|Santa's Evil Reign|
|Santa's Evil Reign|
|ShonenChicoBoy • EmperorSigma • Beserkerchart486 • Dragon Lord Erin • SoloStar2 • Dedmnwalkn88 • The Mighty Phoenix • Nars|
One Really Bad Monday Morning, North Pole
Dasha’s feet echoed down black-tiled bare hallways as he made his way towards the big man’s office. The “President” had summoned him to a meeting, and he walked quickly and with certain purpose. He could not be late, he knew the fate of those who were: they were turned into stocking-stuffers and hung above the fireplace.
Passing by a few, smooth glass windows, he could see outside into the frigid wasteland that surrounded the stronghold. The main office was on the top floor, of course, with all the rich trappings of an expensive penthouse. Well, an expensive penthouse fitted with cheesy red and green lights with literal holly decking the halls. It would have resembled an upscale club, except for the fact that all the women were not-so-scantily clad in thick fur coats. You could only really see there eyes, and as a result Dasha really did not see the point in keeping them around at all. But an evil overlord had to have his harem. He shook his head sadly.
Marching up to the ornate double doors, Dasha stretched as he prepared to knock. The doors were made of mahogany, with Christmas trees carved into their dark surfaces. But Dasha wasn’t concerned about the doors, but rather what was behind them.
Clearing his throat and straightening up, Dasha knocked firmly to the rap of “Jingle Bells,” causing the massive muscles in his arm to ripple conspicuously, before calling out in a loud voice:
“You wanted to see me sir?”
There was a gale of wind that slammed the doors wide open, nearly ripping them from their hinges. A bellow of unintelligible words followed, and Dasha assumed it was the President calling him out on only “just” arriving on time.
He was five minutes early.
“You may enter,” the big-man said after he had calmed down. Dasha did as he had been told and closed the doors behind him, although he knew it was probably suicide to do so. Santa was frowning rather heavily at him as he rocked back and forth threateningly from a gigantic rocking chair. There was no one else in the room.
Like the rest of the fortress, the main office was built to withstand damage. That being said, there was no reason why it couldn’t be full of luxury. A thick white carpet made from a polar bear fur lay across the floor, a huge desk with a huge plate of cookies resting on top was in the center of the room, and on one wall an immense fireplace roared. Next to the immense fireplace was an even more immense tree, and on the mantle where the aforementioned carcass bags filled with those who had defied his will.
Nay, their will.
For although all trembled before their leader, they were devoted to him, and followed him unquestionably. Thus as his employer smiled a sinister smile and chuckled a sinister chuckle, Dasha also smiled a sinister smile, and chuckled a sinister chuckle.
“One of the Elves is missing.” dropping all pretense of joviality, the big man in red snapped sharply.
“Ah yes, Buddy I believe.”
“You mean to tell me you knew about this?”
“Well sir, we had already sent out a search party and had hoped they would return with the traitor before you noticed.”
Rather than explode in a fit of anger, as Dasha had been expecting, the President leaned back in his huge rocking chair as he chewed on a candy cane.
“I actually wanted to see you about Code: Rudolph the Red-nose.”
“Code: everything is moving according to schedule, sir.”
“When will it be ready to launch?”
“In about five minutes sir, I should hope.” Dasha answered.
“I’ll use that time to check Facebook.” Santa said, “I need to update my “‘Twas the Night Before Doom’ page.”
“Very well sir, I will notify you when we receive the all-clear.” Dasha acted as though he would turn to leave, but he knew the President would have more to say to him, he could literally sense it in the atmosphere between them. What was it, did he need more hot chocolate?
“Dasha,” Santa said firmly, “ I will be the one to push the button, is that understood?”
“Yes sir, you will push the button.”
“Good,” the President rubbed his hands together as a smirk of indescribable glee crossed his face, and he began to mutter praises about his own evil scheme. “You are dismissed.” he said after realizing Dasha was still standing there. With a short bow the Reindeer-horned subordinate literally flew from the room. Sweat poured from his temples as he rushed back towards the launch pad.
There were only two minutes left, and he was on a tight schedule. They had a world to destroy, after all, and he had a million things to prepare. All that on only one cup of coffee.
Five minutes later, as the evil organization from the North Pole had so carefully plotted, the world exploded.
Well, not literally.
The sky cracked open as a line of northern lights emanated from a singular point above the top of the world. It stretched all the way around the globe, like a get-fit waist band tightening on a bulging belly.
Meanwhile, all the Shinobi from their respective Shinobi homes would have noticed the strange lights dance across the sky, and from there a freezing blast of wind. Then, those closest to the line were overwhelmed with a blizzard of snow and ice that quickly buried them in an avalanche of eternal winter. From a tiny northern village screams could be heard as herds of eskimo sprinted from their homes. It was so cold that icicles shot into the sides of their houses and ripped them apart. So cold that the ground split open like a chapped lip. So cold that your boogers literally froze in your nose, and it felt like your brain and balls were frozen too. That was why the people were booking it. Men, women, young and old, everyone was fleeing for the safety of their warm boogers and balls.
The snow line was spreading, and spreading fast.
It was a dark and stormy night when a lone figure appeared before the watchman on the international border check station. Of course, it wasn’t really a dark or stormy night, it was a sunny yet typically horrible Monday morning. In fact only about a half hour had passed since Santa had unleashed utter terror upon the earth.
“Hey, Jou, what’s that?” one of the guards in the station asked as he motioned towards the haggard and stumbling stranger.
“Looks like one of those Christmas elves to me,” Jou responded as he sipped from his cup of Joe.
“You think he’s gonna make it?” the other man asked. The elf seemed to be struggling against the weight of his own body. Each step was pure torture as he neared the check station.
“Hmm, maybe we should cheer him on.” Jou suggested.
“Good idea.” The guards cupped their hands around their mouths and yelled encouraging phrases at the traveler:
“I would say break a leg, but it looks like you already did!”
“Where’s your sleigh, dingle bells?”
The two Shinobi busted up and guffawed loudly.
Buddy the Elf had ran until his legs could carry him no further. Exhausted, drained by the effort of crossing an entire continent and the constant peril of skirting death, he had at last reached the border of the Land of Fire. Seeing the guards cheer-- or jeer-- him on seemed to give him a second wind, and he just barely managed to drag himself to the doorstep of the station before he collapsed entirely.
“Nnnnnhhh,” he groaned.
“Jou, I think he’s giving us some cryptic code with his dying breath!”
“Let me write this down,”
“Not…. dying…” the elf managed to pant, “I need…”
His voice shriveled up and he could no longer continue.
“Hey Jou, this guy seems dehydrated, hand me your Joe there.” The other guard handed over his coffee mug, and the man promptly poured it down Buddy’s throat.
After nearly having his insides scalded by the hot liquid he seemed to be revived, and was able to deliver his message:
“Take me to Konoha, it’s a matter of extreme urgency.” he said.
“How urgent is ‘urgent?’” Jou asked.
“Very urgent. I must speak to the Hokage immediately.”
“Sure, no problem buddy. But first I’ll need to see your passport.”
Three days later...
The time had come. Buddy the Elf had delivered his message to the Hokage, who had promptly called an International Shinobi Union meeting to order. They would meet in a town some distance outside Konoha, near the coast in a very sizeable conference center. This was to avoid political discomfort, of course. Eggnog and cookies would also be provided, mainly due to Buddy’s urging, in order to entice Shinobi from all lands to come.
The conference center was your typical, boring conference center. It was a flat, square building with a modular style, weird polygon arches and a slanted roof completing the illusion that it had been built in the ‘60’s, even though it was quite new. The place was huge, especially the main meeting room which was essentially a circular, enclosed amphitheatre in the center of the complex. There was also a fountain with a naked goldfish outside the main entrance, and white smooth steps that led up to the front doors. However, as no one cares about minor details like naked goldfish, the purpose of the statue was entirely unknown.
Inside the meeting room waited several prominent Shinobi from Konoha and elsewhere. Seated in between them was Buddy the Elf, a half-sad, half-bored expression on his pale face. The meeting would begin as soon as everyone else arrived, as had been specified in the invitation:
"You are cordially invited to Konoha’s Christmas Party! Wear an ugly sweater and bring a gift to share. (Also we will be talking about the destruction of the world and end of life as we know it, so please come if you value the future prosperity of mankind)."
The message had seemed subtle enough, and now they could only wait and hope that the other Shinobi would show. They needed an army after all, but one could not be raised without support.
There were the voices of many creating various different conversations within the meeting room. Everyone spoke individually about their views on the potential reasoning for such a meeting. The five great nations and people outside of them all voiced their opinions within a single building. Among these many people was none other than the man who led the village of Konohagakure himself; Seigetsu Uchiha — the Hokage.
Seigetsu held his chin on the back of his hands with his elbows sitting firmly on the desk as support. His dark eyepatch hit the scar given to him by the magician those years ago. His full face bearing home to stubble of a beard left behind represented the stressful and sleepless nights he endured. Standing behind him stood Izuru Uchiha, his eldest daughter. Right beside her was Shikaniku Nara, Seigetsu's right hand man. To end off their squad was none other than the almight Rock Lee. Seigetsu's three men stood quiet a they knew the situation at hand, but the room began to get entirely out of hand.
Tapping into the desk with just his index finger, he sent a powerful yet stable shockwave throughout the entire room. As he did Izuru and Rock Lee both began to drench sweat. "Order." He said to the attendees.
Ordinarily, it was not the place of the bodyguard to speak his tongue unless specifically told to do so, however Shikaniku was more than a protector of the Hokage. When Seigetsu made decisions, it was often the Nara encouraging him to do exactly so whether they were on what to eat, who to send on a particular mission, or if they were as large as going to war with another land. For some, they believed that he was a puppet, one being manipulated, but Seigetsu himself was a smart man himself. It was why Shikaniku devoted himself to being his advisor, protector, guardian, and his friend. When the hokage released a fraction of his power, Shikaniku couldn't help but smirk.
"I would advise you all to listen to the information that is about to come from Lord Hokage's lips. It's more important than any of your individual conversations. That, I promise." Shikaniku's tone was firm, but almost playful as if he was purposely mocking everyone that had attended the meeting. Was he? Or did he have some sort of plan? He was as mysterious as he was smart.
"So you guys mind telling us why you called us here?" the poison book spoke as he reclined in a chair. He had travel all the way from Suna to some sort of christmas party and found a meeting between thousands of shinobi. From his view it was quite suspicious, either Konoha was plotting something or something far worse had happened. Far behind him in the corner of the room stood a lone shinobi in a large hooded black cloak. He was observing the meeting intently from afar.
The representative of Takigakure leaned back in his padded chair, his long fingers clasped together reminiscent of prayer, fiddling with his thumbs. It was unusual for one of his moderate rank to carry the attendance of an entire village at such a conference, but he was a man the Waterfall trusted. Kenta's eyes scanned the room, silently eyeing his opposite numbers, from the Hokage, to his bodyguard, to the young man who had just bellowed his opinion. Exhaling audibly, he stiffened up, his thoughts swirling around that bizarre invitation. "Just another day at the office," he told himself. "Or not." He corrected, picking up the differing expressions of the inhabitants of this chamber.
