Description: Living on the run can be a pretty lonely experience which might make a rogue kunoichi more open sharing a meal with a particularly strange girl. That the girl is also a tortured living weapon that has clearly been manipulated by a sinister secret cartel might also make her worth investigating.
It was really far too late for regrets. But on nights like this, it was hard not to reminisce on them all the same. Not that she was unaccustomed to living a rough life as training missions had occasionally required of her. But it was easier knowing that after the survival ordeal, there would always be home to return to.
That is no longer the case. It has been a couple of months since her escape from the underground lab of a shadowy megacorp she can't possibly imagine fighting by herself but her circumstances have not improved much. Lurking around Southtown has been her only viable tactic for now. The fight-obsessed city is always having local events she is able to participate in for meager earnings. She has categorically avoided anything too large scale. She can't stay on the public radar for longer than a single match at a time.
In the forests north of the bustling city she has found a remote ruin to spend the nights. It isn't much to look at, but it's far away from the beaten path as to be unlikely to be happened upon by accident. It clearly used to be a temple in decades past. During her free time, the disgraced nukenin has been doing minor improvements. Boarding up some of the more salvageable walls, patching up sections of the roof where rot hasn't rendered it impossible to save.
It may have nothing on her village but for now, it is home. Kasumi was on her way back when rain began to fall from dark skies above. It quickened her step, making her step, eager to make it inside before she got too drenched. There was an open space in the floor within the ruin where a circle of stones marked a fire pit protected by enough roof as to be useable even in the rain as long as the storm didn't become more violent.
Thus it is the girl slips through one of the broken walls to close in on the corner of the building she has been working on. Her clothing is nothing much to look at - a summer-style blouse that was probably yellow at some point but has become more brown now is worn over a pair of worn jeans. A pack is slung over her shoulder containing everything she owns at this point. There will be a small meal to prepare once she gets the fire going, she thinks to herself.
Without the touch of flame or electricity to illuminate the spacious interior of the ancient structure its vast empty rooms are filled instead with dark thick pools of ominous shadow. What little light remains of the evening sun streams through the heavy clouds to cast faint rays of pale luminescence upon the temple's stained and twisted wooden floors, thin shafts of minor reprieve against the otherwise smothering darkness.
The sound of the rain pattering down onto the roof creates a steady backdrop of noise, one which many people tend to find soothing. An occasional splash of moisture drips down into small pools below the places that the ninja hasn't yet managed to repair and the cold biting winter wind that comes with the storm swirls through the gaps in the walls with merciless glee.
Winter isn't the best time for camping trips even with all of the amenities that modern technology can provide. For someone simply roughing it on their own in the wild, it can be downright deadly if they don't know what they're doing. Unfortunately, this fact also applies to the other denizens of the forest. The chill has driven many of the larger creatures into hibernation already or the preparation thereof. Squirrels and rabbits seek out the shelter of their nooks and burrows while the birds have long since migrated to warmer climates.
The other creature inhabits this forest at preset. Though it has all of the features of a predator: terrible claws designed for rending flesh, jagged teeth for ripping apart tendon and bone, thick corded muscles and narrow wary eyes - it is not a natural thing. It does not act natural, its behavior a wild mixture of feral instinct and advanced cunning. It does not look natural, body mutated and twisted into a grotesque mockery of biology. It does not smell natural, the scent of death and blood lingering about it constantly like a fetid perfume.
Among these things it is only the smell that might strike the young ninja's senses as she steps into her impromptu home from the driving rain. There is no movement within the shadows as she arrives, no flickers of motion or creaking of old rotten boards to alert her to the presence that lurks within. But the smell...
The smell might just give her enough warning to save her life.
Her first thoughts upon moving across the threshold of the dilapidated old temple is how nice it will be to get the fire going. She has a blanket in her pack, kept dry from the elements, unlike the clothes she has on. Warmth and time will cure that problem, as well as the problem of being hungry. Her foot comes down on a flat wooden plank. It used to be a sign over the entryway once upon a time. The characters can still mostly be made out should one make the effort:
'Enter those who suffer, and within you shall find peace.'
Almost anyone who came across this neglected site today and saw that sign would probably be amused at at the irony. But for the young kunoichi, the sign's meaning is not taken as irony. The patter of rain on the roof, the shelter from the worst of the elements, and the dry space to make a fire are all the tools necessary to 'find peace' in her mind.
The structure always had a myriad assortment of smells. Fungus, mold, possibly dead animal in one corner - far enough away as to not trouble her main lurking area...
