Tracking Predators / Saving Prey [SSM/Event]

Kazu

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2012
3,373
Yen
70,650
ASP
11
Kill Switch
No
OOC Rank
A-Rank
Kazu counted thirty of them. Of course, with all the dust they're kicking up it could easily be more. He'd been watching them amble along at this maddeningly slow pace for the better part of the morning; it was a wonder he hadn't completely drenched through his taupe-grey mottled cloak and headgear, though Kazu wouldn't wager on his luck holding for too much longer. The sun — directly overhead — beat down upon the land with unrelenting force. His inner linings of thin, breathable, fabrics were already heavy with perspiration. He still had the rest of the day to go. The heat was only going to get worse.

The entirety of Sunagakure had taken an "all hands on deck" approach to the calamities befalling Wind Country. Some built new housing structures for the influx of refugees from throughout the land, battlements to secure the gates, and traps to defend against any (possibly) imminent invasions. Others researched old things long ago deemed unworthy of study, as well as new things only just discovered, in order to try to get any edge possible in the coming fights. Then, there was his task. Follow them?! Do not engage?!? How are we supposed to get rid of these things when I can't even attack them?!

Smoldering red eyes burned underneath a blanketing of coal black hair; Kazu seethed with contempt for the Unbent below him. He was perched, well and truly far away from the dangerous horde he was stalking, atop a rocky outcrop that let him peek across the dunes with ease. He could easily keep track of this band of Unbent for as long as he needed to. And they'll lead me to the bigger group? And...then what? Kazu didn't know, but he supposed he'd figure it out at some point. For now, staying low to the edge of the cliff shelf, he watched.

Without warning, the Unbent changed direction and picked up speed. Kazu’s brow furrowed in confusion; following the path of the Unbent with his eyes, due West, he spotted another trail of dust in the distance. It was a slower moving band of…something…but they were heading South, and the wind was blowing East, which meant they wouldn’t see the trail of dust being made by the Unbent until the things were right on top of them. They’ll be slaughtered! But the mission said to not engage. But… Without thinking, Kazu felt his body move underneath him. Purposefully, he hugged the cliff’s edge as he scrambled nimbly, yet carefully, down a rocky side-path. It was true, he was not supposed to engage this Swarm. On the other hand, he also couldn’t leave people who didn’t know any better to their doom. Father would tell me to follow the mission…But Enishi would tell me to follow my heart… Kazu decided that, should he simply follow the Swarm towards the mysterious party, while maintaining his distance, technically that wouldn’t be engagement. I’m just…scouting. Getting some more recon. Besides, what if that’s another group of Unbent?! I have to know these things…

And so, Kazu set off with his quarry. Travelling parallel to them — a good enough distance away to prevent them from noticing him, but close enough for him to keep an eye on the monsters — Kazu often checked ahead of him to see if he could make out anything more about the surprise guests he was running out to meet. It did not take too long before he managed to figure out who they were, and why they were here. The truth made him sick.

In three rows lines of barely clothed peoples, seemingly picked indiscriminately, walked in short haggard steps — with ropes tied around their ankles and hands to prevent them from running — as they trailed behind an Armatunk-led wagon cart. Misery was baked into every wrinkle and crease on every face there; that, mixed with despair, hopelessness, and a general sense of broken spirit. Broken wills, all of them. Kazu wept, inside, for the horror they must have faced. Something in him hardened. His mind was made up; he could not leave these people to their fate, no matter the mission.

Judging the distance between him and the band of traffickers before him, he figured the Unbent would be upon the group in no more than 10 minutes, at this pace. If he hurried, he could close the gap in 3 minutes, leaving him just enough time to do…what? Kazu spied no more than a dozen guards for this caravan. They carried whips and short swords, though the way they kept their eyes trained on the road before them told the young boy that they were not used to being marauded in this way. That means they might not notice if I sneak up on them…

Kazu picked up the pace. He didn’t think they saw him, but they definitely hadn’t noticed the Unbent swarm closing in — they’d start panicking, if they did. Kazu practically glided across the desert sands, and made as much noise as the faint desert wind. He could start to make out details on the slaves’ faces: scars and burns, unwashed dirt, and sorrow. It was everything he had not to yell out in fury at the traffickers; he knew they’d get what was coming to them in a moment — no need for him to spoil that. Kazu got as close as he dared. He could hear the squeaky wooden wheels groaning through the choppy desert sands. He smelled the sweat and blood of weary bodies. He saw the utter lack of concern in the faces of the traffickers, and decided right then that he would do nothing to help them even if they begged. They’ll get there’s. It was time to act.

