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 The Conscript Chronicles [P]

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Asami Miyamoto
Chuunin of Kiri
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PostSubject: The Conscript Chronicles [P]   Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:53 am

The first knock sounded benign.

The second sounded suspicious.

And the third knock, well, the third knock sounded like fate.

The sound of the increasingly aggressive knocking soon roused the Miyamoto household from its early morning stupor. Groping through the darkness, Asami’s hand found the familiar button on her bedside clock. The harsh red neon glow of the numbers told her it wasn’t even four in the morning. With another the click the light faded leaving the room in darkness once more. The all too recognizable creak of her parent’s bedroom door told her all she needed to know: her mother or father would deal with the inconsiderate knocker.

Pulling her covers back up to her chin, the young genin listened intently with the hope of learning the identity of the visitor. As her eyes drooped shut she caught vague sounds of conversation coming from the kitchen. It sounded like her father and another man with a deep gravelly voice that she couldn’t place. Every now and then a single word would wiggle under her door and into her ears, but they meant nothing by themselves when the rest of the conversation sounded like a distant radio. Try as she might she couldn’t make heads or tails of the whole thing and soon submitted to the soft beckoning of Morpheus as she fell into a dream filled slumber.

Dreams are funny things; sometimes they feel more real than life itself and other times they feel otherworldly and nonsensical. The dreams that now drifted through the girl’s head were definitely more of the latter than the former. Instead of familiar surroundings, she found herself walking through a sea of colors: red and green and every color in between. When she looked down at where her body should have been she saw nothing, just more color. This went on and on for what felt like forever until the colors began to fade and finally left her in darkness.

The darkness closed in around her like smoke from an angry fire. It billowed here and danced there until it felt as if she were in a cloud of darkness. From time to time she’d glimpse a patch of color, but as she walked towards it disappeared. Soon even these patches of colors left and with it came a mounting feeling of dread. She could’ve sworn somewhere in the darkness a pair of eyes sat watching her, just watching.

Watching and waiting.

When she tried to scream two giant yellow eyes lit up and glared out of the darkness at her. Each eye shone like a gold medallion with pupils the size of a full-grown man. They hung unmoving and unblinking in the blackness appraising Asami, or where Asami should have been if she had a body, like a piece of meat. Then, in a slow methodical fashion, the eyes flicked shut.

Then nothing, absolutely nothing.

The eyes disappeared, the darkness receded, and Morpheus’ spell over the genin broke leaving her back in her bed covered in a cold sweat. Reaching for the clock once more she flinched unconsciously when it went off with a loud electronic blare just as her hand reached it. Funny how that works, no? Pressing the snooze button, she let out a deep breath; seven o’clock, time to start another day.

Thankfully, it was a Sunday, which for the Miyamoto family meant relief from their normally hectic schedule of the weekday. Instead of pulling on her shinobi gear, Asami slipped into a pair of pajama pants, pulled on a tank top, and shrouded herself in a polka dot robe of red and blue. She then made her bed, opened the blinds to let in the mist muted sun, and stalked out of her room to the kitchen.

Finding the kitchen empty did not surprise the young girl as her parents often slept in on their day off, so she set to work making breakfast. Perhaps here is where it is worth mentioning that Asami is not the best chef in the world much to her mother’s eternal chagrin. In cracking a few eggs, she ended up having to fish out bits and pieces of the shells she’d inexpertly broken and she just couldn’t seem to get the stove to start. Well, she could get it to start because she could smell gas, she just couldn’t get it to light. Finally giving up on the automatic starter she just lit a match near the stove and nearly took off her eyebrows, but hey what is an eyebrow or two in the grand scheme of things when breakfast hangs in the balance?

In no time at all the smell of burnt eggs and bacon filled the small house. Of course, if anyone were to ask Asami about her cooking she would tell them that she just preferred her breakfast well-done, it was all intentional. Yup, totally intentional. Well, intentional or otherwise, she sat down to her less than appetizing meal. Perhaps there had been a time when her parents had rushed out at the smell of smoke, but they were now long past that point. Both Kenchi and Ai resigned themselves to the fact that their daughter just simply wasn’t a good cook.

Though, about halfway through her meal Asami heard the distinctive clip-clop of her father’s slippers on the wooden floor. Kenchi, or dad as Asami called him, meandered into the kitchen with a grim look on his face that quickly disappeared when his daughter turned to him. The older man never liked to worry his family.

“Mornin’ dad,” the genin chirped.

“Morning, honey,” his voice sounded darker than usual as if he were holding something in the back of his throat that he didn’t want to let go of.

Pouring himself a cup of coffee, the career fisherman took a seat at the table across from his daughter. Taking a sip of his drink and putting it on the table in front of him Kenchi ran a hand through his sun-bleached hair as he always did when stressed.
“Asami, your mother and I need to talk to you…It’s about last night.”


“Sure,” she chomped down on a particularly brunt piece of bacon and grimaced in spite of herself. “What’d ya guys want to talk about?”

As if on cue Asami’s mother, Ai, shuffled into the kitchen kissed the top of her daughter’s head and poured her own cup of coffee. Unbeknownst the genin her parents had already talked the whole scenario that was about to unfold out down to the last detail. In fact, neither Ai nor Kenchi slept after the arrival of their early morning visitor. After all, how could they? How could they sleep easy knowing what lay in store for their beloved daughter?

