Two days ago...
She had returned home tired after a long day of moving civilians to a more secure location, many of which being the Mizukage’s own clan, but her mothers had wanted to make sure she ate something and took her medicine before she got some rest. They had decided not to bunker down and remain in their home, as it was just as safe and more comfortable. So while most people were taking shelter, they were at home cooking on small fires in the backyard and getting cozy, despite the circumstances. It was really awful timing, all things considered, but they’d actually found out that Hōseki was expecting soon. Their many tries of having a child through medical intervention was finally successful. And the world was ending- how fantastic.
Their dinner was quiet, bundled around the table with candles. Kiseki was cold for some reason, possibly just being stuck out in the low temperature for so long, but the house was sealed for warmth to make up for the loss of heating. Yet here she sat at the table eating, while wrapped up in blankets three layers too thick. She looked like a ball of fabric with a head and an arm sticking out of it. Her mothers watched her eat quietly, exchanging glances of concern between one another here and there. It wasn’t uncommon for their daughter to come home this sluggish, but what concerned them was a gut feeling. It was no different than any other time, but it felt different to them, and was enough of a reason for them to start drilling asking questions.
“How are you feeling?” Her mother Hōseki asked, attempting to sound casual. She failed miserably.
Mid-bite, Kiseki stopped to look across the table right at her, squinting for a moment before she went back to eating. Her suspicion was warranted, but at the same time she was also wondering if they felt the same as she. She knew better than all three of them there that she was feeling worse than usual, but she was playing it off at least somewhat well. Rather than looking sickly, as every bite she grew closer and closer to feeling like it was going to come back up, she played it off as fatigue. “I feel okay, I’m just really tired. I took my last med I had on me like six hours ago. I’ve been running around and I’m just ready to go to go to sleep.”
“Alright. You’d tell us if you were feeling sick, right? It might be time to see the doctor again.” Shinkō added, setting her silverware down completely as she focused on her. Her daughter fidgeted under her gaze and shrugged the blankets off of her. The sweat on her body was visible, and yet her trained eyes could focus in on the bumps raised across her skin. She was sweating, and still cold.
As Kiseki leaned forward in her seat to get up and just go to sleep, she could taste it before anything else. That metallic tang of blood running down the back of her throat. And then... Drip... Drip.
She got nose bleeds before. At first it was nothing new. Same old ailments that came along pretty often but this time. A drip turned into multiple. She could hear them pattering against the top of the table. Drip. Drip. Drip drip drip. Then there was no sound, only the sight of a constant stream of blood pouring from her body. Hōseki and Shinkō were on their feet as soon as they realized that this wasn’t an ordinary nose bleed. She heard a chair hit the floor from being pushed back so hard. The room started to spin, her vision was giving, eyes rolling, and as she swayed in her seat and fell forward gentle hands had caught her shoulders. But she was gone. The hysterical calls of her name and panicked orders between her mothers faded to silence.
“It’s just as dark on the other side of the moon.”
Waking up in a hospital was something that happened quite often for her, but it had never been this quiet. There were no droning sounds of machines or tubes running all about her. There was an IV drip, and that was it. At first she didn’t think much of anything was out of the ordinary. It almost felt like home, but then she opened her eyes and noticed the bland colored walls and lack of decor. Despite how often she ended up here, she always preferred to just be at home if she was going to be laid up in bed. It was apparent to her after a moment of looking around that this was no plain visit to the hospital. Her mothers had bags packed and they were both passed out in really uncomfortable looking chairs. The sun was rising, casting warm colors into the room to breathe at least a little bit of life into it.
“Mom?” She was a little shocked at how hoarse her voice sounded as it came out, reflexively moving her hand up to her neck to feel around. From what she could tell there was nothing immediately wrong. Her eyes searched for some water as her mothers shifted awake and came over to her. Hōseki immediately knew what she was looking for and handed her a bottle of water that was set on her nightstand.
“Don’t drink it too fast though, little flower. You’ll upset your stomach.” She took her hand and frowned, apparent that she was attempting not to cry.
Shinkō sat on the opposite side of the bed and took her other hand. “We still don’t know what is wrong yet. The doctors have been too busy to check outside of basic tests. We’re very glad you’re finally awake though.”