From the corner of the conference center, a cloaked figure slumped against the wall, the bangs of her crimson hair just peaking out past the hood of the cloak. She had been at the Konoha memorial wall when the strange lights stretched over the night sky, casting their beautiful yet somehow ominous glow over the black marble. Word had reached her of the meeting not a single day ago, while she was preparing to set out of the village once again. Though Akemi had little interest in foolish Christmas parties and socializing with ninja of the various lands, the significance of the matter at hand was too important for Akemi to be left out of the occasion. The konoichi did her best to remain separate from the other guests, not wanting to garner attention form others. Unfortunately she had noticed many other ninja glancing her way, curious about the stranger in the corner. Her attempt at going unoticed had ironically made her more noticeable among the crowd. The call of attention by the Hokage's assistant came as a massive relief for Akemi, as all eyes were now focused away from her. Hopefully the conference wouldn't last very long. Akemi almost felt ill as her nostrils were bombarded with smells of eggnog, cinnamon and other sweets. The only word Akemi could think of to describe the flurry of scents was the same word she used to describe her feelings towards Christmas itself, unpleasant.
The Hokage did not address the complaints of the meeting’s newcomers directly. Instead, a thin, haggard man with a pale, dead-pan expression that was so solemn it could freeze pickled herring stepped into the circle of light around the gigantic round table. He cleared his throat as if he were about to deliver the debriefing himself, but was interrupted by one of the Shinobi who protested loudly:
“Who the hell let the stiff walk in?”
The speaker ignored the interjection, but the aura around him became so icy that the entire room seemed to simultaneously shift uncomfortably.
“Salutations,” he began, “I hope you have all partaken of enough eggnog, as what I am about to tell you may be hard to hear without the fortification afforded by strong alcohol,” the speaker paused for dramatic effect before he said:
“The world as you may know it is going to end in approximately twenty-five days.”
There was a murmur of discontent among those who were actually paying attention. “Now, instead of boring you all with egregiously lengthy exposition, I have written a handout detailing when and how this inconvenient termination will occur. If you turn your attention to the wall over there, I have also prepared a Powerpoint on the subject.” he paused to hand the Shinobi next to him the stack of meeting handouts. He then quickly and expertly flipped through the slides on the screen as he explained the situation:
“As you can see from this advanced satellite image, a line of freezing cold wind and snow has completely encircled the earth. The blizzard has already buried a few insignificant villages in the north and is spreading rapidly. If something is not done, the world will soon become completely iced-over.” His voice echoed like an ominous weatherman in the meeting room. “This effect, however, is not the result of natural causes. Rather it was prompted by human interference, specifically a cold-fusion.. er, magical warhead that altered the rotation of the Coriolis force in the wake of the initial explosion.”
“Question,” someone raised their hand, their tone skeptical, “How exactly do you know all of this, and why are we supposed to believe you.”
“Ah, of course where are my manners... it seems I have forgotten to introduce myself.” The corpse-like man straightened his shoulders, which only made him seem more corpse-like, and cleared his throat. “My name is Buddy the Elf. I formerly served in the army of the mastermind behind all this chaos,” he gestured towards the screen, which had a rather large picture of a skull and crossbones superimposed over a blurry, indistinguishable satellite image, “But after personally bearing witness to that man’s growing lunacy, my conscience was seized to warn the world of this evil, and to that end perhaps escape obliteration. That man’s name is...” his voice became steel, filled with bitter sadness, hatred, and fear, “Santa Claus.”
He was met be a wall of blank stares.
“I have just recently escaped—miraculously, might I add—from the North Pole, where Lord Santa has built a fortress and thus established the seat of his evil reign. I can assure you that with his current forces he stands undefeatable. However, there is a way to stop the snowline from continuing to spread.” Buddy clicked to the next slide, which had a picture of an elaborate, nuclear-looking mechanism mounted on what appeared to be a giant missile. “This other-worldly contraption here is referred to as Rudolph the Red, and is a high-powered ballistic that, if detonated above the North Pole, should not only halt, but reverse the effects of the snowline by drawing the effect back into itself via a process that has been termed a ‘scientific hickey.’ The problem, however, is that Rudolph the Red is maintained by Santa’s forces at the North Pole, and is currently inaccessible. Our most logical recourse is thus to invade and steal the missile in order to use his own weapon against him, in a matter of speaking.” Buddy paused as he gauged the expressions of those at the table, “The mission will be called Operation: Partridge in a Pear Tree, and while the basic logistics have been laid out, we must establish a more clearly defined plan of action. In other words, we need ideas.”
In the midst of the silence, Shikaniku spoke. "It is the nature of the shinobi to see through deception. Throughout history, we have witnessed our own forced destroyed internally by sleeper agents, and spies. People that we thought were our comrades had turned out to be our enemies." His eyes pierced into the elf's own. "Thus, I think you can only expect us to be hesitant of your information. Even if the missile is an actual weapon, which in itself is doubtful, why would we willingly march into enemy territory when you clearly defined that his forces are unbeatable?"
Buddy ignored the donut-snatching Aburame and coolly turned his attention towards Shikaniku, “I am well aware of the fact that the proposition may seem like a trap, however I never said that the intention was to defeat Lord Santa, nay that is hoping for far too much I fear. It is the snowline that can be stopped, and as detailed in your handout, you will see why doing so is vital. I am sure everyone here is aware of the significance of the threat it poses: if all resources are frozen over across the surface of the planet, we will be forced to turn to Lord Santa for our most basic needs. He will gain unlimited political power and unimaginable wealth. We do not have time for sophistry, we must act as quickly as possible.” Throughout his entire monologue, Buddy’s expression had not changed. There was not a twitch of emotion, and he barely even blinked. “Logically, it is not possible for me to defend my own reputation. But rather you believe me or not events have now been set into motion that our beyond our control. The world is drawing to a close, and I am simply a prophet before the end.” He said portentously and loquaciously.
Kenta frowned at this latest development, before pushing his chair backwards and leaning forward, placing his palms on the table. "So what you're telling us is that the big old man who usually pops gifts down the chimney, has decided that we've all been bad children," Despite the gravity of the situation and his own doubts over legitimacy of the matter as pointed out by the Hokage's bodyguard, he let out a small chuckle, "Give us more details on his military manpower then, since it seems someone's gonna have to get their hands dirty either way here." Kenta said, his unbelieving smile still etched upon his face, his sharp gaze landing on Buddy the Elf.
“I am unaware of the exact amount, but the number of his armed, human forces is close to 80,000, perhaps even 90,000. Most of these soldiers were recruited—or perhaps more accurately, captured and brainwashed—from pocket dimensions in the space-time continuum, we assume from hapless individuals who tripped into wormholes, similar to what befell Lord Santa himself. These are trained warriors from many different eras and realms, and I would not underestimate their capabilities in battle. In addition he has eight god-like beings who transcend physical limitation and whose level is so great it would seem a paradox, as well as a special force of which I myself was not privy to.” Buddy said in the same, monotone voice that he had so far conveyed all information in, but the meeting attendees still seemed unconvinced.
Shigai stared on as he took in the information, it didn't sound like the craziest thing in the world but it was still pretty damn crazy. "So Basically we are diving headfirst into frosty land of death hoping to retrieve a musical bomb that can save us. I see several things that are seriously wrong with that." He spoke dryly as he stood and stretched before lazily sitting back down and placing his feet on the table. Just then a figure appeared on the desk. It appeared to be that man from the back of the room.
The man spoke up as he stepped of the table and addressed everyone. "Hello there, my name is Hougou and I think we can all say that this plan is crazy however I believe there is some truth to this." He spoke as he walked up to buddy and reached out his hand. A tendril then shot from his body and pierced the elves's skin and traveling into his body. Hougou stayed silent for a little before finally removing his tendril. As he looked around the room he held up the tentacle covered in green blood. "This is not the blood of a creature of our realm, those of our realm are blue and red, they resonate with the oxygen in the air while this does not. We are dealing with a magical creature here and from my search of his body cavity I can assume that he is one. His body contains various organs ours do not posses and that I do not understand, however one thing I can tell is that this creature thrives in the cold and is weak in the heat. Why would a magical creature like this risk its very life to come here and tell us this elaborate story?" He spoke to the room. "I for one believe him and I think it would be beneficial to us all to consider that his story could be all too real." He finished as he looked around the room.
Blood spurted from Buddy’s sudden stab wound, and he turned his wooden gaze to stare at the small fountain of green liquid coming from his gut.
“Actually, my physiology is quite similar to that of a human’s... I think you punctured an ... artery.” Although it might have seemed impossible, Buddy’s face turned even more pale and without warning he dropped on top of the table, his eyes dimming before his body slid off onto the floor. A pool of green blood surrounded him, and it seemed as though he were rapidly slipping from consciousness.
“Shit!” Someone shouted, “There goes our only information!”
Kenta's oblivious smile melted away as he resumed his cool, unrevealing demeanour. Upon seeing the elf collapse, he breathed a sigh. "It's quite alright, Buddy-san. Hougou-sama has been alive longer than most in this room, so he has quite a bit of medical knowledge in his hands. Plus, you don't seem to have lost too much blood. He'll have you stitched up good as new." He said, rather matter of factly, referring to his mentor's prowess with the ancient Kinjutsu of Takigakure. He relaxed back into the chair, letting the elf's words resonate through his thoughts. "Eight God like beings that transcend physical limitation? What the shit did I get myself into?" He mused, rubbing his temples. "Three cheers to saving the world, Kenta..." He muttered to himself in a low tone, to prevent the others from catching on to his realistic pessimism. A mild stench of foul wind suddenly latched itself onto the young man's nose, forcing him to cringe, and pinch his nose to prevent any further discomfort. Immediately Kenta's eyes shifted across to the donut consuming Aburame, suspecting the fellow of passing this most obnoxious fume; but then his attention darted to the elf, who probably was farting his innards out of fear of death.
"That is true." the man spoke as he lifted the elf up and began sewing him back up. "Sorry about this, I was so caught up in my speech I forgot that other bleed." He spoke to the elf as he finished the stitching and set him back on his feet.
"This is a waste of everyone's time." Akemi shouted from her corner, her voice echoing in the large conference hall. Akemi kept her hood down as she began walking closer to the center of the room. The stares made her feel rather uncomfortable, but her steely gaze was unfazed, showing no signs of weakness. "You all choose to question and punish the poor creature while not one of you have even attempted to gain any proof of his claims, wasting time. I'll put your doubts to rest here and how." Akemi made her way in front of where the recently repaired elf was being sat up, his head handing limp to one side. "I posses the ability to summon a variety of birds. One of the species I am able to summon is a rare winter dove, a being that resides in the far north and turns white in the winter."
Akemi bit doen on her thumb with her canine, braking the skin and drawing blood. Rapidly slamming her hands together in a short string of hand seals, Akemi slammed her hand on the ground, producing a puff of white smoke that engulfed her entire body. Those around Akemi anxiously waited to see what the cloaked girl had done. When the smoke cleared, laying on the ground in front of Akemi were several small doves, each one laying on their side like toppled statues, frozen solid. Akemi stepped back to better allow those around her to see the frozen doves.
"These doves grow a thicker set of feathers in the fall." Akemi explained. "This allows them to withstand the hard winters of the north. Their summer feathers are only meant for temperatures above freezing. As you can see, these doves I have summoned from the north are frozen solid." There was a wave of murmurs that ran through the consul hall, all in attendance discussing what the girl had just showed them. Having made her case, Akemi made an abrupt turn towards the Hokage and made a formal bow. "Lord Hokage, as a jōnin of Konohagakure, I vow I will do everything in my power to ensure the plan of this 'Lord Santa' is stopped before harm is done to our village." With that, Akemi turned towards the front doors and began walking at a brisk pace towards the exit.