“Well…” Kenchi paused as his wife took a seat next to his daughter. “Perhaps it would be better if your mother explained.”

Kenchi was many things, a fisherman, a loving father, and gifted sailor, but a wordsmith he was not. Perhaps that was why he and Ai fit so well together; when words failed him she could and would pick up the thread and continue with all the grace being a rich merchants daughter bestowed upon her. Suffice to say Ai had a way with words that many many people lacked.
Asami turned to her mother with a searching gaze.

“Is this about that guy earlier this morning?”

“Oh, you heard that?” A dark shadow of dismay spread over Ai’s soft features.

“I think the whole neighborhood did, mom.”

“I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent war efforts here in Kirigakure.”

Asami nodded, village business was not something her family often talked about together, but it would take a fool to not see that in recent months Kirigakure had taken to the war path. The forges worked overtime, a large portion of the village’s shinobi departed, and the merchant ships buzzed with the optimism in the coming war time markets. Certainly, as a shinobi village, one might argue that this level of activity was the norm, but any Kirigakure native would tell you different, times were changing.

“The man who stopped by was named Sampson. He works with the village as a recruiter for the military and there’s no easy way to say this but he’s making the rounds of the village to collect more soldiers.” Ai suddenly hugged Asami close to her side. “He brought orders with him; you have to report to the Ocean Fort tomorrow.”

Ai’s normally calm voice broke here in a distraught sob.

“I’m sorry, honey.”

The young genin understood every word her mother said, but the gravity of said words didn’t sink in right away. In fact, it sounded almost exciting. The Ocean Fort was where all of Kirigakure’s best soldiers were trained, she could finally advance in the village. She’d meet new people, catch up with old friends, and learn some cool new shinobi tricks. What could possibly be better?

Then reality hit her, it hit her like a ton of bricks right in the gut. Her friend, Kimiko, had gone to the Ocean Fort and never returned or rather never returned alive. Asami had attended her funeral the previous week where her friend was given all the honors of a fallen solider. No, this wouldn’t be just another training exercise, this would be war. She would be going to war and face a future of uncertainty. That was what Sampson’s orders meant, that was what going to the Ocean Fort meant, and that was why Asami returned her mother’s hug with increasing vigor.

“That’s tomorrow though,” Kenchi interjected rather hurriedly. “We were thinking we’d spend the day together as a family, what do you think?”

There was, of course, only one real answer here.

Asami nodded into her mother's shoulder as her eyes swam. The tears that threatened to fall, however, never came because before they could the genin blinked them back. If she was going to war she couldn't go around crying in front of her parents, right? No reason to make them worry.

"I'll go get dressed," Asami said as she pulled away from her mother. "Be right back!"

Still blinking back tears, the young girl closed her bedroom door behind her with a bit more force than she intended. The loud crash that followed seemed to make the whole household jump, because through it rang Asami's poorly suppressed sobs. Normally, she wasn't a cryer, but as she buried her face in a pillow she found herself unable to banish the thought of Kimiko's casket. It had been wrought of a light wood and engraved with Kirigakure's emblem. No one would have guessed that the girl within it had not even had her first kiss yet.

That could be her, part of the faceless dead.

A few minutes passed and the knock on her door that Asami expected never came; neither Ai nor Kenchi wanted to disturb their daughter. However, eventually, her tears ran dry and with them went the initial wave of fear. In place of fear came a wave of confidence that propelled her through getting ready for the rest of her day with mechanical precision.

A plain white T-shirt emblazoned with Kirigakure's insignia, a pair of jeans that fit just right, a set of mismatched shoes—one red and the other maroon—and Asami felt ready. Glancing in the mirror once more she fussed with her hair in no meaningful way before doing her best to wipe the tears from her face. Unfortunately, she knew there was no hiding her reddened eyes and dilated pupils, but she tried her best.

Taking a breath, she marched back into the kitchen with a feigned swagger of someone compensating for something. In this case, she compensated for the confidence that abandoned her when she found her father consoling her mother silently. Both husband and wife quickly separated and cast a unified smile at their daughter. Though not a single one of them would say it aloud, each member of the Miyamoto household knew they could only make the best of the time that remained.

And so they would.

"Let's get going!"

[To be continued... WC: 2026, Claiming 10 stats and 2000/2000 for the hiding like a mole technique]
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PostSubject: Re: The Conscript Chronicles [P]   Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:15 am

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'He feared sleep. He'd say that his soul would slip down into nothing. They say that man never dreamt after the day he cut his pillow.'
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PostSubject: Re: The Conscript Chronicles [P]   Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:24 pm

Asami liked to think that the mornings in Kirigakure were unlike anywhere else in the shinobi world. Sunagakure could have its unyielding sun, Yukigakure its biting cold, and Kumogakure its overcast skies, but they all paled in comparison to the village hidden in the mist. The smell of the sea, the call of the galls, and, of course, the all-encompassing curtain of white mist all came together to create a uniquely beautiful atmosphere. Even as the Miyamoto family stepped out into this wonderland spectral wisps of white swirled around them like lost spirits looking for a home over the top of their shoes and the napes of their necks.
 
“I have to stop by the docks,” Kenchi murmured not wanting to disturb the morning’s simple serenity. “We can pick up lunch while we’re there.”
 