But smelling unpleasant and smelling 'off' are two different things. Kasumi pauses just after her foot causes the old fallen sign to creak. Her hand lifts to the shoulder strap of her belongings, thumb slipping under, ready to slough it off at a moment's notice.
A year ago, she would not have been as alert, or as paranoid. She didn't have the same concerns back then. It was already dark outside so it won't take long for her eyes to adjust to the even dimmer light of the interior. Even blind, she knows her way to the room with the fire pit, the hall long having been cleared of obstacles during her daily 'chores' around the place.
There doesn't seem to be anything to see though. At least, not in the narrow gaps where any illumination at all makes it in. Her breath is frozen but that doesn't keep her from hearing her heartbeat now that her senses are alert. She takes another step forward, glancing up to the mostly exposed rafters of the ceiling, left hand reaching out to trace along the wall the path she knows so well.
So few people look up when they step into a room.
Perhaps it is a universal blindspot in the human psyche that they tend to think only on the same plane that they themselves are able to operate on. A normal person can't go leaping up into the trees at a moment's notice or cling to the roof with their bare hands. Perhaps it is the sense of paranoia that has overtaken the kunoichi in her time of troubles or the finely ingrained instincts of her training that free her from this flaw. Whatever the case may be, when she looks up, she does not find bare wood and empty shadows.
She finds a monster.
Twin points of red light gleam in the darkness above, a pair of narrowed in-human eyes watching her movements with predatory intensity. Though the exact nature of the creature's form is obscured in shadow an almost divinely-timed flash of thunder casts its body into sharp silhouette against the thick rafters.
A trio of massive claws are buried into the ancient wood like a grappling hook and it clings upside-down to the flat surface by way of this anchor, oddly jointed legs of hard chitin hunched down into a crouch. The face that looks down upon her appears almost entirely human save for the bared row of jagged shark-like teeth visible behind its slightly parted lips.
The creature looks shocked for a moment upon being discovered, perhaps even more taken aback that the intruder actually looked up than the ninja herself might be upon spotting the thing that has invaded her home. But its surprise lasts only a moment before it reacts, throwing itself at her with a hissing snarl in an attempt to pin her to the ground with its entire body!
COMBATSYS: Franziska has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Kasumi has joined the fight here.
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Kasumi 0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0 Franziska
COMBATSYS: Kasumi fails to interrupt Pounce! from Franziska with Random Weapon.
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Kasumi 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Franziska
It's impossible to not feel a sense of panic at the sight. She has seen a number of unearthly phenomenon in her days. She has seen the demons that men can become when they succumb to the darkness. She has seen what monsters human beings are capable of being when they act without ethics or restraint.
She has never seen anything like what is peering at her from above. The thought that because it isn't human, it must be animal, is the first thing that races through her mind. It has a feral ebb about it. But even as she struggles to identify what she is looking at, she already knows her conclusion is false. No natural creature has a claw like that. No normal beast has eyes that glimmer so.
The one thing she does know, without any doubt, is that she is already in a precarious position. Escape would be difficult in any direction - the hall affords little room for evasive tactics. Whether it was by instinct or training, the creature above has selected a perfect point from which to ambush. Muscles tense, ready to respond, combat skills beginning to take hold. She'll back out before it moves-
It's too late. She sees a glimpse of the near-human face the instant it moves through a sliver of light. And then it has sprung. Her right thumb was already beneath the strap of her backpack. It will slow her down no matter what she tries to do. The motion is swift, smooth, the pack shrugged off, the girl turning her side, swinging with every intent of knocking the ambushing assailant away with all the force she can muster.
It isn't possible to do it in time. She's impacted from the side, tackled to the ground by force, the backpack dropped to the side as Kasumi's upper back hits the wooden floor first, the sign she had stepped on cracking in half in the process. This isn't a time for words - it is a time for action. Already she is beginning to struggle against the ferocious creature, twisting and turning, aiming to try and wedge a knee in if possible, all in a bid to hopefully get a chance to start prying herself free!
"Ngh- get off!"
The impact that carries Kasumi to the floor is powerful but not devastating. The creature's claws, wicked looking scythes of bone easily a foot or more long, do not tear into her unprotected flesh as it bears down on top of her. Instead they spread out wide, two of the nasty talons slamming into the wooden floor below with a grinding crunch that pins her head between them as they dig into the soft wood as easily as if it were made of butter, while the third rests lightly against the side of her arm.
