was shocked would be an understatement. She sat in the darkness between the two buildings with mixed feelings. She knew the presence of the hunter-nin meant she was safe and could go home, but there was a part of her that would mourn the death of the odd man she had spent four days with.

A hunter-nin landed in front of her and offered her a hand getting up. She smiled sadly as she reached for it, but then noticed a glint in his other hand. Her eyes widened, the hunter was concealing a knife and slowly drawing the arm back for a stab.

It's a common misconception that in the game of chess, a player wins when he kills the oponents king. In reality, a player wins when his opponents king is put in such a position where, no matter what he does, he dies.

Hikari had one more move.

Akuma arrived just in time to see Hikari trip the final hunter and slam a Kunai into his face. The mask split, revealing the mans face just long enough for him to whisper, "Freakish bitch" and fall, blood oozing around the knife sticking out of his forehead.

Akuma rushed to catch Hikari as she collapsed.

She had just killed a hunter, one sent to kill a Nukenin she was traveling with. Right now the spotter for the squad was rushing back to inform his superiors of what happened.

Within 24 hours, she would be labeled as a missing-nin. Hours ago she had been looking forward to seeing her village in under a month. Now, she would probably never see her village again. But she was alive.

There was nothing Akuma could say, so he just sat, soaked in blood, and held her as she sobbed.

~~

Hikari sat up against a tree, her arms wrapped around her legs and her eyes staring off into space. Akuma was starting a fire to cook a dehydrated rice dish he had picked up.

Both were in an odd state. They had been running for 16 hours, and had been up for more than 24. Despite that; neither felt like sleeping.

After finally getting the fire started, Akuma walked over and sat against the tree next to Hikari, grabbed a stick of Pocky out of the package he kept in one of his shuriken holsters and started to slowly munch.

"Did you know," he asked the girl, "that I once ate fried rice made by a Kage?"

Hikari was silent.

"I've since then discovered," he continued, "that much of a persons personality is defined by the food they eat. The Kage liked fried rice, which is basically made up of things that are healthy, but is fried in oil to make it just a little bit sinful."

Hikari turned to look at him slightly as he went on.

"Another man named Hara, who you don't know, always ate ramen with me at a stand. Ramen is cheap, warm and filling. Hara was always like that, never wanting anything in return for the kindness he showed everyone."

Hikari now had most of her attention focused on Akuma's words.

"Then," Akuma held up his snack, "we have Pocky, an inherent contradiction. A pretzel stick, covered in chocolate. These two sides make it almost impossible to define, it is neither good nor bad for you, neither sweet nor salty, it is ambiguous, it just is."

Akuma took another bite, "The first person I ate Pocky with was a psychopath who murdered an entire town. He was also the person who taught me the skills that saved both our lives. These two sides seem impossible to reconcile, until you stop thinking in terms of good and evil."

Akuma finished his stick and grabbed another, "Yesterday, I killed 5 people from my old village in less than 60 seconds, but I needed to do it for us to survive. I don't think of myself as good or evil. I, like Pocky, just continue to exist."

Akuma took his Pocky out of his holster and set it on the ground before standing up and going over to check on the fire. Hikari slowly reached and took a stick out of the open pack. She set her head on her knees as she took a bite, smiling ever so slightly.

~~

A few days later, something strange happened at the camp the large group of Hunter-Nin were stationed at as they prepared to go out once again to kill Akuma and Hikari.

"Captain! You won't believe this! Come look outside!"

Sensing the urgency, the captain rushed out of the tent and gasped. The whole camp was covered in 8 inches of water, which was very quickly turning the field into a swamp.

One of the lower ranked hunter's quickly kneeled in the mud and gave his report.

"It's some type of unknown water jutsu that brings water from underground rivers and springs to the surface. We sensed a large chakra signature, but when we arrived at its location the jutsu was done and there was no trace of the user, we did however, find this."

The man handed their captain a sealed note, which he opened.

Dear Captain-san

Just a note to inform you that your security is a little lax, I've been here for five hours and no one's noticed me. I was hoping for a decent fight, but in lieu of that, I've left you a present to remind you to be more observant. I hope your robes and scrolls are kept in a water resistant bag.

Irorochi Yugao


In the margin was a drawing of a cloaked figure giving the peace sign. The captain swore and crumpled the note in his hand.

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-01, 11:04 pm

Scenes from a Memory 4: Spar and a Street Fair

Akuma started to pack up camp just as Hikari was waking up. As had become their custom, Akuma turned his back as she got out of her sleeping bag, and after 15 seconds or so, went back to whatever he had been doing.

The two were soon running and arrived at the edge of the city at around 11:00. The first order of business was, as always, to find a place to stay. Hikari suggested a tall hotel so they could practice on the roof without being seen from the ground. Akuma agreed and soon they had a room.

They both quickly retreated to the roof where Hikari was practicing a jutsu that sent a blade of wind from her katana while Akuma counted their money. They were still well off, but the money would run out before too long, so they would have to find work quickly.

Meanwhile, Hikari was having some problems with her practicing. She managed to send a shockwave of air from her blade, but it took too much chakra and wasn't very powerful, so she obviously wasn't doing something right. The other problem was that her cloths were soaked through with sweat, and she would swear Seishin Houchou, or more precisely, Fenrir, was leering at her.

She would be just starting the jutsu, and she would have this incredibly creepy feeling run down her spine, but when she turned, the sword was just sitting there on the roof next to Akuma, same as always.

Inside the sword, Fenrir was grinning to himself. He had noticed that he had become more easily amused after four-hundred years of imprisonment, but didn't really mind. Every time Hikari turned her back, the demon would manifest just a little bit of his head, enough to stare at her until she started to turn and the demon dropped the manifestation.

This went on for 20 minutes or so until Akuma noticed, immediately telling the wolf to give it a rest, as Hikari was starting to look mentally unstable.

Finished with his monetary evaluation, Akuma stood and stretched.

"You up for a taijutsu spar?" the man asked the still irate woman.

Hikari nodded abruptly and brought her katana into the ready position, Akuma looked at it nervously.

"You do realize," he said, "that I said taijutsu, not kenjutsu, right?"

Hikari didn't even bother to respond, she just ran, swinging low, trying to take Akuma's legs out from under him. Akuma decided to experiment; he blocked the katana with his sword and sent an image to Fenrir.

Hikari expected her attack to be blocked, but didn't expect the counterattack to come if the form of a manifested glowing claw. She flung herself backwards, just dodging the demon's swipe. The spar continued mostly like that.

The woman found herself often able to block Seishin Houchou if she saw it coming, but the demon and Akuma were working together in synchronization. Fenrir could manifest from anywhere on the sword at any time, making him completely unpredictable.

Hikari caught him off-guard from time to time when a clawed hand on the end of a chain would shoot from her empty right sleeve, but it wasn't much.

The final experiment came when Akuma threw his blade, which Hikari just managed to dodge, only to find herself flying through the air. Fenrir had manifested from the flying blade and grabbed her ankle.

Since letting go meant dropping her, Fenrir just flew around in a full circle, releasing Hikari so she fell into Akuma, causing both nins to go sprawling. They tried to untangle themselves while Seishin Houchou embedded itself in the roof, oozing self-satisfaction.

Both deciding that was enough sparing for the day, and as it was around noon, the two went back to their room and started to think about lunch. To Hikari's mild shock, Akuma changed into one of his T-shirts, and even more odd was that he left his sword in the room and told her to do the same with her fan.

"I really don't like the idea of walking around un-armed…or leaving my sword unattended..."

Akuma waved off her concerns, "Seishin Houchou will watch the room and make sure nothing happens to your katana. We," he said with a grin, "are going out."

At this point, Hikari demonstrated the art of appearing embarrassed and angry at the same time. It's a subtle combination of a light blush and narrowed eyes. Akuma figured she was about to ask why, so he just grabbed her hand and walked out of the room.

3 minutes later, the two were walking down the street, Hikari's complaints and questions forgotten.

"So, where are we going, exactly?" she asked curiously.

"It's a surprise"

~~

Back in their hotel room, the maid was vacuuming the floor when she suddenly jumped and screamed. There was no one in the room but she would swear someone had just pinched her.

~~

Hikari walked excitedly through the street fair, looking at everything. Open shops and stands really didn't work in her home village, as the people were a bit too poor.

Akuma just followed her slowly, as she rushed from one stall to the next, oblivious to the afternoon's heat. Akuma had always enjoyed places like this, but had only ever worked up the nerve to go to a festival in his own home village once. It had been the best night of his life until someone had recognized him and a small riot started.

Thankfully, there was no riot this time, just an overenthusiastic girl. Hikari stopped for a moment to stare covetously at the merchandise of an old lady selling intricate fans. They were of simple make, but beautiful all the same.

Her attention was soon diverted, however, when she saw a stand selling mini-doughnuts. Realizing she had no money, she looked for Akuma. Said man was walking down the center of the walkway when Hikari rushed up to him.

"I need money for mini-doughnuts"

"Why?"

"Because I've never had mini-doughnuts before." Hikari said, as if it were obvious.

Akuma sighed and handed over his wallet, "You can spend 3000 yen, no more."

Hikari dashed off to buy snacks while Akuma fingered the money in his pocket. The old lady's fans sold for 4000 yen. He had 4300 yen. It was a lot of money…

He remembered the way her face had lit up when she had seen one of them.

Money wasn't that important after all.

~~

Hikari was practically bouncing as the two left the street fair. It was very unlike her to be this hyper, but she was slightly tipsy and on a sugar high; induced by 4 bags of mini-doughnuts and too many free samples of sake.

Akuma was following her at a distance looking slightly exasperated. About the only thing he had done in the last two hours was give Hikari the fan he had bought her. She loved it, and that alone made it worth the money, but Akuma was wishing he'd given it to her later.

See, Hikari had quickly discerned that there was no reason she couldn't use wind jutsus with the fan, combine that with her temper, her being only slightly drunk, and a sugar high, and what you got was a rather dangerous girl.

She had already threatened a stall keeper who she claimed had cheated her, when in fact she had missed the target she had been aiming at.

The man hadn't known why the strange young woman was waving her fan at him, and Akuma intervened before a small windstorm disrupted the fair. It was then decided that it was time to go back.

So now, the two were walking back to their hotel, except that random things in the vicinity regularly distracted Hikari. It wasn't that she wasn't moving, she was just moving very slowly.

Finally, Akuma settled for the same method he had used to get her to leave the room in the first place, he just took hold of her hand and started off at a high pace.

Eventually, Hikari started to calm down, and a few blocks from the hotel she pulled her hand from Akuma's.

When they arrived, Akuma said he wanted to go for a run, so Hikari went back to the room alone and flopped down onto her bed, covering her head with her arm.

She was confused.

Her entire life had really been a very simple process. She had gone to the academy, become a shinobi, and the theoretical continuation of her life should have included a perfect mission record and a lifetime of service to her village.

She now found herself in a situation where she had a new person to deal with and a new life to plan for.

For all her efforts, Akuma was an enigma to her. He wasn't anything like anyone she had ever met before. At first, she had been afraid of him, but that fear was vanishing faster every day. The more she thought about it, the more 'human' he became.

Akuma had never hurt her in any way, quite the contrary in fact. He had been nothing but kind and generous. It was, she justified, his fault she was in this position in the first place, but she doubted most kidnappers were as nice as he was.

But for all that, she had never yet managed to shake the memory of how she had first seen him on the field of battle, his eyes burning with a dark inner fire as she found herself frozen in terror. But equally impossible was it to forget how just this afternoon he had been so sweet. Never once complaining, always complimenting her when she won a game, and picking out that fan for her...

Hikari rubbed her temples; all this thinking was giving her a headache.

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-01, 11:19 pm

Scenes from a Memory 5: Stalkers who Play Guitar

His ears ringing, an almost awake Akuma swiped at the alarm clock next to his bed.

It took him a moment to remember where he was, and he stretched as he sifted through recent memories. They had left the last village two days ago, and were currently in a small town, only a day's travel from Oceanside; the next city they planned to visit.

From the looks of the room, Hikari had already left, probably to see the musicians. Their current location was named Snocken, which Akuma felt was a very odd name, but Snocken was renowned for its street performers.

He grabbed his bag and headed out the door of their room, intent on seeking his companion. The streets seemed oddly empty as he wandered, and Akuma started to get suspicious.

He passed one or two small musicians, but nothing of interest, and no people. He finally asked someone what was going on, and an old man directed him to stage 6.

Once he arrived, he realized that luckily, it wasn't going to be very difficult to find Hikari, as everyone in the town seemed to be gathered in one place. All the girls, at least.

On one of the larger stages that were scattered about the streets, two performers were playing to a crowed of love struck fans and their jealous boyfriends (who liked the music anyway)

The lead attraction was a dark haired guitarist, who played so fast, even someone of Akuma's reflexes was impressed. His instrument seemed like it was going to burst into flame as his hands danced over the strings. Behind him was a larger man who was beating out a steady tempo on a large African drum.

Akuma sighed as he noticed that Hikari was just as enraptured as the rest of them, gazing up at the stage, and he took a moment to more closely examine the two performers, as something about them didn't feel quite right…

The drummer suddenly grinned at him in a distinctly bloodthirsty way, and Akuma's eyes widened. It took only a minute for the song to finish, so Akuma had to think on his feet.

He pushed his way to the front of the crowd, turned his back to the stage, crossed his arms, and activated a few fear stimuli, "I'm sorry folks, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the show is over for now."

A collective groan came from the crowd, which started to dissipate, and Hikari looked both annoyed and confused. Akuma jumped onstage and grabbed the guitarist's shoulder, "What the hell are you two doing here, Irorochi?"

The man looked up for a moment, "Various things, Akuma-kun, but primarily looking for you."

The man looked confused, "Why?..."

Kairn leaned over from his position at his drum, "We'll talk somewhere more private."

Akuma just grabbed his head, "Ok, you guys grab your stuff and I'll take you back to our room."

Both Kairn and Irorochi , Iro for short, raised simultaneous eyebrows and spoke in tandem, "You did say our room didn't you?"

He glanced at Hikari, who was still on the ground in front of the stage and looking even more confused. The other two men followed his gaze, and Kairn grinned, "Already got a girl? You work fast, don't you brat?"

Akuma tightened his grip on his head, "Grab the instruments, explaining will be done later," he turned to Hikari, who looked about to speak, "that applies to you too, all will become clear once we get out of the freaking street. I hope."

The genjutsu-ed forms of Iro and Kairn grabbed their instruments and followed Akuma back to the hotel.

Once they were all standing in the room, the 'musicians' dropped their illusion, and Hikari gasped slightly at their appearance. The drum poofed away to reveal his sword, Chi Majin, but Iro's guitar seemed real.



Akuma sat on the bed, "Ok, first things first. Hikari, this is Kairn Raidou, and that's Irorochi Yugao, who are about to explain why they're stalking me and playing music for donations."

Akuma actually wasn't sure which of those two things he found weirder.

Iro just leaned against the wall and pulled a stick of Pocky out of his pocket, giving Kairn a look that obviously meant that the larger man would be doing the explaining.

Kairn sighed, "We tracked you down pretty easily, as there aren't many places you can go around here. As to why we're looking for you, we were traveling this way anyway, and have been given a mission offer that might interest you …" Kairn gave Hikari an appraising look, "and your friend."

That made sense, so Akuma nodded, "Ok, but I'm still not getting the part where two S-Class Nukenins are playing music in the street."

The large man sighed yet again, "We were given a mission allowance, but we were off in a village up north, and there just happened to be a Pocky factory there, and coincidentally, it was Pocky appreciation week, and through mysterious circumstances, Iro somehow managed to 'lose' our money bag and was 'given' a few hundred 'free' boxes of Pocky."

Still leaning against the wall, Iro smiled to himself, "And, of course, chicks dig guys who can play guitar."

Akuma had hung his head about halfway through Kairn's explanation, "So two of most deadly men on the planet are broke because Iro has no self control?"

Iro glared, "I do to!"

Akuma raised an eyebrow, "Really? Kairn said a few hundred boxes of pocky…"

Iro's eyebrow rose to meet Akuma's, "Getting a bit mouthy, aren't we, brat?"

Unnoticed, Hikari had been backing towards the door throughout their banter, and as Akuma and Iro exchanged smirks, she turned and quickly went out. The other members of the room only noticed when they heard the door slam.

Everyone else stood frozen for a moment, then Akuma went to follow her. As the door slammed a second time, Kairn went for the remote from its perch on a side table and flicked on the TV.

Iro grabbed another stick of chocolaty goodness and looked up at his partner, "That could have gone better..."

~~

Akuma looked both ways in the hallway, and saw the door to the stairwell at his left closing. He ran, and reached the door in four steps, pulling it open. He heard a sound above him, and started to climb the winding stairs.

He didn't rush, but moved methodically. He had gone up 4 floors when he heard the door to the roof, just moments later, he was facing that same door, and he opened it slowly, not wanting to startle the apparently bothered girl.

He stepped onto the roof and winced slightly as the sun hit his eyes. Hikari was standing with her back to him, not appearing to be paying attention to much of anything.

When she spoke, it was in an odd tone of voice, "It's funny. I have actually heard of Kairn Raidou, he killed most of Earth countries generals and lords. 39 people in all. He also killed most of their guards and attendants, another 127 people."

Akuma was feeling an odd churning in his stomach as Hikari slowly turned to face him, "He is a person of very rare variety. He scares me shitless."

Hikari's voice rose a notch, "And do you know what? The other one seems even more frightening! I was shaking! Me! The woman who has faced down a whole damn army on her own, with only one arm and one eye, before I got this claw and chain grafted on."

She finally got fully turned around so she was facing him, "Those two are real S-class criminals, Akuma, and they're really dangerous!"

Akuma suddenly started get annoyed. Even after all their time together, she still didn't understand.

"We are all Nukenin, and we do what we have to. Kairn and Iro have just had more difficult lives than we have. So they have had to kill more people"

Hikari struggled with this for a moment, "So, that makes their killing okay?"

Akuma half sighed half growled, "Sometimes, yes. I didn't see you having moral qualms about killing that hunter who went after you."

Hikari glared, "But those two kill just because it's convenient, they're monsters!"

The sore spot had been struck.

Akuma suddenly took a step towards her, "Like me, you mean? You think I'm a monster?"

Hikari shook her head, "But you're not normally like that! You only hurt people when…"

Akuma's chakra started to pulse around him as he took another step forward, "When I need to? When people get in my way? Do you see a difference between what I do and what those two do?"

She lost a bit of her conviction, "Yes…"

Suddenly, the chakra started to pulse more strongly, and Hikari could feel the charge in the air as the energy surrounded Akuma.

He had held eye contact throughout their conversation, and his pupils suddenly contracted, narrowing into slits. Hikari found herself fighting the urge to take a step back as he again moved slightly closer, his eyes burning into her, as if they could see into her soul.

He took another step closer.

Then another.

There was now only a couple feet separating them, and Akuma's chakra exploded outward.

~~

Two heads snapped upwards, and Kairn muted 'Fear Factor'

Iro sucked in a breath, "What are they doing up there?"

His partner shook his head, "I have no idea, but the brat sure is impressive. I have been thinking recently the his may be even bigger than yours, Iro…"

Iro looked at him, "Why would you be thinking about that?…Wait! His is NOT bigger than mine!"

Kairn shrugged, "I really don't know Iro, I know you pretty well, and have seen you at work, but this kid just blows me away"

The shorter man was starting to get annoyed, "Kairn, I'll have you know that you have never seen me 'at work', and even assuming you had, its how you use it that's important."

Kairn thought for a moment, "What about that girl in hidden rain? She did a number on you. Your control was pathetic!"

Iro looked about to seizure, "How do you know about that!?"

Kairn looked at his partner oddly, "I was there, remember?"

"You……you……what!?"

Kairn nodded, "Since your memory appears to be shot, I took over after you fell unconscious. After just three rounds."

Iro was confused and horrified at the same time. He didn't remember anything like that…

Kairn continued, "And plus, Akuma has been getting a lot of practice recently…"

"How do you mean?"

"Well, he has been traveling with that woman for some time now, and I'd guess they have one or two hours a day to spare. Add that up and you get a whole lotta time."

Iro was almost hysterical, "Kairn, how could they have an hour or two a day for that!?"

Kairn was starting to get nervous about his partners mental health, "We both used to train for 8 hours a day, Iro. We knew Akuma's chakra reserves would grow larger than ours, and I know your chakra control is almost perfect, so there's no need to get so touchy about it. I was just joking, sheesh."

Everything in Iro's mind suddenly clicked into place, "We were talking about chakra size?"

His partner stared at him, "What did you think we were talking about, Iro?"

Iro was silent, and a look of understanding suddenly passed over Kairn's face.

The large man burst out laughing.