Asami and Ai nodded without a word, both mother and daughter had long since come to terms with Kenchi’s obsession with his work. Some might have called his obsession with such a lowly job as a fisherman as madness, but Kenchi lived for the sea. He grew up as wharf rat taking any jobs that came his way until eventually, he worked his way up the nautical food chain to be a captain of his own ship. The people he sailed with were as dear to him as his own blood making for a whole slew of overprotective ‘uncles’ when it came to Asami.
 
The young genin felt fairly certain that she knew the path to the docks like the back of her own hand. In fact, more than a few times she found herself navigating the familiar streets in near perfect darkness after a long trip with her father to the outer reef. Take a left at the corner store, go three streets down, take a right at the old flower shop, and then follow the smell of week-old fish and cigarette smoke all the way to the shore. There really wasn’t that much to it and the Miyamotos followed this route to a T with Asami flanked by a parent on either side of her.
 
“Dad, do you think we can get sweet rolls?”
 
“I don’t see why we couldn’t…” Kenchi shrugged halfheartedly and glanced over at his wife—he had a weakness for sweets.
 
“Why don’t we stop by Uri’s place?” Ai offered softly. “She should just be finishing up her first batch for the morning.”
 
Asami didn’t have to be told twice, she dashed forward like a child much younger than she was. Straying from the path to the docks just a bit, she took a left instead of a right and made her way to the only lit storefront on the street. Uri, an old widow, had been a fixture in Kirigakure long before it had such a title and she often joked that she would be around long after. Asami wasn’t all that sure how old the woman really was, but it didn’t much matter in the end; age played by part in how delicious her baked goods were and Uri’s were the best.
 
Pulling open the heavy wooden door to the bakery, Asami stepped into a different world. The early morning gloom gave way to a warm bright shop. The smell of bread, cookies, and fresh bagels soon filled the young genin’s nose and made her mouth water. For the longest time—before her first time out to sea—she had wanted to be a baker like Uri, but that soon gave way to fisherwoman and later shinobi. Strange how ambitions change from youth as one ages, is it not?
 
“Ah,” a noise like a creaking door heralded the arrival of Uri. “Little Miyamoto-chan, what brings you here so early?”
 
Asami had a sneaking suspicion that the older woman had some sixth sense because she always seemed to be ready and waiting whenever a customer came through the door.
 
“Me, mom, and dad are going down to the beach for the day,” the young girl chirped, taking a few steps inside and only to find herself face to face with a wall of every baked treat imaginable. “And we figured we’d stop by…”
 
She trailed off as her mouth began to water more than it already had.
 
“Oh, well, isn’t that nice,” Uri moved behind the counter putting herself between Asami and the baked goods. “I remember when my kids were younger we used to go there all the time, but now they’re all grown up and don’t come around too often.”
 
The older woman paused clearly reminiscing about times long past.
 
“But enough about little old me. What can I get for you today, little one?”
 
At this point, the door pushed inwards once more allowing Ai to step into the small shop.
 
“Mrs.Miyamoto, lovely to see you. I hear you’re going to the beach?”
 
“That we are,” Ai smiled her small smile she used when wanting to fend off further conversation. She then directed her voice to Asami. “Your father went ahead to the docks to pick up lunch, what do you have your eye on?”
 
“Hmm…can we get chocolate croissants?” she first asked Uri and then turned to her mother expectantly.
 
Both Uri and Asami’s eyes fell on the still gently smiling Ai.
 
“Well…” Ai’s face hardened into mock contemplation causing Asami to inadvertently hold her breath and Uri to smile a knowing smile of a mother who’d had kids before. “I don’t see why not, we’ll take three chocolate croissants, Uri.”
 
The older woman carefully picked up each croissant, wrapped them with care, and then put them on the counter without a word. Ai, passed the baker the appropriate ryo before handing the off the bag to her daughter and leaving the bakery with a few smooth steps.
 
“Come on, Asami,” She called over her shoulder just as the door closed. “We don’t want to keep your father waiting.”
 
“Thanks, Uri!” Asami said with a shallow bow before heading out the door herself.
 

The day just got three chocolate croissants sweeter, onwards to the beach!

[WC: 1007, Claiming +5 stats, 500/500 for genjutsu release and 500/500 for the generic sealing technique]
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PostSubject: Re: The Conscript Chronicles [P]   Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:25 pm

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PostSubject: Re: The Conscript Chronicles [P]   Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:19 pm

The silence of both Asami and her mother as they walked through the streets of Kirigakure epitomized their relationship. It was not an uncomfortable silence nor was it a deathly silence. No, instead it felt, to Asami anyway, more like an understanding silence. Her mother, while sometimes overbearing like any other parent, tried her best to give her daughter space, while Asami, likewise, tried to show her appreciation by striving to make both her mother and father proud. So, yes, it was a silence of understanding and perhaps mutual respect if there can ever be such a thing between parent and child.
 
Then, on the other hand, there was the relationship between daughter and father. While the two respected each other it wasn’t the same type of respect that Asami and her mother had. Rather, Kenchi and the young genin might very well have been brother and sister. Sure, the older man had a larger capacity for taking life seriously than the young girl, but that was to be expected. Truthfully, one might call their relationship more of a friendship than anything else. Though, this too, was subject to the strange trappings of parental status that Asami ascribed to Kenchi.
 