Shikaniku had taken in all the information available, but it was ultimately his fellow konoha-nin that proved to existence of the threat. Whether this creature was lying or not mattered very little, because the threat was very real. "Akemi, wait..." Shikaniku called his comrade back towards the discussion area. "If we're going to do this, then we need a plan." He glanced around the room, taking their silence as an indication to continue. "And it needs to be a good plan. Preparation is half the battle, the other fifty percent is execution." He gave buddy a pointed look. "Tell us more about the defenses of Santa. We need to know what we're going up against if we're going to plan effectively. It's better to plan our strategy accordingly to the things we're going to face." Shikaniku paused for a moment. "Though, I think we can determine he will have added some things since your departure. Unless...." His tone grew more curious. "Do they know of your betrayal, buddy?"
“Naturally they know I am missing,” the elf stated, “I was only able to break free during the relatively high activity surrounding the initiation of the snowline. I assume they have fortified the barriers and tightened security since I left, as I am the first elf to have ever escaped the fortress.”
Shikaniku threw his hands up in frustration. "Of course. Why wouldn't you be the first one to ever escape," he exclaimed sarcastically.
“And you will be the last one to escape.” Someone interrupted with a quintessential evil chuckle. Two suspiciously hooded figures stepped towards the table, moving like a pair of conspicuous vultures amongst the crowd. It was as if they were dark mages who had been invited to a party of shinobi, and they stuck out like sore thumbs. From the candy cane comlinks they carried it was obvious that they were spies.
“What? How did ...who let them enter!?” someone shouted. But before anyone could react one of the evil magey agents leaped up on the table and raised his arm high above his head before throwing his head back in evil laughter.
“Your plans to stop us end here! We are undefeatable!” He then threw down the candy-cane and it exploded in a cloud of pink, peppermint dust.
In the next instant there was an ear-splitting crash as someone shattered the dome in the ceiling high above the meeting table. Glass flew everywhere, someone screamed, and most were still blinded and coughing from the peppermint bomb. From the skylight descended two powerful-looking humanoid type figures. If one could make out there silhouettes in the pink cloud, they would have seen that they were men dressed in furry pajamas and wearing reindeer antlers. A barrage of shuriken strafed the meeting room as though a flock of shitting seagulls had just passed overhead. For a moment there was nothing but utter chaos.
When the smoke finally cleared and the screams had stopped, the remains of the warzone were clearly visible. Pools of blood were splattered on the walls and floor, the table had been overturned and sliced in half, the Powerpoint screen slashed with a particular malice, and, worst of all, the cookies consumed.
“What the hell just happened?” Someone dared to ask the obvious.
“Wait a minute... Buddy is missing!”
And it was true. They searched all over for the dispirited elf, but to no avail.
“Shit, they’ve claimed him as a hostage!” the same random ninja who had been making all the random comments up to that point exclaimed.
There was, however, a note left attached to the empty cookie plate, scrawled threateningly in green blood. The only thing it said was:
“We’re making a list, and checking it twice.”
While those in the room pondered over the enigmatic message, a guard from outside sprinted into the room.
“The Hokage’s daughter!” he panted, “She’s been taken captive!” He handed the ransom note over, and it was eerily similar to the one left for Buddy:
“We will find out who’s naughty and nice.”
There was a moment of stunned silence as the survivors contemplated the attack.
“Now what?” the random shinobi asked.
Having been near the elf during the attack, Shikaniku was the closest to the concentration of peppermint bombs that were used on the crowd, and his body knew it. His eyes watered, attempting to flushing the corrosive chemicals out of them, and he coughed as his body rejected the pepperiment. "Too. Fucking. Fresh." Shikaniku complained, finding himself to his feet. Wiping his eyes, he looked back at the others standing around. "What the fuck are you guys doing?" He pointed to the broken skylight above. "Hurry up and go after th—" a cough interrupted his sentence, "—em. We're ninja. We do the same exact thing! Now hurry, they couldn't have gotten far."
"Son of a BITCH!" Hougou shouted as his eyes were filled with pepperminty goodness. "My eyes fell like my mouth if I just popped mints like pills." He screamed. Like Shikaniku he had been extremely close to Buddy and taken the brunt of the peppermint death cloud. While he was stumbling around Shigai who had been far enough from the blast to evade it looked at the two ninja standing on a table in front of him. Without a word he sent two snakes out to poison them.
Akemi stud at the main door, her hand still on the oversize handle when the peppermint smoke filled the massive room. Being as far as she was, she barely felt the effects of the attack. She watched as everyone's focus shifted from the chaos and wounded to the absolutely ridiculous looking ninja. In mere moments one of the other shinobi present was already on the attack, sending what appeared to be two snakes their way. Shaking her head, Akemi turned away from the scene and opened the front door of the council hall.
"This is why I hate Christmas parties." Akemi muttered to herself as she exited the counsel hall, not even shutting the door behind her as she left.
Within a flash, the usually composed Kenta had burst into action as the action had started. While rather far away, the peppermint still stung him in the eyes, drawing a curse as he emerged next to one of the assailants. "We'd all excuse the fashion fiasco, but breaking in, blasting us and tossing peppermint in our eyes?" With a swift movement, he ducked low, evading a punch the hooded man threw, shifting his body just enough to provide sufficient force to knock the hooded figure over with a well timed low snap kick to the back of the shin; leaving the other one to fend against the incoming snakes. As the hooded figure toppled over onto the debris and shards of glass on the floor, Kenta sprang on him, resembling a badly produced hentai scene, his knee crushing the hooded creature's groin as he rammed two kunai from under his sleeves into the hooded being's shoulders. He drove his hands to the neck of this fiend, wrapping his fingers around its' throat and slamming its head back and forth on the floor, until it relented and stopped struggling. "There, now we can get some information!" He said, a cheery tone, but an emotionless visage.
Shigai laughed at the display put on by Kenta, it was quite hilarious and secret masochist in him loved it. He then watched as his snaked bit into the man causing massive explosions of blood where they bit down. He watched the corpse fall to the floor into a pool of blood. "Well thats that I suppose." He spoke as he sat back down. Meanwhile Hougou had finally become able to see again and walked towards the corpses. As he walked over to the dead one and ripped out it's heart. "I'm keeping this for future research." He muttered but what he really wanted was the ability to produce limitless candy canes.
But the brutal scene before them was transformed with an audible “poof” as both agents on the floor disappeared in white, fluffy clouds. The heart in Hougou’s hand turned into an over-sized gumdrop, while where the broken and bloodied bodies should have been lying there were nothing but log-shaped candy-canes on the floor. It seemed they had used an advanced form of the Candycane Body Replacement technique as well as an illusion in order to escape, although the first agent had not done so until after his balls had been knee-slammed by the enraged Kenta, while the second was probably dying from snake poison anyway.
It seemed they were now left without any sources of information regarding Santa. Buddy’s meeting handouts were sparse on any actual details, and they would no doubt need him in order to successfully infiltrate the fortress. Not to mention the daughter of the Hokage had been captured as well, and the purposes behind this seemed far more sinister.
“What are we going to do now?” the random shinobi asked after overcoming his eggnog induced nausea after witnessing the violent non-murders of the hooded agents.
Kenta stood up and loaded his kunai into his spring mounted mechanism again, sheathing them. With a spiteful kick, he sent the candycane log smashing into the wall ahead before turning around and marching to his toppled chair. He stood it upright and sat on it, before it collapsed, having been damaged in the ruckus; sending him flat on his backside. Grumbling, he propped himself upright and folded his arms. "Who knew Santa's gang of merry men could use Ninjutsu, too?" He spoke, with a visible attempt to hold his annoyance at the situation in. The room was bustling now, injured moaning, gluttons feasting on the twin mammoth candycanes and others bickering. Kenta rubbed his temples, sensing an incoming migraine. "We've gotta find that elf before shit really hits the fan...but how?" He muttered to himself.
As the shinobi all stood, none quite sure how to answer Kenta's question, a single crow flew into the counsel hall through the massive opening where the roof had been. The pitch black avian soared around the hall, swooping just the head of several shinobi before landing letting out a loud screech, releasing a small piece of fabric form its mouth. With that the crow flew up out of the counsel hall's new skylight and out of sight. Several of the shinobi looked down at the fabric the crow had dropped. Laying at their feel was an unmistakable message, the kanji for the word follow(従う). Several of the shinobi began whispering to one another, several mentions of the Konoha kunoichi that had summoned the frozen doves could be heard between them.
In the midst of the commotion, Shikaniku had been fortunate enough to find himself several bottles of water, using it to rinse his eyes out, and to drink to resolve the issues with the peppermint; It had worked. Looking at the piece of cloth, he clicked his tongue in annoyance as everyone inspected the words written on it carefully. "It's not a complicated algorithm! It's simple. Follow her," He angrily declared. Without any hesitation, the Nara leaped through the skylight overhead onto the outside world in pursuit of the Kunoichi, whom he could only declare had been following their attackers.
Just as his bodyguard had cleansed his eyes out with water, Seigetsu did the same. He was well aware that his very own daughter had been taken away by the attackers and yet he was so calm. Fixing his attention to Shikaniku whom had leaped into the skies in attempts to pursue the kidnappers, Seigetsu help his hand out and a black texture began to wrap around the tips of everyone one of his fingers on his left hand. Smashing his hand onto the table as it literally shattered, a red barrier erected around the entire facility and Shikaniku would find himself incapable of passing through. Leaning back in his chair, proping his feet on the broken table in an comfortable position, he sighed.
"Shika-Shadow, we can't be so froggy and jump like that." Seigetsu began to laugh at the matter. He then glared at all of the people at within the facility, his one-eye open and the other covered. "In the end, this may just benefit us more than it hurts us."
It was as though one could see a series of giant ellipses scroll across the air as everyone stared rather blankly at the Hokage. No one dared to cross him though, as they no doubt had the impression that, despite his calm demeanor, he could very well be an explosion waiting to happen.
But then, a random shinobi raised his hand, the same random shinobi who had been making random yet necessary interjections throughout the entire meeting.
“Uh... excuse me, Mr. Hokage sir but, how exactly are we supposed to go rescue your daughter if we can’t leave the damn room?” the ninja who posed the suicidal question, Chūgo, stared evenly at Seigetsu with dull eyes, his face veiled with an expression that screamed “unimpressed.”
“Not to mention that elf guy seemed to know what he was talking about, wouldn’t it be better if we went after them right away? I mean... I know it isn’t much to go by but we might as well follow the note from that bird, seeing as we’re doing nothing better but sitting around on our respective asses and chugging down eggnog, that is.” Chūgo turned his attention towards Shikaniku, jabbing his thumb in his direction. “Anyway I'm with that guy there, he seems to know what he’s doing, at any rate. So, are we going to go after them or not?”
A cloaked figure was walking down towards the conference eating some leftover candy he got from one of the cheapest Candy Shops in Konoha, "what is this buzz about a meeting, I am sure its just a Christmas party with a imitate Santa and shit like that," He thought has he walked slowly. Looking at the invitation he was handed over by the Messenger Pigeons of the Shinobi Union,"Ah, a gift, maybe hundreds of bottles of Sake would suffice, but want about the minors, well... who cares they need to grow up and grow some..." Shinzui's thoughts were interrupted by the marching of a few cloaked figures that ran away from the conference, along with a girl who was dressed in all glamorous costume and a reindeer who looked like a stitched up voodoo doll. "Oh, they are having cosplay's too , It is my type of a party," Shinzui's mind raced with thoughts, as he waved at the Dark Mage party.