Kiseki pursed her lips and handed the water back. As she tried to remember what happened before this moment she was drawing blanks. “What happened? How long was I unconscious?”
Hōseki wrinkled her nose with a bittersweet smile. The questions she was asking were of bad circumstances but it was always so adorable to her to hear her sweet little voice use such big words. They were so proud of how intelligent she was for her age. “A little over two days judging from the sun. You got a nose bleed, worse than any I’ve ever seen. You passed out suddenly and we were in a panic so we brought you in. It was really sudden and different than all the other times.”
Kiseki nodded slowly, her attention on them wavering toward the hall as she heard footsteps. They passed them by, and so did the time. They had a brief conversation and Kiseki wanted to go back to sleep. In the meantime of her napping, Shinkō and Hōseki decided to go home and grab changes of clothes and her medicine. They’d forgotten it in their rush out of the house. They promised they wouldn’t be gone too long and went on their way. She curled up under her layers of four blankets and closed her eyes to try to sleep some more.
After the sudden and devastating declaration by the being known as Madoguchi, it would seem as though as he had retreated into the chakra source as fast as he had arrived. Due to this sudden retreat by the alien threat, the world leaders have ordered all citizens' return effective immediately.
Time-skip Implemented Zone 1 & 2: April 13, 1205 AH 9:00 AM
Zone 3 & 4: April 13, 1205 AH 9:00 PM
This was inevitable. That after all the wringling of the little dot in a minimalistic, two-dimensional labyrinth, a way out would be carved out. Many were, in fact. One headed back, to the forestly hue that was where Kazuo got knocked off. The other headed to the brightness unfathomable. The third... darker. There was a river. A guide, awaiting a golden coin. Something drew him to the third entry, but suddenly he was forced to stop. On himself, there was no coin. Nothing. The entry back to the forest was behind him, yet he felt as if part of him still was there. And everything about it. The shame...
The lesson. It'll stay with me forever, and perhaps head smashed that day, is life saved later.
That or I'm not as smart as I thought I am. - The thought was a strange relief. His whole life he felt pressure to excel expectations he set in his previous works, whether in book learning, or power output. Being back on the bottom when it came to true practical war hurts... but now that his pride was sunk cost, he felt at peace. Only dignity was left, with that, he entered the brightness, returning to consciousness, to find his Sensei and companion by his side, and hospital bed and facilities around him.
“It's my luck that I haven't ended up in a frying pan, where I'd think headless chickens like me belong, eh? Or will that happen soon? I had the biggest dressing down of all year in my head alone, can't imagine what you have in store.”
But where were his manners.
“Takezo, I apologiiize..” - he said slowly, almost reluctantly “..for losing my head. Likewise, Sumato-Sensei.”
The shame gone, now only the headache was left to torment Kazuo... ever impotently, as there was quite enough painkiller in his system to deter it.
"Good news Mr. Sumato, it seems your pupil Kazuo hasn't sustained any serious injuries, but I think he should take easy for the next couple days to fully heal." The woman doctor's voice was soothing yet confident in her judgment. While she held a tight grip onto her clipboard her eyes never found themselves losing focus on Sumato.
Anxiously consuming a large blob of saliva the jounin felt intimidated by women, but the doctor's jarring and dominant demeanor made the man even more nervous. "Y-y-y-yes doctor." Sumato nervously exclaimed as his vocal cords had not cooperated with him. As soon as the doctor turned her back and left, a sigh of relief released from his grasp as he could feel his vitals returning to normal. Before entering the hospital room, the brown-haired shinobi knocked on the door announcing his presence and hoping he was not disturbing Kazuo's peace. Placing a gift basket of fruit on the wooden table beside his bed, Sumato locked eyes with his bed-stricken student and exclaiming a bright smile. He looked at his student and notice how defeated he looked. The jounin begin to question himself if he was pushing his students too far too quickly, but his recollection of how cruel the world was made him refute this theory. Not knowing how to start. Sumato first cleared his throat before speaking.