“Mom,” Asami’s soft voice barely disturbed the morning air. “Have you ever hurt anyone?”
 
Silence took the reigns here for a few uncomfortable seconds before Ai broke it.
 
“Hurt anybody?” the young girl’s mother asked. “Whatever do you mean?”
 
“Well, like, hurt somebody,” Asami danced around her true question. “It’s just…I don’t know if I will be able to do it when I have to.”
 
This was a fear that had dogged the genin since graduation. All things considered, her time at the academy had been quite peaceful and as she looked to the future it worried her. Sure, she’d sparred with people and sure she’d been taught the cleanest way to end somebody’s life, but it had all been practice. Her life had never been in any real danger as far she could tell. Furthermore, she had never [i]really[/] hurt anyone else. There was one time where she’d given a particular boy a bloody nose, but she had apologized profusely and still felt guilty about as she walked beside her mother.
 
“Honey,” Ai began as she always did when allaying her daughter’s fears. “Don’t worry too much about it; when the time comes you won’t have time to think. When I was your age I went on a mission to escort a merchant to the Leaf village. He was a kind old man and my squad and I expected little trouble. And, indeed, we made it to the village without a hitch.”
 
“However,” the woman’s voice fell flat. “On the way back, a group of bandits thought us easy prey, which we probably were. Five of them jumped us and we fought and fought. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had punched and hit our attackers so hard my knuckles bleed. That was the first time I’d ever truly hurt someone.”
 
Asami’s stomach turned at the mention of blood.
 
“Though, despite this, I didn’t feel regret. I’d stood with my teammates and for my village. I did it for them and no one else. I think that’s what makes the idea of hurting others bearable, we have a cause to fight for. So, when the time comes, Asami, remember your village and remember your father and I. Don’t think of it as mindlessly hurting people, but rather defending your village and those you love.”
 
It was lucky that Ai had been trained in the shinobi art because otherwise, she would not have been able to tell her tale to her daughter with a straight face. However, she knew Asami had to hear the story and so she told it and bent it ever so slightly to make it seem as if shinobi were noble. She had to, her mother had told her the same thing when she was young. It was all part of growing up in a hidden village: rationalizing away the violence one commits in the name of the supposed common good. Perhaps one day Asami would find the truth, sure, but by that time her mother hoped she would be able to understand why she had to do and say the things she did.
 
“Hmm…,” Asami considered her mother’s tale aloud. “Did that really happen? Did you really beat up five people?”
 
“Yes,” Ai laughed a soft airy laugh lighter than the mist all around her. “I really did or rather my team and I did.”
 
A quick ‘huh’ was all Asami could offer as she lost herself in thought. Her mother did not normally talk about her time as a shinobi and even now Asami found it strange to think of her mother wielding anything other than a garden shovel. The two continued their stroll in silence once again, but by this time the silence had evolved into something different. No longer was it an understanding silence, but rather an uneasy one for Ai as she had just lied to her daughter and an excited one for Asami as one day she would be able to help protect her village.
 
Up until this point in her life, Asami’s life as a shinobi had always seemed secondary. It was something, like learning to dance, that she did because her parents told her she should. However, she had always assumed that she’d never actually use any of her skills as a shinobi. Certainly, she’d become a baker or something like that, maybe a teacher—she’d never have even use her shinobi training if all had gone as planned.
 
However, the conscription order changed everything; her whole outlook changed. She was going to be a shinobi, a real honest to god shinobi. It scared and excited her at the same time. She had always wanted to travel the world and perhaps she would now get the chance to do so at the head of an army. The thought of her deceased friend had long left her and she now saw nothing but a bright future shining through the dense mist of Kirigakure, nothing could or would change that for the time being.
 
The mother and daughter pair soon arrived on the sandy coast just south of the village. Kenchi, using his good sense, had already set up the picnic blanket and was sitting against a log near the hightide mark. An unseasonably warm breeze blew in from the sea and kicked up small whitecaps that hid the myriad of birds diving in and out of the water with bills filled with fish. This was the coast of Kirigakure, or as both Kenchi and Ai preferred to think of it, the coast of Shimagakure where they’d grown up, met, and fallen in love.
 
“Daaaad,” Asami yelped as she dashed across the sand with the bag of croissants in hand. “Look what we got!”
 
She stopped just short of the blanket, did her best to rid her feet of sand and took a seat cross-legged across from her father with her back to the sea. Her short hair danced in the wind like a raven flag whipped this way and that before she tied it back and opened up the bag she’d been carrying. Passing her father one of the croissants she took one for herself and left the third for her mother who was still making her way over at a slow meandering pace that she often took when lost in thought.
 
“Oh, this is amazing,” Kenchi exclaimed with his mouth full. “Good choice.”
 
Asami merely nodded in agreement as her mouth was full of the fluffy goodness of the chocolate croissant. The scene reminded her of a time a few years back when her father had first taken her fishing…
 
She must have been ten or eleven, she couldn’t very well remember and both ages felt the same anyway she decided. But her father came to her one morning before the sun had even considered rising and told her to come with him. She wrapped herself in a warm jacket, put on a hat, and boots before following her father down to the docks.
 