After a few minutes of walking, Shinzui finally reached the location of the conference as indicated by the map that was enclosed along with the letter from Santa's little assistant. He could see the gatekeeprs were full in disarray, and chaos had enveloped the conference in the personification of the Barrier Technique named after his clan. Looking at the lone girl that was stranded outside the conference, " Are you a late comer like me, girl ?" he asked Akemi, tossing her a bottle of the finest sake from the North Pole and bag of sweet candy along with a note which read, "Merry Chirstmas ;- Shinzui Uchiha". Grabbing a guard , the Uchiha quickly read his mind, to reveal everything that occurred during his absence. Laughing maniacally at the turn of events, he shouted, "Merry Christmas Shinobi World."
Having sidestepped the eggnog and sweets the apparently intoxicated shinobi had tossed her way, Akemi simply looked on blankly as he began what appeared to be a manic fit of laughter as he stared longing into the eyes on a nearby guard. Akemi wasn't quite sure what to make of the man, other than the fact he seemed like he belonged in a padded room with a heavy dose of anti-psychotic medications. This was exactly why Akemi found it idiotic that the counsel used open invitations. Always there was at least one guest who seemed to have wondered in form a special help group. How the kept getting past the guards Akemi would never know.
"Can I help you?" Akemi asked, looking up at a flock of crows gathering in the sky. "Are you looking for your nurse or something? An inn perhaps? I can direct you to the nearest town if your lost."
Meanwhile, back in the meeting room, the random shinobi Chūgo was beginning to feel the first twinges of frustration after having been ignored by the Hokage. Granted, he was just a random shinobi, but he had still basically insulted the man’s authority, yet the latter had refused to react at all.
This guy’s way too calm for his daughter having just been kidnapped, maybe he’s plotting something. Perhaps he was even in league with Santa himself. Chūgo narrowed his eyes as he glared at Seigetsu. If that truly were the case, then it would be best for them to depart as quickly as possible before the Hokage could carry out his plan. Of course the barrier had to be dealt with first, but that was solved easily enough.
Picking up the giant bowl of eggnog that had somehow miraculously survived the attack from earlier, Chūgo used a basic poisoning jutsu to change the chemical composition of the alcoholic liquid. The aforementioned eggnog began to smoke and bubble as it became highly sulfuric, and Chūgo wrinkled his nose from the stinging acid as he carried the punch bowl towards the table that Seigetsu had smashed. The remnants of the Fuinjutsu were there, and even if it had been a super-duper-extra-special Uchiha-style barrier, it was still Fūinjutsu in the end, and susceptible to having the seal erased. Or, as the case may be, dissolved by corrosive eggnog.
Chūgo dumped the bowl’s contents on the floor rather unceremoniously, and the eggnog sizzled and popped as it ate away at the seal. Without warning there was a shriek as the barrier around the room collapsed in on itself and was absorbed by the eggnog punch bowl. Without waiting around to see how the others would react, Chūgo dumped the bowl on the floor and took off, disappearing through the blown-out skylight with a speed increased by fear of how the possibly annoyed Hokage might handle the eggnog encounter.
Relaxing in the chair, Seigetsu tapped his finger against the side of his head. This went on for about the course of five minutes. "So, I know a few of you are wondering how am I so calm. Well each of my children, at birth, all have had a seal placed onto them. A transcription seal to be exact. This seal activates under two conditions. The first, and only condition that will be stated, is once her source of chakra gets low I will be instantly teleported to her via the Flying Thunder God Technique. Even though this is a transcription seal, I can still use this seal to teleport to her as I wish. I'm pretty sure you guys are getting my drift, no?" The one-eyed Hokage took a pause to ensure that everyone was on board before he continued.
"Well that saves you some time I suppose." Hougou sighed as he headed for the door. "C'mon Kenta lets go help that elf out, I'm guessing those kidnappers weren't stupid enough to take them both the same way." He spoke as he walked out the door and looked to the sky, for a moment he saw the flutter of feathers before moving to his left and revealing a large flock of birds a ways away from them. "Hmm I guess that must be that bird girl." He thought to himself. "Didn't that bird she send have some sort of note on it about following it." He thought as he jumped towards the flock.
"Well,...you want to help,... little kid ?" Shinzui replied to the ungrateful little girl in front him, "Help the world find a lost reindeer, no, not the one with shiny red nose, and a kid who apparently likes to cosplay as a sailor." Suddenly the barrier in front him had fallen and there displayed a run down version of the once mighty conference hall. A lot of commotions could be heard and panic of the many shinobi present felt. He could see two men now playing with a flock of birds in front of him.
"Well, Hougou-sama has a point. We've still gotta save that damned elf." Kenta unfolded his hands after a curt bow. "Excuse, Lord Hokage." He followed his sensei out the door, intent on tracking the elf down first.
“General Puranza, it seems we are being followed, sir.” A sensor-nin delivered the report from the stern of the flying sleigh, peering through a set of binoculars at the conference building that was rapidly shrinking from sight.
“Yeah yeah, I hear ya.” The general brushed the report aside. “What’s our speed sergeant?” he asked the navigator.
“174 knots, and increasing sir.”
“Well then we’re gonna be out of range anyway, so screw it.” Puranza threw himself back on the red-velvet cushioned seat of the sleigh and kicked the human-sized burlap sack lying at his feet. The bag, which of course was really a hog-tied and rather depressed Buddy, gasped in pain despite himself.
“Ah shut up ya twit.” Puranza turned to his comrade and fellow-kidnapper, who was riding silently in the other sleigh that followed Puranza’s aircraft side-by-side. “Hey Danna, let’s split up now,” he yelled over the vortex of wind around them.
Danna turned to Puranza and a confused expression crossed his face. He shrugged questioningly.
“I SAID LET’S SPLIT UP!” Puranza screamed. Damn the President and his cheapskate-ness. If Santa weren’t so much of a miser they could have communicated with a nice set of new radios that Puranza had wanted to install in the sleighs. As a bit of a gear-head, he had taken the refusal of his proposal a bit personally. Of course he had also wanted to add flat-screens and wifi, but it had only been to make their long journeys to and from the North Pole more comfortable. Sometimes people just didn’t get it.
It took a moment to communicate with sign language, but Puranza finally got the message across and Danna nodded in understanding.
The two sleighs shifted their directions. The one carrying Buddy started to head in a north-westerly direction, while the one carrying Izuru headed north-east. The shinobi following them were no doubt close behind, but obviously only if they could match their speed. The sleighs began to approach the snowline that had now reached the 50th parallel, and had so far flown without interference. If the shinobi managed to reach them before they hit the snowline, they would intercept Puranza somewhere above the Land of Earth, and Danna above the middle of the ocean.
Attack on Puranza
Hougou landed near the cloud of birds and spotted two shinobi standing next to each other talking, he could clearly see one was Akemi but the other he had never seen before. He looked quite drunk though, as he approached he heard various yells about mental health and ignored it before coughing and beginning to speak. "Hello there Akemi and her friend, I came here with Kenta to help with getting buddy back. The Hokage is sure he can get his daughter back through some seal so I figured you would need help." He then continued with a small apology. "Sorry were a bit late, the Hokage kinda tried to lock everyone in a room so he could tell them not to worry about his daughter." He spoke as he waited to hear their plans.
Kenta walked forward and greeted Akemi and the drunken man with a courteous nod. He turned his attention towards the seemingly drunken man, "You must be the Shinzui Uchiha I've heard off; your exploits with alcohol are quite...renowned, as is your reputation as being among the most well known Uchiha still alive today." He summarised to the older man, while pulling a pair of binoculars out of his backpack. Angling it towards the distance, he could now clearly make out two sleighs fleeing the scene; the mysterious assailants of their meeting. "I hate to break the reunion here, but we've got a problem—those pricks are heading away with both our precious elf and the Hokage's daughter. I can't make out which is which from here but I'm guessing that," he pointed to one of the sleighs with a hog tied creature being used as a footstool (Kenta being able to make out the details just vaguely), "is our target." He chucked the binoculars into the backpack again before now facing Akemi. "You wouldn't happen to have a gigantic bird to lift us and chase those bastards down, would you?" He asked hopefully.
Akemi didn't immediately answer Kenta's question. She was looking over at the drunk man, her blank stare masking her surprise at the realization the intoxicated fool was actually a well known Uchiha.
“Hah!” someone laughed, rather derisively. “Now wouldn’t that be convenient,” the random shinobi from earlier said as he dropped down easily from the roof, landing in a crouch, before he stood up and casually approached the group. “But even then, I doubt you’d be able to catch them at the rate they’re going,” he said as he jerked his thumb in the direction of the sleigh. However, Chūgo frowned as he pondered their predicament and was soon lost in quiet musings of his own. “Hmm, I wonder how quickly a giant sling-shot could be constructed...” he muttered.
"Screw that." Hougou spoke to the newcomer. "I have a much better plan." He spoke with a large smile as tendrils shot form his body, merging together to create a set of four seats above his back and a platform below him. Then both his wind and fire masks moved behind him to create a sort of meld that looked like a rocket booster. "I'm gonna fly us there." He laughed triumphantly as he motioned for them to come aboard.
"I have my own ride." Akemi stated, not intending to sound as rude as she did. "My birds will continue to tail each sleigh, but I doubt they will be able to maintain their current pace for much longer. I intend to follow the sleigh heading Northeast. I don't care who follow with me, but at least two shinobi should follow the other sleigh, and I recommend they do so quickly."
Turning away from her fellow shinobi, Akemi dashed forward and leaped into the air. As she approached the zenith of her impressive jump, Akemi bit down on her thumb with her canines, breaking the skin and producing a drop of blood. Her hands blurred together as she formed her hand seals before pointed her palm straight down. A massive puff of smoke surrounded Akemi, one many times larger then the puff of smoke she had produced when summoning the frozen pigeons. The top of the smoke cloud began to ruse up, Akemi emerging form the haze atop a massive horned owl. With one flap of the avian's massive wings, the smoke cloud was blown away, dust kicked up all around the shinobi that Akemi had just been conversing with. It didn't take long for the owl the make chase, heading directly towards Puranza's sleigh.
Chūgo thought quickly. His attention had shifted from between Akemi’s summoning project and the grotesque, crouching human-couch in front of him. A giant owl, in his opinion anyway, seemed much safer than a rollercoaster ride when it came to flying through midair. Plus, the red-haired girl was a hell of a lot cuter than the walking chair. Within an instant of Akemi’s summoning of the bird, Chūgo had launched a kunai attached to a thick wire. The line wrapped around one of the owl’s talons and was pulled taut as it beat its wings and lifted itself further into the sky. Chūgo realized the second after being jerked from the ground what a terrible idea that had been. His arms felt like they would be yanked from their sockets, and the wind flung him like a kite on the end of the string. As the owl made its way towards Puranza’s sleigh, Chūgo saw a dark line of forest loom across the horizon through his watering eyes.
“Shit,” he muttered to himself. He wasn’t sure if the girl knew he was there or not, but she would find out soon enough when his body served as an humanoid anchor in the trees. The wall of green came up to meet him suddenly, branches reaching out to impale him.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuugh!” he screamed.
"Well then," Kenta murmured again witnessing Akemi's rush and Chūgo's brashness, as he blasted towards a gory, but very avoidable end. Climbing aboard the creation of Hougou, Kenta nodded at his sensei. "We've got a sleigh to catch," he said, as he pulled out his Fūma Shuriken from its holster on his back. His weapon of choice even for melee combat, the invaders from the North Pole would answer to his unorthodox, but lethal mastery of the huge projectile. He connected a series of wire strings to his weapon while Hougou blasted them off.