"The doctor says you'll be healed up in no time if you take it easy these past couple days. Heh, I remember I came to the hospital so much, I practically lived here when I was younger. I did poorly on every mission when I was a genin, and I'd always storm into danger without thinking to prove my strength. Sometimes it worked but for the most part, I was in hospital room 203! Heh, good times!"Sumato said positively while retaining a smile. "Would you believe that I once thought about giving up as a shinobi? I was assigned to stop a coup in the Land of Valleys and boy when I tell you I came back in critical condition, even the doctors were convinced that the shinobi lifestyle was not meant for me...until Lord Isamu helped me find my footing. Before he helped me master ninjutsu, he read through each mission write-up and helped me learn from my mistakes. That was the best training I've ever received because it helped my decision-making skills, allowing me to visit the hospital less, though I do miss it here."
Sumato's smile remained unfractured and hoped it extended to both his students. Ruffling up both Takezo and Kazuo's hair he hoped to grow stronger with them and inspired them to become great shinobi. They of course were the future and Kirigakure, Land of Water would one day depend on their strengths. Both his students had a long way to go to become independent on their own rights, but it was clear that they were coming to terms with being a team, something that is only learned through experience.
If Kazuo's thoughts, the healers, brought their rewards, Sumato wasted no time adding salve to the bruise.
"Thank you, Sensei. The headache is gentle now, practically no longer a nuisance. As is the notion that this would go on without concussions and such."
In any case, these words brought more relief than visages of rivers. Kazuo's in-mind empire was a sterile mess, devoid of detail and color. Everything was white, or black on white. This hospital at least had welcome addition of sterile green. The shame became a distant memory. The detailless white became the more colorful ceiling. The abstractions and labyrinths became Sumato's face. Kazuo smiled as if compelled. His sensei came to terms with what went wrong, moved on and grew on it. A blueprint for his own path. His own strength, yes. Deeming a mistake, a sign of weakness, he believed one had to quickly extract lessons from their failures and then ditch them as thoroughly as possible from the mind. Exorcise them. Or they walk over you. Now, Kazuo knew for a fact Sumato was a path forward for him. He's the one in command of ocean and the storm, where Kazuo is the one in command of a local lightning and maybe its thunder. Yet he sensed so much strength from the Sensei's words, it was undeniable. Even if it served a goal of lifting him up... Sumato was at peace, his demeanour alone compelling Kazuo to reconsider his thoughts. Few teachers could evoke reflection on more than one layer. Fewer than there were students who'd play ball.
Now he just had to apply the lesson. Easy enough. But if his silly fight-flight autopilot took over again.... a chill went through him.
"If you recall them so fondly, surely you were the danger, as often as you were in danger, or more. And I... I feel i learned fear. Now... how will I be brave if I learned fear... And I suppose we won't have an elaborate writeup on my mission."
It wasn't a simple journey for sure as Kashi could even perceive the presence of the 'aerial beasts' hidden within the clouds - though he could perceive it through the power of the Goka to see the heat signature allowing himself to avoid the clouds in a certain movement. The particular halo can be seen on the left - the fading tomoe can be also perceived on the right, had the Shinobi paid attention. Though it was fading to a point it was practically invisible for anyone to see. It might be that he had prioritized the chakra usage into the Kashogan in which in turn had resulted in the other being weakened. "Hmm.."A sudden jolt of chakra had reached his head as the eyes darted left at Kuragari, causing an ominous smile on his face as he found it amusing that the Nubatama had found a way to catch up to him."About a couple of a minute. Akachan's pretty good when it comes to directions, I think it's cause he had been everywhere in the past it's like he had a memory of an elderly elephant,"he said, without skipping a beat in his words it appeared that he had changed his attitude just now; in that he had become more open. Could it be that he had... gained a little respect from the Goka?
As it appeared that they're about to be close to their destination a plastered grin on the face had suggested he had something else in mind other than flying right in. "Make sure to conceal your chakra signature and disguise your appearance into something different..." He whispered as he held up the single hand sign "Ram", whilst performing a combination of Transformation Technique and Shadow Clone Technique in which resulted in 4 identical copies of himself on their own Akachan with their own disguise, their chakra remained concealed. Without a second to waste the clones had departed in different directions other with the exception of the original. Their goal? Find Kiseki Isogi in this place.