These were the days before Kenchi had a crew of his own, but he did have a nice sailboat about thirty feet in length and all wooden. The thing was, to use her father’s words, a ‘beauty’. He helped his daughter into the boat, cast off the lines and in no time at all the pair was making their way out to sea.
 
Now, this was before any such silliness like eternal storms that currently surrounded the islands existed, so the pair had the whole ocean to play with and play they did. Kenchi showed Asami how to rig the boat, read the winds, and tack against them when the situation called for it. The day passed quickly and soon the sun began to fall from the sky.
 
Sunburned, salt-encrusted, and still wanting more, Asami reluctantly guided the ship back to the mainland. Thankfully, a gentle wind sped their way and the pair returned from what had clearly been a successful day at sea. No, they hadn’t caught any fish or even done anything remotely productive, but both father and daughter had a wonderful time.
 
However, after tying up at the dock, the pair did not make a beeline for home. Instead, they took a detour to the bakery where they bought, coincidently chocolate croissants. The treats weren’t nearly as fresh as they would have been a few hours before, but it didn’t matter much to either Asami or Kenchi as they both agreed they were the best pastries they had ever tasted.
 
“So, here’s what I was thinking we could do with the rest of the day,” Kenchi’s deep voice pulled Asami from her remanences. “I’m thinking we finish these croissants, go for a walk down to the blue bay on the far end of this beach, and come back for lunch.”
 
He paused here for the briefest of moments as he devoured the last of his pastry.
 
“Then, we can head on down to the docks. The boys want to see you off, Asami.”
 
‘The boys’, as her father lovingly called his crew, were basically family and Asami had grown up with them. She’d learned to fish, fight, and—though she would never tell her parents in a million year—swear down by the docks with her father’s crew. They were all good people who lived good lives and Asami’s heart swelled at the thought of having to say farewell to them as well, but at the same time, she found herself deeply touched that they would want to see her off at all. She had to bite back the tears welling in her eyes as she once more remembered she might never see them again.
 
“Then…”Kenchi noticed his daughter’s swimming eyes and decided not to comment. “Then, I heard there was a playing on down the way and I figured we could go see that followed up with a nice dinner at Omai’s.”
 
Omai’s was a sushi place the family often frequented for Asami’s birthdays. In fact, they only ever went there on her birthdays, so the young genin once more found herself taken aback. Sure, she loved sushi, but what did it mean that they would be going to Omai’s, not on her birthday? She honestly couldn’t say one way or the other and decided to put it out of her mind.
 
“What’re you two talking about?” Ai finally arrived and took a seat next to her daughter.
 
“We’re talking about what we’re going to do today,” Asami chirped as she too finished the last of her croissant and cast a hungry gaze towards the one her mother had just started eating. “Dad has it all planned out, it’s going to be great.”
 
Oh, does he?” Ai lifted a small eyebrow and cast a look of mock surprise towards her husband.
 
“You heard your daughter, it’s going to be great.” Kenchi shot back with a warm smile.
 

And so Asami’s last day as a normal girl was just that, great.

[WC: 2032, +10 speed and 2032/3500 for Fire Release: Demon Lantern]
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PostSubject: Re: The Conscript Chronicles [P]   Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:27 pm

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To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.

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PostSubject: Re: The Conscript Chronicles [P]   Sat May 12, 2018 10:19 pm

Two months of what could only be described as pure unadulterated hell all led up to this, a single starless night. Two months of awful tasting meals, two months of not seeing her parents, two months of tortured muscles all led up to a single pivotal moment and yet all Asami Miyamoto could not keep her thoughts to in the present. No, as she pulled on her clothes through sheer force of will, blinked sleep out of her eyes, and marched to her last briefing with feet of lead she found herself caught up in all the moments leading up to the next few hours.

Two months ago, the cold hand of military service closed around her and wrested her from her normal life and into one of perpetual training and readiness. This boot camp, if one wanted to use a relatable label, came as a result of the need for Kirigakure’s state of war. The Mizukage’s grand army marched on Konohagakure and left behind a relatively unprotected village. So, the boot camp served as a means with which to both beef up the village’s defenses and, if need be, train both willing and unwilling conscripts to head to the front line should the war become a protracted affair.

The first couple days were what one might expect, a lot of yelling and little sleep. At first, the young genin cowered in the face of her bellowing superiors. She soon found out, however, that said cowering only led to more yelling and after the first week she barely flinched in the face of even the sternest scoldings. What sleep she got, on the other hand, was poor quality at best as it was so often punctuated by the sniveling of her bunk mates cried themselves to sleep in a vain attempt to come to terms with the harsh realities of the shinobi life style.

From the onset, her cohort of around one hundred genin was divided based on gender into two groups, girls and boys. This left Asami in a group with thirty other girls in much the same situation as herself—they never saw much of the boys for the subsequent two months. Instead of focusing on the development of cohesive teams it seemed, to Asami anyway, that the program emphasized chaos. One day she would be in a group of genin she got along with well and then the next she would be placed in another, bonds were meaningless.

In addition to this constant churning of allies came the changing faces of the enemies as her superiors framed each and every exercise as a competition of both wits and will. In theory, or at least the higher ups said, such competition would create a better solider. Sparring, shinobi trade craft, and even eating became a fierce battleground where one could distinguish themselves from her peers, for better or for worse.  