A heavy amount of pressure is applied against her body, pushing her down even as she struggles, and a sharp pain shoots into the ninja's skin between her breasts as the creature's smaller 'thumb' tears easily through the fabric of her shirt and into the soft flesh below. The claw flexes noticibly, twisting from side to side for a moment to make sure it has her attention, then it withdraws leaving a wet sticky feeling behind as blood wells up to fill the superficial cut - a warning.
A face that could easily belong to an average teenage girl draws close and the monstrous beast straddles over her, resting its substantial weight on her stomach to further emphasize its earlier suggestion that she not struggle. The girl leans in, mere inches from Kasumi, and the cloying scent of blood and rotten meat returns with a vengence. She peers at her prey for a long moment then leans down and sniffs at her tenatively in an animalistic fashion, nostrils flaring repeatedly as she takes in the kunoichi's scent.
COMBATSYS: Franziska takes no action.
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Kasumi 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Franziska
In the dim it is hard to make out the true nature of the bone-scythed hand that has skewered the floorboards adjacent to her. Human reason would suppose that it is some kind of glove augmented with the sharp, uneven hooks. Such weapons, while unpleasant, are certainly not unheard of... It is only when getting the unfortunate chance to see it up close and personal that she realizes that this weapon is no mere construct. It is a part of her arm, an extention of her being - in essence, even more dangerous than a spike-enhanced glove.
Her initial struggle is fierce, survival instrincts screaming at full volume in her mind that her most important objective must be to get free! It is only when the sound of wood splintering is heard and the frightfully close brush of the bone-edged talons registers to her senses that the kunoichi begins to realize this moment such thrashing about would be ill advised. Her head held fast, her arm feeling the warning touch of the third nail, Kasumi stares up into the eyes of this thing, this- this girl?
Slowly, her free arm moves as she stays focused on that face that shouldn't be. Is it - is she human? What kind of mutation would create someone like this? All she needs to do is move her arm into just the right position from which she can launch a knife-handed strike for the throat. It might be enough to dislodge her before any further attack can be made. From there, she can-
A soft gasp escapes her lips, the young woman wincing, face twisting in pain as she closes her eyes, a tremble coursing through her body. The lethal threat is clear - for this instant, she has no choice but to stay perfecty still. That the claw pierced wood instead of her body should already serve as warning enough that if she wanted to inflict even further harm, she is in the perfect position to do so. The nail at her chest only serves to reinforce that fact.
She doesn't take her eyes off this attacker, however, mind racing even as she holds perfectly still. If she could recoil further into the floor as this impossible combination of features attached to a human body leans in closer, she certainly would.
The smell of her seems fitting for a slaughterhouse where the freezers have gone out. What /is/ that, Kasumi can't help but wonder, amid all the other thoughts going through her mind. That she's afraid is easy enough to sense. Also carried with her is the scents of the routes she's taken - she's been to the large city to the south; its dirtier air, its smells of manufactured housing and businesses, are abundant. Also clear is the evidence that she had exherted some effort before this exchange. Another small time local fight. Not even the rains could wash those clues away.
There is a distant idea of cherry blossoms - a byproduct of her brief uses of chi from earlier - but it is ephemeral, barely able to be detected. More overpowering, perhaps, is the backpack on the floor at the pinned girl's side. While she was hardly bringing back an abundant cornucopia of goods, there are some thin slices of meat - chicken, her accurate nose would detect, a wrapped fish, an apple, and raw, uncooked, fresh green beans still in their pods.
"Who sent you?" she demands from her prone place. The Mugen Tenshin wouldn't employ something like this. Not when they had Ayane already on the job. Would they??
COMBATSYS: Kasumi takes no action.
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Kasumi 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Franziska
All of the scents that speak of Kasumi's last few hours flow into mutant's nose as she snuffles at the ninja's face and neck. Some are recognizable, such as the sweat that lingers beneath her arms and the faint but recognizable odor of exhaust fumes, a smell that the creature has grown quite familiar with of late.
More importantly, however, is the strangely sweet aroma of flowers. Most people might never have noticed such a thing or mistaken it for a subtle perfume. To the creature, it stands out far more than anything else, an overpowering incense that fills her mind with a pleasant sensation.
Every person holds the capacity to wield the natural forces of the universe and in that regards they leave an imprint upon the world around them. This imprint is akin to a footstep or a fingerprint - a unique signature that, once associated with its respective owner, allows her to indentify them with unearring accuracy.
Kasumi's power is something she's never smelled before. That realization sends a wave of sudden panic and shock through the girl's face. This isn't her target! Eyes widening, she lifts the pressure off the ninja, carefully but swiftly withdrawing her claw from around her head before shuffling several steps back towards the nearest pool of shadows.