Iro clenched his fists, "Dammit! Its not funny, Kairn! …… Fine then, laugh away, I'm going to go see what's going on."

Kairn followed, still snickering, "Well, I now know why you got your ass kicked in that fight with that rain jounin last year…tsk tsk, Iro, picking up chicks before missions is not a good thing."

Iro swore at him from the hallway.

~~

Hikari found herself in a maelstrom; her senses overwhelmed completely by such huge amounts of chakra, and her skinned burned from the heat. She felt like she was standing inside a hurricane, yet wasn't being lifted off.

But through it all, she could still see those burning red eyes. Akuma took a final step closer, leaving only inches between them. His fangs had grown longer, his face appearing feral, and when he reached a hand up and grabbed her shoulder, she could feel claws.

"How about now, Hikari-san? Do you think I'm a monster now?"

Hikari opened her mouth to answer, but nothing came out. The figure in front of her was reminiscent of a friend from long ago, who many called a monster, and she was terrified.

But there was somewhere a part of her that wouldn't let her run, and that same part of her was saying something, something that was very difficult to hear, but if she listened hard enough…

Akuma almost jumped when Hikari suddenly reached up and grabbed hold of his arm and pulled him closer. The man felt his menace draining away as her eye lost it's fear, and stared defiantly back into his.

When she spoke, it was just above a whisper, "You try to drive me away, but why? Why do you react in anger?"

Hikari went on, thinking aloud, "You're trying to protect yourself. Your afraid I might hurt you so you withdraw, hiding behind your facade. I spent my whole life dealing with a person who did the same thing, and every time he put of his defenses, I ran away."

Akuma opened his mouth, but found himself incapable of speech as Hikari slowly leaned her body in to his, still whispering, "But now I'm stronger, and there's a flaw in your defense. If someone has enough courage, they can exploit it."

The man's mouth was dry, but he forced words out, "An…and what i..is that?"

"Your defenses won't force me away if I can get close enough to you."

She took a deep breath, then pulled his body fully up against hers and hugged him.

Akuma was frozen for a moment, but slowly felt that familiar and pleasant tingling run through his body. He relaxed and reached one arm round the small of her back.

Over at the still open door to the roof, two figures stood watching.

Kairn looked down at Iro, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but are those two making out in the eye of a chakra storm?"

"Mmm, no, only hugging." Iro said in response.

"How long do figure it'll be before Akuma drops from chakra depletion?"

Iro pulled out his watch, "I'd say about ......7......6......5......4......3......2......now."

Hikari gasped as Akuma suddenly went limp and the chakra around them dissipated.

She quickly laid him out on the roof and put her head to his chest, and was relieved to hear slow steady breathing. She sat up and felt a presence beside her.

Kairn crouched down and hoisted Akuma over his shoulder, "Well, well, it appears our little friend was too 'distracted' ," Hikari actually blushed, "and wasn't paying attention to his chakra reserves. It's not to bad, though, so he should be up after a nights sleep."

The large man stood up, and started to head for the stairs. Iro just stood in the middle of the roof, and watched as Hikari stared up at the sky. After a few minuyes, she slowly walked over to him, "You," she said, "have killed a lot of people."

Iro nodded

Hikari looked down at her feet, "I…want you to tell me why. I want to know why you kill people."

Iro's expression didn't change, "Why do you wish to know?"

"Because I am a missing nin…but I don't understand you people yet," Hikari looked to Akuma's unconscious form, held by Kairn like a sack of potatoes, "I don't understand yet…but I want to."

~~

The next day, Hikari returned to the hotel just in time to hear Akuma bellow: "WHAT!? Your kidding!"

She rushed into the room, and found everyone else sitting around the small round side table.

Iro was speaking, "I'm quite serious. I have no desire to let my little brother get killed for coming after me."

Both Kairn and Akuma were looking at him incredulously, their hands simultaneously tapping on the hilts of their swords out of nervous habit.

Iro just glared at them, "Why do you two care so much, anyway?"

They both looked at him as if he were dumb, "We're going with you."

The man blinked, started to shake his head, when Akuma cut in, "Now, either we can have a long painful argument, ending with you agreeing to our coming along, or you could just say 'yes' now."

Iro sighed, "Fine."

Hikari started waving her hands in the air, "What? What are we doing?"

Akuma looked up at her, "We're doing exactly what I was hoping to never do again. We're going back to my home village, to stop the bastard from getting himself killed."

She turned to Kairn, "Translation?"

He hefted Chi Majin, "Hisagi Yugao has been captured and is headed for execution. It looks like we're going to save him."

Hikari looked skeptical, "We are going to take on a whole village of people to save one person? Four of us?"

All three S-Class nukenins stared, and Akuma nodded, "Well…yeah…Is there a problem with that?"

She looked at the faces around her and sighed, "You males are all freaks. I suppose now we need to start getting ready? Can you two get all your stuff in less than 30 minutes?"

The two older men nodded and left the room, Iro grabbing his guitar as he went out the door.

Once they were alone, Hikari flopped down on the bed next to Akuma, and leaned up against him, allowing him the space to slide an arm around her waist.

They hadn't spoken since the day before, but there was only the slightest bit of awkwardness between them. Akuma needed to break the ice somehow, so naturally, he just went for the first thing that popped into his head.

"You seem to be getting along with Iro and Kairn today, what brought on this change?"

Hikari was only slightly annoyed at his choice of topic, but just shook her head, "We were up late last night talking, we played the question game."

"The question game?"

"Yeah, all three of us sat in a circle and took turns asking someone else a question which they have to answer. It really helped me get used to them, and they're kind of amusing in their own way."

Mildly entertained at the thought of Kairn and Iro playing slumber party games, Akuma grinned and laid his head back on the pillow.

"Actually," Hikari said, "the game might have gone on longer, but Iro and Kairn got into a little spat."

Akuma grinned wider, "Do tell."

"Well, it was Kairn's turn to ask, and he suddenly got a sneaky look on his face. I don't remember exactly, but his question had something to do with you and 'wang size'. Iro almost killed him."

Akuma laughed for a minute, and then fell slowly quiet, so the two of the lay in silence, content to just hold each other. They drew comfort from eachother, oddly. There was nothing but friendship between them, but that was more than enough.

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"There is no such thing as 'Coincidence'. Only 'Inevitability'." ~ Yuuko Ichihara

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 12:01 am

Scenes from a Memory 6: Camping with Idiots

Iro calmly set his bag of Pocky on the ground and examined the scene before him. Akuma and Hikari were seated on the ground, each holding a small number of cards, and they seemed to be oblivious to his presence.

As he observed their play, there were many questions plaguing the mind of Irorochi Yugao.

Where did that ominous music that always followed him around come from? Why did god make the platypus? Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety one? Why was Hikari wearing his clothes?

Being as sharp as it was, his mind quickly and efficiently prioritized these questions, deciding that the last was the most urgent. He made his presence known in the camp, but neither player looked up from their cards, so Iro cleared his throat,

"Excuse me, Hikari-san, why are you wearing my clothing?"

Hikari didn't seem to hear him, so it was Akuma who responded, "Strip poker is no fun when you only wear only a few articles of clothing, and we have very few extra clothes of our own, so we borrowed some of yours."

Iro felt a headache coming on, "Did it ever occur to you that I might not want you wearing my clothes?"

Hikari cursed, removing one of her socks while Akuma dealt another hand, "No, it didn't. And besides, I'm wearing Kairn's, you and Hikari happen to be closer in size, so she got all yours. Lucky for me Kairn has better taste."

Iro was about to respond when Kairn walked past him and tossed their groceries at the base of a tree, "So," the large man inquired, "whose winning?"

Iro twitched.

Seeing Iro's volatility rising, Akuma grinned; "You'll get your stuff back as soon as Hikari loses."

It was Hikari's turn to get annoyed, and her "Hit me" was almost a growl. She was losing, and she knew it. She had never been a fan of blackjack, preferring go-fish.

Resigning himself to his fate, Iro sat down next to Akuma and awaited the inevitable, and said inevitable came exactly 19 minutes and 47 seconds later.

Reduced to just her undergarments, Hikari glared, "If you think I'm taking off any more, you can go fuck yourself in the ass with your big-ass sword."

Iro calmly stood and collected his personal effects from the pile of clothing, then went to his tent, not forgetting his recently bought weeks supply of Pocky.

He left behind a re-dressing Hikari (who was annoyed and mildly embarrassed), Kairn (who was amused but felt slightly cheated), Fenrir inside Seishin Houchou (Who felt much the same way as Kairn), and Akuma (who was just laughing and surpressing a nosebleed).

This clash of moods caused an odd nervous tension for a few minutes, until Akuma got bored and started to gather sticks for a fire. Soon, Hikari and Kairn both started silently helping, and the food for supper was soon sizzling away.

Unfortunately, Kairn always felt the need to have the last word, and after almost 20 minutes of silence he spoke up, "But you know, Hikari-san, you really shouldn't start things you're not willing to finish."

His face split into another grin as a thrown kunai nicked his ear.

Late that night, while everyone slept, Iro suddenly sat up in his bag and turned to his partner, "Ne, Kairn. Why do you think god made the platypus?"

"Uh……wha?" Kairn blinked sleepily, "Dammit Iro, go to sleep!"

~~

From the Diary of Irorochi Yugao

Entry #465

There are 69 Hours until the Execution

Contrary to what many would claim, I feel a full range of emotions. Anger, Joy, Sadness, Envy, Regret, Lust; all these are familiar to me. Yet in my current situation, I find myself incapable of describing how I feel. Perhaps the only way to help you understand is to describe my position in as simple terms as I can, allowing you to draw your own conclusions.

I am currently in a place I don't want to be, with 3 other people who don't want to be here either. Everyone around us is a potential enemy, and as we are in the middle of a large village, there are a great many potential enemies.

I have led us here to rescue someone who will most assuredly try to kill me and/or my companions at least once or twice during the course of the rescue, and this is while simultaneously fighting off an army of shinobi who will be very VERY pissed off at us.

People have been calling me crazy for years; only here and now do I start to consider whether they might have a point.


~~

Entry #466

Only 44 hours left

I find that as the rescue attempt draws nearer, I feel my need to write down my thoughts grow even stronger, and I am not foolish enough to delusion myself as to the reason. It is entirely possible that, in the course of this mission, I will die. If that happens, I, oddly enough, feel the need to leave at least some piece of myself behind, so without further ado, I give you my philosophy for life.

The thing I find most perplexing about the human race is their obsession with 'why?'. It has generally been my observation that often people pay more attention to why something was done than what was actually done.

An excellent example of this theory being of course my claim to fame, the so-called massacre of an entire village. Let us say, hypothetically, that I killed off those pathetic people for noble reasons. It's not true, but that's why it's hypothetical.

Due to the rather violent nature of the people there, a member of that village used to kill an average of 12 people in a lifetime.

Let us say, to account for the old and middle age shinobi, who have already killed a number of people, and the babies who killed none, that every person I killed would have themselves killed an average of 6 people had they lived.

Exactly 47 people died by my hand that day (it was a very small village, another 11 died due to 'friendly fire') and based on our math so far, in killing them, I have saved 235 lives. Expanding this notion, if one looks at the people I kill even today, most of them are the large stupid rude ones, the ones who tend towards irrational violence.

One could view it as my doing the world a service, as there are probably hundreds more people who are only alive today because I removed those who would have killed them. If this had been my intention all along, to save lives, people would view me very differently than they do.

The truth is, I killed the foolish people in that village to test them and myself. I found them lacking, so they died. I kill people today not because they are evil or crude or unjust, but because they annoy me. It just so happens that these traits are often found on the same people.

Looking at it statistically, I have been doing unintentional good and saving lives my whole life. If people judged my actions just on my results, I should get a medal.

The thing is, people don't think about the unexpected benefits of the people whom I happen to kill dieing, they just look at why I did it. I don't really care if they judge me, but its astonishing, because that way of thinking implies that the result of an event is different because of the intentions that led up to it, an idea that is completely absurd.

I need look no further than the justice system, where murder is different from manslaughter, as if killing someone by accident makes them less dead than if you meant to kill them.

This magnificent self-delusion is to protect the people from what we all know on some level, killing is killing, and death is death. No matter the reason 'why'. A shinobi's brain cannot acknowledge this, because it would mean that, to use an example of people that everyone knows, the 3rd Hokage was the same type of person as Orochimaru was. In an interesting bit of irony, the snake and 3rd had probably killed about the same number of people when they died.

People have speculated endlessly about how people like me can live with ourselves, and the answer is simply thus:

Good and evil are subjective. Justified and un-justified are subjective. Wise and foolish are subjective.

But strength is not.

Rather than make up thin excuses for my actions, immersing my self in the justification of 'why' this or that was done, I simply do what I want to. It is power that allows me to live this way, outside the borders of society, and it is for that reason that I seek more power.

I don't expect anyone to completely understand these words I have written, I don't understand them fully myself. But even if whoever is reading this dismisses my ideas as crazy (which you inevitably will), I hope they are at least remembered.


~~

Iro sat back and re-read his most recent entry. It was unusual of him to be so blatant, even if he was just writing in a diary. Honesty did not come easily to a man who led a life of secrets.

It was true, he mused, what he had said in his second last sentence. He had sat down intending to try writing out his thoughts, but what had come out was something he didn't fully comprehend.

He closed the small black book with a snap, and slid it into his pocket before rising up from his bench and stretching his shoulders. He hadn't planned to writing for so long, and he had a sneaking suspicion that he was late.

He grabbed up what few belongings he had brought with him, and left the park, striding through the streets of the village with confidence.

~~

Hikari leaned against a lamppost, glancing around nervously. Iro was 15 minutes late, and for a moment she wondered if someone hadn't recognized him.

This thought was dismissed as soon as it came, for even in the unlikely event of Iro being recognized, he wouldn't have gone down without one hell of a fight, and everything had been peaceful all morning.

But it didn't stop her from worrying.

She was just about to leave without him, when she spotted him turning the corner two blocks away. A minute passed, and when Iro was just passing her, Hikari started walking with the throng of people in the streets, one more drop of water in a stream.

A few minutes later, they were bounding through the forest.

It had been decided that Kairn and Akuma would stay behind in camp, due to Akuma being a formerly familiar face in the village, and Kairn just looking suspicious. This meant that Hikari and Iro had spent most of a day gathering information with regards to Hisagi's execution. A mind-numbing activity, as most people knew the same things, so one could spend hours listening to the same rumors and learn almost nothing of value.

Needless to say, after a day of droning gossip, both shinobi were ready to relax.

Just a few feet from the edge of camp, Iro stopped and suddenly grabbed Hikari's arm, "Look"

Concealed in the grass was a wire, but it took Hikari a moment to see it, "Akuma set traps?"

Iro shook his head, "Kairn. Even I almost missed the wire, and Akuma isn't that good at being subtle."

Both carefully stepped over the wire and started towards the tents, only to feel something pull at their legs. Hikari looked down, "Oh, crap.."

A huge log came hurling out of the upper foliage, but Iro and Hikari watched in a kind of trance as it missed them by more than ten feet. They followed it with their eyes as it swung into the brush to the left of them, and heard the log hit something with a THUMP - click

The thump was normal, but the click had Iro mildly concerned.

5 large bolts were fired into the air, the log obviously having set off another trap, but again, none of the bolts seemed to be aimed at where Iro and Hikari had set off the initial trip wire.

But as each of them landed, Iro heard more of that mechanical click.

This went on for a whole 20 seconds more, and it seemed that every type of trap in existence had been wired up in a few hundred square feet of forest, each set to trigger the next ones.

The grand finale was when three kunai traps were set off, each kunai bearing an explosive tag. They were angled to they hit a tree trunk at three different spots, and one large explosion later, the tree toppled slowly towards Hikari and Iro, who stepped out of the way, allowing it to fall between them.

There was one more click

The falling tree had set off the initial trip wire that he had so carefully stepped over, and Iro found himself hanging upside down. Needless to say, he was not amused.

Unfortunately, everyone else seemed to be.

Hikari was at least trying to hold in her giggles, whereas Akuma and Kairn emerged from one of the tents laughing openly. Determined to retain his dignity, Iro wordlessly cut himself down, landing on his feet with all the grace of a cat.

After slowly examining himself, un-wrinkling every wrinkle, and straightening every hair, he languidly stretched his shoulders, took a few deep breaths, and turned on 'the glare'.

There were no fear stimulus used for 'the glare'. In fact, 'the glare' was so effective because it showed people just how frightening he could be, even without any of his ninjutsu and genjutsu.

When he spoke, his voice was positively glacial, "Now that you've alerted every shinobi within 10 miles as to our presence, I suggest you get ready to go. You will explain this incident as we travel."

As the four of them bounced through the treetops, Akuma was jovially describing the morning's events.

/-/-/-/Flashback/-/-/-/

Kairn looked up at the sky.

Akuma looked up at the sky.

They were bored. Very bored.

Akuma suddenly sat up, "Know what's fun? Dominos are fun."

Kairn rolled his eyes, "Oh good, I'll pull some out of my ass and we can set them up"

"A tad sarcastic are we? Didn't you ever set up huge patterns of dominos to knock over?"

The large man snorted, "Why would I want to do something like that?"

"Because its fun, seeing if you can line everything up perfectly."

"As I mentioned before, we don't exactly have any dominos."

Upon hearing these words, Akuma suddenly got an idea, "Ne, Kairn. Isn't it possible to set a trap to trigger another trap?"

A grin slowly split his Kairn's face, "Why yes…it's quite a common tactic, actually…"

/-/-/-/End Flashback/-/-/-/

Akuma smiled at the memory, "So, as I'm sure you've guessed, things just kind of snowballed at that point, and soon we were using up all our trap kits."

As they continued away from their old campsite, Iro fought the urge to start yanking at his hair.

Back in said campsite, a group of Chuunin dropped to the ground. The leader scratched his head in bewilderment; it looked as though every type of trap in existence had been set off in just a few hundred square feet of woodland. He groaned, it was going to take weeks to sort this out…

~~

The group was discussing how they would manage to escape upon rescuing Hisagi, but they'd hit a snag.

"Even assuming you manage to take the Kage hostage, the stalemate wouldn't last for long, they would quickly organize a strategic attack, and even you cant hold back a village."

Iro scratched his head, "I know, that part is still a problem..."

Akuma felt, for the first time in some while, a stirring at the back of his mind. "Give me a second guys, the bastard wolf wants to chat"

Akuma allowed his mind to fall into the dreamscape. "Whaddaya want?"



The enormous wolf, for it was very large within Akuma's mindscape, was wearing a smile, "I've been doing a little eavesdropping on your conversation, and I know of a way to solve your problem, brat, or rather, Iro's problem."

Akuma reacted the same way he did to anything the wolf said, with skepticism, "How exactly could you help solve our problem?"

The enormous wolf's smile darkened to an evil grin.

"What would you say to completely immobilizing the entire village for 15 minutes?"

"If I belived that was possible, which I don't, I would say: 'What would you want in return?'"

"Nothing, brat. I just want to see the look on the Kage's face when the lot of you walk out from under his helpless nose."

"Okay, I can see you enjoying that, but I still don't understand how you could immobilize that many people…"

"Okay," the wolf amended, "Maybe not ALL of the village, but all the shinobi at least."

/-/-/-/-/10 Minutes Later/-/-/-/-/

Hikari shook her head, "That's insane."

Kairn looked like a child with a new toy, "I think it sounds fun."

Iro tapped his finger on a kunai, "We would all be betting our lives on this, but I think it's our best shot."

Hikari continued the head shaking motion, "You are all nuts!"

Akuma tallied everything up, "Okay, that's three 'yes' votes, and one 'your all crazy' vote. We're going for it."

"Then I'm guessing," Kairn said, "that we should probably get to bed soon. Big day tomorrow."

Akuma nodded, "Probably."

Hikari rubbed her head, "Remind me again why I put up with you fruitcakes and your ideas?"

Akuma stroked his chin, "Our devilish good looks?"

Iro tilted his head, "Our razor sharp wit?"

Kairn held up a hotdog he had been cooking over the fire, "Our masterful culinary ability?"

The woman resisted the urge to throttle something, "THE QUESTION WAS RHETORICAL!"

They all watched as she stomped out of camp, then Akuma started to get ready for bed, "Ne, Iro, could you play something?"

The man silently nodded and took out his guitar, playing a soothing melody while Akuma drifted off and Kairn ate his hot dog.

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"There is no such thing as 'Coincidence'. Only 'Inevitability'." ~ Yuuko Ichihara

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 12:24 am

Scenes from a Memory 7: Rescue

The Kage, Han, stood, overlooking the crowd. It did indeed look as if most of the population of the village had shown up, and the training field they were using was almost filled.

It was 11:53.

In just seconds, the prisoner would make his appearance.