Asami, for the first few days, distinguished herself for the worse or, to be more exact, the worst. Her run times were abysmal, her sparring disastrous, and her emotions erratic. Naturally, these failures drew ire of the drill instructors, but worse yet it attracted the disdain of her peers. She was the last one to be picked by team leaders and offered no help if she failed other than a few pitying glances. Countless times she had been told she lacked a ‘sharp edge’ that a shinobi required to succeed, especially a shinobi of Kirigakure.

The sad part about such words?

She believed them.

After all, how couldn’t she believe them? Each day’s rankings were posted up for all to see and she always hung near the bottom. Instead of wallowing in her own shortcomings, however, she worked to overcome them and, in doing so, overcome those around her.

The road up the rankings was by no means easy. That said, she did start to make incremental progress each day. She slimmed down her run times despite her legs crying in protest, she fought without fear of injury despite still feeling nauseous—and often losing her lunch—at the sight of blood, and she memorized mission protocol despite losing countless precious hours of sleep to do so. So, yes, she improved, but those around her did as well and while she never held the disreputable spot of last in the rankings she still only hovered near the top of the bottom half of her cohort after the third week.

But, progress was progress and her effort staved off the worst of the peer pressure. Said pressure was reserved for the worst of the worst and that title no longer rested atop Asami’s head. No, it now lay with a genin by the name of Kirin. Kirin seemed to struggle with everything that did not involve sleeping past role call and eating too slowly. Thus, she became the cohort’s newest target and all the grief Asami once received fell on poor Kirin’s less than sturdy shoulders.

Asami, for her part, minimized her involvement in the harassment of Kirin. After all, how could she? She had, not a few weeks before, been in the same position as her. In fact, the young genin went out of her way to help Kirin when she could by correcting her form, pointing out the best way to navigate the obstacle course, and standing up for her when angry peers came knocking. This, as you might expect, did not make Asami the most liked of her cohort, but still she persisted, it felt right and the fact that it kept the attention on her was not a bad side effect either.

Some weaknesses die hard.

Through it, however and despite all odds, Kirin and Asami came to develop a strange relationship. It was one founded on their shared inadequacies, but it was strong nonetheless. In what little free time they were allowed the two would often talk about their lives before being dragged into what they had termed ‘the real world’. Kirin often spoke of her experiences at her family’s restaurant while Asami related her tales from the time spent on the high seas with her father.

Yes, it became a rather unique friendship, but a friendship nonetheless.  

So, it was with a bit of surprise that upon stepping into the impromptu briefing room that Asami found only Kirin and one of the drill instructors. With a few hurried strides, the now fully awake genin approached the pair and took her spot to the left of Kirin and across from the instructor. Between them stood a wait high table covered in various maps of Kirigakure and its outlying islands.

“Welcome genin Miyamoto,” the drill instructor growled. “And at ease.”

Both Kirin and Asami’s shoulder lost a majority of the tension they held from habitually standing at attention in the presence of their superior.

“You might be wondering why you are here, so let me start by saying you neither of you is in any trouble. In fact, all throughout the compound teams of two, much like yourselves, are being given this same briefing. This will be your final test.”

The large man paused, shuffled through the papers on the desk, and pulled out a picture of a viperish woman.

“This is Evelyn Saitomi, she is your mark. You are to tail her to a drop point and collect the intelligence she will be stashing there. She is participating in this last test at our request, so no harm should come to her, but if she spots either of you then your team fails.”

The instructor paused here, placed the picture on the table, and pushed it towards Kirin and Asami who glanced at it and then each other out of the corners of their eyes.

“The catch, however, is that there will be other teams of two following her. You are both free and expected to hinder their progress by any means necessary. Your only goal is to secure the intelligence and not get spotted by Miss Saitomi, we will have medical staff standing by if need be. Are there any questions?”

A silence of a few heartbeats followed before Kirin spoke up, she had become rather good with logistics despite her other shortcomings.

“Do we have any other information on Saitomi other than her picture? Her training perhaps?”

The instructor flashed a knowing grin as if he had been expecting just such a question.

“Yes, Miss Saitomi is an expert in the manipulation of shadows. She can cloak herself and slip between them like a ghost and is, as such, extremely slippery to follow. She was last seen heading into the central marketplace.”

Both Asami and Kirin nodded. Neither said another word as it was clear to them that time was of the essence.

“Very well recruits, you are dismissed, your final exam starts now. Good luck and happy hunting.”

Standing at attention once more the two genin saluted their superior and broke away from the table at a brisk pace. It was now or never and Asami was dead set on it being now. This was the chance for both Kirin and herself to prove that they could be shinobi of a respectable caliber, all it required was to beat out everyone else.

How hard could that be?

Moving through the familiar hallways of the compound, the pair of genin did not speak. It was only after they reached the courtyard that Asami spoke up.

“So, I’m thinking we’ll need to divvy up our tasks; one of us needs to keep tabs on the target and the other needs to fend off and hinder the other teams. Otherwise, we’ll get bogged down with one part of the mission and lose sight of the primary objective. What do you think?”

Kirin self-consciously adjusted a strap on her flak jacket before replying.

“That sounds like a good plan to me. I’ll make sure we don’t lose sight of Saitomi, you should deal with the other teams. You’re better at that kind of thing.”