"Aahh...!" The creature lets out a worried whine and looks around nervously before dropping into a low crouch, the massive claw resting on the ground to support its weight as she lowers her head in shame.
"I-I-I.... I'm sssorry, pretty lady!" The girl-creature's voice is somewhat distorted by her unusual body but it carries a distinctive feminine tone that is both intensely apologetic and fearful. "Thisss one has made a... a missstake!"
COMBATSYS: Franziska takes no action.
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Kasumi 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Franziska
She cringes as she's sniffed even closer, unable to turn her head to watch, unable to dislodge the altered girl from her stomach. The sense of being helpless for even this short moment is overwhelming but she isn't pushed to the brink of panic. Her mind is still sharp, her breaths controlled if slightly elevated. She fidgets a little but otherwise doesn't move.
And then everything changes. She wouldn't have the slightest clue what brought about the change. The next moment, the weight is off of her stomach and Kasumi is free to kick backward, shuffling rapidly until her back comes to rest against the creaking wood of the unsturdy wall, brown eyes fixated on the retreating form of her attacker. She could already detect the signs of anxious worry, an impression completely foreign from the mood that existed between them only an instant before.
Her left hand comes up to rest over the cut fabric of her blouse, fingers pressing down over the stickiness there as she stays still from where she has pressed against the wall. The young ninja would very much rather be on her feet, but this is not the time for fast movement. Caution seems the better path. If the creature intended her further harm, she had already been in the perfect position to inflict it.
But now she's cowering in the shadows, apologetic, crying out her admission of error. Slowly, Kasumi adjusts her posture, her right leg now beneath her. She could kick up to her feet in an instant. Her jaw set, her eyes stay focused. This doesn't feel like deception to her, though she would be the first to admit she's not the best judge of such things...
"Okay..." she finally speaks. Now that she isn't being attacked, her voice is soft, gentle. "Then we do not need to fight." A faint trace of a smile tugs at the corner of her mouth. "I will not hurt you..."
She's searching then, studying the strange girl. "You can relax," she encourages. That isn't to say her guard is down. She has no way of knowing just how deranged or unpredictable this tormented being is, or what she might respond to. She may be utterly without reason, prone to fits or actions that make no sense to the rational mind. Kasumi doesn't want to find that out too late if so.
"So... you thought I was someone else?" She leans forward a little but doesn't come any closer. "Did you trace someone to here?" That the girl is a remarkable tracker is something she suspects... she wouldn't have been using her sense of smell in such a way if she wasn't. What trail brought her here then?
The monstrous girl that had so easily cast her down with the feral grace of a predator seems equally familiar with the submissive posture she now holds, head low and eyes focused on the ninja's feet as if afraid to look her in the face. Her deformed claw twitches occasionally, tapping against the wooden surface of the floor with nervous energy, but it digs no further gouges into the ancient splinters. Obviously she has pretty good control over what does and does not get ripped apart. Good thing she bothered to check first.
Kasumi's gentle voice causes the monster to flinch instinctively but when the meaning behind the words registers a moment later, she slowly lifts her gaze upwards, peering like a shy child through the tousled mess of her wet hair.
"You... you mean it? Pretty lady isss not... angry?"
She considers that thought for a silent second or two before shuffling forward into the dim light once more, walking low to the ground with the large claw dragging purposefully behind her. The creature gives Kasumi a wary look as it draws closer, stopping a few feet away from her to fall back into a cat-like crouch.
"Hunting...", she says softly, looking down at the floor again after only a few moments. Her willingness to meet Kasumi's gaze seems to come and go, those bright red eyes flicking up and down . "Prey. Ssss ssss sss... a-ally." Her brows furrow as she emphasizes the last word.
The lonely kunoichi allows herself a slow blink as she watches the cringing form. Even her voice seems to invoke fear responses. That this one has been tormented by someone beyond comprehension is utterly clear. She seems broken, her every move, every reflex that of a submissive attack dog - capable of being deadly under a master's orders, but otherwise... she may very well the most acquiescent sentient being she has ever encountered.
She shakes her head when asked if she was angry. That doesn't mean she isn't feeling the hurt of that nail from before, her left hand still resting over the cut. But anger? No, it would take something far more overt to spark a sense of anger or vengence in the gentle hearted girl. "You can call me Kaede." Of course she isn't in the business of giving her name out. She leans her head to the side a little, falling quiet, listening.