Hougou re-adjusted the seats to just one on his back before destroying the platform under him and activating his fire and wind masks. The two shinobi blasted off towards the sleigh at startling speeds, as they passed Akemi and the idiot hanging onto her owl for dear life he smiled and waved. As they approached the sleigh to the point where they could attack it Hougou nodded to Kenta. "Take em down." He spoke as he readied his own attack in case Kenta's failed or the sleigh somehow managed to dodge it.
So much was happening at once it was difficult for even Akemi to process everything. Her ascent felt unusually slow, the reason for which becoming apparent when the shinobi that had tried to hitch a ride on her owl let out a scream as he was dragged through the thick tree branches below. Though most would have found such a spectacle amusing, Akemi was not entertained in the slightest. Not only was the shinobi needlessly risking life and limb, but more importantly he was slowing Akemi down. Mere moments after realizing she had an unwelcome hitchhiker, the other two shinobi she had been conversing with shot into the air towards the sleigh. Though their speed would allow them to reach the sleigh quickly, should they fail to hit their target there was no telling what sort of damage they would sustain. Though she admired their willingness to take risks, their success was not of Akemi's concern.
"What are you doing?" Akemi yelled down to the shinobi dangling from her owl, the battered man now just hovering above the treeline. "This wasn't a ride meant for two."
Chūgo did not respond, instead hauling himself up bodily hand over hand as he climbed up the line. He reached the owl’s feet and, with an impressive display of agility considering he had just been run through a meat tenderizer in the form of a forest, took a seat behind Akemi.
“Man alive did that smart,” he said as he rolled out a crick in his shoulder. Then, as if noticing Akemi for the first time, he grinned through the blood streaming from his nose. With branches sticking out of his hair and his eye-patch, the effect somewhat comically resembled a battle-worn pirate, or a Christmas tree.
“Seems you and I had the same idea, hitching a ride on this giant bird I mean,” Chūgo said as he extended his hand, pretending that the mistake had been a natural one and hoping she would buy it. “The name’s Chūgo by the way, Chūgo Omu. I’m from the Land of Rivers.”
Akemi looks at Chūgo for a few moments, her expert poker face not revealing any of her thoughts. What level of idiocy did this man posses for him to pull such an unneeded and reckless stunt, Akemi could only guess.
"Get off." Akemi told the shinobi as she turned to look forward once again.
"Like hell," he growled, "You think this is a picnic or something? We're 34,000 feet above ground! ... Approximately, anyway."
Akemi didn't even look Chūgo's way. She simply kept looking forward, the wind whipping her hair in all directions, giving her co-pilot an complete profile view of her face. Chūgo looked as if he was about to say something else when Akemi suddenly extended her arm outward and shoved him off her owl.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuugh!” Chūgo repeated loudly.
As the unfortunate shinobi plummeted towards earth, his mind too filled with utter horror and shock to so much as think about how furious he was with Akemi, his body twisted in mid air, forcing him to look down at the ground thousands of feet below him. The human catapult was seeming like a better and better idea. Suddenly, Chūgo felt himself snatched out of the air, a pair of massive talons wrapping around his torso. Looking up, Chūgo could see several lone white tail feathers. Following them to their source, the shinobi found that he was in the grasp of a giant snowy owl.
As Hougou and Kenta propelled forward towards Puranza, Kenta's fingers smacked into each other repetitively, forming the hand signs for the execution of his Water Release. While he moulded his chakra, he shouted out a rather direct message towards the commandeer of the sleigh, "Attempting to escape is futile, you're not going anywhere with the elf!" Converting his chakra to water, he expelled it from his mouth, sending a stream of pressurised water towards the sleigh, attempting to give it a knock that would set it off balance—a warning shot to let its pilot know that he wasn't just any bub. And that Kenta would have his head if he didn't attempt to end his attempted kidnapping immediately. While the stream headed towards its target, Kenta leaned backwards, wrapping the wire strings around his fingers as he swung the huge Fūma Shuriken backwards, waving the monstrous weapon around his head like a lasso.
While all this had been going on, Puranza had flicked a piece of snot over his shoulder, which prompted him to glance in that direction to see if it had stuck to the side of the sleigh. Instead he saw the stream of water rocketing towards the sleigh-craft, and he leapt up from his seat, balanced precariously and gaudily on the edge of the sleigh, struck a supposedly epic pose, and then executed a downwards knife-hand chop on the stream of water. The water shot under the sleigh, back towards the direction of Akemi and the two owls. Puranza threw back his head and laughed maniacally, and the sleigh continued on its forward course.
“Let me tell you something, you pathetic excuses for flying pigs, as soon as we hit the snowline we’re scot-free, considering the super-high-tech snowshields I had installed on each of our respective sleighs. But you’re all going to get downed in the blizzard, like the apes you are.” Puranza pointed in the shinobi’s direction. “So if you value your lives, I suggest you turn back now.” Puranza grinned, “Not that I’m gonna stop you if you happen to be on a suicide mission.”
Hougou watched as his students stream of water had been blasted away by the weird looking man. Hmm looks like direct attacks are somewhat useless. He thought to himself as he examined the sleigh. I guess I'll have to take this thing down then. He spoke as he created a few extra hands out of his treads before creating multiple bottles of lightning and firing them from a lower height at the sleighs right side, hoping to either jolt it so Purina would fall from his position on the ledge or rupture an engine and bring the sleigh down.
The lightning snaked out across the sky before it contacted the underside of the sleigh. Under any normal physical condition, the attack would have had no affect whatsoever as both Puranza’s sleigh and Hougou were objects flying through the sky, which meant the air should have served as an insulator for any form of electric current. The lightning would have passed around the outside of the sleigh and then dissipated, just as it would have done if the sleigh-craft had been hit by natural lightning. However, quite coincidentally, just at that exact moment, Puranza’s sleigh also passed over a very large tree, and the electricity split its path. One stream cracked down the very tall length of the tree, which essentially connected the sleigh to the ground. For a brief instant Puranza’s sleigh was turned into an x-ray read out, and the reindeer, navigator, gunman, and Buddy jumped, their skeletons visible through the flash of blue energy.
“What the hell?” Puranza yelled, his fur coat still sizzling from the shock. “Who put that tree there? My iPod’s been fried!”
“Sir, I believe we’ve short circuited!” the navigator said. “The electricity must have cut out the Flux Capacitor!”
And indeed, the panel on the sleigh had gone completely dead.
“Try to slow our speed, we’ll have to land.” Puranza said as his expression turned serious. “I’ll try and at least reconnect the comlink on the descent. We need to contact Danna at once.”
“Sir, your meaning... ?”
“I mean that we’re going to crash, skipper.”
The sleigh trailed through the air, rapidly losing speed and altitude as it approached the ground. A few moments later, although it must have seen much shorter to those aboard the sleigh, there was a sonic boom and a plume of smoke as the sleigh smacked into the face of the earth. They had somehow managed to land on a wide, flat plain on the border of the Land of Snow, but it was impossible to tell whether or not there were any survivors left after the impact.
"Damn." Akemi muttered, seeing the sleigh slam into the ground. Though the catapult tactic had surprised her by actually succeeding, her allies may had also managed to eliminate the unfortunate elf in the process. There was little to do now besides check the wreckage and attempt to sort out the bodies and hope one of them is still moving.
Akemi swoop downward on her owl, the massive bird using its unrivaled predatory senses, to detect any signs of life below. As Akemi approached, the snow owl carrying Chūgo close behind, her owl let out four quick hoots, signalling that there were four separate heart beats in the sleigh. Akemi let out a silent sigh of relief as her owl touched down and she leaped off, the giant bird vanishing in a puff of smoke as she did. Placing on hand on the handle of her still sheathed kukri, Akemi cautiously approached the downed sleigh, knowing there were three enemies in addition her a hostage involved. It would be unwise to make any bold moves until Chūgo had landed and was prepared to back her up.
As he and Hougou swooped over the crashed sleigh, Kenta made a leap, landing on the snow without too much of a hassle as he approached the scene cautiously, his Shuriken in one hand while the other one pulled a senbon from his pocket. "Big man with a sleigh, take that away what are you?" Kenta called out as he walked forward, mocking Puranza, "Oi, Buddy, are you alright?" He called out hopefully.
Out in the clearing, the snow was harshest in a small field of influence, as if it was following a certain individual. With a chill in the air, a cane and footsteps break the snow. As the snow clears, two silhouettes are revealed. The first is of a man, clearly showing his age; A long beard hangs down from his face, his hair as white as the snow that falls freely. A magnificent patterned robe covered by a tattered cloak. At his side, a woman in her mid thirties, an elegant dress, her hair tended to neatly. A pair of glasses sit in front of her gem green eyes. With a tap of the man's cane, the snow lets up, the sky clearing to reveal themselves completely. "What brings you to this domain of ice and snow?" The man asks, a stern look upon his face, his eyes void of light, but filled with what looks like star dust.
A strange masked figure walks out of the shadows. "Either your blind, old man, or I'm just crazy, who honestly would crash a perfectly good sleigh"? "Oh wait, I'm older than you by at least a hundred thousand years".
"Who the?" an angry voice echoed from the shadows of the snow drenched forest. From its darkness, a dark apparition materialized into a human being that they all recognized, except for the few that had been encountered recently. "Who the idiot that suggested that we should shoot down the sleigh, thousands of feet in the air, carrying our passenger?" Shikaniku looked at the group around him, stopping as he looked at Hougou. His glare intensified at that moment. "I bet it was you, you fucking screw up. You've been screwing up all day. First you stab the guy, then you go and blow up elves' testicles that we need to interrogate. The fuck is wrong with you?"
In the meantime, while most of the shinobi were squabbling amongst themselves, a battle of elemental proportions was taking place. As in it was literally just elements. The icy cold winds and snow that surrounded Kisui as he travelled were met by a blast of warm, chili-pepper chakra laden air. The winds swirled together, creating an atmosphere of intense threat heavy with the scents of a taco shop. From the south another figure approached, swaying back and forth casually and confidently from the back of a velociraptor that stamped down on the snow and screeched with hunger and disdain at the pathetic ninja before it. The man riding such a terrible beast, wearing nothing but an apron that billowed magnificently in the breeze, was none other than Saboroso, leader of the Land of Cactus and owner of the infamous Mucho Taco restaurant. He had an uncanny grin plastered across his face as he reigned the velociraptor in to a halt, crossed his arms, threw back his head, and laughed uproariously.
“Bueno. It seems I have just arrived in time, no? I saw a red taco made of metal flying across the sky and followed it here. But I have one question,” he paused, pointing his finger in the direction of Kisui, “Are you going to leave now or do I need to have one of mis amigos here escort you, compadre.”
Hougou stared briefly at the many new arrivals before sighing and simply walking towards the sleigh. As he passed Shikaniku he looked at him and spoke in a calm tone. "I don't see you doing much, at least I'm trying to help. Look I'm sorry but lets go get the elf and try to find out what we can do from here." Hougou then walked up to Kenta and questioned him. "Find anything in the wreckage?" He asked as he began to move pieces.
"There should be four of them." Akemi informed Hougou as she reached the twisted remains of the sleigh. Don't let your guard down."