"...."he stared at the Nubatama, expecting that he had done the same to his appearance in order to infiltrate into the city where Kiseki Isogi is known to be in, according to the reports they had on her. "Ready to go, Kuragari?" he said, as he jumped onto the sand allowing his sandals to settle as a scent of the river flowed through him for a moment he couldn't help but feel relaxed. Though it isn't the time to fool around as it is their mission to retrieve Kiseki Isogi and return her home the rosy pink eyes illuminated - allowing the fading pattern of his respective kekkei Genkai to appear in and out for a moment. It was to scan for any trace of population and join them as if they were but a visitor. At the same time, his alluring pink hair can be seen brushing against the wind allowing pieces of sand to hit his skin as he placed his hand against the waist. It appeared by now that he had disguised his appearance, whilst removing any notable feature on him that could be used to discover his identity in the future. "If either one of us had been discovered. Make sure you find a way to escape or exterminate yourself in order to avoid any interrogation."he paused, it was no secret that he had prepared a contingency, had he been discovered.
"Alright. Let's go find her" He said, as they continued to advance toward the beach into the sector where it appeared to be much different from what it is compared to Hidden Petal Village in appearance. Still, it appeared to be rather... quiet for a sector as there aren't many people as they'd expected, why is that? It was... much dead at a glance, but for those who had paid attention would see some blood in distance causing Kashi to smile, rather ominously. Without wasting much time the artificial shinobi had arrived - maintaining the disguise as he found the hospital where Kiseki is at, causing him to observe the entire buildings and through the windows in that he had discovered a particular pink aura out of the entire population in the hospital. It wasn't difficult as he can see color through the Sharingan and he had some familiarity with an isogi or two that he is capable of finding another. "Found her."He thought as he walked into the entrance allowing for... a particular couple to see him.
Even though Kuragari was never one to actually play as a team, he was glad he met Kechi and got assigned to the mission, this was a chance for him to actually learns what it means to be a part of something instead of always doing things alone. Eventually, he got a response from the kid who actually spoke to him normally instead of like someone who just wanted to start a fight, was the kid just testing him to see how things were going to go? He didn't really know the answer to that but there was something about the kid that just became different in the duration of only half their journey. "Tch, an elephant huh? You sure have a way of explaining things kid." For a moment, Kuragari actually slightly laughed at his comment about what he assumed to be the leaf, and giving it a name was something strange but he figured there had to be a reason. Though, Kashi quickly went into team leader mode, and even though Kuragari hated taking orders from people, this was his first time around this area so. On top of that, maybe the Kashi wasn't so bad after all so he'd see what he had in mind and what the reason for changing their appearance was for.
Kuragari followed Kashi's lead and performed the same hand sign "Ram", performing only the transformation jutsu to color his eyes and hair both pink to match the color of the man who brought him here in the first place. Seeing the kid perform a mix between both shadow clone jutsu and a transformation jutsu WITH a summoning was indeed impressive; as such this caused Kuragari to give another smile towards the kid as a way of accepting him as something more than just a random brat with a strange attitude. "Alright Ojo, you can start becoming smaller now, and yea kid... Let's go."After that statement, Kuragari concealed both the chakra of himself and Ojo; Now with that being out of the way, Ojo started gradually becoming smaller at a rapid pace until Kuragari was safely on the ground beside Kashi. The wings made from their combined jutsu was now gone, and Ojo had slithered her way onto the back of Kuragari's neck while being hidden by his hair. "When you need me back out there little one, just say the words."Staring straight ahead as he followed the lead of his comrade as he replied to Ojo. "Right..."
The hospital was busy, but besides the bustle of shifting feet and jingling name tags, it was relatively quiet- and very easy to overhear conversations. Two middle aged women were just heading toward the front door, one of them digging through their coat pocket for a pack of smokes. Their conversation seemed relatively heated and it was easy to feel the tension between them. One of them had a look of disapproval and the other almost seemed pleading. As they walked outside and passed the wandering shinobi, their conversation continued.
“These doctors have no idea what they’re talking about. She’s too young for this! What if we tried something more traditional from home?”
“Traditional? They finally ran tests, and gave us answers. Shouldn’t that be good enough? We know what we need to do now.”
They stopped outside the door and one of them lit up a cigarette, breathing it in like it was precious oxygen- desperate for relief from her stress. “Kiseki is only eight years old. How could she have cancer? The test could be wrong. She was so active and happy-“
“And she’s always been a sickly kid. Her father told us that when we took her in. We knew this was something that could happen, she’s an Isogi. You are being unreasonable.” Her wife made a face. “And I really wish you hadn’t picked that damned habit back up-“
“Our daughter is dying, Hōseki. I will quit when this is over.” She cut her off and rubbed her head with her other hand as she took in another breath of smoke.