Kazu had a very specific target in mind: the ropes that bound the slaves to the wagon. Springing out from his hiding place a mere thirty feet from the wagon, he launched himself with all of his speed towards the front of the rope line. Molding his chakra, Kazu managed to make a small stream of fire shoot out of his index and middle finger — an Infernal Ember, nothing more, but enough to do the trick. The young boy dashed perpendicularly to the path of the caravan and carefully sliced through each of the three ropes binding the slaves to the wagon; in one swoop, he had severed the bonds of oppression that kept these people docile. The people looked confused, afraid, and even a bit reluctant to move; no doubt, any sort of rebellious action on their part was sure to be met by punishment from the traffickers. And yet, they didn’t do anything to stop him, or alert their captors, as to the developing situation. They’re probably still in shock. Kazu tried to give them a weak, reassuring smile, but that hardly did anything to soften their expressions. They still seemed ambivalent, even hesitant, to claim the freedom dangled in front of them. However, they were about to realize the full gravity of the opportunity presented to them.

What in the world are those things?!” That was one of the traffickers, oblivious to what was happening in their own caravan, noticing the incoming Unbent. The thirty shambling creatures had made their way towards the delectable assortment of human hors d'oeuvres, all nicely fastened together to make for a difficult escape. It was impossible not to see the dust trail kicked up. Even with the wind blowing away from them, the trailing plumes reached above even the tallest dune. A few of the traffickers began to bunch together, preparing to face whatever unknown threat was approaching, which made things even easier for Kazu. They still hadn’t noticed a mutiny was forming.

”Come on,” said Kazu, loud enough for the first two rows of bounded men and women to hear, as he motioned for them to follow him away from what was about to happen. ”Before your captors notice, come on!” Quickly, they began to realize; even more so as Kazu kept cutting through rows of peoples' wrist bindings with his finger-sized flame blade. Once the first few peoples’ bonds were cut, Kazu handed them each a kunai so they could get to work on cutting the rest free. It was only a matter of time before- ”HEY! Wait a minute!” Too late. But had it been enough?

The young boy heard mayhem all around him. The sounds of battle: of men clashing against men, of women screaming, and of steel striking steel. He moved instinctually, not even realizing when he’d pulled a bone staff out from his arm. His arms sliced cleanly at Unbent all around him, moments before they could reach an ill-equipped mutineer, or sometimes while they were distracted with an unfortunate trafficker. His breath came in waves. His vision seemed hazy, or unfocused, or maybe too focused? He wasn’t sure. All I know is I was born for this.

Just as soon as it started, it stopped. Kazu realized, a tad alarmingly, that he could only hear a strangled groan or a choked out cough somewhere. Peering left, then right, he saw almost everyone still there. He wished he’d had a chance to learn the names of those who fell to protect the rest of them. Spying the odd trafficker’s body among the dead, he passed over them silently — a disgusted grimace overcame his fight-crazed mind. He realized, quite suddenly, he’d been hoping for a chance to take one of them out himself. What? I…no. That’s not me. Yet still, he felt that pull.

He kept searching. With the help of a few of the surviving peoples, they managed to find one of the Unbent still alive. Horribly incapacitated — missing an arm, as well as its feet — but alive and ready to kill something. ”Let’s bind it up and take it with. Careful not to let it bite, scratch, or grab you! We need to know what these things are. As for the rest of you…” Kazu looked out into their various eyes, and saw equal mixtures of hope, fear, courage, and distrust. But, what he saw most of all was gratitude. They all knew he’d saved them, and they would listen to whatever it was he said to them then. It was an odd feeling. ”…as for the rest of you, we’ll all be heading home to Sunagakure. I think you’ll like it there.”

[OOC: Topic Left.]