Suddenly, the ground shook, and as Han's eyes widened, spouts of flame could be seen shooting upward all over the village.

A jounin dropped down in front of him, "No need to be alarmed, Han-sama. It appears that your guess was correct, a group of nins were discovered in the village less than 8 minutes ago, but have been already disposed of. It appears they planned to use the distraction of the explosives to surprise and overpower Hisagi's guards. The leader is still alive, what shall we do with her?"

Han wiped sweat from his forehead, "We can delay for a minute or two, bring her here."

He then turned to calm the crowd.

~~



Aoi felt a defeat bitterer than any she had experienced before. After succeeding in so many ways, they had been caught at the last minute. Her few remaining supporters were dead, and she was being dragged before the Kage.

The jounin holding her pulled her through the masses of people, and out into the open. She was shoved forward, and Han regarded her critically.

"So," he said, "you're the one who planned all this. Aoi Katsuyu shows herself at last."

The crimson haired woman spat at the Kage's feet, "I have nothing to say to you."

Han shrugged, "Okay then, I'll deal with you as soon as we're done with Hisagi."

Aoi gnashed her teeth at her own helplessness, but could do nothing as the Jounin dragged her off to one side.

Han raised an arm and the masses parted. At the other end of the field was the prisoner, his hands and feet chained, accompanied by three ANBU.



The grim procession walked slowly forwards, Hisagi paying no attention to the hoards of people on either side of him. He arrived at his destination, a cleared part of the field where Han himself stood.

He was walked over to a thick log and was chained to it, his ANBU guards making sure he was secure. Han walked up to him, "Any last words?"

A set of green eyes rose to look at him, "Actually, I'd like a stick of Pocky."

Han blinked, "Um….okay," he turned around, "anyone have a box of Pocky?"

A man in the crowd raised his arm, "I do! Here!" he threw it forward and Han caught it.

The man pulled out a stick and put it in the prisoner's mouth, "Good?"

Hisagi nodded, so Han gestured, the people moved back, and the guard ANBU got out of the way. Han had decided to perform the execution himself, and once everyone was clear of the blast area, he started his little speech,

"You, Hisagi Yugao, have been found, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be guilty of High Treason against the village. The punishment for this crime is death, and that punishment shall now be inflicted." Han flashed through hand seals, "Karyuu Endan!"

He inhaled and breathed out a huge stream of flame that consumed the wooden log as well as the figure chained to it. He continued the technique for a full half minute.

Aoi fought futilely against those holding her as she watched the man she'd sworn to follow, who'd saved her from herself, go up in smoke.

Han completed the jutsu, and looked at his handy work. The still burning body was on the ground, as the flames had melted the chains and incinerated the log. He motioned for the three ANBU to join him as he approached the corpse. He had to personally confirm the man was indeed dead.

Han reached down to check Hisagi's pulse, when three objects came hurling from the sky, almost hitting the guard ANBU, who neatly side stepped. He turned back to look just in time to see the ANBU reach and grab the handles of the two huge swords and katana imbedded in the ground. How the hell had he not noticed one of the ANBU with their hand in their pocket the whole time, the sleeve looking suspiciously empty.

Akuma, Hikari and Kairn tore off their ANBU masks and turned outward, forming a circle around Han and the body.

Han suddenly felt his wrist in an iron grip, and looked down in horror to see the 'corpse' holding onto him, continuing to burn as it rose up and spoke, "That……HURT!"

Iro knew he had only a few fractions of a second before Han came to his senses and tore him in half like wet tissue paper in his temporarily weakened state, but a few fractions of a second was far more than he needed.

Just as the clarity was starting to come back into the Kage's eyes, Iro delivered a sharp chop to his neck and he crumpled.

In that moment, it was as if time stopped completely as the multitude of spectators tried to figure out what was going on and the various shinobi were frozen by Iro so casually holding the unconscious Kage, daring anyone to make an aggressive move.

Not wasting time, Hikari and Kairn started different sets of hand seals, Hikari's one handed, while Akuma let his mind slide into semi-awareness, and granted Fenrir partial control.

It was an odd feeling to voluntarily give up his body, because he was still aware, but he perceived everything as if through a haze and was watching his own body do things he wasn't telling it to do. Had the situation been less serious, he would have found the sensation amusing.

Allowing himself to revel in having an actual body, even for just a few minutes, Fenrir grinned to himself and spoke in a darker version of Akuma's voice, "I have to do 236 hand seals, and I need my ass covered, so no screw up's."

Akuma's body started to move, and for just a second or two, all three were forming seals.

Hikari was the first to finish her jutsu, and as soon as she drew back her sword, Akuma and Kairn took steps back, still forming seals, to get out of the line of fire. "Kaze Nenshou no Justu!"

As had been planned, she aimed intentionally high, so the superheated blast of air originating from her sword only skimmed the crowd, knocking a few people over and singing a few hairs. It was, however, plenty to send the citizens into a panic.

It took only moments for chaos to break out, and in this time Kairn finished his seals, "Kirigakure no Jutsu"

The group formed a tighter circle as the mist rolled in, and the ball was in the opponent's court. As he had a tendency to do, Iro immediately analyzed the situation.

Fenrir was slightly clumsy controlling Akuma's body, so it was Iro's prediction that it would be about a minute and a half before the jutsu was complete. He still had the Kage as a hostage, but he knew from personal experience how fast the ANBU would organize a counterattack.

Up in the trees at the edge of the mist filled field, Hisagi was finding himself conflicted. His original plan had been to just run away on his own as soon as he'd thrown the weapons, but now he was feeling the tug of his conscience. It wasn't with regards to any of his rescuers, as Hisagi had no doubt that one way or another, Iro and Akuma would make it out alive. Instead, he found his concern focusing on a crimson haired woman who was currently being restrained below him.

As much as it irked him, Aoi had always been a loyal servant, and now she was in desperate need, with no one else to help her. Sighing to himself, Hisagi jumped off his branch.

He fell through the air without so much as a whisper, and once he could see the backs of three figures he coiled his whole body up like a spring. Once he was only a couple feet above them, the jounin felt his presence and started to look up, but he exploded into action, driving the left jounin back with a blow to the jaw and sending the right jounin reeling with a kick to the stomach.

Even after this little acrobatic display, he hit the ground running, and after realizing what had just happened, Aoi followed a few steps behind him. When the two of them reached Iro, he barely even acknowledged them before starting to speak.

"Fenrir needs another minute to finish his jutsu, and the ANBU will make an assault in 16 seconds. Hikari will take the Kage while Hisagi, Kairn and I deal with the ANBU."

Aoi looked slightly confused, "What do I…"

"You," Iro said abruptly, "stay here and don't get in the way. You're chakra levels are low. Are there any problems with the plan?… No?… Good."

Hikari had the blissfully unconscious Han quite literally dropped at her feet, and moments later she felt the approach of a group of high-level shinobi.

Hefting Chi Majin, Kairn grinned, "Here they come…"

Hisagi glared at his brother, "I can't believe I'm doing this."

Iro relaxed his body in preparation for combat, "Akuma would rather we not kill people, but do what you must…" he paused for a second, "GO!"

They dove into the mist.

~~

Immersed in fog, Kairn lifted his sword with two hands and went into a stance reminiscent of a batter awaiting a pitch and spoke in an exaggerated announcers voice, "Now we have Kairn at bat…"

He felt a disturbance in the mist, and swung, catching an ANBU in the chest and sending him flying back from whence he had come.

The large man sunk into his stance a second time, "That's a home run folks!…Lets see if he can do it again..."

Moments later, a second ANBU advanced more cautiously. Kairn again swung, but his opponent danced just out of range.

Thinking he had caught his adversary off balance, the ANBU darted forward, only to realize he had underestimated the speed at which Kairn could reverse his swings. The second ANBU found himself flying backwards, and the large man continued with his announcer's voice, "Unknown to the other team, Kairn is a switch hitter! Another home run!"

The squad commander, moving very carefully, made his way through the mist toward Kairn's position, followed closely by the rest of his team. He raised his hand as a signal to stop, and advanced the last few yards alone, trying to catch a glimpse of the large man through the mist.

The ANBU leader took another step forward, and Kairn, only a couple of feet away, swung with all his strength. The ANBU went hurling backwards, and moments later Kairn heard the sound of bodies colliding. He took a few steps and saw a conked out commander on top of his swirly-eyed team.

He smirked, "There it is folks! Kairn scores a grand slam!"

~~

Elsewhere in the fog, Iro and Hisagi had their own ANBU to deal with.

So far, things hadn't being going so well, as the two brothers kept getting in each other's way. Their fighting styles were similar, but just different enough that their rhythms conflicted with each other.

Hisagi landed next to his brother and his eyes darted left and right. They were surrounded.

Iro could feel the ANBU closing in, "You know what our problem is, Hisagi?"

Hisagi glared, "What?"

"We're focusing on our differences, rather than taking advantage of our similarities."

Iro started to tap his foot to a silent beat, and Hisagi rolled his eyes, "You can't be serious, I haven't done that exercise since I was six years old."

Iro's foot taping became more insistent, and when a kunai whizzed by Hisagi's head, he reluctantly started to tap along with his brother.

When they had been young, they had been taught that the best way to fight with someone else was to perfectly synchronize everything you did. The way they had been told to achieve this was to, right before combat, get their internal rhythms to line up by tapping their feet in time.

The ANBU were approaching, but as Hisagi focused on the beat, he could feel his heartbeat and breathing change to match his tapping foot. He started to hear the tapping in his head, and soon his foot stopped moving, and the silence told him Iro's had as well.

His whole body now seemed to be operating on that beat in his head.

Tap

Tap

Tap


Iro and Hisagi shifted their positions so they were back to back.

Tap

The mist swirled and the attack began.

Tap

Hisagi tossed a kunai into the air while Iro sent an ANBU flying with an uppercut.

Tap

Iro grabbed the kunai from the air while Hisagi exchanged blows with another ANBU.

Tap

Iro went into a low spin while Hisagi jumped into a spinning kick, Iro dragging his kunai across the thigh muscles of Hisagi's opponent and Hisagi kicking over his brother's head to send yet another ANBU away with broken ribs.

Tap

Iro reached behind him into his little brothers pocket and grabbed one end of a coil of wire, Hisagi grabbing the other a moment later.

Tap

Iro and Hisagi sprinted away from each other, keeping the wire almost taut between them.

Tap

Hisagi curved left and Iro right, running in a large circle.

Tap

The two brothers passed each other, forming a quickly tightening loop of wire.

Tap

The both felt something catch at the same time and increased their speed, not willing to let their victims get away.

Tap

They looped around again and met each other in the middle, then ran side by side until the wire was pulled as tight as it would go. Within the mist, four ANBU were caught in the razor sharp wire and were trying to free themselves.

Tap

Iro passed his end to Hisagi, who flashed through some seals.

Tap

Hisagi held both ends in his right hand, "Yorozudori!"

Lightning arced over Hisagi's body and tore down the wire. For a few seconds, the wire crackled with energy, and Iro could feel his hairs stand on end while he was ten feet away.

The energy subsided and Hisagi dropped a still smoking wire to the ground.

"That," he said breathlessly, "is a jutsu I invented to use on you."

Iro looked on calmly, "Yorozudori……ten thousand birds....you ripped off the Chidori……I don't suppose there's any point to checking on our ANBU friends?"

Still out of breath, Hisagi laughed throatily, "With that much electricity going through them, they'll be out for at least a few days."

~~

Fenrir had been mentally counting his seals as he went; to be sure he hadn't missed any

'232…233…234…235…236…done!'

There was no jutsu name called, but Akuma, who had been just starting to enjoy not having to tell his body what to do, suddenly found himself slammed back in control just in time to feel a wave of chakra emanate from Seishin Houchou.

Next to him, Hikari and Aoi shivered.

Kairn, Hisagi, and Iro immediately felt the wave and rushed back towards Akuma.

Within seconds, the great chakra had covered the entire village, and then it vanished.

The chakra was gone, yet every person in the village, shinobi or otherwise, felt something was wrong with the air.

Outside the wall of mist, a major assault was being readied, consisting of over 100 shinobi. Most of the villages ANBU and a large number of jounin were prepping and being hastily briefed.

Everything was silent for a few more seconds, and then a great unearthly howl resonated through the village, causing every man woman and child to freeze in their tracks.

Akuma let out a huge sigh of relief and almost collapsed, "It looks like our friend has made an appearance. We're in the clear…though I'm very tired right now…"

Walking slowly, and followed by Iro, Kairn, Hikari, Hisagi and Aoi, Akuma made his way towards the edge of the mist. They started to hear yells, screams, and the sounds of general chaos.

When they broke the wall of white and emerged into sunlight, they found themselves faced with a scene that none would ever forget.

The village was wrapped in chains.

They were growing from the ground like devil's garden and seemed to cover the whole city, entrapping all its inhabitants in their frustrating metal embrace. Only fifteen feet away, Han had woken himself and fought vainly against the chains that restrained his arms and legs.

The man stilled as Akuma approached him, and attempted an air of nonchalance, "Hello Akuma, come to visit?"

"Just here to pick up an old friend, Han. We'll be gone soon enough."

The Kage smiled, "We will be coming after you…"

"No, you won't, because right now, everyone here is at my mercy. I could kill anyone I wanted, but I'm not going to, and in exchange you are all going to leave me alone."

"And what, dare I ask, makes you think we'll agree to this deal?" Han asked, still smiling

"Simple. I did this jutsu once, and I can do it again. If I'm forced to use it a second time, I may not be so merciful."

With that, Akuma strode past Han and made his way through the throngs of restrained and pissed off people. He ignored the familiar faces, the insults and the threats, walking resolutely forward.

Behind him, Hikari was only slightly unnerved. She could see some shinobi trying to reach for weapons or form hand seals, but the chains always held them back. She was currently fighting off the fear that Fenrir might have made one little mistake, and one ANBU would get a jutsu off.

~~

They stood outside a small store near the edge of the village.

"How much longer," Kairn inquired, "will this jutsu last?"

Akuma leaned against a wall, still tired, "A while yet. Forming the chains is very tiring, but maintaining them takes very little chakra. Fenrir can probably keep it up for at least a few more hours."

"In that case," Iro said, "I think we should stock up on supplies."

Nods could be generally seen, but Akuma looked to be barely able to keep upright, so Iro took control of the situation.

"Akuma will rest here, the rest of you, grab whatever you think might be useful."

With that, they set about the systematic looting of the store while Akuma sat outside on a deserted street. Or, to be correct, what he thought was a deserted street.

At first, Akuma thought the wind was just kicking up dirt, but then he noticed that there was a whole lot of it collecting. He also realized a moment later that it was not dirt, but shadows that were swirling around him, and Akuma started to look slightly nervous.

All at once, the shadows condensed into a solid form. A solid form that suddenly reached out and grabbed Akuma by the neck and lifted him into the air.

Now most definitely nervous, Akuma grinned, "Temujin……nice to see you again."

Akuma had been in a great many difficult situations in his life, but his current one was easily near the top of the list. Temujin had him quite firmly by the throat and appeared completely casual about it.

"Hello there Akuma, It's been a while. I take it your doing well?"

Still hanging in the air, AKuma attempted an air of indifference, "Not bad, though I'm feeling rather tired right now."

The man nodded, "That was quite a jutsu you did back there. It looks like it was to weaken the dimensional barriers, no small feat."

"I was quite impressed myself, as even I really didn't know exactly what the jutsu was going to do."

It was at this moment that the door to the store opened and Aoi peeked out. She was about to say something, but then noticed Akuma's situation. "Is everything ok, Akuma-kun?"

Akuma grinned back, "Yeah, Temujin and I were just having a little chat."

Aoi looked skeptical, "It looks to me like he's trying to kill you."

Temujin rolled his eyes, "If I was trying to kill him, he would be smothered in shadow. I just want to make sure he doesn't run away."

The woman shook her head, "Okayyyy then. Akuma, I wanted to know if you had any preference with regards to food?"

Still two feet off the ground, Akuma stroked his chin thoughtfully, "Hmm…not really, but thanks for asking."

"Carry on then," Aoi said and ducked back into the store.

Temujin was silent for a few seconds, and Akuma started to get tired of hanging, "Uh…you've made your point, so could you let me down now?"

"No. That woman had a good idea there, so I'm currently considering strangling you and throwing your body down a very deep well. I think the idea merits a few more minutes of thought."

"Do I have any input into this decision?"

"Your 'input' was kidnapping my sister-in-law, Hikari, and then disappearing."

Akuma pondered this for a moment. Temujin did have a point, and the man wanted to tread lightly, as he was only mostly sure Temujin was joking about the strangling thing. Silence reigned for a few more seconds, then Akuma fell, hit the dirt and took a few deep breaths of air.

He stood up and brushed himself off, leaning against the wall, "So then seriously, what can I do for you? I would figure that you would ignore me and go see Hikari."

"I will see her in good time. Right now, you are going to tell me everything that has happened since you disappeared. Leave anything out and we may go back to the strangling idea."

Now, inside Akuma's head, little gears were turning. The only way for Temujin to confirm or disprove anything was to talk to Hikari and compare what they said, so the man could only get away with not telling Temujin something if he was pretty sure Hikari wasn't going to tell Temujin either.

The list of things covered by that definition was quite large.

Akuma then told his (slightly edited) story. Throughout his explanation, he discovered that he could judge how Temujin was reacting based on his scowl.

At the beginning, talking about when Hikari had technically been his prisoner, Temujin had a fierce glare on his face, but when he got to the part about helping her train and learn new jutsus, the man's face became neutral and he even smiled a teeny tiny bit.

When Akuma finally finished, the two were silent again, each lost in their own contemplation.

The door to the store popped open and Aoi again looked out, "Uhh…we have a bit of a situation in here."

Akuma sighed in exasperation, "I'm kind of busy right now…but tell me what the problem is."

The woman rubbed her head nervously, "Hisagi and Iro look like their about to attack each other."

This received an eye roll from Akuma, "I would be worried if those to didn't look like they were about to kill each other. Have Kairn and Hikari calm them down."

Aoi got more nervous, "Kairn and Hikari are already making wagers with regards to the winner, so I don't think they'll be much help in defusing the situation."

Akuma looked up at the sky for a moment, then a proverbial light bulb appeared above his head, "Try making the offhand comment that you heard somewhere that the Hariama clan was superior to the Yugao clan."

Aoi ducked back inside, immediately catching on to Akuma's idea, leaving said man to again face Temujin alone, "So…what do you think?"

"It appears that under the circumstances you had no choice but to act as you did, so I can't blame you. I will also say that you appear to have done as well as you could to keep Hikari safe and help her become stronger."

Akuma took a little bow, "I try my best."

"So then…when are they going to be done in there?"

"I'm not really sure, but it shouldn't be too much longer."

"What do we do until then?"

Akuma suddenly got a light in his eyes, "It's been a while since we've fought…the last time was, if I recall, when we met and you thought I was trying to steal your wife."

Temujin smirked slightly and released his hold on the shadows around them, allowing all of it to just fall to the ground.

Akuma looked blankly on and Temujin's smirk grew wider, "Your exhausted right now, so using chakra wouldn't be fair. Besides, I haven't really had a chance to try this taijutsu I've been learning," Temujin took a look at Seishin Houchou, "but no weapons."

Akuma grabbed his sword and threw it haphazardly into the air, "Fine then, if you want it that way. I could use an old fashioned physical fight right about now."

~~

Within the store, Aoi found herself on the receiving end of a two-pronged attack.

Iro and Hisagi were giving her the comprehensive list of all the reasons why the Yugao were far more powerful than the Hariama. The two brothers had unconsciously fallen into a system where whenever one of them needed to breathe, the other would take over and continue the list.
sand
Hikari was just putting the last few foodstuffs into her bag when there was an explosion and all movement inside the store ceased. Hisagi stopped mid sentence and bolted for the door, Hikari following only moments later.

Iro, Kairn and Aoi leisurely gathered up their things and meandered in the general direction of outside, confident in the younger generations ability to handle any problems.

~~

The street looked like a black hole, with a seeming pool of shadows covering the ground everywhere, but Hisagi's attention was immediately focused on the grapple that was going on.

Akuma and Temujin were in the middle of the liquid black hole, caught in a deadlock. They were exchanging quick light blows with neither showing an apparent advantage.

It was obvious to Hisagi that Akuma had far superior taijutsu technique, but his fatigue evened the odds. Temujin used only the most basic taijutsu, but was far more energetic and nimble.

The two combatants noticed Hisagi's appearance, but paid it no mind, both thoroughly enjoying the fight. They did, however, pay attention to who followed Hisagi out of the store.

Hikari emerged into the light and was greeted by the image of Akuma and Temujin freezing in mid combat, with Temujin's fist an inch from Akuma's face and Akuma just bringing his leg up for a roundhouse kick.