She stays still as she is approached a little. The sound of the claw dragging on the wood is a reminder of just what this tormented soul is capable of if she feels the need to strike. What mad world is responsible for this? Was she born and bread to be a weapon? Is there any other possible explanation? As she says she was hunting... a traitor, it becomes more certain. Yes, she was made for this purpose.
Kasumi glances to the side, finally breaking visual contact for a moment, allowing herself to relax her guard just a slight amount further. "I see," she muses softly. Chasing a traitor with singular intent... Is this poor thing so different from her own half-sister? She can't help but feel empathy - not unlike the sentiments she experiences for her driven half-sister.
She shouldn't interfer in this. If whoever sent this soul out into the wilds to hunt must have incredible resources and be remarkably dangerous... to produce a living weapon like this? "Are you hungry?" She should resist trying to find anything else out... But can she be blamed if her blood boils at the thought of whoever is behind this thing's mutated form getting away with it?
Slowly, cautiously, she reaches for her dropped backpack.
Once she has answered Kasumi's question, the monster lapses quickly into silence once more, gaze flicking idly around the room in an effort to avoid inadvertanly making contact with the kuniochi's. The moment that her voice rings out again, however, the creature is alert and ready, her pointed ears flicking in response to the stimulus as if waiting for fresh orders, making the comparison to an attack hound appear pretty accurate.
The mention of food manages to get a more in-depth response from the girl, however. Her head tilts up, brows raising slightly in a mixture of surprise and excitement. If she had a tail it would probably be wagging right about now. The girl's eyes flick over to the backpack even before Kasumi's hand goes for it. Noting the deliberate slowness with which the ninja reaches for the container, the creature droops its shoulders and tries to look as unthreatening and friendly as possible, even going so far as to offer a shy smile her way.
"P-pretty lady isss... too kind."
The smell of the blood from the injury she had inflicted suddenly hits the monster's nose and she freezes, eyes snapping towards the hand pressed against Kasumi's chest. Somehow the girl manages to look even more pitiful as the realization hits her that she caused harm to this person and a low whimper escapes her lips.
"B-but first...!" She says, taking a cautious step closer, practically hugging the ground to avoid looking dangerous. She pokes the index finger on her right hand towards the wound, which while obviously twisted by whatever process turned her into this thing, remains mostly human. "Let... let this one help!"
"Kaede, remember?" Kasumi replies when she's called pretty lady again. The reaction in the girl is enough to make her comfortable to finish reaching for the backpack and dragging it over to her. She settles down into a more seated position. It's a risk, but one taken consciously, her right leg bent up at the knee, her left leg stretched out now, the backpack at her side.
"There, there," she speaks up at the whimpering sound, shaking her head. "We're not enemies, right? It's okay... it's okay..." She hms, undoing the closing strap of the backpack deftly with her right hand, finally looking away from the troubled girl to prepare to rumage through the contents to dig out the food, only to pause when she hears the poor thing's voice once again.
What little light they have to work with is pouring in from outside the door. But the rain appears to have abated and the moon is peeking through various cracks, giving them a bit more visibility. All the more for Kasumi to be able to take in the mannerisms of the cowed weapon. "Do you have a name?" she asks, her mouth forming a warm smile, her tone still soft and gentle.
Her eyes glane down at the extended hand before glancing back into her eyes. Is she gesturing at the wound she left? Kasumi glances down at her left hand. The pressed fingers have done enough to staunch the blood... but the cut will still require proper cleaning and care, she thinks to herself.
She looks back up at her, evaluating the offer to help. She isn't so proud as to refuse help from others, even if she will never go begging for it. But what could she do...?
"...okay." She pulls her left hand away then even though she can't help feel a twitch of uncertainty about this. Just looking at the girl in the moonlight can be hard to do, but she forces herself to maintain eye contact as much as possible. It is the only hope she has of reading her intentions.
Receiving approval for her offer of help seems to greatly please the creature. She smiles fiercely, eyes squeezing shut and lips pulling away to reveal the triangular dagger teeth tightly locked into a zipper of blood-stained enamel. It is probably a lot more creepy than she intended it to be.
"Pretty K-Kaede is kind to say that after this one was so rude..."
The girl shuffles closer being very careful to avoid scraping Kasumi with the massive talons that serve as her toes each easily the size of an elephant's nail and sharpened into a curved weapon that looks like it belongs at a dinosaur exhibit. The massive claw continues to drag behind her limply and she goes out of her way to ensure that it also remains a harmless accessory to her person.
She pauses once she's scampered over to stand directly by the ninja's side and meets her gaze for a few brief moments at the question then shakes her head vehemently. "N-no... this one has no name. Ju-just... hound. This one is known as the Hound."