“And what if it ends the way you don’t want it to? I don’t want to lose her either, but we can’t be falling to pieces around her either. You know that she can see that! You can’t hide anything from her, Shinkō. She sees through all of this, and it’s just going to stress her out. Especially with the baby on the way. Kiseki has already thought of every possibility for her future and we haven’t even processed it even a little bit. She could miss out on eve-“
“Enough, Hōseki… please.” She was still wrapping her head around everything. It was just too much for her right now. She wished she could be like their daughter, but she wasn’t.
“Well when you’re finished poisoning yourself, I’ll be inside.” Hōseki spoke with an angry tone and it was so shocking to her wife Shinkō that as she left she kind of just watched her in shock. And then the anger and grief came back. She remained outside smoking, broodily staring off into space.
Hōseki came back inside and sank into a seat near the entrance to wait for her wife, head in hands as she just hunched over and stared at the floor. She seemed the more reasonable one, but that could also mean the more cautious of the two. Perhaps Shinkō in her anger and despair would be the more likely to ramble about Kiseki and reveal to them her location if they asked the right questions, or she’d tell them to screw off. The decision was theirs.
The eyes had enraptured the situation before him as it was clear that he had no obvious direction to her room. And so this required him to have a conversation with one of the mothers in order to get close to them, perhaps to allow the target to lower their guard around her… fellow clansmen. “Hmm.. let’s go talk to the woman inside. She seems to be one of the adoptive mothers.” He thought as he had gestured for Kuragari to follow. It was almost as if he wasn't being surprised by the thought of a same-sex couple as it didn't really bother him, not even a slight; then again in his eyes, everyone’s all the same to him; souls to be fed to the fire. The mission is dependent on how this conversation went - whether this succeeded or not. The clouds appeared to be engulfing the landscape with its beautiful rain touching the skin though Kashi had flinched at the cold sensation, still, it was obvious that they are in Land of Water a neverending rainstorm that had indicated a great event to be told.
“Hello!”The pink-haired child said, his accent was much different from what Kuragari had heard earlier. It was a deception, in order to disguise his appearance and even his voice. It was a bizarre encounter for the woman as it looked like a duo of pink-haired children had popped out, out of nowhere almost as if it was meant to be. The flushed skin indicates he was anything but with a plastered smile on his face - it was described as welcoming. Though to the eyes of Kuragari, he was just being a good actor, comparing the difference between the versions of Kashi, from before and then in his mind, had he even bothered to.
His hand placed against the waist, a chuckle escaped his lips. "Sorry if I just scared ya, Auntie!" he replied in such an optimistic beat. “I know it's out of nowhere, but we're here to see our cousin, ya hear?” He paused, his eyes looked into hers. "Besides that, is she alright? Considering that she's in a hospital..." he continued, it appeared that he was feeling sorry about their cousin, and it showed on his face as the tears suddenly had engulfed his face. "Ah, sorry, I didn't. I didn't mean to... Uncle just sent us to see how she's doing... considering her situation.." he whimpered as he wiped his tears, "A-and. it reminded me of when I got sick too..." Difficult to convey his words, yet the words he had spoken in the end must have caught her attention. The demeanor of his that he had displayed was one of a kind boy who had expressed powerful reactions to a cousin's condition, in that he couldn't help but feel sorry for her. The deception escaping his lips had seen no end, was he just good at lying after all? Or is it because it was partially the truth - though he had fibbed a bit with the lies. Still, the words had carried strength and intent in which conveyed even the might of the Goka in order to ease her into accepting their presence. Had the woman looked upon the duo she would be reminded of Kiseki. There was no difference, other than that she had a sickly body, and they don't. Though… Kashi had appeared to remind her of a particular man… This might be the case as he referenced Kechi Isogi's appearance when disguising himself as such. For a moment he couldn't help but look out the windows to see the clear skies, causing him to relax a bit at the beauty. At the same moment, a single shadow can be seen slightly from above.
It appears that he had waited at the woman's response in order to approach their cousin Kiseki in which can be located at a room.