She took a deep breath, "What in the nine hells are you two doing?!"

Still frozen in their odd tableau, the two suddenly felt the need to go hide somewhere.

Akuma went back to standing normally and cleared his throat, "Um…we were fighting…"

Hikari felt a headache coming on, "Why, exactly?"

Temujin spoke this time; "For fun…"

Hisagi felt the need to bring up a point, "What was it that exploded?"

Akuma and Temujin looked at each other and shrugged, then looked around. After a few seconds, Temujin saw something and pointed, leading all gazes in that direction.

A few hundred feet away, Seishin Houchou was sticking out of an electrical transformer, sparking contentedly. Attention refocused on Temujin and Akuma.

Hikari sighed, "Why am I not surprised…"

Her adrenalin rush wore off slowly and she jogged forward to catch her brother-in-law in an unexpected one armed hug, lifting him off the ground, "Despite the mess, its good to see you here, Temujin. I would have thought you would be back home long before now"

Temujin sighed slightly, "Well…I was partly looking for you. You disappeared rather suddenly."

She laughed nervously, "Yes, I suppose I did… sorry about that."

Iro emerged holding his bag and looked at the sky, "I'm afraid we must leave soon. We'll need all the time we can get."

Releasing Temujin, Hikari nodded, "Ok then. I'm really sorry, Temujin, I'd like more than anything to talk more, but the time…"

"I don't suppose you'd consider returning to the village?"

Akuma was running to retrieve his weapon, but was listening in as she responded, a part of him apprehensive, "Part of me wants to… but we both know there's no place for me there. Not only that, it would ruin relations with this village. In fact, you probably shouldn't tell anyone you've even met me."

Temujin looked at the ground, "I guess."

She gave him another quick hug, "Tell you what, we'll come visit sometime, since I'd like to see my sister too. You just head back to the village and don't worry, I can take care of myself."

Iro almost growled, "We need to go NOW."

Akuma returned, almost stumbling, with his sword in tow, "Iro's right. All of the village will be coming after us."

Temujin nodded, but suddenly grabbed his sister-in-law's wrist, "You promised to visit, don't forget."

Akuma laughed, "Oh, we'll be sure too, just you wait. Next time, we'll do some real sparring."

_________________
"There is no such thing as 'Coincidence'. Only 'Inevitability'." ~ Yuuko Ichihara

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 12:34 am

Scenes from a Memory OMAKE: Sibling Rivalry

Hisagi glared balefully at his brother, "Yo mama's so stupid, at bottom of application where it says Sign Here - she put Sagittarius!"

Iro glared back, "Yo mama's so stupid, I told her Christmas was just around the corner and she went looking for it!"

Hisagi's eyes narrowed, "Yo mama's so fat, her ass has it's own congressman!"

Iro's hands tightened into fists, "Yo mama's so fat, she fills up the bath tub, and then she turns on the water!"

Hisagi looked like he might explode any second, "Yo mama's so ugly, people go as her for Halloween!"

Iro looked the same, "Yo mama's so ugly, they put her face on a poster for abstinence!"

Akuma and Hikari were watching with bemusement and confusion respectively.

Hikari glanced at Akuma self-consciously, "Those two are brothers, right?"

Akuma nodded, "Yeah..."

"So they have the same…"

"Yeah..."

Hikari paused for a moment and shook her head, "These people confuse me..."

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 12:45 am

Scenes from a Memory 8: More Camping with Idiots

Camp had been hastily set up, and its occupants were in various states of mind.

Hisagi and Hikari were sleeping like logs after the ridiculously long run, Akuma was feeling refreshed as he had been carried by Kairn for a few hours and was out setting up a perimeter, and Aoi, Iro and the afore mentioned large man were sorting through the supplies.

Aoi was currently looking through the duffle Iro had filled with a sweatdrop, "Um…there appears to be nothing in here but Pocky and Tang…was something wrong, Iro-san?"

Iro tried to look innocent, which he failed miserably at, "No, I chose what I thought to be most important."

Kairn dug through another one of the bags, and suddenly grinned in his unique way, "You know what I'm thinking right now?"

Iro's eyes narrowed sharply, "Yes, and this is NOT the time."

Aoi looked confused, "What? It's not the time for what?"

The large man held up a ripe tomato, "Time for a SCMS."

The poor woman looked more confused, "SCMS?"

Iro rolled his eyes, "A special culinary munitions spar."

Aoi tried to decipher this.

Splat!

Pieces of tomato fell from Aoi's face and she suddenly got it.

Iro cursed, "Kiaria! This isn't the…"

Splat!

Cool as ice, Iro removed the tomato from his face, took a deep breath, pulled a dozen eggs out of his bag, opened them, grabbed two in each hand, and whipped them at his parter.

Kairn ducked and laughed, grabbing a bag of carrots and tearing it open.

Soon, Aoi was ignored completely as the two dangerous, feared, S-Class missing-nin clashed with various food groups.

The larger man hit upon a winning strategy of using carrots as kunai until Iro broke out his spinning sausage links.

Kairn's eyes narrowed, "Yes indeed……your sausage nunchaku are quite fearsome, but they are no match for The Pickle of DOOM!"

Iro snorted, "The pickle of doom? What are you going to do with a pickle?"

Kairn glanced sneakily over to where Hikari sat against the tree asleep and reached into his duffle, pulling out a jar of what looked to Iro to be perfectly normal pickles.

He slowly unscrewed the lid and drew one of the wet green vegetables out, and with a flick of his wrist, the pickle flew gracefully through the air, as if in slow motion, and smacked wetly into the side of Hikari's face.

Her eyes snapped open and she suddenly became very awake.

Kairn quickly slid his jar back into his bag and yelled, "Iro! How could you do that? Throw a pickle at a poor unsuspecting sleeping woman!"

The still groggy Hikari made a threatening guttural noise and glared sleepily at Iro. Then she started to get up, and Iro took a step back.

Akuma walked into camp ten minutes later, to be greeted by the scene of Iro lying face down on the ground. "You ok?"

Iro mumbled in a way that sounded vaguely like acknowledgement.

Akuma looked at the prone Iro curiously, and then turned to Kairn, who was cleaning Chi Majin. "What happened to him?"

The large man smirked, "He mocked The Pickle of Doom."

"Wha?"

"We had a special culinary munitions spar."

Akuma looked at the various food products that lay everywhere, "What exactly inspired you to do this?"

"It's a tactic to relieve stress and promote non-work relationships between Nukenin. It's also really fun."

Iro pushed himself up, "That's a matter of opinion, but I won't deny I've been known to participate once in while."

"Well, on a more serious note, the perimeter is secure, but we need to decide where we're going now, and what you two are going to do. You do still remember that you ignored your orders and are now AWOL from a mission you accepted? The client will be pissed."

Kairn nodded, "Yeah, but I've recently been having an idea that might solve that as well as some other problems. Trick is, we'd have to keep it quiet, cause it won't work if certain people are aware of it."

Akuma and Iro looked at him questioningly, and he glanced over to make sure Aoi was still out of earshot, "I think my idea will be best for Hisagi, but he probably won't agree with me on that, and if this is going to work, it has to be done tonight."

Iro nodded, "We're listening..."

~~

The next morning, Hisagi woke up feeling better than he had in weeks.

The sun was bright, his life was no longer in immediate danger, and things were looking good.

But he noticed something wrong.

Where there should have been people, there were none. Where there should have been a set up camp, there were just two sleeping bags. Everything else except two of the four food duffels and a plastic bag containing something he couldn't identify were gone.

This disturbed him.

He pulled himself out of bed, walked over to Aoi's sleeping bag, and kicked it.

"Who? What? Are we under attack!?"

"No, but we're alone. We appear to have been abandoned."

Aoi rubbed sleep out of her eyes and surveyed the area, making the same observations Hisagi had only moments before, "What's in the plastic bag?"

"Dunno, haven't really examined anything yet."

Saying this, Hisagi went over and opened the bag, revealing an envelope on top of lots of black cloth. He pulled out the envelope and tossed the bag to Aoi, who began rummaging around.

Hisagi examined the outside, which seemed normal, and tore it open, unfolding the two sheets of paper inside. The first one had only a couple of lines in what Hisagi recognized as his brother's slightly scratchy writing, it said Congradulations, you've been promoted.

Shaking his head, Hisagi turned to the second page, which was significantly longer: Within the country of lightning, there is a lord named Mamoru Shinobu. He has an estate 113 miles east of the capitol. He is to be eliminated. It shall be made to appear as if his wife killed him. Payment shall be 1,200,000 yen.

It was obviously a mission assignment, but there was nothing to suggest where it had come from. Looking down at the first sheet, Hisagi noticed there was something drawn on the back of it. It looked like a map.

"Hey, Aoi, come tell me what you make of this..."

There was no response, so Hisagi turned around and his eyes narrowed, "Son of a bitch..."

Aoi was holding up a black cloak, embroidered with the words, 'Better get started on the mission, or the client will send Hunter's after us...and we'll direct them to you. Bye.'

~~

As he had done so many times over the last couple days, Hisagi pondered conflictedly over why anyone saw fit to give him a sadistic brother like Iro.

He set down the cloak with the annoying message and picked up the mission assignment, on the back of which was scrawled a map. It showed an area near Hidden Waterfall and Iro had, with his usual subtlety, written "SECRET BASE HERE" in large block letters with an arrow pointing towards the side of a badly drawn hill, where Hisagi suspected there would be hidden door.

Hisagi sensed movement behind him but refused to acknowledge it, continuing to study the map. After a few minutes of blankly staring at a page he had long since memorized, he lost his patience, "I think your enjoying yourself just a bit to much, Aoi."

Behind Hisagi's back, Aoi paused in mid kata, "But I'm just training, Hisagi-sama."

Hisagi slowly turned to look at the woman icily, "Your trying to make your cloak billow out as you fight! That's not training!"

Aoi smiled evasively, "Is there something wrong with wanting to fight with a little bit of style?"

"When your bugging me, yes there is."

"I think you need to lighten up a bit, Hisagi-sama."

"I think you need to stop being a distraction, as I am trying to decide our next move."

"What's there to decide? We do missions for them, they give us money, and as an added bonus, we get cloaks and cool hats."

"But still..."

"You have to admit, Hisagi-sama, that the hats are cool, and we get them for free! What other group gives out free hats?"

"The Shriners."

Aoi paused, "A rare valid point...but their hats aren't cool."

Tuning out Aoi, Hisagi looked again at the mission request, his logic finally overcome his resistance. Trying to be firm in his resolve, Hisagi jumped to his feet and started to pack up camp.

Noticing Hisagi's movement, Aoi stopped mid-monologue, "So I take it we're leaving?"

"We'll try this mission, and if we succeed, we'll go from there."

"Yes!" Aoi twisted her body so her cloak billowed out behind her, "Free hat, here I come!"

/-/-/-/Meanwhile, Somewhere Else In The Forest/-/-/-/

"WHAT!"

Kairn took a step back from the irate girl, leaving Iro to face her wrath, "How could you pack NOTHING but Pocky in your bag!"

Iro crossed his arms, "I like Pocky."

Hikari smacked her forehead, "Yes, but we human beings need more than chocolate and wafer sticks to survive. Therefore, it is somewhat of a problem when one of our provision bags contains nothing but Pocky!"

20 feet away behind a tree, Kairn felt the need to give his input, "Actually, Hikari-san, there's some orange tang in the bag too."

Immediately realizing he had drawn unwanted attention to himself in the way of a glare, Kairn ducked back behind the tree only to see Akuma taking a nap in one of the branches above him. Making sure as to not draw attention to himself again, he carefully climbed up the tree and poked the man in the shoulder.

"Wha? Whadaya want Kairn?"

"What are you doing up here?"

"Well, I was sleeping until you interrupted me."

Kairn sat down on the branch; "I don't suppose you'd care to mention to Hikari that she was the one who just grabbed two of the four ration bags without checking to see what was in them?"

Akuma looked over to where Iro stood calmly amongst the hurricane that was Hikari's temper.

"Not particularly."

They sat silently for a few seconds, still well within earshot of Iro's verbal thrashing.

Kairn's stomach rumbled, "I'm getting hungry listening to her talk about Pocky so much…"

Akuma stood up and stretched, pulling his sword from where he'd stuck it into the tree, "Let's go get something then, we'll just take the long way around camp and find ourselves something to snack on…"

/-/-/-/10 Minutes Later/-/-/-/

After numerous failed attempts to sleep while standing and with his eyes open, Iro had discovered a way to pass the time. If he watched closely, he could predict what Hikari was going to say before she said it, and the closer he looked, the further ahead he could predict.

From subtle muscle twitches and the way her eye shifted he was predicting up to a full sentence in advance.

Iro cut into her endless lecture, "Yes, There's a town only a few miles ahead where we can get supplies."

Hikari stopped, "Don't interrupt me when I'm ranting…even my brother-in-law knows not to interrupt me when I'm ranting."

"You were about to say, 'and you better hope there's somewhere up ahead where we can get real food', and so I saved us both time by answering the question before you asked it"

"That's not what I was going to say!"

"Yes it was."

"How do you know?"

"I just do."

"If you're making fun of me I'll…"

Iro suddenly vanished and Hikari didn't even have time to react before her body went numb "What the hell did you do!?"

Re-appearing right behind her, Iro flicked the back of her head and watched as she tried to swat at him, but fell over instead.

"I just poked you in all 37 paralyzing pressure points," Iro leaned over her, "How about this, I undo the paralysis, we get more food in the next town, and you stop wearing my ears off?"

"Um…ok?"

Iro poked her neck and feeling returned to her body, "Good then."

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 1:33 am

Scenes from a Memory 9: Bandits and Chases

Iro was the first to sense Akuma's approach, but felt another's presence and jumped up to a tree branch to look.

His eye's widening slightly, he jumped back down and poked Kairn, "Hey, Akuma brought someone back, a stone-nin."

Hikari looked from her nap, "So? Maybe he made a friend."

Kairn was less calm, "WHAT!? Is he crazy? I've gotta hide somewhere..."

Iro continued on, "And its a girl."

Kairn continued to look shaken, "How is that relevant? It's a stone-nin!"

Hikari, however, went rigid at this additional information, "WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING?!"

With now both Kairn and Hikari in mild hysterics, Iro smiled to himself. It was fun being him.

Looking around and seeing no places to hide at ground level, Kairn jumped up into the trees.

Only seconds later, Akuma emerged from the foliage and collapsed next to Iro, followed closely by a far more energetic girl.

Akuma held out his bag of food, "Your turn to cook tonight, Pocky-man.."

With a small sigh, Iro took the foodstuffs, "Ok then, but I'm rather curious as to the identity of our guest."

Not the type of person to let herself be introduced, the girl, named Mako and only being around the age of fourteen, jumped forward, "Don't mind me, Akuma-kun is helping me with a mission later tonight so I'm just passing the ti..." she stopped, re-examined the person she was speaking too, and her mouth formed an 'O', "you're Irorochi Yugao, aren't you?"

Iro almost dropped his bag of food, "How did you..."

She pointed behind him, leading everyone on the ground to follow her gaze to a tree upon which was leaned a half-wrapped Chi Majin.

Violent swearing could be heard from above them and Kairn dropped down, "Dammit, Akuma! The least you could have done was give us some war..."

Kairn found himself faced with a set of huge sparkly star-filled eyes, "UWAAAAAAIIIII......and...I'm your biggest fan!"

Hikari had been quietly simmering, though had calmed upon seeing that Akuma seemed annoyed by the girl that was too young anyway, but she was the first one to sort out the jumble of words that the girl had just spewed. However, as said jumble of words had only the most marginal resemblance to an actual structured sentence, it took Iro, Kairn and Akuma a few more seconds. The larger man just stood there looking stunned for a moment, then shook his head, "Excuse me?"

The girl was blushing red as a fire hydrant and looked slightly dizzy, and Kairn reached a hand to steady her, which she immediately appeared fascinated with, "Kairn-sama...is TOUCHING me..."

THUNK

And she fainted dead away.

Kairn scratched his head, "Am I the only one who finds this situation really wierd?"

The other three shook their heads slowly. Akuma looked around, "Sooooo, how about some supper? I got good cheese."

~~

The smells coming from the tinfoil dinners cooking on the fire were slowly wafting through the air and drawing noses as close to the fire as they could go without being burnt. Akuma stared at what would be his dinner as if it held the secrets of the universe, "So, what exactly is this, Iro?"

The man looked up from his re-arranging of the coals, "I took whatever fish that was you bought."

"Salmon," Kairn interjected

"I took the," Iro nodded in Kairn's direction, "Salmon, seasoned the inside with some herbs Hikari bought, stuffed them with some of that cheese, spiced the outsides a little bit too, and wrapped them in tinfoil with some carrots and thinly sliced potatoes."

Akuma brightened, "Amazing. It's like something a chef would prepare."

Kairn grinned, "If you're going to have to make all your meals yourself, they may as well be good ones."

Hikari looked up from her task with a look of mild irritation, "Why am I searching the girl, shouldn't Akuma be the one dealing with his guest?"

Since she could only see his back, Hikari failed to notice when Kairn's grin became more sadistic, "Are you saying you'd want Akuma to search an unconscious girl who's only wearing what I must say is quite a form fitting ninja uniform?"

Hikari examined what the girl was wearing, blushed, balled up her hands into fists, blushed deeper, and under her breath told Kairn to do various things that would be excruciatingly painful if even physically possible.

Through all this, the large man continued to grin, "I thought not."

And so Hikari went about her searching while everyone else stared at the food. One would initially think that Hikari got the short end of the stick in this situation, but her search soon revealed something far more interesting than even Iro's masterfully prepared cuisine.

"Ok, people, you have to see this"

Dragging themselves away from the succulent scent of cooking fish, Akuma and Kairn went and looked over Hikari's shoulder at what she held in her hand.

It was a picture of Kairn torn from what looked to be a bingo book. Someone had drawn a flower border on it. Akuma snickered while Kairn paled.

Continuing to dig, Hikari emerged moments later with a bingo book that appeared to have no pages ripped from it.

They had to snicker at some of the comments the girl had written in the book, until they reached Kairn's page, which had yet another full color picture, this one covered in comments such as: Well toned muscles, perfect height, cute ass

The list went on, but Akuma and Hikari found themselves rather hung up on the cute ass comment. Kairn looked back at Iro tending to the fire pit, leaned over and whispered, "I will give you anything to not show Iro these..."

Iro, having much better hearing than Kairn gave him credit for, was, of course, immediately interested, "Not show me what?"

Jumping almost a foot in the air, Kairn rushed to grab the offending material but knocked into the sleeping girl by accident, causing her to stir and slowly rejoin the land of the waking.

For the second time that day, Kairn found himself faced with huge sparkly eyes, "It wasn't a dream…Kairn-sama really is here..."

Akuma tilted his head, "Your not going to faint again, are you?"

Iro got up and started towards the huddle, "Not show me what!?"

The young girl looked she was about to answer Akuma when she noticed what Hikari was holding and gasped, "AHH! How did you get those!?"

Sensing that the group was teetering on the edge of chaos, Hikari set down the book in her lap and held up her hand, "Everybody STOP!"

~~

Ten minutes later, food was distributed and Kairn and Mako were far enough apart to prevent future incidents of fainting.

"I'm sorry I didn't recognize you, Mako-chan, but the last time I saw you would have been…"

Mako looked at the ground, "When I was six. I went to a dinner hosted by the Tsuchikage with Uncle Hoshi and sat next to you."

Kairn suddenly laughed, "I remember, you were the one who choked on her milk during the Tsuchikage's speech."

Listening to the conversation, Iro and Hikari finally caught on. Iro nodded slowly, "So your Hoshiroku's niece…and I suppose you want help with this mission later because…"

Mako crossed her arms and huffed, "Akuma took one of the most legendary relics of my family and broke two others, the least he can do is help me with one measly mission."

"For the record," Akuma semi-growled, "your swords broke when you tried to sneak-attack me! Besides, can't you get them re-forged?"

"Still…they'll never be as good as they were originally."

Kairn picked up one of the pieces and examined it, "Wrong there, little girl. These are decent weapons, but not extraordinary. Particularly not since Akuma broke them as easily as he did. Even I could do a better job than this if I put my mind to it…"

Kairn trailed off as he realized from Akuma's facial expression that he had said something rather foolish.

"Oh no…"

"Why not?" Akuma inquired, "I'll drag Hikari along on this mission tonight, leaving you and Iro with plenty of free time."

"Yes but…"

"No buts. Think of it as a chance to pay back an admirer." Akuma smirked, "An admirer who thinks you have a cute ass..."

Mako's face looked like a tomato, "I wrote that when I was ten years old! Can't a girl keep her childhood crushes to herself!?"