Apparently eager to move on past the question, the girl reaches down to front of the kunoichi's already ripped shirt and delicately slides the tip of one human claw into the opening. With a soft tug, she flicks the finger downwards eliciting a sharp tearing sound as the fabric parts easily under the sharp instrument thus giving her better access to the wound.
The Hound, as she has thus named herself, gives another quick glance towards Kasumi to make sure she isn't going to freak out at this. Assuming the answer is no, she takes a deep breath and makes a swallowing motion that causes the muscles of her neck to work in a strange way. Opening her mouth a moment later, a long slender tongue slowly extrudes from the gap between her teeth coated in some sort of slimy mucus. She gives Kasumi a final quick half-smile, which is somewhat difficult with her tongue hanging out, then extends the long appendage towards the wound with the clear intent to coat it in whatever that strange goo happens to be.
COMBATSYS: Franziska successfully aids Kasumi with Lick the Wound.
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Kasumi 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Franziska
The young ninja cants her head to the side slightly at the happy reaction from the molded weapon. Her smile doesn't wane even when getting a good look at those teeth. She has to wonder at the blood though. The smell is nearly overpowering, even closer now. Is her body in a constant state of bleeding, a byproduct of such unnatural protrusions? Or is it related to what she eats? Or where she lives? She can't help but puzzle at the mysteries surrounding the girl.
"I see," she murmurs as she declares she has no name to mention. What monsters are to blame for this? Denying her even identity of self? Now that she is adjacent to her, she realizes just how risky this is. She has to keep reminding herself that she was already at the mercy of her claws once before. She certainly seems less likely to use them to harm her now?
"Who calls you the hound?" she inquires 'innocently'. Just what kind of information can she elicit before the girl falls back to keeping whatever secrets her makers undoubtedly would have traind her to withhold?
Brown eyes shift down to watch her hand reach for her shirt. That much is expected - though torn, the matted blood and uneven rip leave poor access to the rend beneath. She does have something to replace it with in her backpack, she thinks to herself, realizing this shirt is ruined. A crimson stained white bra keeps her decent. She unconsciously sucks in her breath, glancing down at the blood smeared cut then back into the wild, of weirdly friendly eyes of the living experiment. "W-what are you going to do?" she stammers at last.
A little too late, however, because by the time she speaks up, the girl is already doing some weird thing with her mouth. Is she about to throw up? The only thing that keeps Kasumi from deciding to leap away at the thought is the fear that quick movement might cause her to flail her claw around, even if unintentionally, and that would be a lot worse than ending up with a mess on her lap!
When the tongue comes out, it takes an even greater test of will to stay put, the young ninja's hands pressing against the ground, her back against the wall, her expression shifting into one of visible shock, but she stays frozen in place, even if every muscle in her body is suddenly on edge. She definitely did not expect THAT.
There's no backing out now though, is there? Pressing back against the wall so hard it begins to creak, she closes her eyes. She had to endure a lot of intense moments during her years of training, but right this moment, she's having a hard time remembering anything quite like THIS.
By the time she cracks open one eye, the deed is done, the goo applied, and the nasty looking cut... How in the world did that even work? The tension begins to bleed out a little as she opens her other eye, confusion evident on the kunoichi's face.
The Hound lets out a happy little stuttering hiss as the unprogrammed stem-cell bio-goo goes to work. The gray gel is smeared evenly across the cut by deft motions of the long prehensile tongue until it has created a smooth even surface over the slash. Even before their eyes the gunk begins to grow more solid and colorful, matching the faint pink hue of Kasumi's skin as its short-lived energy absorbs the genetic data from her blood and fills in the gap, much like tarring over a pothole in the middle of a road. Within half a minute the wound is simply gone, as if it never existed in the first place.
The tongue retreats back into the monster's jaws and she gives a sheepish but proud smile. "Kisssss it better," she says with a firm tone of accomplishment, flicking the pointed tip of her tongue into the air in a gesture reminiscent of a snake. She obviously heard the phrase from somewhere else without realizing exactly what it meant which good because that could have gotten even weirder.
Sensing Kasumi's discomfort, the monster blanches and droops her head down again, brushing the side of her face against the kunoichi's arm as she retreats in a hopefully placating gesture. "D-did this one... do sssomething wrong?"
As the seconds pass by, Kasumi watches the gel fullfill its purpose. It isn't long before it's impossible to tell her skin was ever pierced there. She blinks in surprise then looks up just in time to notice the girl cowering again in worry, her cheek brushing her arm in an animalistic appeal for forgiveness. "No, no, it really helped. Thank you," she states quietly, "You have nothing to apologize for. Here, let's go further in. We can make a fire there. Will warm things up."