The shinobi continued to toss about the wreckage, but without turning up so much as a hair. Something wasn't right. They should have found something by now. Akemi began circling the wreckage, scanning for the perimeter for signs of movement. Sure enough, it wasn't long before she noticed what appeared to be drag marks in the dirt, next to what appeared to be hove print. Hooves? And I thought those antlers were just for the fashion statement. Following the tracks with her gaze, Akemi could see the trail led right up to a nearby patch of trees. No doubt the kidnappers were on the move, the hostage quite literately in tow.
"Damn." Akemi muttered to herself before turning to inform her allies. "They're on the move." Without bothering to elaborate farther, Akemi dashed into the foliage.
"They're on the move," Shikaniku essentially sighed, looking back at Hougou and the other shinobi. "If you boys are smart, you'll follow, like right now." Discontinuing the conversation before any could refute his previous comment, Shikaniku took off into the foliage after Akemi. Trailing behind her, he spoke to alert her of his presence, "You're not like the rest of them. I can actually sense some intelligence in you, even if it is scarce." Shikaniku was never one to truly compliment someone other than himself. "Regardless, I assume you have some way of finding them? As in how about using some of those birds you used to trail them?"
Seeing Akemi rush off as usual, Kenta sighed. As Shikaniku dashed off after her, Kenta turned to face the others, "Look, before we downed the guy, he went on babbling about some reverse engineered technology, which could withstand the big chill headed towards us. Anyone tech savvy here should make that a mental note and salvage whatever you can, and get key pieces of the wreckage back to HQ." He suggested. But he couldn't let the bird girl take all the credit. Forming several hand seals, he drew his thumb to his face and bit it, before smashing it onto the snowy ground. Summoning Technique! A puff of smoke appeared as three ninken emerged. "You know the drill, tracking," Kenta muttered, pointing to the seating area in the sleigh. The sleigh would be filled with the scents of those North Pole-ers anyway. The dogs burst off into the foliage as Kenta turned to his allies, "Catch ya'll later." He disappeared into the branches, silently making his way through the upper regions of the forest as the ninken maintained their silence as well, following the scent of their targets.
Chūgo finally managed to pick himself out of the sizeable pile of debris and dirt that he had landed headfirst in once the owl had, for one reason or another, decided to ditch him. He brushed the dirt off of his vest, prayed he had not crushed any of his bones, and limped over to the crash site. He heard the last of what Kenta had said before he summoned his dogs and disappeared into the forest. Tech savvy huh? It happened to be one of his few fortes. Chūgo grinned as he began to sort through the pieces of the nearly disintegrated sleigh. “Salvaging” was a tall order when the craft had nearly been disintegrated by its own sheer speed. It was a miracle that the passengers had even been able to move, let alone troop off into the woods. Chuugo had heard cases where, if a person was drunk, their body was less likely to suffer shock in a crash due to being so relaxed. Perhaps that was the case. Chūgo shook his head. One should never drive supersonic sleighs while under the influence of alcohol. Still, he was concerned for Buddy’s sake, and hoped the elf had not suffered any injury.
Battle on the North Plain
Puranza led his crew through the snow-packed woods, tinkering with the peppermint stick comlink as he walked along. He had assigned the gunner a pair of hiking sticks whose rubber feet had a hoof print pattern on the bottom. As soon as they reached a fork in their forest path, he directed the gunner, with the hiking sticks and dragging a heavy sack of rocks behind him, to go in one direction. The three remaining former passengers, Puranza, the navigator, and Buddy, headed the other way. Buddy was unconscious, not from the crash but from the punch Puranza had given him upon their abrupt landing. His prone figure was slung over the navigator’s shoulder, but he began to stir as the made their way up the side of a steep ridge.
“I can’t seem to reach Danna.” Puranza said over the static coming through the comlink. “I’m gonna try and contact headquarters. We might be closer to them than Danna anyway.” Puranza continued turning the nobs on the comlink until, finally, voices broke through the static.
“Puranza to base, do you copy?” he asked the device. Cutting in and out of the static they could hear:
“Do... suffer... weight loss resistance?”
“Well I’m getting something here,” Puranza murmured to the navigator. He continued to tune the signal until it was clear.
“Try our new program today! No dieting! All it takes is five easy steps! For your free trial call this number!!!”
“It seems you’ve reached an infomercial, sir.” The navigator pointed out. Puranza nearly threw the comlink at a tree before he calmed down and went back to work on the nobs.
Their group had nearly climbed to the top of the slope by the time Puranza finally reached base. Buddy had at that time regained consciousness, and Puranza told the the navigator to set him down as they crested the crown of the ridge.
Before them a wide, flat plain stretched, white with the snow that permanently covered the tundra in winter. The trees did not seem to continue past the extent of the valley, having ended abruptly as they had hit a high enough latitude. But more stunning than the terrain was the towering wall of gray that stretched thousands of kilometers across the sky. It was a wall of screaming wind and whirling snow, the blanket of the storm casting its shadow across the land before it, and they could see it moving slowly across the floor of the valley. What was beyond it they could not see, so immense and dark was the blizzard.
“As soon as we’re past that snowline we’re safe,” Puranza said with a chuckle. “I’ve called in reinforcements.” He turned his attention to Buddy, who was staring at the snowline with abject despair. “So you thought you could get away from us, did you? How much of an idiot are you?” Puranza lifted Buddy up by the collar of his shirt and shook him harshly. “You know what’s gonna happen to you once we get back to headquarters right? You can choose to die with or without the torture. Might as well talk now: what did you tell those flea-bitten shinobi. Come on, spill it.”
“I... didn’t tell them... anything.” Buddy gasped.
“Lies. You had three days, you green-blooded bastard.” Puranza slammed Buddy into the ground as his feet and kicked him in the ribs.
“Sir,” the navigator interrupted, who was scanning the land behind them with a pair of binoculars. “They’re already here.”
“Shit,” Puranza spat on the elf. “Well, I suppose it can’t be helped.” he said as he rapidly regained his composure, “Alright, here’s what we’ll do...”
He charged through the forest, leaping across the snow-littered trees, brushing the falling snow all off of his shoulders. He glanced backwards to inspect those that followed him; of course, it as Akemi, who was following carefully. Shikaniku had developed a particularly interesting form of respect for her. She was a little like him: cold, calculating, analytical, and the complete opposite of that moron Hougou. Shikaniku rolled his eyes as that man passed through his mind. Turning around to face the approaching allies, he halted them with his hand. "So, what's the plan?"
"I've located our targets." Akemi informed Shikaniku. The kunoichi pointed up through the leaves at three crows circling around one another in the sky. "It appears they tried to deceive us, so one of the enemies won't be present. I'll confront them myself. The rest of you should stay back and wait until your needed. We'll let them think their diversion at least forced us to split up, let them think they have the advantage."
"Don't you think they'll see through that?" Shikaniku inquired respectfully. Yet again, he was impressed by her caution, and intellect. "It'd be foolish of them to think they only sent one person. They infiltrated our meeting, so they know exactly how many people we have. We should send at least two or three with you, and have the rest fall back if that's the case." Shikaniku looked backwards at the other shinobi and snickered. "Might just be best for us two to go ahead in this case," he said, giving a glare specifically towards Hougou, "someone else might spoil the surprise."
"I'd love to spend the time to properly plan this out." Akemi started. "But unfortunately time is of the essence, so we are forced to balance haste and caution. Our best bet would be to surround the targets. I will engage and try to distract them from the hostage. Once there is an opening, either strike down the hostiles or secure Buddy. Is this plan agreeable or do we need to waste more time talking it over?"
A day late and a dollar short, Chūgo finally came crashing through the bushes behind Shikaniku and Akemi. He was panting slightly, having rushed to reach them in time.
“Wait,” he said, holding up a chunk of metal twisted with electrical wires and pulsing with a small red light. “Don’t go yet.” He walked over to where Shikaniku stood and held out the gadget so the other man could see, warily keeping his distance from Akemi. “This device is the transmitter for some kind of communications signal. I’ve been using it to track whoever has the comlink, and it seems to be coming from that direction.” he said, pointing towards the right. He looked between Akemi and Shikaniku and frowned. “You’re not going in alone are you?” he asked. Chūgo paused, and when he realized that was exactly what Akemi was planning, began a somewhat nihilistic lecture on the finer points of strategy:
“First of all,” he began, “The terrain here is steep, meaning the target will see us coming before we see them. Secondly, we have no way of knowing which group is carrying the elf and which is the decoy. We also don’t know what our opponent’s current level of power is. If you wade out there on your own, you’re not going to be a distraction: you’re going to be toast.”
Hougou who had been listening for some time walked up to three and gave his thoughts on the matter."Well Shikaniku is a Nara couldn't we have him immobilize them in a way or at least give us an opening to dispatch them. I think if we travel through the earth some of us can come ip behind them for a surprise attack while they're immobile." He spoke ti the three, hoping his input was helpful.
A familiar sigh came to the ears of the shinobi, as the face of a husky came into view from behind a bush. It spoke in the voice of Kenta as it emerged into view, after Chūgo's lecture—the man had transformed himself into a member of the canine family, a Siberian Husky, to fit their tundra theme. "Basically we're at en environmental disadvantage, and we don't know what we're up against. Points noted." The speaking dog turned its head towards Akemi and back towards the others. "At this point however, the bird girl has the most knowledge over what to do, and how to coordinate ourselves—she is after all, our aerial ace in a sleeve; we've got no better eyes than her birds." The husky trotted forward as several other ninken emerged from the bushes behind. "It's a tracker trap we're walking into, so perhaps is no time for caution, though I'd suggest we change the," his paws raised upwards briefly, shaking to form open inverted commas, "distraction." He finished, turning his head now to face Hougou. "Perhaps Hougou-senses can act as the momentary decoy or distraction, being the closest among most of us to immortality; as well as possessing magnificent durability...and then springing the trap and then reacting to the Unknown hazards would be up to the brainiacs to decide upon." He suggested, as he sat his white, furry backside onto the snow.
Akemi made no effort to hide her annoyance at the delay. Her fingers hovered over the handle of her kukri and she stud partially turned away from the group, her patience wearing thin as she felt their opening beginning to narrow. Her birds still circled atop the target's location, the three maintaining the formation of an almost perfect triangle. Everything being discussed felt like wasted time to Akemi. She had already considered everything that Chūgo felt the need to bring up. If not for the fact Akemi knew it unwise to attack the enemies on her own she would have left everyone in the dust once again.
"Since everyone seems to think we have time to spare," Akemi started, showing a rare glint of anger. "I'll spell it out. Those birds I have circling the target are basically flying flash bombs. To address the ridge and the obvious vantage point it provides the enemy..." Akemi paused mid sentence as she began sinking into the ground as if it were quicksand. She stopped once she had sunk up to her waste. "I am proficient in Earth Release and am more than capable of sneaking up the them undetected. Clones are another part of my arsenal. While I am no Eighth Hokage when it comes to my clones, I am easily capable of making enough to engage every target simultaneously. I am aware that it would be foolish to try and take all the targets on my own, which is why I need you all to look for an opening to secure buddy. Even if this turns out to be a decoy, this plan should still be effective. Mainly because if I am trapped by the enemy it is me and me alone that will be trapped. The rest of you can quickly locate and dispatch the stray hostile. We are running out of time. We need to act now. The enemies aren't hanging out on the ridge because they're waiting for us. They are waiting for transport, and who knows when it will arrive."
