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> Falling Snow
BurningBright
 Posted: May 24 2018, 02:54 PM
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This late in the year, snow on the ground was to be expected in Shimogakure; and so, it was rather odd that none had fallen yet. Instead, as Vivian approached a small town, the last civilian outpost before Shimogakure itself, she walked on gravel and dirt. The air was cold, the sky was grey, and the earth was barren; not the most inviting of places, to be sure.

But that's what made it such a haven for mercenary groups. Few would travel this far, in these conditions, to exact revenge on a group that would likely not be held liable for their actions anyway. The only ones who bothered coming out this far were those who worked with them.

This particular town was a sleepy, lazy place; crops didn't grow in this soil, so this town survived only on the merchants coming through on their way to Shimo; this time of year was always bad for them, since few enough of said merchants wanted to make the trek through the cold.

The people seemed friendly enough, if not overly enthused to have a ninja in their midst; ninja brought violence and trouble, but they also brought money-so, it was a tradeoff most were willing to make, even if they had to grit their teeth while doing so.

This was where the informant from the Snow Blades had agreed to meet with Vivian. Their meeting spot was easy enough to find-a small restaurant, specializing in cold noodles. It was the only one like it in town, the informant had promised in the message. However, it seemed he wasn't here yet; no one was in the restaurant other than a single waitress and the cook.

The mission, however, was on.

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Jul 8 2018, 08:37 PM
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Vivian approached Shimogakure from off the beaten path cursing the cold weather the whole way. She had made sure to dress accordingly, but given the conditions found at home nothing about this bleak weather was comforting. Taking steps to ensure that she wasn't detected or followed the anbu would stop well enough outside the town itself and create a bunshin to take her place, then disguising it with a henge to appear as a simple traveler. Letting it get on the road the clone would make its way over to the restaurant that was supposed to be the meeting spot.

The clone ordered something cheap off the menu while getting itself comfortable and settling down to await the arrival of its contact. With nothing else to do with its time the clone would close its eyes and lean back casually in its seat while eavesdropping on the restaurant staff. At the same time it would cast its senses as far out as they could go and listen for anything out of the ordinary in the surrounding area. Vivian wasn't entirely ruling out the possibility of a set-up, however unlikely it seemed. The more knowledge she had the better it would go for her, and if she picked up on some useless gossip in the meantime it wasn't like she was losing anything.

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BurningBright
 Posted: Jul 9 2018, 06:07 AM
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OOC: Is it right to assume this is a shadow clone, not a regular clone?

IC: Her entrance to the town and the restaurant would go unopposed, though the glances that flew her way wore expressions of suspicion all the way along. The people may not have been able to identify her as a ninja immediately, but they at least knew she was a stranger, and at this time of year, those were odd. Suspicion aside, no one was outright unfriendly, so there was at least that.

Vivian's clone received its food after a few minutes of waiting in silence-the waitstaff hadn't said a word after confirming her order, not even niceties. The waitress took the silverware that had been at the table and left a new set in its place, then left.

If Vivian opened the napkin containing the silverware, she would find a message scrawled on the napkin. The closet near the restroom has a false back, leading to a basement hatch. Go, do not let false back be seen.

Should Vivian heed the napkin's instructions, she would indeed find a door to a broom closet, slightly ajar, near the building's only restroom. If she entered the closet, she would find that the back would give way with a small push, and would slide back into place fairly easily from the other side, just as the message said. On the other side, there was a small room with naught but a hatch leading to a basement, a table, and a lit candle atop the table. A message was in front of the candle. Douse the light, it read.

Finally, if Vivian entered the basement, she would find herself in a darkened room, populated by nothing but a puppet, easily recognizable as the wooden, terrifying contraptions some ninja chose to weaponize. It wasn't moving, however, and its puppeteer didn't seem to be anywhere nearby.

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Jul 9 2018, 06:54 PM
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OOC: Yes indeed.