Finally she moves, slowly at first, just to make sure there's no risks in doing so, careful where that claw is at every moment as she reaches for her pack and hefts it to her shoulder. The hall to the room she has been repairing is pitch black. Even the roof lacks helpful gaps here that would otherwise let the moonlight outside in. But she knows the way safely, hand tracing along the wall, only stopping long enough to make sure she is being followed.
Several meters through the darkness an entrance on the left opens into a small room. There are a few supplies here - things she's collected that she didn't want to carry with her everywhere. A few dishes. Emptied bottles of water - the filled ones in her pack at the moment. There are a few slits high on the wall that allow light in but also allow the window to blow through them. Necessary ventilation for the fire pit in the center of the room. There, the wooden floor had rotted away sometime ago, leaving Kasumi to clear it out so that she could put the ring of stones down on the open dirt.
The glimmer of moonlight makes it easy to see now, as accustomed to the dark Kasumi's eyes became in the pitch black hallway. Her pack is sloughed off in the corner. A supply of wood has already been stacked against one wall to be kept safe and dry from the elements without. Wood is also already placed in the ring of stones. A small lighter produced from her pants pocket is enough to ignite the prepared kindling. It takes little effort from there to stoke the rest of the fire until a small, warm, crackling fire is burning.
None too soon, either, as the sound of rain pattering against the roof becomes audible along with the audible pops and crackles of the burning wood. "The... traitor you were hunting," Kasumi asks quietly while going through the preparations, finally feeling comfortable enough to turn her back on the girl for long moments at a time. After what just happened with the tongue and her wound, she really can't find any reason to distrust her anymore.
"Have they been here?" If someone has been to the temple, they might come back. Things might get complicated. Maybe she should consider moving on...
The scuffling scrape of nails and claws on the floor follow along behind the ninja in a dutiful fashion as she makes her way through the halls. The creature purposefully makes noise as it moves, doing little to hide is presence in the darkness in the hopes that knowing exactly where it is will keep the kind woman happy. The twin points of red that denote her small intense pupils also flash to life occasionally whenever the moonlight manages to strike her face for a brief instant.
The Hound scoots over to the far side of the room to sit in the corner while the fire is lit and supplies are rummaged, plopping down onto her rear for the first time with a dull thud. Perhaps she has some feral fear of fire or this is merely just another gesture of good faith, keeping herself out of easy striking distance.
"No..." Her head shakes slowly in answer to the question. "This one was... ssscouting. Then the rain came. Took ssshelter. Then... pretty Kaede came and this one thought it was ssstrange." She looks downtrodden again, ears drooping slightly. "This one is very ssssorry."
Well, that's one worry off her mind, Kasumi thinks to herself. Of course, she would prefer whoever the traitor is to get away completely. Whoever dispatched this living weapon... deserved to be deserted she thinks grimly, keeping her thoughts to herself though. She suspects difficult moral quandries aren't exactly prime discussion material for the traumatized teen. "It's okay, let's not worry about that, okay?" her smile is warmer now as she attempts to sooth the concerns of the feral girl.
With the fire burning, the room begins to warm up a little. Kasumi sits on a large stone just beyond the flickering campfire, pulling the flap open to dig through its contents. A package of brown wrapped paper is produced and placed aside - the hound will smell that it is fish. Another container is dug up. Chicken slices, typically used for sandwiches. A cast iron pan is produced from the bottom of the backpack and quietly Kasumi unfolds the wrapped fish and flops it into the pan before moving the pan to sit on a rock right next to the growing fire.
"How old are you?" she asks quietly, looking up to study the clawed child again. "You can move closer to the fire, if you're cold," she offers a moment later, her mouth curled into a faint smile again. She's going to assume, with teeth like she has, meat is certainly allowed to be on the menu.
"Were you chasing your target for long?" she asks quietly as the pan begins to heat up and the fish begins to sizzle. "Where do you live?" she tries after the other questions. Maybe she'll learn something about her cruel masters?
Kasumi's offer of warmth causes the creature to lean forward and inch closer without actually rising, dragging her massive lower half across the wooden surface with apparent ease until she rests within arm's length of the flickering flames. The stream of questions causes the girl to grow slightly nervous and she worries at the frayed strands of ripped cloth along the bottom of her camoflage pants with her long humanoid fingers, idly scratching fresh rips and tears into it.