There was no way for Asami to dispute Kirin’s assertion, it was true. The two genin had spent enough time together to know not only their own weaknesses but also each others. It took ego out of the equation and made it so Asami already knew how her companion would respond. It was, after all, only logical that she, the better fighter, would take on the other team while Kirin, who had also developed a proclivity for chakra senses, saw to the tracking of the target.

Asami merely nodded to her ally as they stepped out of the compound and into the night air.

Any sensible person was probably asleep at this time of night. Shinobi, however, were not the most sensible people in the world and so they now owned this night. Fifty teams of two descended upon Kirigakure proper, each with their own mission. Unbeknownst to any of the teams they had all been given slightly different instructions, so they were not all tailing a single person, but rather pursued their own ends that may or may not intersect with another team’s ends.

Keeping to the rooves, Asami and Kirin moved as soundlessly as their feet would allow them to. It took them a while to reach the market district as Kirin had been certain that they were being followed, which they weren’t, but they made it nonetheless. Perched high above the streets Kirin quickly located the target who seemed to be milling around an empty stall as if she were waiting for someone. Asami, on the other hand, secured Kirin’s flanks.

So far, she had not seen anything out of the ordinary, but something kept drawing her eye to a nearby alleyway. Focusing her attention on the tight corridor between streets she realized what it was, the glint of a headband. There was another team in the alleyway just below the building Kirin and Asami had decided to make their observation point.

Careful not to make too much of a sound, Asami drew Kirin’s attention with a tap on the back followed by a signal which indicated the position of the other team. Kirin nodded and soundlessly gave her friend the go ahead to deal with the second team. Now the question became how exactly to deal with them effectively.

It, in Asami’s admittingly unexperienced opinion, boiled down to two different approaches to the problem before her. The first approach was a direct one that would deal with the problem directly but carried with it quite a bit of risk. This approach included dropping down in on whoever was down in the alley and duking it out. In theory, she had the element of surprise and could take out both members of the other team with ease. However, theory never seemed to pan out in practice; a thousand things could go wrong. She could be overpowered herself or worse yet she could overpower them only by creating such a ruckus so as to expose herself to Saitomi, which would spell the end of the exam for both her and Kirin.

No, the first option was too risky.

The second option would have to do despite having a lesser probability of success. The risk inherent to the first one was simply not worth it. The second option consisted of blowing the other team’s cover and revealing their location to Saitomi. Naturally, there would be a chance that the other team escape before Saitomi arrived to investigate the noise, but it was definitely worth a shot. Worst case scenario, Asami figured, it would throw the other team off their game and put them on edge—any advantage, no matter how small, was worth taking at this point.

Glancing around the rooftop, Asami spied the perfect tool. It looked like a piece of scrap metal that had perhaps been used for roofing and left to rust. However, for now, it would serve as a noisy distraction, which was all the young genin needed from it; the clang of metal was hard to mask on an otherwise quiet night. Yes, it would do just fine for her purposes. Thank god for lazy roofers.

Taking special care not to cut herself on the rusty metal or make too much noise by allowing the sheet to bend under its own weight, Asami brought the sheet to the side of her building. She glanced back at Kirin who signaled that the target had ceased to mill around the empty stall and towards the alley, perfect. Hefting the sheet of metal over the side of the building and down into the shadowy alleyway below she did not have to wait too long for her to see the fruits of her labor.

The sound of metal on metal broke the evening’s peace, which became only more broken as two muffled voices yelp in fright—it was over. Saitomi walked by the alleyway just as the metal sheet hit the ground and with her attention drawn to the alleyway instantly saw the pair of genin, two boys. Said boys filed out of the darkness of the alley and away from the scene with hangs hung low, their exam was over and they had surely failed. Asami and Kirin, however, still had work to do and other teams to surpass and so the night continued on.

What followed was a peculiar game of cat and mouse only Asami couldn’t be too sure who the cat and mouse were; was Saitomi the cat and the two-man teams the mice or vice versa. Saitomi made her way through the village at a leisurely pace and by what seemed to be a circuitous route which constantly doubled back on itself. A few times she would disappear in the shadow of one building only to reappear in another one as if the woman were showing off her shadow-based prowess.

Here and there teams were disqualified from the exam for being found out. A few times another team tried to blow Kirin and Asami’s cover, but the two genin found them out before it became too late. At one point they had been hiding in the shadow of a building and had only escaped Saitomi’s attention through the quick use of the transformation technique. No one ever suspects two trashcans in an alley.

At last, it seemed that Saitomi had arrived at her final destination, the drop point. It was some ways away from the village in the middle of a clearing in the foliage. Asami and Kirin crouched in one of the bushes behind their target waiting. They calmed their breathing as they’d been trained, maintained situational awareness, and kept an eye on their target at all times. They had both seen in training that the last stretch of a mission was always the most disaster-prone, one couldn’t get ahead of themselves.

Patience, of all things, became paramount in the last moments of any mission.

Saitomi bent over and seemed to bury something in the ground and then began to make her way out of the clearing. However, before leaving it entirely she cast a finger up to a point above where Asami and Kirin hid. For a heart-stopping moment, Asami was certain she and Kirin had been found out.

“Come out of the tree you two and head back to camp,” Saitomi’s sweet voice chided.