"So…Akuma, how are Mako's sword skills?" Kairn said in an obvious attempt to change the subject.

Akuma leaned back and stretched, "Hmm…she's pretty fast, but her actions are as predictable as Iro's in a candy store."

Hearing this, Iro grabbed some Pocky and started to munch, "Some day I'll get you all back for making fun of me…"

"…As I was saying, her actions are too predictable," he turned to the girl, "though you might be happy know that the parry I used on you was one of the ones Kairn taught me, or rather, that he used on me and I learned. It worked as well on me as it did on you, except that my sword is stronger than yours were."

Mako started to pout; "Still…I got beaten so easily..."

Finishing his fish, Kairn joined Akuma in reclining and looked at the sky, "So Mako, when do you have to meet your team for this supposedly dangerous B-rank mission?"

"Pretty soon actually, I should brief Akuma and Hikari-san," she looked at them, "If you don't mind?"

~~

A few hours later...

South of the city in the bandit camp, Akuma and Hikari sat in a cage.

Akuma leaned against the bars, "Somehow, I just knew this was going to be one of those days…"

"Well, it's our fault for being detected, we shouldn't have underestimated them."

"Still…we could have fought back a little…" Akuma mumbled, only to be smacked on the head.

"If we put up any major resistance we would have put them on high alert and made Mako's mission that much more difficult. Besides, this cage is probably more comfortable than wherever else we'd be hiding and as an added bonus, we don't have to worry about being seen."

A guard walked over and banged on the bars, knocking Akuma over, "Hey! Prisoner's who want to stay alive shouldn't talk!"

Akuma could see Seishin Houchou only ten feet away and fought very hard to not let Fenrir just tear the guard to shreds, finally cooling his head as the man went back to his post.

Time passed and the two Nukenin were just starting to wonder what had happened to Mako and her team when the annoying guard came back, "Alrighty, you two. The boss said he wants to see you one at a time," the guard looked between them, his eyes settling lecherously on Hikari.

For the second time that day, Akuma almost killed the bastard, but Hikari grabbed his arm firmly and whispered in his ear, "I can deal with any situations that come up, so promise you'll control yourself."

Akuma gave her a look that suggested he would do no such thing, but again calmed himself down, allowing the guards to handcuff Hikari, odd as that was with one arm, and lead her out of the cage towards a ring of tents where the elite of the bandits lived. She was half pulled along until finally they reached the largest tent of them all and she was pushed inside.

"Hello, pretty lady!"

Hikari looked at the…creature…in front of her, "Why do I always meet such bizarre people?"

The king of the bandits stroked his beard thoughtfully, "Having just met you, I don't really know."

As the man moved, he jingled. The man's clothes might as well have been made of bells, since his clothes were so covered in them she could barely see any fabric at all.

"Do you always dress that way?"

"Why yes, I do. I'm just the kind of guy who likes to be noticed."

"A bandit who likes to be noticed?"

"A bandit king," he corrected her, "and for a bandit king, one's reputation is as or more important than one's fighting ability."

"I suppose…"

"Anyway, you've put me in quite a pickle, your friend and you. I really can't allow you to live after trespassing with such weapons as you had."

Hikari dropped and sat cross legged on the floor, "From your perspective, I guess that's true."

The king nodded resolutely, "So I suppose all I can do is ask for your forgiveness for what I must do. I'll at least try to make it quick for you."

While he was talking, Hikari was starting to think she might have to break free, but she still wanted to give Mako a chance to act, "Ne, mister bandit king, you could at least let me live a little while couldn't you? Let me have something good to eat first?"

The bandit pondered for a moment, "Sure, why not?"

He walked over to the door of the tent and opened it slightly, changing his countenance completely and saying in an exaggeratedly dark voice, "Fetch me food, WORM! I have to…entertain our beautiful guest…HA HA HA HA HA!"

Closing the tent flap, he smiled uneasily at her, "Sorry, but I have to keep up the appearance that I'm doing all kinds of unspeakable things to you, so if you could holler like your in horrible pain once in a while during dinner I'd really appreciate it."

"You're planning to kill me later!"

"It's not like I particularly want to, and at least I'm treating you civilly."

Hikair slowly tuned out the rambling bandit king as something itched at the back her mind and she suddenly went rigid, "Your men think that you're doing, as you said, 'unspeakable' things to me?"

"Hmm? Oh, yeah. I talk like that, again, to boost my rep."

"So the news will be traveling around your camp?"

"Well, yeah. Gossip is a bandits best friend, though I'm slightly sorry that your friend will have to go through thinking about what might be happening to you, but I'll tell him the truth before I kill him so he can rest in peace."

Suddenly noticing Hikari's unresponsiveness, he leaned toward her, "Are you feeling alright?"

When she looked up at him, the man found himself stunned at how her gaze seemed to pity him, and even more so when she spoke, "The men in your band…they're the worst of people, right?"

The bandit king was only slightly taken aback, "Pretty much. Even I have problems dealing with them sometimes." He nodded to himself, "too many in this profession forget that there should be honor among thieves, why do you ask?"

Hikari spoke with a soft and solemn voice, "These unspeakable things you're supposedly doing to me…Akuma will have heard about them by now…"

As if cued by her voice, the air was suddenly filled with the sounds of mayhem.

~~

Kairn jumped as he was singed by the fire Iro was using to help reforge the swords. "Shit! Iro, Be more careful!"

Iro leaned against a log breathing heavily, "Do you have ANY idea how strenuous this is?"

"Come on, stop being a baby. We're already done one the swords, so we may as well do the other."

Iro dragged himself to his feet, "Akuma is a bad influence on me. A year ago I would have killed you by now for being so annoying..."

Kairn rolled his eyes, "Whatever you say, you're still being a baby."

~~

The man formerly known as the bandit king stood among the rubble that had formerly been his tent and looked around at what had formerly been his group of bandits.

Many were dead, and those who weren't were dragging themselves to their feet and running away as fast as conceivably possible. The stench of blood was in the air and the occasional groan could be heard.

And in the middle of it, sat a woman. Lying down with his head in her lap was a man, with his eyes closed and his body covered with small cuts and bruises.

The man watched them silently, his brain still not quite caught up to the reality surrounding him. As his thoughts slowly lined up in something resembling logical order, he slowly took a few steps towards the pair and noted that the man appeared to be sleeping, his chest rising and falling slowly.

"Do you know what you have there?" He asked the woman in a quiet voice.

"A man," was the response.

The man turned slowly to get the full picture of his surroundings and then refocused on the pair, "One with great power."

"Yes."

"He cares about you very much."

"That's fairly obvious."

The man considered his surroundings again, then shook his head slowly, "I don't think you completely understand what it is that's laying with it's head in your lap."

The woman looked up at him and laughed softly, "That's probably true, but I can do my best to understand him..."

"He must lead a very sad life..."

"Once, he did, but I'd like to think his life is improving..."

The man turned and started to slowly walk away when he suddenly stopped, "You have there a person there who would wipe out a city to make you happy…"

There was silence for a moment as the man considered his next words.

"You need to guard your emotions and take responsibility for all your actions, or someday he might..."

The woman watched as the man walked away, his bells jingling softly, slowly disappearing until he could no longer be seen. She looked up at the sky and rested her hand on the sleeping man's forehead, stroking his hair softly as he slept among the dead.

~~

Akuma took a deep breath and jumped, falling straight down for ten feet or so and hitting the water with a violent splash. He felt his muscles lose some of their tension and opened his eyes to see the water around him turn red from the blood on his body and on the stained clothes he still wore.

Or rather, what was left of the clothes he still wore. Standing above him on the cliff, Hikari's humility and desire to be clean were having a fierce battle, but one that her humility was destined to lose.

Diving into the water with significantly more grace than Akuma had done, she burst out of it giddily. "Hehe…so much water…water EVERYWHERE..."

Akuma looked at her strangely, "Well, we are in the country of water, and have been for a bit, so one would assume that there would be a lot of water here..."

"There is probably more water in this lake than there was within a hundred miles of my former home in Suna, so I'm allowed to enjoy it."

Ignoring her excessive enjoyment of the water, Akuma started to examine his various wounds, and Hikari noticed him doing so, "How'd you get so beat up, anyway? It's not like you."

Akuma poked at his cut and bruises, "For the first little while, I was fighting armed soldiers with just my," he looked down at his hands, "claws..."

"Why didn't you grab your sword? It was right there next to the cage."

"I wasn't really thinking straight at the time." At that point, his face was unreadable, but she heard something in his voice that sent a shiver down her spine.

She sunk lower into the water and looked away, "I told you I could handle myself, why didn't you trust me?"

"I trusted you to act when you thought the situation was getting out of hand. I acted when the guard told me that the bandit king liked to have his dinner while forcing female prisoners to do a striptease, which was when I viewed the situation as being out of hand."

"Still…"

"In my defense, with the exception of our guard, whom I took great pleasure in killing, I didn't hurt anyone who didn't attack me first. In actual fact, despite the mess I made of the camp, more people escaped than died, and if placed in the situation again, I would do exactly the same as I did the first time."

Hikari tensed as the bandit kings words echoed in her mind, "You have there a person there who would wipe out a city to make you happy…"

Unfortunately, her tension caused her muscles to cramp, the immediate and obvious result of this being her sinking like a rock.

"And anyway, Hikari," AKuma looked behind him, "Hikari? Hello?"

/-/-/-/Two and a Half Minutes Later/-/-/-/

Akuma did a backstroke, "You really do like the water, don't you?"

Catching her breath in the shallows, Hikari glared, "Ha ha…very funny"

"Well, I thought so."

Akuma relaxed and started to float on his back in the water, "Ne, Hikari, do you ever wonder what it would be like to be…normal?"

"How do you mean?"

"You know, normal. Learn math and language at school rather than killing techniques, work at jobs rather than go on missions, that kind of thing."

"Um…no, not really. Though it seems obvious you have."

"Sometimes I do, and I try to imagine people around me as well. What would Iro be like if he had never been given a Kunai? Would he have become a scientist? Or maybe a banker? Would Kairn have become a sword smith or would he have become something like a teacher?"

Hikari laughed lightly, "You really think about things like that?"

"…Do you remember when we first met? Not when we first saw each other, but when we met."

"If your referring to when you used a potent psychological attack on me, knocked me out and tied me up then yes, I do."

"Now see, whether or not you ever think about it, you score much better than average when it comes to looks, and so I like to imagine that if we lived regular lives and I had just seen you walking down the street I would think, 'Hey, that's a cute girl,' as compared to, 'crap, she's seen my face but I can't kill her', which is what I actually thought that day as you blasted away my concealing mist."

Hikari was yet again blushing while cursing herself for being embarrassed over such a simple compliment, "Why would that be so different?"

"Well…we would be able to do normal things. Go to movies, hang out with friends, go to work, hell, joke about our non-existant sex lives…the usual stupid things civilians do."

"I think you're looking at your life all wrong."

Akuma felt her re-enter the water, "How do you mean?"

Hikari slid through the water and hugged him from behind, "Simple. First, we're going to deal with this issue you have where you only allow non-violent contact human if you're either emotionally disturbed or asleep, so I expect you to give at least three hugs a day and to try to stop avoiding touching people like you usually do now."

"Ok…"

"And secondly, this Saturday, you and I are going to a movie."

"But...wait, what, like a date?"

"No, not like a date. Friends can go to movies together. You need to be less anti-social, and think about something other than fighting. We'll leave Iro and Kairn to do whatever it is they do, and I'm not taking no for an answer on this."

"So I guess I should just be quiet then?"

She rested her chin on his shoulder, "Exactly."

"...Why are you so damn close?"

"Because you are like a walking heater, and the water is kinda cold, in case you hadn't noticed."

"It feels like you are sexually harrassing me."

"Neither of us are naked, I'm just hugging you, and you are an idiot."

"...Whatever."

~~

Kairn sat in the dawn's light contentedly, enjoying his few minutes of peace before the other's started to wake up.

Having spent years with Iro, the two had many unspoken understandings, one of which being that the morning was Kairn's time. Unfortunately, Akuma was not a party to said agreement.

"Good morning, Kairn!"

"I see you're especially obnoxious this morning, what's the occasion?"

"Is there something wrong with just being happy to be alive?"

"Yes. It interrupts my quiet time."

Pouting, Akuma went back over to his sleeping bag and crawled in, "Fine then…"

A few minutes passed, and Akuma got back out of his sleeping bag and walked back over to where Kairn was sitting, "See, that was the time when you were supposed to say: 'It's alright, Akuma, I was just kidding, I enjoy your company' "

"But I don't right now, because you're interrupting my quiet time."

"Still, you were supposed to SAY it to make me feel better."

"Actually, I really don't care about making you feel better either."

Akuma grumbled and went over to start a fire going. The sun slowly rose above the horizon and as breakfast approached completion Kisame stretched languidly and stood up, "So then Akuma, there was no sign of you two when we turned in, so when did you get back?"

"Not exactly sure, but I can't have been asleep for more than five or so hours."

"How come you're awake so early then?"

"Wasn't sleeping too well, so I just decided to get up"

Kairn's nose twitched and he inhaled deeply; dissecting the myriad of scents he detected, "Hmmm…" he gave Akuma a weighted look as the man reached to sample some of the eggs he was frying.

"What?"

"You smell like blood, water, and Hikari. The blood I can understand from your little bandit hunting excursion, but as for the rest, do the math."

Him + Hikari + Water + Out Late …
Akuma choked and spewed out half-chewed egg, "We were in the water with our clothes on!"

Kairn blinked, "Oh…too bad."

"………"

The large man reached and snatched the pan from Akuma, "Mmm…these look tasty" he looked at the frozen man, "What are you doing?"

"Trying very hard to forget what you just said..."

"Why? The eggs really are tasty. One of these days you need to tell me how you make them."

~~

It wasn't until everyone had gotten up and eaten breakfast that they realized they had almost nothing to do that day. Akuma had given Hikari a good morning hug and thus had a quota of two left for the day, but was unsure how to proceed and decided to worry about the other two later.

Spending the morning training was fine, but by mid-afternoon Akuma was getting antsy. Seeing as how it was Friday, he would be going with Hikari to a movie the next day, and was venturing into (what was for him) uncharted territory.

Normally, one would ask for advice in such situations, but Akuma was unsure as to whether he dared ask Kairn or Iro for advice with regards to such a sensitive topic. Partly because they'd tease him and make it sound like a date. Mostly because both of them were, and had always been as far as Akuma knew, social retards.

Sweat running down his body from training, he lay down on the forest floor and did what philosophers call 'stewing in one's own juices'. He continued to stew for the better part of half an hour, but never managed to come to what he would call a satisfactory conclusion, and finally decided to talk to Kairn, being the more normal of the two, and to just start conversation and see where it went.

As Hikari was in the city for the afternoon and Iro was playing his guitar, Kairn was training alone and thus relatively easy to find. Still somewhat unsure of himself, Akuma watched with a bit of envy as Chi Majin was whipped through sword katas far more complex than anything Akuma himself had ever done.

With a final twist and downward crosscut, the routine was done, and Kairn slowly lowered Chi Majin and walked over to where he had a bottle of water. Although logically Akuma knew he had long since been detected, he still felt the need to step forward into the light before speaking, "I see you're as frightening as ever, Kairn-san."

Kairn reached and took a few gulps of water, "I'm doing well today. I had been worried that my skills might have been getting rusty, but apparently not."

"I don't suppose you'd like to show me some of those sword forms?"

"Ha! You think you can keep up?"

"We'll see, won't we?"

Kairn took a few more gulps of water, then picked up Chi Majin and went into a stance, which Akuma quickly copied with Seishin Houchou. As had become their custom, Kairn would slowly go through a relatively short sequence of movements, which Akuma would then imitate. They would continue until they had gone through the entire sequence two or three times, at which point Akuma would start trying the form by himself and Kairn would correct his mistakes.

Akuma waited for a few minutes until they had fallen into a rhythm, then tried to be casual, "Ne, Kisame, how do you 'hang out' with friends? You know, like a normal person?"

To Akuma's shock, the large man hesitated mid cut and fell off balance, dropping to one knee to steady himself, "That...is a bizarre question. Why do you ask?"

Slightly taken aback, Akuma took a moment to formulate a response, "I've just never...done anything like that, and I'm supposed to go to a movie with Hikari...I'm not used to spending alot of time with people just for the sake of doing so..."

Kairn turned toward him and Akuma saw that the large man was trying not to laugh, as well as looking confused, "Kid, I ain't got a clue what to tell you. Now lets try that last form again from the top."

Akuma suddenly realized that he had somehow managed to devote his afternoon to training as well, and Akuma's questions were, for the moment, forgotten.

By the time suppertime rolled around, Akuma was ready to sleep. He was about to make a dive for his sleeping bag when he realized he had forgotten something.

Managing to catch Kairn in a surprise hug from behind, (causing no small amount of confusion and mayhem) he then came to an impasse.

Standing only a few feet away was Irorochi Yugao, and having caught on to Akuma's little game, was watching him closely.

Akuma, on the other hand, was busy being annoyed by how much Hikari seemed to enjoy watching him futilely try to reason with Iro.

"But I need to…"

"No."

"But Hikari says…"

"No."

"Just this once…"

"No."

"I'll pay…"

"No."

"Bu…"

"No."

Diplomacy having failed, Akuma was left with only one option. He tightened all the muscles in his legs and dove forward. Iro was of course faster, but Akuma followed him as he ran, unwilling to fail to meet his hug quota on his first day.

Unfortunately, Iro seemed equally unwilling to allow Akuma within ten feet of him. And so followed a chase of epic proportions, lasting almost a full twenty minutes. The stalemate was finally ended when Iro found himself immobile as something cold and wet trapped his feet. This rather abrupt stop caused Akuma to crash into him, leaving them both in a heap on the ground.

Iro glared balefully up at an innocently whistling Kairn and slowly pulled himself up. Followed only moments later by a somewhat disoriented Akuma.

Satisfied that running into Iro at high velocity was as good as he was going to do, Akuma found his way over to his sleeping bag and crawled in. At first it looked like he was going to be left alone, but he soon felt someone within his bubble of perception, "Hikari? Whadaya want?"

She was crouched a couple feet away, looking decidedly amused, "You know that I wasn't really expecting you to try and hug Iro."

"Then I'm glad I exceeded your expectations."

"Not only that, Kairn's eyes almost bugged out of his head when you caught him from behind, so for future reference, one hug a day will be fine from now on."

"Really, Hikari," he said with a partial grin, "there's no need to get jealous. Kairn and I are just friends."

"…………"

"I have my eyes closed right now, but I'll bet you all the money in my pocket that you're blushing red as a strawberry."

Hikari (who was, in fact, blushing red as a strawberry) stood up abruptly and stomped off in a huff.

Snuggling deeper into his sleeping bag, Akuma sighed contentedly; Why do I have the feeling she's going to get me back for that tomorrow…

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 1:48 am

Scenes from a Memory 10: Mornings

Akuma was up bright and early again the next morning, only to find Kairn nowhere in sight. There was, however, a note tapped to the frying pan that gave vague indications that the man had gone into the city and would be returning late that night.

Lacking his morning entertainment, Akuma set his sights on breakfast, and soon had six eggs frying for himself, and two each for Iro and Hikari. His eggs were soon a thing of the past, and yet Akuma was still the only one awake.

Left to his own devices, he began to again stew. Kairn had been no help at all, and as AKuma didn't even want to think about talking to Iro about this, he was left with only one option. He sat and allowed his mind to relax. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

He opened his eyes and looked into the abyss that was his mind, "Hey, bastard wolf!"

There was no immediate response, so Akuma started to wander and soon discovered why.

The enormous wolf was curled up, sleeping contentedly. So Akuma kicked it in the nose. Hard.

"What the hell!"

"You were sleeping."

"I have long since discovered that most of your life is incredibly boring, so I sleep."

"Well, I need you right now."

"Seeing as how we aren't under attack, I'm going to assume you want help with something other than busting stuff up."

"Don't sound so disappointed. I almost never bother you, so you can afford to be at least a little accommodating when I do."

"You kicked me!"

Akuma was now realizing he might have made a mistake in his method of waking the wolf, "Not very hard…" That was a blatant lie, but the wolf really didn't need to know that.

"Even so, it really hurt."

"I'll tell you what, I only need your advice on a few things, and I'll make it worth your while."

"You better, runt..."

As tempting as it was, Akuma knew he didn't have time to start an argument with the wolf.

"Ok, here's my problem…"

~~

It's a biological fact that all people need sleep, but everyone sleeps in a slightly different way. For Irorochi Yugao, sleep means only being 95-percent aware of everything going on around him, as compared to 100-percent when he's awake.