The smell of the fresh meat gives a noticable look from the Hound, her eyes trying not to linger on fish resting in the pan. "Sss sss sss... this one... does not know."
She furrows her brows in concentration for a few seconds before reaching up to brush the hair at the back of her neck aside. The movement reveals a pair of short but thick glass tubes protruding from a metal contraption that is clearly fused into her spine, one of which is alread empty while the other appears to be nearly so. She twists at the tube and grunts, a look of discomfort quickly turning into glossy-eye bliss for several seconds.
Eventually, her focus returns and she blinks a few times. "Ngh... maybe... s-s-sssixteen?" Her eyes flit back to the fish. "Only chasssing this prey for... two days now." She looks down, toying with her clothes again. "Live... not far. In city. For now."
Kasumi doesn't watch the poor girl fret over the questions. In fact, she doesn't watch her at all, allowing silence to linger between each question until she gets an answer. Sometimes leaving a quiet to be filled is enough to get the information she's interested in. Of course, the answers are vague enough that there isn't anything too detailed she can take away from them. But it's a start.
Only when the living weapon demonstrates the attachment on her back does the kunoichi glance up, looking intently at the tubes, the device, and most impotantly, the reaction after the nearly empty tube is put to use. As if the crimes of her makers weren't already apalling enough.
A chemical leash, then. The concept is not entirely foreign to her. Even though the Mugen Tenshin never stooped to such tactics not every clan in the shadows held to the same standards. That the second tube is about out, and that she has been hunting for two days, gives Kasumi an idea of what her range is before she has to return back to her masters. If only she could follow her back, she thinks to herself, before dismissing the idea. Her sense of smell would make it impossible unless the winds cooperated...
The pan fried fish is finished and Kasumi moves the pan away from the fire, placing it in the dirt to let it cool for now. The package of pre-cooked chicken slices is produced as well, the plastic container opened and placed down. She digs up an apple and wrapped up bean pods that have already been cooked, but her feeling is that the girl will have little interest in those. The hound is spared any further questions as the girl turns her thought to the simple meal. She's not a particularly versatile cook, by any means, sticking mostly to simple snacks purchased with what little she can afford to augment what she can scavange on the run as well, but what she has she splits evenly with the leashed hunter.
With the night growing late, the rain continuing to fall outside, it won't be long before there's little left but to watch the fire burn and catch up on sleep for the morrow before she starts her routine activities all over again. Her torn shirt is shed eventually as she fishes out a longer sleeved, pink replacement, newly acquired just before her trip back to the ruin. Two blankets are produced which, judging by the now nearly empty appearance of the backpack, means she's shown nearly all of her meager belongings by now.
Without reservation, one brown blanket is offered to the wild child, while the black one she keeps for herself. "It will get cold once the fire goes out," she observes. But at least they have walls and a roof. With the rain coninuing to fall outside, anything is better than getting drenched all night!
Well. Almost anything, she muses. Whatever so-called home the clawed girl has to go back to might be worse than a night getting soaked in the woods by a long shot. Bundling herself in the black blanket, she backs up against a wooden wall and hunches up there, knees folded up in front of her, arms wrapped around her legs, chin atop her knees, seemingly content to sit there and wait until dawn while enjoying whatever amount of sleep she allows herself through the passing hours.
She needs a name, the girl thinks to herself, as her eyelids grow heavy. It is the last thought that occupies her mind before sleep takes hold.
The food is accepted with more hissing offers of thanks and it disappears into the creature's mouth in short order, though she does atleast attempt to display some form of manners by keeping her lips closed as she chews her portion of the fish, bones and all. It is a somewhat comical sight but if she is aware of it her utter lack of self-worth seems to have robbed her of any shame in that regards.
The blanket is also taken but only after a long silent stare and her hand visibly shakes with emotion as she receives the simple gift. The Hound curls up in the far corner where she intially had sat, draping the blanket over herself to avoid tearing anything and she offers one last, "Thank you... pretty Kaede" before dropping into a rythmic breathing pattern.
The first few times the restless kunoichi stirs back to wakefulness the small mound of brown cloth covering the slumbering beast is still there, tucked up against the wall, rising and falling with the motion of her chest. However, sometime early in the morning, she opens her eyes to find the blanket neatly folded (well, as neatly as can be expected) on the floor next to her. There is no sign of the monstrous girl, nor any prints or signs of passing to be found which might be followed in the morning. Whatever she was, she's simply gone.
Log created on 21:11:31 11/09/2014 by Kasumi, and last modified on 22:20:55 11/10/2014.