Two genin tumbled out of the tree above where Asami and Kirin were—neither team had noticed the other. Asami chalked it up to good luck, which she was finding to be quite a potent ally to any shinobi as of late. With one more team out of the way, Saitomi left the clearing and now the real game began, retrieving the stashed intelligence report.

For a few long minutes, neither Asami nor Kirin dared speak or move. Both intuitively understood that waiting for another team to make a move would be the best course of action. And so a few minutes turned into an hour until at last two genin, both boys, emerged from the opposite side of the clearing with kunai in hand.

It was here that all hell broke loose.

Two other teams emerged from around the clearing and jutsu started to fly. Fire, wind, earth, and water jutsu of all kinds whizzed this way and that, kunai clashed with kunai, and the tell-tale signs of combat filled the now early morning air. Asami and Kirin, however, had yet to move from their position and it was within the din of battle that they made their plan in hushed tones.

“Leave this to me, Kirin,” Asami reassured her friend. “You head back to the camp and inform our superiors of our team’s success.”

A fireball whizzed overhead and cause Kirin to wince ever so slightly.

“Are you sure, Asami? I don’t think you can take all them by yourself.”

“Take them? I don’t have to take them, I’ll just slip in and out; they won’t even know the intelligence has already been secured.”

Kirin cocked her head to the side in confusion as Asami made a quick string of hand seals.

“Trust me, I’m not going to lose.”

With that Asami began to sink into the ground. The last thing she saw was the back of Kirin heading back to report a successful mission. Then everything went black; she never quite got used to the hiding like mole technique. There was something a bit disconcerting about having the earth press in on you from all sides that the young genin did not care for all that much.

In place of her lost sight, however, Asami gained the ability to sense those who touched the ground around her. She felt each disturbance above her head as the three genin teams fought tooth and nail for a foothold on the battleground and a chance to collect their prize and later the praise of the superiors. Asami aimed to rob them of both prize and praise for along with the combatants she also noticed the inconsistency in the soil where Saitomi had buried the reports, it looked like a scroll.

Moving through the earth as if it were water, Asami gave a kick of her legs and propelled herself towards her objective. Wrapping an outstretched hand around the scroll she pulled it towards her and into the folds of her clothing. She then made her way away from the fighting and back towards society. When the teams of genin finished fighting they would find their prize gone, snatched from right under their noses by someone who had not even bothered to join the fight. It would be a triumph of stealth over strength.

Surfacing near the village, Asami tried her best to shake the earth from her person before jogging through the village as fast as her legs would take her. All around her the village was starting to wake up, merchants were setting up shop, elderly couples were taking in the morning air, and children were being herded off to school. Not one of them knew that the dirt caked genin now running at full tilt through the village had just finished the most important exam up to this point in her short life.

Bursting into the courtyard, Asami slowed her run into a brisk walk as she entered the briefing room she and Kirin had not a few hours earlier. Once more she found only Kirin and one of the drill instructors. This time, however, the table was cleared of all papers save for one.

“And where is your teammat—” the gruff-voiced instructor cut his question short at the arrival of Asami.

“Right here, sir,” Asami chirped as she took her place by Kirin’s side.

“Very good, do you have the intelligence report?”

Asami removed the small scroll from her pocket and placed it on the table in front of the larger man and waiting. For what felt like an entirety no one moved. No one moved until the instructor picked up the scroll, opened it, and read the contents with a nod of his head.

“It seems everything is in order then. My observers mentioned you managed to get this scroll without a fight, is that true?”

Asami glanced nervously at Kirin before returning he attention to the man.

“Yes, sir.”

“I see, well, that’s most impressive. Congratulations, Kirigakure will be fortunate to have you two in her service. Your time here is done, if you have learned nothing else I hope it is this: all that matters is the mission, the mission and the village. Nothing else. Dismissed!”

For the first time since starting the boot camp, the instructor smiled as if he were an artist looking upon his creations.

“Thank you, sir,” both Asami and Kirin said in unison before bowing and leaving.

“Well, that’s that,” Kirin stated once they had left the room.

“Yeah, that’s that.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“Before or after I eat a bowl of piping hot ramen?”

Both girls laughed, it had been a while since either one had eaten anything remotely appetizing.

“After.”

“I guess I’ll go home…”

“Me too, let’s promise to see each other again though. Promise?”

“Promise.” Asami affirmed.

With that, the one-time team went their separate ways. Their belongings were packed up nicely at the front gate and they lived on opposite side of the village. Asami sincerely hoped she would see Kirin again, but she also knew or rather she had learned that hoping wasn’t always the best thing to do in the military. Hoping can come back to bite you in the end.

For now, however, Asami found herself hopelessly optimistic for the future and felt ready to take on anything. The high of success was intoxicating and she found herself walking the familiar path home with a rosy tint on all she surveyed. Yes, she was ready for anything, but all she wanted now was to see her parents, listen to her father’s stories, and eat her mother’s cooking.

For now, she would rest.

[TWC: 4002, claiming +20 speed, 4000/4000 training for A-rank Soul Expulsion, and donating 2 words to the nether.]
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PostSubject: Re: The Conscript Chronicles [P]   Sat May 12, 2018 11:48 pm

The Nether finds your offering of two words insufficient, and decided it needs you as a sacrifice, gobbling up your character and eating you alive. Your character is now dead.


Seriously, approved though.
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