Thus, for one such as him, waking up is not such a big deal as for normal people. For example, long before he was awake he already knew that Kairn was somewhere far away, Hikari was still asleep, Akuma was sitting near the fire in a state of semi-awareness, and his nose had already smelled cooked eggs sitting in the pan, waiting to be eaten.

So therefore, waking up for Iro is more a matter of just deciding to start moving, which he did. Contrary to what many would suspect based on his unmatched speed in combat, he wasn't a particularly fast moving person, or rather, he never found a reason to hurry.

And so, when he walked over to get some fried eggs, it was a slow walk, a deliberate walk, the walk of someone absolutely certain that his eggs would still be there whether he arrived in ten seconds or ten minutes.

When he finally did arrive, he scooped his eggs onto a paper plate and started to munch. After days of boredom, Iro felt the rare sudden impulse to do something, and with the others all preoccupied, he wouldn't even have to explain himself (which was good, since he didn't know what he was doing yet) or run the risk of someone else tagging along.

Completely set on his plan-less plan of action, he finished his eggs and slunk out of camp. He was again in no rush and so arrived at the edge of Rivercity twenty odd minutes later, and started to wander in hopes of finding something interesting.

As luck would have it, after laughing silently at people using oversized eating utensils, he came upon a lady behind a cart that advertised: FREE T-SHIRTS

Now although not a person who wore T-Shirts, Iro found himself unable (as many people are) to pass up a chance at getting free stuff, "Excuse me, miss, I'd like a shirt…"

"That's fine young man, but you have to complete a short survey."

Iro's eyes narrowed, "Your sign says nothing about a survey…"

"Yes, but I assure you it won't take long, and it will help my company improve our services!" The lady emphasized this with a fake sugary smile.

Iro mentally weighed the time it would take to complete the survey against how much he wanted the t-shirt and against how much mayhem it would cause if he just pinned the old lady to the wall with a kunai and took the shirt, "I will take your survey."

"Excellent!" The fake sugary smile got wider, "Here you go!"

Taking the document, Iro momentarily reconsidered the 'pin old lady to wall, steal shirt and run' method, but resigned himself to his fate, since he was too lazy right then to want to bother escaping authorities.

He sat down in a café next door and examined the survey he was to complete.

Name? Irorochi Yugao

Occupation? Shinobi

Home Address? (Somewhat at a loss, Iro wrote in his current one) The woods outside of town

Sex? (Iro blinked and looked up at the old lady suspiciously) No, thank you

Age? 26

Weight? Don't know

What is your favorite snack food? Pocky

What is your favorite meal? Pocky

What is your favorite desert? Pocky

Happy that it had gone so quickly, he jumped to his feet and passed his paper to the lady, who looked at him untrustingly, but gave him a shirt anyway. Quite satisfied with his first accomplishment, Iro set off in search of other things to amuse him.

~~

Mumbling to herself, Hikari rolled over as the sunlight tried with all its might to invade her eye. Unfortunately for her, sunlight pretty much always wins such battles, and this one was no exception.

As she was forced into wakefulness, she homed in on the only other person nearby, "Uhhh…Akuma…watime isit?"

Akuma looked over from his place at the fire pit, "Not sure exactly, but its around 11 AM."

She sat bolt upright, "YOU LET ME SLEEP UNTIL 11 AM!?"

"Yeah…why not?"

Now that she thought about it, there really wasn't a reason to get up early, but she couldn't very well admit it after such a dramatic outburst, so she made one up "I wanted to…polish my sword…yes…that's right, polish my sword."

"Well, you can do that now."

Hikari smelled food, "Is that breakfast?"

"Lunch, actually, but I made enough for you."

After a couple minutes, Hikari actually managed to get up and make her way over to where there was food, "And we need to get a newspaper or something, because…"

FWAP!

"Sorry, wasn't looking where I was throwing that."

Hikari picked up the newspaper from where it had landed after bouncing off her head and flipped to the entertainment section, "So…we have 'JAWS 10th anniversary edition', 'My Neighbor Totoro', 'Rocky XVII', a bunch of dumb superhero movies, and 'Harry Potter meets Godzilla'"

"I'm assuming that one is pretty short?"

She skimmed through the synopsis, "No, its not. Apparently the main characters talk for almost two hours about their various angsty lives, so when the big lizard finally does come and crush them into a bloody mess, everyone is glad their dead and leaves the movie contented."

"Ah…these moviemakers are clever."

"Anyway…I'm for going to JAWS, since I've never seen it"

Akuma sighed as he served the food, "I've seen a total of five movies in my life, so I'm good for anything."

Hikari noticed what it was she had been handed, "What is this stuff?"

"Pan fried spam and instant rice."

"That sounds…weird..."

"Try it first, then comment."

To Hikari's great surprise, the Spam & Rice was quite good, so she and Akuma spent the next while focused primarily on eating. It wasn't until her food was almost completely gone that she noticed it was suspiciously quiet, "Where are the two fruitcakes?"

Akuma shrugged, "Out I guess, neither really specified what they were doing."

"All the better for us then. Having those two always around gets a bit tiresome."

"Maybe, but they've been invaluable to me as friends. I would have been dead months ago if not for those two."

Hikari ate her last bit of lunch and threw her plate into the fire, "Still…"

Akuma pushed the log he had been sitting on out of the way and laid down on the grass, "Yeah, I know what you mean. Besides, you wanted a 'fruitcake' free day, and today we have one."

"Not quite…there's still one left."

Laughing and moving over to sit closer to him, Hikari suddenly had her legs kicked out from under her and fell forward, landing on Akuma with a dull thump.

Akuma managed to hide his amusement behind nonchalance, "You said I needed to work on human contact."

Deciding that two could most certainly play this game, Hikari pushed her self up but only adjusted her position slightly, so she was next to him instead of on top of him with her arm draped across his chest and her head on his shoulder, "Ahhh…this is kinda comfy."

Akuma had not expected that.

His moment of confidence fizzling like a cheap firework, anxiety rolled over him in waves. Feeling him tense, Hikari just pulled herself closer, "What is it with you?"

"People never touch me," Akuma mumbled, "that's just the way it's always been."

"Wait a second, didn't you live in some kind of foster home in your early life?"

"Yeah. They changed my diapers with tongs and bathed me by holding me by my arm and dunking me in soapy water."

"That's…I don't even know what that is…I can't even imagine…"

He didn't respond at first, as he was waiting for his nerves to calm. When they finally did, Akuma reached around and pulled her body flush against his.

"Don't worry about it," he said with a grin, and sounding only slightly strained, "of all the things I've had to get used to in my life, this is one of the better ones. It's...nice, having a close friend I can trust. Iro and Kairn are great, but they are not exactly...the 'comfort' type...."

The silence was tense at first, but passed through the stages of being awkward, normal, peaceful, and finally became a comfortable silence. Neither paid much attention to the passage of time, and Akuma soon started to dose off in the afternoon sun.

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 1:57 am

Scenes from a Memory 11: Movies

"Well, well, well…"

Akuma's mind, deeply in sleep though it was, reacted to those words like a cold bucket of water, but he kept his eyes shut tight and spoke softly, "Hello Iro, when did you get back?"

"Oh, just now…" Akuma could hear the amusement dripping from his voice, "you two certainly look…cozy."

"What time is it?"

"Just past three."

Akuma groaned and slowly started to move, which of course immediately woke Hikari. The two were back on their feet in seconds and, after a few yawns, fully awake.

Akuma stretched and then suddenly noticed something odd, "What's with all that crap you have, Iro?"

Iro was holding numerous boxes of many sizes, all filled with stuff, "That's why I'm here, I got tired of carrying all this around."

Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Hikari leaned forward, "But what is it all?"

"I managed to get some free stuff from just walking around, then found an underground casino. I kept playing and kept winning, but decided to stop half an hour ago since I had almost more than I could carry. I plan to go back there now that I've dropped this stuff off."

"Oh…"

With a wave, Iro vanished.

"Well," Hikari said bluntly, "that was rather embarrassing."

"Could have been much worse."

"How do you mean?"

"It could have been Kairn that found us like that."

Hikari opened her mouth to argue, then closed it again and thought about it, "Okay, you have a point there."

"Actually," Akuma said, "it's probably a pretty good thing Iro dropped by, or we might have been late for the movie."

"Meh, we have half an hour yet."

Akuma looked at her curiously, "How come you fell asleep, anyway? You had just woken up."

"Well, actually" she said hesitantly, "you fell asleep a while before me."

"Then what were you doing all that time?"

"Nothing."

Crickets chirped in the background.

"Really?"

"Yes, really!"

More crickets.

"If you say so…"

With that, Akuma went over to clean up the forgotten lunch dishes, but Hikari suddenly spoke really quickly, "Ok, I'll admit it. I noticed something while you were asleep that seemed strange, and it's been bugging me ever since. How come you don't have any scars?"

Akuma stopped and looked at her, "Huh?"

"Scars," she pointed at her left eye to illustrate, "all shinobi get hit sometimes and so most are covered in scars, even Iro has some, but not you. Why?"

Answering this question required Akuma to dredge up the memory of a conversation he had had with Fenrir some time ago, "Because I don't heal, I regenerate."

"I know you heal fast, but there should still be a scar…"

"No," Akuma corrected her, "Healing and regenerating are two completely different things. Healing is when your body replaces destroyed or damaged tissue with new tissue. Regenerating is when your body replaces damaged tissue with the same tissue."

"Um…what?"

"Its hard to explain to some who can't do it…" Akuma pondered and was suddenly struck by inspiration, "Okay, Iro and Hisagi are siblings, right?"

"Yes…"

"But they're not the exact same. The two of them have the same parents, but there are many differences between the two of them. That's how healing is, the new flesh is similar to the old, but not quite the exact same. Now regenerating on the other hand could be compared to a set of identical twins. Not only do they have the same parents, they are physically identical in every way."

"So then when you get hurt, your body replaces the material with flesh completely identical to what was damaged?"

"Exactly. Regenerating isn't very common, since it's pretty much a thing associated with demons, but theoretically, I could even regenerate whole limbs with enough time and chakra."

Hikari was silent for a moment, "So you could get a tattoo, and then when you were sick of it, cut off your arm, grow a new one, and get a different tattoo?"

Akuma sweatdropped, "Yes…"

~~

They arrived with plenty of time, but wanted good seats, so Akuma gave Hikari money to buy snacks while he got tickets.

Hikari considered her many snack options and turned to the greasy man behind the counter, "Large popcorn please, and two root beers."

The man wiped his greasy hands on his greasy shirt and grabbed the popcorn scoop, "What'r you goin to?"

"JAWS, since it's supposed to be really good."

"Aye, it is, but you might find it a bit strange today."

Curious, Hikari grabbed her popcorn, "How?"

"Well, this strange, really big guy with a strange grin came in this morning and bought tickets to every single showing today. Even weirder than that, the guy always cheers for the shark, rather loudly I might add. A couple people have even left the theater because he disturbed them so much."

Going white, Hikari bolted to where Akuma was just about to buy tickets, "Akuma! Changed my mind, lets go to," she looked quickly to see what else was on right then, "Harry Potter Meets Godzilla"

Akuma blinked, "Okay then, no problem..."

/-/-/-/-/2 Hours of Melodrama Later/-/-/-/-/

Akuma and Hikari walked out of the theater in a kind of daze.

"Well," Akuma said dryly, "I was right about those moviemakers being clever. By the time Godzilla showed up, I was ready to rip into those whiny wizards myself..."

"Well, it certainly was an…experience..."

"Speaking of which," Akuma suddenly asked curiously, "how come you didn't want to go to JAWS?"

"....I heard a rumor that someone strange was in the theater and was causing problems..."

~~

Hisagi wandered back and forth in his hotel room nervously, his dinner long since forgotten. He tensed when felt someone at the door, but calmed when Aoi slid quietly into the room, "Any sign?"

"No, Hisagi-sama. There don't appear to be any enemy nin in the city."

"Fine, but this will be the last night we spend in town. How did your intel gathering go, anything new?"

"Not really, this Mamoru is a tough customer. All his ex-employees are so afraid of him that I couldn't get so much as the name of his wife out of them."

"This probably goes without saying, but you were discreet in your questioning, I hope."

"Of course, not a one of them suspects I was anything more than a nosy reporter."

Dropping onto his bed, Hisagi stared vacantly at the ceiling, "So, we're going to just have to go to the estate ourselves and see what we can find out."

"Looks that way, Hisagi-sama."

"What did I tell you about doing that?"

"Doing what, Hisagi-sama?"

"Adding 'Hisagi-sama' to the end of your sentences. I thought I told you to stop that."

"You did, Hisagi-sama."

"Then why haven't you stopped?"

"It would be too disrespectful, Hisagi-sama."

"Okay, now you're just doing it to annoy me."

"I would never, Hisagi-sama. I can't even imagine going out of my way to annoy you, Hisagi-sama. Don't you know that, Hisagi-sama?"

Hisagi shifted his gaze to Aoi, "See, the thing is, I can't tell if you're being serious or not...."

"Why would I not be being serious, Hisagi-sama?"

"………Never mind."

~~

They stopped about a half-mile from camp and Hikari seemed annoyed about something. Not wanting to cause trouble, Akuma remained quiet until she spoke.

"We have a dilemma."

"What kind of dilemma?"

"See, often the success of a date can be determined by whether the guy offers to walk the girl home/to her door."

"But this wasn't a date."

"That isn't the point."

"Then what is?"

"That you are supposed to 'walk me home'!"

"We live in the same place…"

"Exactly!"

"And this is a dilemma?"

"Yes, it is."

Looking down at her slightly pouting face in the moonlight, a maelstrom slowly brewed in Akuma's belly. He wanted more than anything to hug her, comfort her even though she really didn't need it, but his body was frozen. Then, that annoying voice that had been yelling the same thing all night, Fenrir's voice by the way, was louder than ever.

"WEENIE!"

Akuma wasn't sure why the damned wolf kept calling him a 'weenie' but it was annoying the shit out of him, and in that one moment, he wanted the wolf to shut up, and to prove the wolf wrong.

Pivoting on his right foot, he wrapped his arms around Hikari, and pulled her into a tight embrace, holding her close, for the first time actually initiating the affectionate gesture when it wasn't required of him to do so.

THey just stood there, holding eachother, both equally shocked and pleased by what was happening.

'...Yes! Socially retarded idiot's getting better!'

~~

Back at camp, Kairn sat surrounded by JAWS memorabilia, "What are those two doing out there? They haven't moved for five minutes now!"

Iro looked up, "Do you want to be the one to go check? And maybe walk in on something?"

"I never said anything about going to check, but I am curious."

Iro sorted through the box of stuff he had won gambling, "Think of it this way, if we don't actually know what they're doing, we can just assume whatever we want"

Kairn grinned, "And, of course, mock them ceaselessly about it."

"Exactly."

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 2:17 am

Scenes from a Memory 12: Giggity

Walking into camp, Akuma felt a strange unease.

Iro sat examining piles of stuff and Kairn was reading a book about sharks, but Akuma sensed something sinister in the air.

Hikari seemed oblivious to the atmosphere and wandered curiously over to Iro, "What did you win at gambling? Anything good?"

Iro shrugged, "I now own a mansion on the north end of town, a summer house by the sea, a company that builds shingles, a horse named 'Tabasco', the patent of an invention that slices bagels, a candy store, and some guys wife. That's only the stuff worth big bucks, the rest is in boxes that I need to sort through."

Hikari sat next to him and peered over his shoulder, "A man bet his wife?"

"Yeah. Actually, it was the same guy who I got the horse from, and he bet his wife before he would bet his horse."

"You started with almost nothing, so how'd you manage that kind of profit?"

"I just play card games, which I can win at easily"

"Isn't that cheating?"

"How is having better eyesight and a better memory than everyone else cheating?"

"I guess it's not…but it still doesn't seem right…"

Akuma flopped onto his sleeping bag, "I figure morality is beside the point, since Iro, you have no use for anything you've won."

"Maybe so, but I can sell some of them for money, and return the others in exchange for having some powerful people owe me favors."

Hikari poked Iro's head, "This probably goes without saying, but I assume you are going to return the man's wife."

Kairn looked up from his book, "Bah! I bet there are some groups who would pay handsomely to have her as a hostage, use her to blackmail her husband."

Hikari crossed her arm over her chest, "I sometimes can't believe you people…"

Akuma looked up lazily from where he was lounging, "He was joking, Hikari. Do you really think we'd go to all the trouble of trying to transport and sell a person when we could just sell off that summer cottage?"

"Okay…I think you're missing the point, but it really doesn't matter."

Akuma was not really listening, as his mind had moved on to other more obvious sources of interest, "Speaking of junk, it looks like you got quite a haul yourself, Kairn…"

"This is not junk! I used to have the greatest known collection of JAWS memorabilia in the world, but I was forced to leave it all behind in Iwa."

"You must really like the movie."

Kairn adjusted his JAWS hat, "It's my favorite. I'm always inspired when I see it to strive for great things, just like the hero in the movie…except that it's so sad when he dies at the end..."

Hikari huffed, "Thanks for ruining the ending!"

Iro pulled a bobble-head of some famous actor out of his box-o-stuff and threw it over his shoulder into his 'trash' pile, "Don't worry, Hikari. Kairn has a rather unique view of JAWS, which I should know since he's dragged me to see it at least seven times."

Kairn looked offended, "Hey, it's a great inspirational movie, and I think every young boy and girl should be taken to see it. A shark, wanting simply to find something to fill his starved belly, and the merciless humans who hunt him. You'll laugh, cry and be moved by the poor sharks struggle to live!"

Hikari was wide eyed, "Okaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy then…"

A stuffed monkey flew through the air and landed in the trash pile as Iro continued to dig through the box, "So anyway, enough about us. What have you two been up to all evening?"

Thinking he sounded a tad smug, Hikari was cautious, "Not much. Went to a movie and ate some sushi."

"That's it? Sounds pretty boring…are you sure you're not leaving anything out?"

"Of course! Why are you acting so suspicious? What do you think I'm not telling you?"

"Well, for example," Iro said matter-of-factly, "you're forgetting to mention your make-out session in the forest, if it was even as tame as that."

"…………"

"And just so we're clear," Iro continued in that same tone of voice, "you two are free to do whatever you want as long as Kairn and I aren't around, since we really don't want to listen."

Hikari glared, "I wasn't aware that we needed your permission."

Akuma raised a brow. 'What? She's not even denying the bull that they are spewing...why respond with...ohhhh, I see what she's doing...I'll play along...' Akuma shrugged, and let things proceed.

Kairn smirked and brushed away an imaginary tear, "Ah, they grow up so fast, don't they, Iro?"

"Do you really want me to kick your ass that badly, Kairn?"

"Ha! I'd like to see you try, brat."

Just as the two swordsman were gearing themselves up, Hikari tossed her sleeping bag over her shoulder and grabbed AKuma's arm, "Come on, these nutcrackers aren't going to let up any time soon, so we'll sleep somewhere else tonight."

Not really caring, Akuma just let himself be led into the woods, though he had the mind to grab his sword and pack on the way. They hadn't been gone a minute when Kairn noticed something amiss and raised his voice to call after them, "Hey guys, you only have one sleeping bag!"

Hikari's voice echoed out from the trees with an edge of amusement to it, "That's all we'll need!"

The two men shared a look, and Kairn let out a low whistle, "Well… she's rather feisty, isn't she?"

"Surprisingly, yes. We were, in a word, owned."

"I'm not sure it was quite that bad…"

Iro gave him a flat look.

"Well, maybe it was that bad, but we can at least claim a moral victory!"

"No, Kairn, we can't. Our bluff was called, and plans of harassment were foiled."

"Bah! All they've done is temporarily delayed our mocking, since they have to come back in the morning. Not only that, they've given us a whole night to improve out strategy."

"True…" Iro was silent for a moment, "and if they want to give us extra time, then it would be a waste not to use it..."

~~

Akuma examined his position with rapt anticipation. Hikari was vulnerable, she knew it, and yet she would be completely unable to stop him. He moved in for the kill, barely able to retrain himself.

"Your precious bishop is mine. Check!"

"Bastard…"

The sleeping bag had been fully unzipped and laid on the ground like a picnic blanket, in the center of which now sat Akuma's (stolen) chess board.

"Are you ready to concede yet? I have checkmate in two moves."

"I need time to think."

"That," Akuma said pointedly, "was what you said about your last move, and yet after five minutes of thinking you moved exactly where I knew you would and brought me one move closer to check mate. So now, again, you are going to think, and four or so minutes from now, you are going to make what we both know is the only move you can, and thus I will be one move from checkmate, so you should just give up."

Hikari ground her teeth, "You should just shut up..."

Akuma almost started whistling the 'Jeopardy' theme, but figured that might be pushing it, "So I take it I'm going to be the one who's sleeping on the ground?"

"Well yeah, what kind of man would you be if you made a woman sleep on cold hard dirt?"