“Well jeez, if we’re so strapped for time why are you standing here monologueing about it?” Chūgo carried on, seemingly unaware of the fact that he too was monologueing. “Although you still haven’t mentioned how you can tell which way went the hostage and which way went the decoy: I’m guessing each of those birds is following a target right? If that’s the case then it’s a matter of simple arithmetic: we know they wouldn’t send Buddy off on his own, so the elf-man has got to be at the top of this ridge. We should just ignore the other guy... You could have at least told us that much, would have saved some time.” He turned a full, withering glare upon Akemi, and it seemed he was still sore at her for having so rudely shoved him off the back of her owl. His grudge against her tainted the entire atmosphere around them with intense tension. “Besides,” he grumbled, “It’s not as if everyone here can use earth— ”
He was cut off by a sharp, short explosion. Turning their respective heads, the shinobi saw the flash bombs that Akemi had mentioned detonate high above them in the sky. Bright bursts of light were followed by puffy clouds of smoke that were quickly whisked away in the breeze. It seemed that someone had destroyed the birds somehow. Chūgo looked at the communications device in his hand and gulped. Had their opponents been eavesdropping on their conversation? It was possible, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to mention it with Akemi around.
“Damn,” he muttered under his breath.
Akemi turned, still waist deep in the earth, to see the last glimmers of light form her flash bombs fade away. "Damn it." Akemi growled. "We gave them too much time to catch on." The half berried girl turned back to her allies. "It's now or never. We either strike now or lose our chance at saving the world. I'm taking action, anyone prepared to back me up, be ready to take advantage of any openings. Anyone who still thinks it is the time to talk..." Akemi glanced over at Chūgo. "Either prepare to fight or stay out of the way." With that Akemi sank further into the ground, completely falling below the surface within moments.
Within that instant, Kenta and the other ninken sprang into action, each of the canines following the alpha of the pack, Kenta, into action as they ran in a sideways arc towards Puranza, their paws smashing away at the snow, each baring their teeth in a menaci snarl, eager to sink their teeth into the fellow's flesh.
“Someone is approaching through the ground, sir.” The navigator told Puranza, revealing that he was a sensor-nin. “And one of those dogs is a shinobi,”
“Hah! Nice, very nice,” Puranza laughed as a euphoric grin spread across his face. He extended his hands and a volley of shuriken seemed to emerge from nowhere, spinning like vicious little hornets as they neared the ninken. Puranza then crouched down and placed his hand on the ground, and a large metal plate spread out around him like a shadow. Akemi, if she tried to emerge anywhere near Puranza, Buddy, or the Navigator, would find the top of her head slamming into a hefty sheet of steel.
Then the unexpected happened. From his position of kneeling on the ground, Puranza pulled out a grenade launcher and fired it. At least it appeared to be a grenade launcher, but obviously since guns had been banned from the birth of time itself in the shinobi universe, it was not exactly a grenade launcher, but rather a close imitation of a grenade launcher. It was also a very effective imitation of a grenade launcher, as a tightly-wound roll of explosive tags hurtled towards the forest where the other shinobi had opted to remain before detonating in an explosion of immense properties.
“Chew on that, suckers.” Puranza muttered under his breath.
Lazily, Shikaniku scratched the back of his head and yawned, observing as his enemies launched a counter attack. "What a..." he stopped himself before he could finish. That phrase had always been a habit of his. Conjuring magical energies from within his body, focusing them in an encapsulating aura around his flesh, he uttered the incarnations. Extending the palm of his hand away from his mouth, he conjured a gust of wind that blew the tightly wound roll of explosive tags back towards its source.
Underground, Akemi was sitting in a small tunnel just beneath the layer of metal that had been implemented to block her path to the surface. She had been moving her hand along the the smooth steel when she felt an intense tremor shake the earth. It appeared that the fighting had already started. Now it was time for Akemi to do her part. Of course surfacing away from where the enemy had laid the steel floor was an option, but Akemi felt doing such was be admitting that the enemy had bested her. This was of course unacceptable in Akemi's eyes. Akemi's first thought was to use her Fire Release to melt through the steel, but for the sake of minimizing friendly fire, Akemi decided against it. Instead, Akemi decided to resort to her Diamond Release. Slamming her palms together, Akemi formed the Mi hand seal, spawning several large diamond spikes that shot from the base of her tunnel and impaled the layer of metal, penetrating and protruding several inches above the surface. Akemi quickly magnified the expenditure of her chakra, causing the spikes to rapidly grow, creating several large holes in the layer of steel.
Puranza watched the grenade of explosive tags come hurtling back towards him with a look of upmost dejection.
“Damn it,” he growled as he fired another round. The two missiles collided in mid-air, and the force of the explosion was enough to send Puranza reeling back. In the next instant he was hedged in by the pillars of diamonds that shot up from the ground to cage him in. His eyes bugged out when he saw the immensity of the attack.
“I hope you realize how much you just now depreciated the value of diamonds world-wide with that technique of yours,” Puranza did not move, but he seemed to instantly increase his bodily weight by several hundred tons as the metal plate beneath him crumpled suddenly in a crater that gouged into the ground above Akemi. The end result was that the spikes became disconnected at their bases and toppled over, those that did try to skewer him were instead pushed back into the dirt from his own weight, and Puranza did not have to expend any more energy than necessary to defend against the attack.
“Excuse me sir, but you almost crushed our hostage,” the navigator dutifully reported to the reindeer henchman.
“Ah put a cork in it will ya?” Puranza extended his right arm, completely encasing Buddy in a sphere of steel. He then walked over to the metal ball, his steps causing mini-earthquakes each time he put a foot down, before he delivered a sharp kick to the side of the sphere. It shoot from the top of the ridge and sailed over the plain before crashing down on the tundra a short distance from the snowline and rolling to a stop.
“Fetch,” he cackled. The navigator did as he was told and took off at a jog after the Buddy ball. “Not you idiot!” Puranza yelled, but it was too late. With a sigh, he turned his attention back to the shinobi before him and, without much ceremony, launched two extremely long whips of razor wire, one from each arm, that would chop down the trees at human-level in a wide, sweeping X.
Akemi hadn't been completely prepared for the sheer scale of control the ridiculous looking antlered enemy had over the mass of steel. Retracting his barrier to toppled her diamond spikes was a clever move indeed. Seeing the enemy then encase Buddy in the metal sphere and kick him down the ridge like a child's ball only further displayed the impressive ability he possessed. Akemi grit her teeth, frustrated that she had drastically underestimated the opposing force.
"Go after Buddy!" Akemi shouted, hoping her allies were close enough to hear her. "I'll keep the heavy one busy. The hostage is our priority."
"No Akemi, you go, I'll handle Puranza, after all, us old geezers fight better than you younglings, anyhow, age before beauty". Said the mysterious masked figure, "my name is Osore by the way" "Now you face something close to a God, but how will you fair?" "eh, Puranza?" Osore then activates his Shikimyaku and attacks Puranza with a giant toothed mouth ready to swallow him in an instant.
Unfortunately, as Osore had ignored the lines of slicing razor wire one of them smacked into the side of his mouth, sharp enough to cleave the flesh in two. Even if the shinobi had managed to fortify the odd-shaped appendage, the force of the blow was enough to send Osore crashing into the ground, dragged along and toppled by his own mouth caught on a line.
“Serves ya right, loud-mouth,” Puranza muttered as he concentrated on slicing up the other shinobi.
Hougou who had been watching everything from the brush sighed as he looked on at the scene, he was helpless as long as buddy was still with Puranza. Luckily Puranza had kicked him off and become distracted by Akemi and Osore. With a quick thought and a smirk Hougou placed his finger in front of him and fired off a light speed bolt of lighting towards Purina's head. I hope this works. He thought to himself.
Osore sits up "right, razor wire; luckly, i came prepared". Secretly, Osore had forced his cells out into the air to from a ring around Puranza that would activate and expand when told, which was now. Osore's cells then expanded, and began to bind Puranza up. "You idiot, I outclass you by experience alone Puranza, yet you though your little wires could stop me? Foolish!"
The lightning bolt slammed into Puranza’s skull, the result of which was a very loud metallic “pang.” The impact sent Puranza sprawling down the other side of the ridge, with enough force to tear through the net of Osore’s fleshy substance and propel the reindeer across the plain. He rolled... then rolled some, and rolled a short distance more before coming to a stop and crawling to his feet.
“Hello,” he said, rubbing the side of his head. By coincidence, he had ended up right next to the Buddy ball. It seemed the combined force of the rescue party’s attacks had done nothing more than move Puranza from the top of the ridge to the flat plain in front of the snowline. But at least they had forced him off of the higher ground. Puranza detached the razor wire from his arms with a click and frowned deeply.
“Seems like I’ll have to step things up a notch,” he grumbled to himself. Pulling a cord from underneath of his reindeer PJ’s, Puranza activated his convenient Rocket Pack and rose up several hundred feet into the air. Now above the ridge once more, he formed a fist with his left hand and pointed it towards the shinobi party. With a burst of energy, his arm detached and shot forwards, propelled by a small-scale explosion. The hand flew in a straight line with tremendous force, enough to shatter through steel, rock, or even Rock Lee’s abs. But upon reaching the group the hand missed hitting anyone directly, instead burying itself into the ground before detonating. Not only did it tear through the forest trees with the force of the explosion, but it sent a storm of rocks, dirt, tree roots, shrapnel and submerged turds flying towards the hapless shinobi.
Reacting as quickly as she cold, Akemi erected a shield of diamond to protect herself from the resulting explosion. Though Akemi desired to protect her nearby allies as well, not knowing their exact locations prevented her from protecting them with her shields. Akemi wasn't even sure how to protect the mass of flesh that was floating in front of her. The kunoichi unfortunately had no choice but to leave her fellow shinobi to their own devices to evade the blast. She shield had provided adequate protection for her, blocking the various debris that were launched by the powerful blast.
Having protected herself from damage, Akemi refocused herself to attack mode, knowing the more time she game the reindeer to prepare the harder this confrontation would be. This battle couldn't be allowed to go on much longer. Running towards the edge of the ridge her enemy had fallen off of, Akemi left over the ridge herself, thrusting her hand downwards once more and spawning one of her giant owls, surrounded by a murder of crows. While the owl gently glided over the reindeer, the crows, all of which were carrying explosive tags in their artificial bodies, dive bombed the enemy in force.
Before all of this transpired, Kenta and the ninken pack were forced to aggressively manoeuvre themselves to prevent being turned into target practice dummies, Kenta finally snapping out of his dog disguise, the momentum of his thunderous run leading him to carve a trail in the fluffy snow beneath his soles. As the volley of projectiles streaked through the air eerily towards them, the young shinobi coolly mounded chakra in hi hands, forming a blade made from water quickly as the projectiles seemed to reach the point of no return. With the grace and swiftness expected from an exalted Chūnin, he drove the ironically hard blade of water towards each incoming projectile at commendable speed, batting each one aside while maintaining his centre of balance, his eyes focused on Puranza. The ninken possessed speed and agility as expected from a group often used in combat, dropping behind their master as he parried the threats away, or evading the projectiles doggedly while attempting to keep their route and charge at Puranza. As the queer enemy thrust himself into the sky, Kenta was now forced to deal with an even queerer attack, as a fist came hurtling towards the centre of the group behind him. With little time to react after realising what this potentially was, Kemta dove into a nearby grove in the ground, just as a huge blast sent shrapnel and a whole matter of other fiendish devices at the group.
No good, they had to get Buddy, soon. Leaping out of the grove, he raced to the ridge while leaping over several unconscious ninken and throug the smoke and debris, pulling out his Fuma Shuriken and arching his arm backwards, preparing to fire it at Puranza.