IC: Finishing her meal in a polite silence the clone would read the note left for her and, after using it to wipe her mouth while being careful not to smudge any of the message, would take it with her as she stood up to ostensibly use the restroom. Following the instructions Vivian would use her heightened senses to make sure no one was around when she went through the closet. Closing the access area off to ensure she wasn't followed Vivian would look around and take in the surroundings. She was perplexed to find yet another note in what seemed to be an antechamber for where the meeting itself would take place.

Following the instructions yet again Vivian would douse the light, but before moving on to the basement itself she would observe her surroundings one more time on the off chance something had changed with the loss of light. If not then she would proceed into the next room where she would encounter the puppet. This wasn't quite what she was expecting. Not seeing anywhere to sit the jounin would prop herself up against the wall and speak aloud, wondering if there was anyone nearby that could hear her. Her senses would work towards detecting them naturally, but even they weren't infallible.

"I'm here for a report."

Short, straight and to the point Vivian would wait for a response from... wherever. She was here to clean a potential mess, not make friends.

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BurningBright
 Posted: Jul 10 2018, 02:21 AM
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As soon as Vivian spoke, the puppet would start clacking ominously as it shivered to life. The puppet reared up, seeming as if it was about to attack, but then instead it merely opened its mouth as the jaw supports seemingly unhinged entirely. A scroll slid out of the puppet's mouth and was held in place, seemingly waiting for Vivian to take the scroll.

If she inspected it, she would find that it was a summoning scroll, one with blood already drawn across it. It needed only a small investiture of blood to summon whatever was inside-which, if the preceding trend prevailed, was likely another paranoid measure to ensure that only Vivian was the one this person would be speaking with.

It was up to her whether she used the scroll or tried to figure something else out about her situation, however. No one had yet disturbed her, so she seemed to have her privacy.

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Jul 12 2018, 08:03 AM
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Taking the scroll and inspecting it Vivian quickly recognized it as summoning scroll similar to the one she had used all those years ago as a genin. The blood offering was already in place, making it effectively primed and ready to go as soon as chakra was given. With nothing better to do the clone would feed the scroll enough chakra to activate it and then would step back to await whatever it summoned.

While this level of secrecy was in some ways appreciated it was frankly getting to the point where it was starting to be redundant. The puppet seemingly served no purpose, it would have been just as effective to leave the scroll instead of the scroll in the puppet. Either it had a hidden purpose or it really was a redundancy and she was dealing with an amateur. Probably best to keep an eye on it just in case. Maybe even her surroundings as a whole in case the while damn thing was a genjutsu for whatever rediculous reason.

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BurningBright
 Posted: Jul 13 2018, 12:46 PM
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When Vivian's clone used the scroll, she would find that it was not a person summoned into the room; rather, it was a large number of explosives. The puppet went rigid, then seemed to close in on itself; its arms and legs retracted into the body, the head lowered and locked, and the bits of the torso that bent locked in and closed down on themselves, so that what had looked before like a humanoid puppet now looked like a large barrel.