Akuma rolled his eyes, but refrained from making further snide comments.

Time passed slowly, and Hikari slowly had to accept that Akuma had been right. There was only one move she could make, "I'm going to get you next time."

Akuma laughed, "Sure you are..."

~~

Late that night, when the night was quiet but for the sound of Hikari's breathing, Akuma slowly sat up and crept over to where his sword was laying against a tree. Being as silent as possible, he lifted the weapon and slowly snuck away.

He continued moving for quite some time, more concerned about the chakra he would give off than the noise he would make, so he made sure to be at least four miles from any other people.

Sitting on the ground, he laid Seishin Houchou in front of him and ran his hands over the blade, his mind sinking slowly into itself.

"You there, stupid wolf?"

"About time! I've been waiting for hours!"

"Stop whining, you're getting an amazing opportunity, so you have no right to complain."

Conceding the point, Fenrir controlled his urge to spew insults.

"Anyway," Akuma said suddenly, "what's this jutsu called?"

"What IS it with you humans and naming things? This particular technique could never have had a name since you invented it, but you could call it 'Giggity Giggity Gig' no jutsu and it wouldn't make the slightest difference in how it worked!"

Akuma had never really thought about it, but he supposed the wolf had a point. Shrugging to himself, he drew himself fully back into the real world, bit his thumb and streaked a line of blood across the flat of his blade, forming familiar hand seals, but in a new combination. "Giggity Giggity Gig no Jutsu!"

There was a momentary surge of chakra, a little smoke, and the jutsu was complete.

It was with great trepidation that Fenrir slowly opened his eyes and looked down at his hands, "Kick ASS!"

In place of Akuma's familiar sword stood a young man, one who was now doing back flips just for the sheer joy of being able.

AKuma, on the other hand, felt a strange sense of satisfaction, "So how does it feel to have a body again?"

"Well, it is a human body, and so completely inferior to the noble body of a wolf, but I suppose I'll manage."

For all his haughtiness, the demon was betrayed by the fact that he continuously flexed and stretched his muscles with apparent delight.

"Now I'm hoping you will remember the time limit…"

"Yeah, yeah, brat. I'll be back tomorrow mid-morning."

"And remember," Akuma spoke, "you may have a body, but the same rules as always apply. If you break even one, I'll know and you may find yourself quickly being cut off from the chakra that keeps you transformed."

"Yes, Father. Speaking of which, how real am I?"

"Technically, the body your inhabiting is a variation on the henge, but reinforced with chakra. You are for all intents and purposes human for the next twelve hours, but I'd avoid rough physical contact."

The demon suddenly dashed off, and Akuma followed closely, having guessed what Fenrir had in mind. Arriving at a lake, the wolf bent over and examined his reflection, "Hey…I look pretty good! The babes are going to be all over me!"

Akuma smiled to himself, "One more thing: You've helped me out today, and so I'm going to allow a little mayhem, but only a little."

Fenrir suddenly noticed something strange about his clothing… "Wait a second… You made me look like Hisagi Yugao!"

Akuma was grinning as he started to make his way back toward the campsite, "Yes…yes I did..."

~~

Both Akuma and Hikari slept in (relatively) late the next morning, so Seishin Houchou was back next to Akuma, the sword showing no sigh that just hours ago it had been romping around Rivercity in the form of Hisagi Yugao.

Though unbeknownst to Hisagi himself, all the city guard had been given Hisagi's (Fenrir's) picture and were told to bring him to the central tower if ever spotted, to be charged with mischief and public disturbance.

It would be a shame that some years down the road when Hisagi Yugao actually did visit Rivercity, Akuma was not in the nearby area to see the chaos that followed, but that is another story entirely.

Hikari and Akuma soon stumbled back into the main camp only to notice a distinct lack of Iro and Kairn. There was, however, a pile of a few scrolls and a Polaroid photo, which Hikari picked up and examined.

It was a picture of Iro and Kairn wearing cloaks, but they weren't like their old ones, although the pattern did look familiar. There was a written caption that said 'Since he won't be needing it anymore' and it clicked.

"Oi! Akuma, get over here. You won't believe what those two wackjobs did with your sleeping bag!"

Akuma had one of the previously piled scrolls in his hand and was reading the first few lines, "Considering what I've got here, I would believe anything..."

"It appears that your sleeping bag has been made into clothing, though how the two of them managed to pull it off in one night is beyond me."

"Well," Akuma said, "count me as even more amazed because this scroll is, and I quote, 'The Yugao And Raidou Complete Annotated Encyclopedia Of Everything Two Hormonally Charged Brats Might Do While Alone In The Forest With Just A Large Sword And Akuma's Pack'"

"Creepy…"

"What's really creepy is that they knew exactly what was in my pack. And I mean exactly, down to every last used gum wrapper..."

Hikari grabbed one of the other scrolls, "Apparently one wasn't enough, because here's TYARCAEOETHCBMDWAITFWJALSAAP volume two, and I'd bet that's volume three on the ground there..."

"They managed to fill three scrolls? They must be a lot more creative than we are, since all we really did was play chess and sleep..."

"So they managed to sew two cloaks from a sleeping bag and come up with and write three scrolls worth of ideas which I suspect are mostly sick, twisted, or both, all in one night?"

Akuma took a look at the photo, "No one takes stupid jokes more seriously than Kairn and Iro. They're probably not here because they wanted to get some sleep somewhere we wouldn't find them."

Hikari crushed the Polaroid in her hand, "Well, I'm going to find them, and they'll be damn sorry when I do!"

She paced back and forth fuming while Akuma read the first scroll with no small amount of amusement, "Well, you have to at least give them credit for sheer effort..."

The man tilted his head to the side as a kunai whizzed by his ear, "Okay, so maybe you don't..."

~~

Hikari never did find where Iro and Kairn were sleeping, but the two men strolled into camp that evening with wads of cash, announcing they had sold a little of Iro's acquired capital and returned the rest.

Having spent the day wandering around with Akuma as he bought a new sleeping bag, the woman had almost completely cooled down, and had even allowed herself to read a few entries of TYARCAEOETHCBMDWAITFWJALSAAP, which she would never admit, were at least a little bit funny.

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 2:30 am

Scenes from a Memory 13: Singing and Shopping

"For if I were an Oscar Mayer weiiiiiineeerrr, everyone would be in love with me!"

Aoi sat in tree, singing to herself. It wasn't like there was anyone close enough to hear her, and watching guards wander around can only amuse someone for so long.

~~

Early Moday morning, Iro withdrew the business card Mako had given him a few days earlier, "So, what are people's views on going to see this Vincent person?"

Hikari leaned against a tree, "I think we should go for it, I figure there's no harm in asking for payment when the job is already done."

"So then," Kairn interjected, "What do we do if he refuses? Are we ready to threaten him, and if so, are we willing to go through with any threat we might make?"

Iro looked at Akuma, "You did the job, so it's your call."

He tapped the hilt of his sword rhythmically, "I agree that we have very little to lose by trying, assuming we're discreet, and a few subtle threats might be required. On the other hand, I want to avoid violence, so if push comes to shove, we back off. Sound good?"

Getting a generally affirmative response, Akuma nodded to himself, "But then comes the problem of who should go."

Kairn grinned, "All of us."

"Are you sane?" Iro said bluntly, "Suggesting that we, four currently S-Rank registered missing nin of various countries, could walk into the central tower of this city unchallenged?"

"Yes, I am."

"On what basis?"

"You'll all just have to find out."

Hikari poked at the coals of the fire, making sure they were all out, "You're not messing with us, right? We're not going to walk up to the central tower only to be surrounded by members of the city guard?"

"Well…subtlety will be required, but once we're in the tower, there won't be a problem. However, this doesn't mean we won't need to prepare a little bit. Iro has never really dealt with clients personally, meaning I have to explain to you people how to prepare for and handle a meeting with the Poohbah."

"...Poohbah? That's what he's called?"

"Yes."

"....You know what, forget it, not going there. Continue."

"Thank you. As I was saying-"

Akuma harrumphed, "And what makes you an authority?"

Kairn looked annoyed, "Alright, everyone take a shot at guessing how old I am."

Iro looked his longtime partner over carefully; curious as he suddenly realized he didn't know the large man's age, "Twenty-six."

Hikari shrugged unknowingly, "Um…twenty three?"

Akuma continued to tap his sword hilt; "I'll go with Iro on this one, twenty-six."

Kairn stared at them blankly for a couple seconds, then started to laugh, "I'm glad I look so youthful, but I'm afraid to say I've been walking this earth for a full thirty years."

Iro's mouth would have hung open had he allowed himself such displays of emotion, and Akuma's mouth was hanging open. Hikari seemed the only one to be impressed rather than astonished.

"So, as I'm a few years older than even Iro, making my time as a shinobi longer, I've had much more variety in my experiences. One of those experiences is that I have, on many occasions, met with high and done jobs for high officials. Any more arguments? No? Good."

And thus, the four set off for the city. None were concerned about carrying large weapons, as in this city, they blended in perfectly.

To Hikari's delight, the place Kairn led them to was a shopping mall.

"Alright," Kairn said authoritatively, "we are not going to visit the Poohbah as Nukenin, but as contractors and businesspeople, meaning we need to dress sharply. Does anyone have any ideas or…"

Suddenly a dark suspicion popped into Kairn's head as he recalled that he had never seen Iro wear anything other than his current outfit, same for Akuma.

"We might have a problem here…"

~~

A certain crimson haired woman's hands were tapping her tree rythmically,

"When the chimes ring five...six and seven, We'll be right in sev-enth heaven. We're gonna rock... around... the clock tonight, We're gonna rock, rock, rock, 'til broad daylight. We're gonna rock, gonna rock, around the clock tonight..."

~~

It had been a unanimous decision among those whose votes counted (Kairn and Hikari) to go with suits since Kimonos made Iro look too feminine and made Akuma and Kairn just look weird. For the sake of consistency, Hikari was told she would have to dress likewise, but she secretly preferred western suits to Kimonos as well.

Iro and Akuma appeared perplexed by the black suits they were given and eventually came out and asked where the shuriken holsters were. This was followed by a long involved description of exactly what a suit was, how to wear it, and why it didn't have shuriken holsters.

Hikari then dragged Akuma off to get his haircut while Kairn shopped for sunglasses and every female within sight range swamped Iro.

Arriving back fifteen minutes later feeling refreshed, Akuma discovered Iro reaching his breaking point as girls of every age surrounded him to stare and/or drool and/or grope. Suspecting that any moment now Iro would grab a kunai and get stabby, Akuma made urgent gestures suggesting that Iro make a quick escape to the men's washroom located only fifty or so feet away.

A couple minutes later, Kairn emerged triumphantly holding a number of small boxes, "Yo Akuma! What happened to Iro?"

Even as he spoke, Iro burst from the washroom like a bat out of hell and made it to the protection of where Kairn and Akuma stood in less than three seconds. As soon as he appeared, the girls started to gather, but were held back by the rather imposing men with large swords.

Figuring Hikari might be a while shopping for herself, Kairn and Akuma escorted Iro back the store to change back into his regular clothes, after which the three of them wandered aimlessly around the mall.

Eventually, Akuma got bored enough to start wondering that if one swallowed a kunai, would one die from suffocation or blood loss first? He figured suffocation, and was just starting to consider testing this theory out when Hikari appeared carrying various bags and appearing absolutely ecstatic.

Akuma glared, "Nice of you to hurry, since we weren't waiting or anything."

"Oh, shut up. I'm in far too good a mood to be annoyed by you."

"So then can we at least go now? We've been here for over three hours!"

"Yes, we can, though I may go back and look more if you keep whining…" Suddenly noticing that Akuma, Kairn and Iro were already walking away, Hikari trailed off and rushed to follow.

/-/-/-/-/-/Later That Day…/-/-/-/-/-/

As the four made final preparations, Kairn sat with Hikari watching as the other two struggled to move in foreign garments, "It's not fair, is it?"

"No," she agreed, "it's not."

"I mean, between the two of them they don't have as much fashion sense as a bowl of cottage cheese, but once they actually get dressed up…"

Hikari sighed, "Akuma looks amazing, and Iro could pass as a friggin model..."

"Makes me want to go become a nudist…every one is equal that way.."

This comment immediately caused all movement within thirty feet to cease. Birds stopped chirping, bees stopped buzzing, and the wind stopped blowing. After a moment of realizing everything had gone quiet, Kairn looked around blankly, "I was being sarcastic, you know..."

Unfortunately, the damage had been done as each person tried vainly to rid themselves of the mental image.

Hikari shook her head violently, "Let us NEVER speak of this again..."

Kairn coughed, "Well fine then…I was just making a joke…"

Iro was rubbing his temples as if plagued by a headache, "Next time, please make your jokes out of earshot..."

"Some people have no sense of humor..."

Akuma snorted with amused derision, "Some people have no sense of decency."

"Well some people are just stupid."

"Hey, I don't need to take that from a guy who looks like he belongs in a psyche ward!"

"Ha! This coming from someone most suited for a zoo cage?"

As the two started into what Hikari suspected would be a rather long exchange of insults, she gathered up her own purchases and made her way to one of the many nearby lakes. Never having been one to care much about fashion, she was nonetheless overjoyed at the thought of now having something other than her shinobi uniform.

She dressed quickly so as not to make the others wait, but fortunately for Hikari, she had underestimated how long Kairn and Akuma could maintain a stupid argument, for not only were they were still at it when she finally made it back, they appeared to be nearing the point at which swords would be picked up and landscapes devastated.

Figuring the two of them should have gotten it out of their systems by now and were probably just angling for an excuse to pick up the aforementioned swords so they could devastate the aforementioned landscapes, she intervened "Alright, quit it! Kairn, weren't you just telling us a few hours ago how experienced you are? Shouldn't you then also then have an equal amount of maturity to go with your experience?"

Kairn rolled that thought around in his head for a few seconds, "Hmm…well, yes, I should, but that doesn't mean I do."

"Pfft…and you're supposed to be our role model?"

Kairn turned to deliver a witty retort but stopped when he saw her, "Well now…" said in wonderment, "and all this time I'd just assumed your hair was stuck in that ponytail."

Hikari flushed, "Don't be stupid! I just do it that way so my hair never bothers me."

Kairn pouted slightly at being rebuked, but suddenly brightened again, "Hey! We have to do our 'thing'!"

Nothing happened for a moment; then, as if cued by some silent maestro, the three reached into their breast pockets, pulled out sunglasses, snapped them open with a flick of the wrist and slid them smoothly on all in perfect synchronization. Hikari burst out laughing.

Kairn stood thunderstruck, then he and Akuma both cursed and passed some money to Iro, which the man collected smugly. It took a couple of minutes for Hikari to calm down, during which time she almost tripped from laughing so hard.

As she eventually gathered control of herself, she noticed Akuma's irate state, "…sorry about that, but you guys look like a bunch of dysfunctional Yakuza..."

"It's not personal" Akuma grumbled, "We all made a bet on how you would respond. Kairn figured you'd think it was cool, I figured you'd roll your eyes and brush us off, and Iro said you'd laugh. The two losers had to pay the winner 5000 yen each."

"So now that you three are done being silly, can we get onto the important stuff?"

With a forlorn sigh for his 5000 yen, Kairn nodded, "Alright then, a couple things that the more unstable of us have to remember. Its true that we could crush the entire city guard without much effort, that doesn't however mean that we treat the Poohbah with anything less than the greatest respect. Speak only when spoken to or when I signal you. Most important, no matter what I do, make no threatening gestures of any kind."

He turned to Iro, "So no fear stimuli and no weapons," then to Akuma, "and since you have built in weapons, you must do your very best to look meek. No baring of fangs or flexing of claws."

Despite mild annoyance, there were sounds of grudging agreement on all sides, and Kairn gathered his thoughts, "Its getting later in the day, so we need to leave now and keep a low profile. A reputation is a freelance nukenin's most valuable asset, and we have the perfect chance here to start a good rep, so no mistakes on this!"

~~

Aoi was staring at a leaf in the palm of her hand while singing now.

"And I'm…too sexy for this leaf… too sexy for this leaf…I like pot stewed beef...."

Aoi was now at the point of making up her own lyrics, and realized with a start that she was rather hungry.

~~

Akuma and Hikari ran across the water, both soaked from falling in a few times each.

"Okay, whose idea was it to run across the ocean?"

Hikari smacked him, causing him to fall in again, "It was your idea!"

Akuma dragged himself out of the water, running up one side of a wave and down the other, "We need to get to the mainland tonight. Waiting for a ferry wasn't an option."

"But running on water doesn't allow for any rest, a stressful enough situation not even considering that at any given time we don't know how much longer we'll have to go."

"No other options were open to us. Kairn told us to get to the mainland tonight, and I intend to do that no matter what."

(Flashback)

Kairn took AKuma off to a corner of the Poohbah's office speaking quietly and quickly, "Now listen here, Szark is way out of your league, and way out of my league, but Iro and I together have a chance. The most you and Hikari can do for us is to lead his Seraphim as far away as possible, because if she joins her father we stand no chance at all. No matter whether we win or lose this fight, Hunters will be after you in full force, so escape to the mainland tonight and keep a low profile for a little while."

Akuma balked, "But that would be abandoning you!"

"I told you, Szark could crush you without a second thought, and I have another task for you." He pressed a piece of paper into Akuma's hand, "Three months from now, go to this location. If all goes well, Iro and I will be waiting for you there. If not, I want you to remember that I went down fighting and wouldn't have had it any other way."

The implication shook Akuma to his bones, "I…"

Kairn ignored him and calmly walked back to where the others were hurriedly discussing strategy, "Don't think about it, Akuma, just do it."

(End Flashback)

A cold wind blew across Akuma's face as he ran across the water, 'I will not fail.'

~~

On the shore far behind them, Szark sat on a cliff. Relaxing after the rather easy defeat of Kairn and Iro. They'd been clever, and worked well together, but it wasn't good enough.

He supposed that he could have gone after Akuma and Hikari across the sea, but he was really in no particular rush. Besides, it had been years since he had indulged in a good chase.

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 2:37 am

Scenes from a Memory 14: Szark Stings

Iro and Kairn stood in the street, watching as the main door to the central tower was pushed open and an old man walked towards them, leaning on his staff for support, "How nice to see you again, Kairn-san. I have to say I wasn't expecting you."

Kairn scratched the back of his head, "Of the two of us, Szark-sama, I can assure you I'm the more surprised."

"You appear to be unarmed today… but I'm more interested in how those friends of yours managed to get my daughter away from here."

"Simple. I relied on the fact that you hadn't told her anything about the person or people you were after, so there was no way for her to know that there were four of us."

"Ah, so you remembered how much I enjoy being cryptic, do you?"

"I will never forget. You were the one who first told me that a mission is no fun when you know what's going to happen."

"That may be true, but a mission is also no fun when the enemy is unarmed, so I suggest you remedy that problem quickly."

"Oh, don't worry."

Szark was continuing to smile politely, "So, Kairn, did you ever manage to get the feel for that backhand twist cut?"

"Nah, could never get the timing quite perfect, so I figured out a way to compensate by speeding up my backhand cross cut. Not as graceful, but equally effective."

Iro slowly shifted his gaze between the two swordsmen, finally settling on Szark, "So… I hear you saw Akuma at a restaurant."

"Akuma? So that's his name… well then, give him my compliments if you see him, because his sensory attunement is truly amazing."

"I'm sure he'll appreciate praise from one such as yourself."

"Whoa," Kairn cut in, "here it comes…"

Running over to a wall and running up it, Kairn back-flipped off and grabbed Chi Majin as it flew past, landing lightly in a crouch, "Sorry for the delay. I'm ready now."

Szark grabbed his wooden staff by its thick end, his hand facing the ground, and flipped the staff so he was holding it like a sword, "Excellent. I was getting impatient."

Iro blinked, "Um... Am I fighting too?"

"Of course," Szark said as if it were obvious, "Kairn alone won't keep me entertained for very long..."

As he spoke, a ripple rolled down his staff, the wood seeming to melt into the shape of a blade.

"Wait a second, you're going to fight Kairn and me with a wooden sword?"

Kairn sweatdropped, "Iro…"

"Why yes, I am. Do you have a problem with that?"

"Not really, but…" Iro blinked; Szark was gone.

He threw himself to one side out of pure instinct, and the earth exploded behind him. When he looked again, Szark's wooden sword was embedded halfway into where he had been standing, and the old man himself was balanced on top, "My my, and I'd heard that you had the best eyes anywhere. Do try to keep up with me next time"

There was a blur of movement and Iro again got himself out of the way with fractions of a second to spare.

~~

Iro examined their current situation grimly, "Brilliant plan you came up with Kairn."

With only seconds having passed, Iro counted no less than three cuts of varying depth on his own body, and approximately the same had been inflicted on Kairn. It was a position the two were not used to being in.