Into the Snow, Let it Go
Turning his full attention to Osore, Puranza’s expression soured. He extended the stump of his left arm and, without a hint of hesitation or mercy, fired a volley of cosmically long chains that intercepted Osore’s own chains, twisting down their kinky extents as they made their way towards wrapping around Osore himself. The chains kept coming, more from all sides, until the shinobi was completely surrounded by a curtain of clinking metal that would have made any S&M artist shudder with imagined possibilities. With no small expertise Puranza manipulated the chains like a viney backdrop for a Tarzan movie, covering Osore in a vast net before activating the mechanism that would constrict the chains. They would close on Osore in an instant, binding him up tightly but not so tightly as to be fatal, effectively and inescapably trapping him until he could untangle himself.
However, as Puranza had been distracted by the chains, he did not notice the army of crows kamikaze-ing towards him until it was far too late to dodge.
“Ah shit.” Was all that could be heard, his final words, before his voice was drowned out by a flurry of flapping feathers.
But then, just as all hope seemed lost for the reindeer, all the crows came to a simultaneous halt, hovering in midair as though they had been given another directive to stop the attack. In fact that was exactly what happened: someone had turned the instinct to attack away, and now they were simply puzzled as to what the hell they were even doing there to begin with. As they considered this, the crows began to discuss amongst their birdy language which bar they would visit after being released from the summons.
In the meantime, Puranza’s savior emerged in the form of the other supersonic sleigh that streaked across the sky towards the snowline. Before it hit the wall someone bailed out, and it was revealed to be Danna, who landed agilely on the back of the owl Akemi had summoned before turning it to circle around Puranza.
“What the hell Danna, what took you so long?” Puranza asked angrily, crossing his arms. Danna, in turn, merely shrugged in reply. Puranza sighed. “Anyway, I’m guessing you’re here because you already took care of the other hostage,” he noted, to which Danna nodded silently. “Good.”
Puranza surveyed the scene below him, taking stock of the damage that had been done. “Well, seems our time here is short.” he said. Using his non-destroyed hand, he spread out his fingers over the Buddy Ball and, shockingly, began to lift it from the ground, levitating the entire thing as though the sphere of metal was as light as a grapefruit. “I’ll leave the rest to you for now, just buy me enough time to get the hell out of dodge,” he told Danna before turning towards the snowline and zooming off with his rocket pack, the over-sized BB containing Buddy in tow.
Danna’s expression was one of hopeless exasperation as he realized that Puranza had abandoned him to clean up his mess. Alone and emo on the flying owl, chilling like Harry Potter, he sighed and raised his hands with finality over the shinobi. Like a pianist stroking the ivory keys, Danna moved his fingers in esoteric signals, calling forth… something.
At first nothing happened, but then the ground began to tremor and, across the length of the ridge towering, gigantic, huge, enormous, and over large-synonymed white wolves appeared, snarling and growling at their prey. One wolf had emerged for each shinobi, seemingly summoned from midair.
Danna nodded his head and turned the owl to leave, but just then, the fuuma shuriken launched from Kenta’s arm flew through the sky and decapitated the poor avian creature. Danna and the dead owl plummeted to the earth, and their was a loud “boom” as the body of the bird smacked into the ground.
Nobody moved. Not even the summoned wolves. All stared in silence as Danna got to his feet, slowly, and stroked the feathers of the deceased owl gently. He turned to face the shinobi, and his face was covered with snot and running tears. But then, grief was turned to anger as he pointed his finger at the group of shinobi, as though they were all responsible for causing such a needless death. The wolves then attacked with certain savagery, biting at heads, throats, groins, and other vital areas with the intent of maiming or killing the human jerky sticks.
Weeping silently, Danna beckoned one of the wolves to his side before he climbed onto its back and, crying into his arm, rode off into the snowline, disappearing with a small, blue burst in the whirling canvas of snow.
The crows, having nothing better to do, took off in a flock towards the nearest bar.
"Well that just happened really fast." Hougou stated as he stared at the the oncoming gigantic white wolves. Well this turned out to be a really interesting day but I'm done with the distractions. He thought to himself as he sidestepped the beast's massive jaws and nimbly leapt onto it's head before placing his finger to it's head and firing it in a unlike motion that released a deadly bolt of lighting directly into the beast's brain, killing it instantly he then burnt the corpse to ashes as he waited for the rest of his party to finish off their own wolves.
Shikaniku was almost envious of Hougou's powers. Whereas his wolf was destroyed in a matter of moments, the Nara had been ducking, dodging, and avoiding his snowy behemoth waiting for a chance to attack. Though, like most summons, they were incredibly smart...and versatile. Leaping backwards, he grunted as the wind from the wolve's paw slammed against the earth in front of him, radiating a gust of wind that blew snow all around into a icy mist. On top of being cold, he couldn't see. "At least this day can only get better."
Kenta decided to meet his animal adversary head on, after all risks made life worthwhile sometimes. In this case, he was gambling, but time would be everything. As a wolf came bounding towards him, Kenta reached into his weapons pouch, bringing out two smoke pellets as the snarling beast approached him with murderous intent, jaws opening wide to snap him in half—opening wide enough for him to fling the nasty buggering pellets inside. As the pellets exploded in the creature's mouth, Kenta allowed his own momentum to carry him forward as the wolf sprang upon its hind legs—like an untameable stallion as smoke seeped from its nose and mouth; leaving its belly exposed for Kenta's attack. But Kenta didn't go for it, choosing instead to slide on his back, allowing his speed to carry him under the distracted wolf. Before he could launch his next attack, the wolf was back, making a beeline as it sprinted towards him in a wild zig zag, making it harder to hit. Kenta bent below onto the snow, grabbing onto two strands of wire and tugging with all his might. The Fuma Shuriken he had used to decapitate the poor owl came whizzing to him; attached to the wire since before being thrown. It crossed the path of the wolf, catching the monstrous beast in the face, above the eye. The creature yelped and crashed into the snow headfirst, sideways, a fresh red trail of blood strewn across the snow behind it. "Could somebody please go after that damn Elf hostage, before we lose our only chance of stopping Loony Claus?!" Kenta shouted, but his scream fell to deaf years as his friends fought against the monstrosities conjured by Danna. Just as he turned to run after Danna fruitlessly by himself, he heard a low growl.
The wolf behind slowly propped itself up, a gash over its eye. Blood was pouring down its menacing face, as its lips curled upwards to reveal canines that wanted to rip through Kenta. Badly. With a snarl of his own, Kenta turned again to face his opponent, unsheathing a tanto, as his other hand gripped the Fūma Shuriken. "Well, shit." He muttered.
It was the second time that day that Chūgo had been buried beneath a pile of debris, and to him it seemed at though luck had turned violently against him. Being dragged through a forest, pushed off an owl, and then covered by a wall of mud thrown up by an explosion were not things he would list as “best weekend activities.” Spitting out dirt and splinters and cursing his fate, he finally managed to climb to the top of the pile, where he came face to face with a growling wolf.
“I’m guessing you’re not here to extend a paw of friendship,” he grumbled as he prepared himself to spring. The moment the wolf lunged Chūgo dodged, flinging himself backwards to avoid having his neck taken off by the snapping teeth. Then he ran like hell. As a long-range weapons specialist, the one thing Chūgo did not need was close combat with a giant wolf. He needed to gain some space, and then perhaps he would have enough time to stop the creature with whatever he could throw at him. Passing two trees, Chūgo flung out a line of razor wire behind him and, just as intended, the wolf tripped over the line. In an instant Chūgo turned, slid to a stop, and pulled his twin fuuma shuriken from the sling on his back. He spun them easily from each hand, whirling them around like buzz-saws as he prepared to strike. Vaguely, he noticed the movements of another shinobi from the corner of his eye who was using tactics similar to his own to deal with the wolf. The man seemed to be having a hard time of it as well. Turning his full focus to the target at hand, Chūgo released the two shuriken and they spun towards the wolf’s head. Then the unexpected occurred: The creature simply snapped the shuriken from midair, catching them one at a time like Frisbees. Chūgo’s jaw dropped in shock and be back-pedaled as the wolf got to his feet. At the worst possible moment Chūgo tripped over a root, landing heavily on his back, and could only watch in horror as the wolf sailed through the air as it pounced down towards his throat.
Just in the nick of time, a green streak flew to intercept the wolf, and Chūgo watched in more shock as the velociraptor that had come out of nowhere bit down on the wolf’s throat. The two beasts began to duke it out in a bloody battle of epic proportions, and as Chūgo watched them in stunned silence a shadow fell across his lap. He turned, and there, with his silhouette framed against the setting sun, was a mostly-naked man with red hair sitting astride another velociraptor.
“To me it appeared like you need of a little bit of assistance, amigo.” The man said as he reached down and extended his hand to help Chūgo up.
“Thanks,” Chūgo muttered dazedly. “Uh... who exactly are you?”
The man laughed uproariously.
“Chūgo. Nice to meet you.”
“Sí mucho gusto.”
The two shook hands.
“Tell me niño,” Saboroso said as he took stock of the situation. “Why are so many people here?”
A bit taken aback that Saboroso was unaware of the situation at hand, Chūgo briefly explained to him everything that had happened since the meeting.
“I see,” the taco man said as he stroked his glorious mustache thoughtfully, “I think I was invited to that meeting, but I decided not to come because there was no Lucha Libre.” he mused, “Anyway, I think it is now most important to save our little Buddy friend, no? Come with me muchacho.” Saboroso helped Chūgo up to sit behind him on the velociraptor.
“Where are we going?” he asked the aproned shinobi.
“North, por supuesto.”
“Won’t your velociraptors freeze?” Instead of answering directly, Saboroso laughed loudly. Chūgo began to wonder if the man was in possession of all of his marbles, or if he had perhaps been sun-touched or something.
“Of course no. I will protect them with my chili-pepper chakra,” Saboroso told him. He then kicked the bipedal lizard in the sides. “Ay ay arriba!” he yelled out with gusto as the velociraptor galloped off for the snow line. As they passed by the other shinobi, Chuugo saw more velociraptors make their way towards the wolves on the ridge, apparently aiding those who were having trouble handling the creatures themselves. They rode past Akemi, and Chūgo could not help but grin cruelly and wave at her as he had now, for once, gained the upper hand in their silent rivalry of metaphorically trampling over each other. But then Saboroso reigned up to a hard stop, lauching Chūgo head-first over the withers and straight into a snow bank.
“First,” Saboroso said, “We must find a way to pass the wall.”
Chūgo picked himself up, brushed himself off, and shot a glare in Saboroso’s direction.
“It’s not rocket science, bird-brain,” he snapped as he marched over to the snowline. Chūgo attempted to step into the whirling blizzard, and there was a flash of blue as he was thrown back forcefully from the snowline and sent hurtling back through the air. Fortunately, Saboroso caught the flying shinobi with his free hand as Chūgo had been pushed straight back.
“See amigo? This is a small problem no?” Chūgo simply crossed his arms as he swung limply from the collar of his flak jacket, considering the situation at hand.
“That must mean that the barrier is only permeable in one direction. Maybe we could use ninjutsu or something to cut a hole into the wall and get past it,” he said. "I mean, both of those reindeer guys were able to fly through it."
“Sí, but for this purpose we will need more hands, claro.” Saboroso said as he turned to check on the progress of the other shinobi, waiting for them to join him at the base of the snowline.
To be continued December 2016...