The clone would only have a few seconds before it realized the mistake-but, thankfully, it was only a clone, and Vivian was a teleporter besides.

~~~

Regardless of how Vivian's clone reacted to the blast, Vivian would feel the explosion all the way from where she had been waiting. It seemed the summoning scroll had been a trap-but why was there a trap waiting for Vivian?

In any case, it seemed there was a new mystery attached to this mission for Vivian to tackle. At least she only sent a clone.

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Jul 13 2018, 01:04 PM
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The clone would only have a few moments before the explosion went off, and its inevitable doom removed it from this existence. Seeing the puppet transforming into what seemed like a more defensive form the clone would quickly apply a FTG seal to it in the time it had left. When the explosion tore through the clone the knowledge of what had happened, and what the clone had done, would be transferred back to the original.

The source of the explosion not being a mystery Vivian still had to wonder why it was that her contact was being this difficult. Originally she was just here for some answers. After being nearly blown to pieces she was adding a little bit more to her to do list, like possibly paying back the favor to whoever planned this with a little interest. Activating her Far Sight and Byakugan Vivian would take a look through the most recently placed seal to see what she could find. There was no reason for the puppet to transform and possibly alert her to the trap unless it was to make itself sturdy enough to survive the blast. Meaning there was a chance the puppet was still intact and functional. The lack of any discernible puppeteer nearby was also suspicious to say the least, unless the owner of that deathtrap was actually within the puppet itself. Whatever the case may be her Byakugan would soon find out.

Creating another clone Vivian would have a seat and wait for further information. If her suspicions were correct she would want to observe for awhile before making a move, and if she was lucky enough perhaps the puppet would even be brought back to some more advantageous location for her to teleport to.

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BurningBright
 Posted: Jul 14 2018, 02:02 AM
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As Vivian activated her special eyes and the fancy ability her Seal applied, she would see the room as she had left it, just considerably smokier. The hatch leading to the room opened, and the waitress came downstairs. Unfortunately, Vivian's seal only transferred her vision, not her hearing-fortunately, Vivian's eyes could easily see through smoke, and Vivian could read lips.

"Tsukada, we have a problem. There's no body."

The puppets chest cavity would open, and out would step a man-one Vivian would note was NOT the informant she was supposed to meet with. This Tsukada individual looked around and swore, realizing that his deception had, itself, been met with deception.

"I don't know what happened. I'm blind inside Roach."

The woman crossed her arms and frowned. "Well that's just great. Pack up Roach and lets move. We need to let the boss know that we failed to kill the Akari nin."

The man sighed and pointed a hand at Roach. The puppet continued folding in on itself, then leaped onto Tsukada's back. Its arms and legs wrapped around Tsukada and attached to each other, forming a harness that secured the puppet to the puppeteer. And with that, the two left the basement, and began walking towards where, presumably, their boss was located. On their way out, the cook nodded as they left and closed the door to the closet behind them, at which point the door fused with the wall, vanishing entirely. It seemed the entire restaurant was in on this particular attack against Vivian.

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Vivian Hyuuga
 Posted: Jul 14 2018, 09:00 AM
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It seemed there was a rather interesting scene unfolding for her to view. With her informant nowhere to be seen and her earlier suspicion being proven to be true Vivian made a mental note for the appearances of the staff members. As they were obviously in on the plot to take her life it was likely they were at least in some way affiliated with this organization. When she was done with the group there would be a lot of stragglers to pick off.

For now however she had nothing else to do beyond waiting and watching. Eliminating this Tsukada would be a simple matter, but it wasn't the goal. She still hadn't ascertained one way or another what the groups new direction would be. Even if they were going to bite the hand that fed them one goon of a puppeteer wasn't the goal. There was a certain process that needed to be followed for this to work as her superiors wished it to happen.

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BurningBright
 Posted: Jul 15 2018, 12:34 AM
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The 'waitress' and Tsukada walked through the village, and Vivian would note, the villagers gave them a wide berth. Whenever the pair walked through the streets, villagers cast their eyes downward, unwilling to meet the eyes of these people. This was a marked difference from what Vivian would have known of this village-the people here had never been fans of the fact that they were essentially a mercenary den, but with mercs came money, and they had never caused many problems for the people before-so, as far as Vivian knew, the people in this village were more or less ok with the mercenary group.

Now, however, the people seemed cowed, unwilling to risk an insult to these mercs. Something drastic had changed, something Vivian and her higher ups hadn't accounted for-and it didn't take a genius to figure it probably had something to do with why her contact had been compromised.

The pair approached a large tree in the middle of the village and drew a sigil onto the tree's bark. Vivian noted it as the merc's insignia-but with an added circle drawn around it, and two eyes above the circle, looking down.

After they finished drawing the sigil, the tree shuddered, and a door in the tree's bark opened up, revealing a long passage that was somehow much longer than the tree was thick. The pair walked into the tree, and as they did, Vivian's sight returned to her present location. She would find that she could no longer feel the presence of that seal, as if it had vanished entirely as soon as the pair entered that tree.

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