Szark didn't seem to have a particularly enormous amount of chakra, but his skills and style were on a whole different level than anything the two Nukenin had ever faced.

The old man stood there so innocuously, daring one of them to attack him. Iro was quickly realizing the benefits of wooden swords, the primary being their lack of weight. Despite his skill, Iro had no doubt that but for his reflexes, he would have been dead after the first strike.

Szark was at least as fast as him, and far faster than Kairn, but he lacked the ability to block the man's surprisingly deadly wooden sword, which Kairn could by way of Chi Majin.

So in summary, Iro concluded, Szark possessed a level of skill approximately equal to that of Kairn and himself combined.

As if suddenly bored by the lack of action, Szark suddenly vanished again, but this time Iro was prepared. His eye's could just barely keep up with the old man, so he had to dodge again, but he twisted and dove right, so if Szark wanted to close for a second strike, he would have to pincer himself between Iro and Kairn.

Not appearing overly concerned, the old man did just that.

Iro tried to dodge again, but felt a telltale burn in his leg where the wooden blade cut into his muscle. Shifting his weight to his other foot, Iro tried to counter attack just as Kairn took advantage of the opening Szark's back left him.

Still wearing that infernal smile, Szark grabbed Iro's wrist and flung him over Kairn's head while bringing his sword round to parry Chi Majin, catching the large man off balance and sending him following Iro's trajectory with a well placed kick.

"And I had such high expectations for the two of you… Now I'm all disappointed."

Iro pushed Kairn off him and dragged himself up, "Well, apparently this will require more planning than usual."

Kairn shook his head to clear it, "No shit. I don't suppose you have any brilliant ideas?"

Iro didn't at first, but taking a slow step forward he heard a crunch under his foot, "I might just have a couple… Do you remember what I once called the most useless skill ever?"

(Flashback)

Kairn took his sword and swung it into a tree, barely even scratching the bark, but suddenly all the leaves fell off it and slowly floated to the ground.

Iro looked at him dully, "So you can create vibrations; who cares? That's the most useless skill I've ever seen."

(End Flashback)

"Yeah…"

"Well, I want you to do it now. That building behind us first and then the street."

"I have no idea what your thinking, but it has to be better than what we've been doing so far."

Taking a couple cautious steps backwards, his eyes still on Szark, Kairn suddenly slammed Chi Majin into the wall behind him. The shockwave was visible as the whole building shook and the windows shattered in rapid succession starting with those nearest to Kairn.

The cloud of broken glass fell towards the earth and Iro dashed forward.

Szark watched Iro's movements curiously, but just as he was running to intercept, he felt a small scratch on his face and stopped cold, figuring out the trick, "Clever… Very clever."

Glass continued to fall, and Kairn smashed his sword into the ground, sending a shockwave through the earth this time, the vibrations launching what glass had already hit the ground back into the air. He repeated this every few seconds, keeping the air filled with glass.

Szark let the shards fall over him as he contemplated. The falling glass meant that both he and Iro would be severely restricted in their motions, because the faster they moved, the more damage they would receive from the glass. Standing still, it was just like having small pebbles and rocks dropped on you, but at high speeds, the tiny chunks of glass would cut as well as any kunai.

Still advancing, Iro grabbed a couple of the larger pieces and threw them like shuriken, forcing Szark to dodge as fast as he dared. As he felt the sting of another cut on his face, the old man was finally starting to enjoy himself, "Interesting strategy, but all you've done is slow me down. How do you plan on overpowering me?"

Grabbing more of the larger shards, Iro closed the distance between them.

To an outsider, the exchange of blows that followed would be almost comical, as both combatants moved and attacked exaggeratedly slowly, for fear of crippling themselves.

Hissing as he received a gash on his hand, Szark backpedaled quickly. Both he and Iro were covered in a great many small cuts, but the sword master figured he was faring slightly better.

About to advance for another skirmish, Szark suddenly looked up for a moment then glanced at Kairn before refocusing on his opponent, "I'm afraid I must cut our game short, fun as it was turning out to be."

Iro, looking far more haggard than usual, laughed darkly, "And how do you plan on 'cutting it short', you're in almost as bad shape as me, old man."

With a sigh, Szark closed his eyes and simply felt the glass as it fell and the vibrations under his feet as the echoed through the earth, "Your name is Irorochi, right? Let me say then, Irorochi, that I would most definitely like to fight you again some day."

Opening his eyes once more, Szark threw his sword away to one side of the street. Ignoring the looks of disbelief he was receiving, he smiled disarmingly, "But today you shall learn that talent is no substitute for experience."

He formed a single seal then thrust his right arm into the air, "Leviathan!"

~~

As his mind slowly emerged from its confusion, the first thing he felt was pain. A rather lot of pain.

Kairn forced his eyes open, "What the hell…"

His sight was blurry, but he managed to focus when a long forgotten face appeared in his field of vision, "Seraphim? Why are you here? You should be in the forest somewhere, chasing Akuma and Hikari."

"Well for one, I'm keeping a useless chunk of flesh named Kairn alive."

"Where's Iro? I remember using vibration transfer, but my memory starts to blur… And why am I all wet?"

Reaching down, she grabbed him by the collar and dragged him into a sitting position. Kairn blinked a couple of times as he tried to take everything in. He was still in the street, which was now filled with workers and covered in six inches of water and glass. Iro was laying face down a few feet away, his back covered in bandages.

"How long was I out!?"

Seraphim dropped down next to him, "Thirty or so minutes."

"And where then exactly is your father?"

"Not sure, but he left right before I arrived, cause the two of you had just begun to bleed."

"You know, it's strange, because based on how much my side is killing me one would think I should at least remember being injured."

"He used 'it', so your brain probably wasn't able to keep up with what was happening right before you were hit, thus causing mild memory loss."

Kairn laughed, coughing up some blood in the process, "So that was 'it'? This is just perfect… I was witness to one of the greatest legends in history and can't remember a damn thing."

"You should just be thankful you're still breathing."

"Yeah, about that, why am I alive? I have a hard time believing you bandaged me and Iro out of pity…"

"Ha! Fuck no. I would have skewered you, but my father likes strong people, and probably wouldn't like my killing someone he went out of his way to leave alive."

Kairn lay back down slowly and grinned, "Nice to see that you're as charming as always ever, Seraph."

"You think flattery will get you anywhere?"

"Not really; but hey, why not give it a shot?"

"I don't suppose you have any idea where my dad might have gone?"

"Hmm… Nope."

The woman leaned forward and rested her head on her knees, "Since he went out of his way to leave right before I arrived, I can assume he's going to do something that I wouldn't approve of."

"Yeah, but there are so many things that fall into that category…"

"How is it possible that you've managed to become more immature with the passage of time?"

"Pure talent, babe."

A sound was made a few feet away as Iro shifted and rolled over, wincing as his back hit ground, "What the hell…"

/-/-/-/-/-/13 Days Later/-/-/-/-/-/

Suna was not anything resembling a thriving metropolis, yet even on the hottest of days, a few people would always be active.

Temujin was one of those people. Not so much because he enjoyed the heat, as because he enjoyed the fact that no one else enjoyed the heat, allowing him to wander the near empty streets.

But the man was troubled on this particular day, and even more troubled because he wasn't exactly sure what was troubling him.

He knew there was nothing at all logical about this feeling, but he couldn't help it. He continued to wander, finding himself at the east edge of the village, looking out over the desert.

It was the wind, he decided. There was only a warm breeze, but it sent foreboding shivers down his spine. "Something…"

He said quietly, as if afraid he might be heard, "Something is going to happen soon..."

~~

Many miles farther to the east than Temujin's gaze could reach, just outside a small town whose name was not even known by the man, two people lay huddled in a sleeping bag.

They had done nothing but run, eat and sleep since that fateful day in the country of water. Akuma wasn't sure what it was that was driving him to keep such a brutal pace, but he felt the need to run in his bones. He shifted and poked Hikari, waking her.

"Time to go."

Hikari yawned, "How long did we sleep?"

"Three hours."

"That's not enough…"

"It will have to be, since we need to leave."

They slept mostly clothed, so once awake; it took the two of them only three minutes to be ready to leave. Akuma flexed his leg muscles to loosen them, "Ready?"

"Yeah."

Sleep deprived and with their muscles burning, they set off again, determined to reach the relative safety of hidden sand.

~~

As twilight fell, Szark ran his hands over the ground on which Seishin Houchou had been laid only a few hours earlier, "Ooh… lucky. I might catch up tomorrow."

Lifting his gaze, he watched the almost unheard of sight of dark clouds gathering in the desert sky and he spoke to the air, "Getting impatient are we?"

A flash of lighting lacerated its way to earth, and in the empty desert, the old man's eyes reflected a deep blue light, "I know… and to tell the truth… I'm exited as well."

The last vestiges of sunlight vanished, immersing the world in darkness.

~~

They had been running to the point of collapse, but Akuma watched the gathering storm and knew they weren't going to make it. He wasn't sure about exactly what was following them, but he knew they weren't going to escape it.

Or at least, he wasn't.

He grabbed Hikari's arm, "Stop."

"What! You almost made me fall!"

"How far are we from Suna?"

"About… eight hours, I'd guess."

Akuma looked at the ground, "Eight hours… the only way either of us is going to survive this is if you go on without me."

Hikari whacked him upside the head; "I am not leaving you here just so you can be heroic."

"I'm not suggesting it to be heroic! I'm saying it's the only way we are going to survive. With the help of Temujin and some sand-nin, we might stand a chance against what's after me, but not otherwise."

"So then what are you going to do until I get back with help?"

Akuma smiled easily, "I'm going to wait for you."

She grabbed hold of him and hugged him tightly, burying her face in the crook of his neck, "You better stay alive!"

"No problem, I promise."

Hikari ran into the desert night with a new vigor, and Akuma watched her go with mixed feelings. Even at his most optimistic, he had maybe two hours before whatever it was got to him. It was eight hours to Suna, and then another eight back, so he would have to hold his ground for fourteen straight hours.

He collapsed on his back and looked up at the moon.

"I'll try to keep my promise Hikari," he covered his eyes with one hand, "I'll try with everything I have, but…"

~~

An hour and ten minutes later, Hikari passed through another village and decided she had to eat something. As much as she wanted to keep running, she knew she would collapse without sustenance.

The first thing she saw was a ramen stand, so she stumbled in and demanded a bowl of pork ramen as fast as it could be made. She lay her head on the counter and looked hazily at the man next to her, "Hey…mister… what's this place called?"

"What?"

"This town, what's it called?"

"It's called Ocean, but are you alright?"

Hikari laughed semi-deliriously, "Ha! A place in the desert called ocean… but I need to remember: an hour south of ocean… an hour south of ocean… an hour south of ocean."

The man rubbed his head, "Miss, I really think you should go to a hospital or something."

Her pork ramen arrived and Hikari grabbed the bowl and left the stand.

The owner looked stunned, "Hey! That's my bowl! And you didn't pay for the ramen!"

Hikari looked back, "Charge it to Suna!"

At the other end of the ramen bar, a man sat perplexed as Hikari ran off.

Had she really not recognized him? Was she playing dumb as part of some plan? Was she on some kind of drug?

The more he thought, the more confused he got, but he figured he had one clue.

"An hour south, huh?"

~~

Akuma opened his eyes and sat up, "How long have you been there?"

Fifty feet away, Szark smiled, "Oh, just a couple minutes."

"Awfully considerate of you to let me sleep."

"I came all this way to fight you, Akuma-kun, not kill you," he smiled wider, "though I can't promise I won't."

Akuma stood up and reached into his mind, "Alright, bastard wolf. If there was ever a time to fight your hardest, this is it!"

To his surprise, the response was both immediate and strong, "I WILL."

The wolf seemed really riled up. The last time Fenrir had gotten like this, was when they'd encountered that demon....

His hand suddenly clenched around Seishin Houchou's handle, "Impossible…"

Szark threw his staff to one side and formed a single seal; "I hope you won't mind, Akuma-kun, if I start off at full power. And by full power, I of course mean," his eyes suddenly narrowed, "LEVIATHAN!"

Chakra exploded outward and Szark watched as Akuma struggled to fight against the waves of blue energy with disappointment, "I may have vastly overestimated you, Akuma-kun, if you can't even stand up to a little raw chakra."

With a sigh of annoyance, Szark drew a kunai and vanished in a blur, appearing behind the boy and driving it towards his skull. The old man was more than surprised to hear the clang of metal on metal.

The old man was suddenly blown back and dug his feet into the sand as a vortex of deep blue chakra consumed the boy.

Akuma looked at him with unholy fire in his eyes, "DON'T FUCK WITH ME, OLD MAN! There's no way Iro and Kairn would have lost to that kind of pathetic strength!"

Szark looked delighted, "Wonderful, Akuma-kun! This will be even more fun than I imagined."

The man's voice had a demonic edge to it, "I suppose now you're going to show me your 'full power'?"

"Hardly. I wouldn't be much of a shinobi unless I kept a few tricks in reserve, but then again, I'm not much of a swordsman without a sword, now am I?"

Saying this, he rolled up his right sleeve, revealing a complex tattoo that the blue chakra seemed to condense on. The tattoo suddenly glowed bright red and there was a poof of smoke, which blew away almost immediately to reveal the largest sword Akuma had ever seen.

His response was therefore appropriate, "Damn… that's a big sword."

"It's called Gyakuryuu, and I haven't used it in combat for seven years now, so this is quite an event for me."

"You didn't use that thing on Iro and Kairn?"

"I didn't need to. Whether you intended to or not, Akuma-kun, you have chosen the perfect battlefield to face me on."

"How do you mean?"

"Leviathan can control water, so with his help it's easy to surround my feet with an inch thick bubble that allows me to move at three or four times my normal speed, but here…"

Akuma grinned, "No water… and any you did accumulate on your feet would be sucked up by the sand."

"So it would appear," Szark said as he hefted the massive bastard sword, "that our speeds are now almost even."

Akuma knew he was still slower, but now had built up some confidence. Szark was not invincible, and from the way the chakra vortexes were pushing against each other, the old man was about even with him in chakra capacity as well.

Unfortunately, AKuma knew he was vastly inferior with regards to technique, so if he was going to hold out, he would have to attack hard, fast, and when Szark was least expecting it. If fact, with the old man's eyes closed and him looking rather out of it, right then seemed like a pretty good time.

He burst forward and adjusted his hand grip for an upwards cross cut.

Szark opened one eye, "Foolish."

He brought the massive blade to bear faster than Akuma would have though possible, so fast in fact, that Akuma could barely follow its trail. He was only more confused though, once he did see its trail.

Even with its size, the sword was moving so fast it was going to complete its swing before he was in the strike zone; in other words, it was going to miss him. Akuma enjoyed a moment of bliss before he realized that an opponent of this caliber wasn't likely to make such a mistake.

Szark's single open eye narrowed to a slit and pulsed with dark light, "Kamaitachi!"

Unable to even think of evasion, Akuma ran headlong into the shockwave and was sent hurling backwards, slamming into a sand dune with a dull crunch.

Akuma pulled himself out of the sand, "Well, that wasn't a very good idea… and with a name like Gyakuryuu… I wasn't even thinking."

Szark smiled amiably again, "To define it, Gyakuryuu is a stretch of turbulent water in a river or the sea caused by one current flowing into or across another current."

"In other words," Akuma coughed and spit out some blood, "a Riptide."

_________________
"There is no such thing as 'Coincidence'. Only 'Inevitability'." ~ Yuuko Ichihara

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PostSubject: Re: Hogosha no Oni Series   2011-10-02, 2:43 am

Scenes from a Memory OMAKE: Truth of Akuma

In a small house near the outskirts of the village of Nikkougakure no Sato, Village Hidden in the Sunlight, a red haired, eight-year-old Akuma was laying in bed asleep, having a great dream. That day, for the first time, he'd tasted Pocky. Some little kid who didn't know him had given him a stick of Pocky, before concerned parents pulled him away. Just one taste, and he was hooked...

~~

An ocean of Pocky, was there anything lovelier? Akuma didn't think so, but then again he was staring out across the vast ocean of Pocky so it'd take a lot to break its hold over him. Limbering up, the boy crouched and then jumped, hurling himself into the air before plummeting into the Pocky. Only, instead of stopping, he exploded through into a vast sea of darkness, where something malevolent roamed.

'Monster!'

Akuma panicked and twisted around in the darkness, trying to locate the voice.

'Demon! Evil! Foul! Why don't they lock you in a cage until you're needed, instead of letting something like you run around!?'

Akuma looked around frantically, feeling invisible hands grasp him. Struggling free from their grasp, he screamed wordlessly in anger before slamming into contact with a hard surface on his back. The shock alone froze him, then groaning he twitched his body ever so slightly to make sure that everything worked properly.

Assured that nothing had broken he sat up gingerly, the air turgid and cold. Added to that was the unnerving sound of constantly dripping water and a feeling that this was a very bad place. Getting to his feet, taking in the cracked walls covered in runes and exposed pipes along with the puddles of dark water, he grimaced wondering where in the hell he was.

He couldn't even begin to place any hallway that even came close to this place, a maintenance tunnel that had received very little maintenance. Approaching a wall, he touched it, the thin layer of slime prompting him to pull his hand away. He was just beginning to wonder if this was a very vivid dream when he heard the sound of a voice drifting through the hallway.

Turning he frowned, eyebrows knitting together in thought, he could have sworn that voice had called his name. He hesitated, and then hearing it again moved toward it cautiously, wondering. The hallway turned out to be more of a maze, made up of interconnecting and identical hallways, each as horrible as the last and always the feeling that something truly horrendous just lay around the next turn. The hot, humid air that felt like something was breathing didn't help.

But that voice, a child's voice in the most haunting tone he had ever heard, called to him.

Following the voice and the labyrinth maze of dark, damp tunnels, Akuma knew things were not going to end pleasantly. If there was one thing Akuma was an expert on, outside of Pocky flavors and legendary shinobi, it was horror movies and stories. This entire thing screamed horror, it shouted it from the bottom of its heart, that at the center of this whole place was a demon -what kind he wasn't sure- waiting to rend him limb from limb or deliver some other horrible fate.

Still, he couldn't not find the center; he was being drawn toward it like a moth to a flame, or a magnet toward metal. It felt like forever, but finally he stepped into a cavern-sized room and paused. At the far end of the room, which bathed in a haunting yellowish light, were thick steel bars that formed a prison of immense portions.

Behind those bars, bouncing a small red and black ball was an innocent looking eight year old girl.

"Oh fuck," Akuma muttered, a chill sweeping through. He knew now, beyond any doubt, that he was in for it, only the most evil of demons pretended to be little girls. It was a fact of nature, the more innocent looking the little girl, the more evil the demon. This girl was the picture of innocence, which meant Akuma now faced a majorly gruesome end.

"Akuma," the girl said her voice, pure and vibrant, and when she looked up at him, her eyes were a crystal blue "let me out."

"Right," Akuma said, moving closer despite his instincts "and while I'm at it, how about I cover myself with ketchup to help with the digestion."

The girl smiled at him and Akuma found it creepy as hell. "Catch!"

Akuma of course caught the ball out of instinct, and then looked down curiously. He dropped said ball as if burned and stumbled backward in muted horror and shock. Their on the ground, the ball that she had been bouncing, had really been the decapitated head of the Nidaime Karikage.

Looking up sharply, Akuma now found a gargantuan shadow, with glowing red eyes and massive fangs, trapped behind the bars.

"...Can you guess my name?"


~~

Akuma jerked awake in bed, breathing hard, eyes wide. What was that? He didn't understand. That monster behind the bars...the Nidaime's head...the Nidaime Karikage had died protecting Nikkougakure no Sato, Village Hidden in the Sunlight, from the wrath of the demon Fenrir. It was widely believed that Nidaime had died, but had managed to seal Fenrir away from the world in the process. So...why?

Why had he been faced by a monstrous wolf in a dream that felt...so real? Akuma had always been a smart kid, and figured things out easily, even at the age of eight. It didn't take him forever to piece things together.

His pronounced canines. His violet eyes that flashed red when angry. His claws that grew when angry. His insane healing, enhanced speed, strength, senses, and larger chakra capacity than most Jounin...the glares he recieved daily, the hatred and abuse...that dream just made it click.

He knew it was a dream, but it just made so much sense...the Nidaime had indeed sealed Fenrir...but he'd sealed it within a child...no wonder the people had named him Akuma, which meant demon...no wonder they often told him he would one day be their greatest weapon...

Not because he had some advanced bloodline, as he had suspected...

He was the Jinchuuriki of the Great Demon Fenrir.

_________________
"There is no such thing as 'Coincidence'. Only 'Inevitability'." ~ Yuuko Ichihara

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