|[Sep. 18th, 2013|11:18 pm]|
Raidou thumbed his mic. “How far down?”|
“Hold there, we’ll come to you.”
A low breath hissed between Katsuko’s teeth, muffled by the mask; anticipation of a good fight. Ryouma’s hands flexed, and Raidou thought he saw the younger man pull a silver-steel tube of soldier pills from one hip pouch and tuck it into the front of his armor. Genma didn’t react; he just ran a little faster.
They found Kakashi balanced high in a ragged tree overlooking a deep, rock-sheltered crack carved into the side of the mountain’s slouching foothills. The mine entrance was too shadowed to see, but a weather-worn sign hung at a crazy angle from a broken tree, proclaiming “DANGER: ABANDONED MINE”, so Raidou figured they were close.
The eight-foot-long molted husk draped in the mud looked promising, too.
Quietly, they scaled the tree, settling in among the thick branches like a flock of bedraggled magpies. Raidou crouched next to Kakashi. “Guards?” he murmured.
Kakashi flicked two fingers towards the entrance. “Just inside. They feel big.”
“Big big?” Katsuko demanded, with a thread of blood-thirsty glee in her voice.
“Forest of Death big,” Kakashi said.
“Maybe we can draw them out,” Genma said softly. “And one of us can slip inside for recon.”
“You’d have to draw all of them out,” Kakashi said.
“I could do that,” Katsuko said. “Taichou, can I do that?”
Ryouma was on the branch beneath them. His mask tipped up, worry sleeting through his voice. “Do you want help?”
The two of them together would make a viable team. They were both fast, his jutsu was deadly, her chakra would distract anything breathing. But twenty-five demon-bugs running through the forest wasn’t Raidou’s idea of a good time.
Neither was leaving thirty-four villagers to die in a hole in the ground.
“How many people can you feel, Hound?” Raidou asked, signalling wait to Katsuko and Ryouma.
Kakashi’s voice turned distant. “Ten, maybe. Some are very faint.”
“Tanuki?” Raidou asked.
Genma leaned forward. “Same,” he said, after a moment. “They’re a long way down.”
Raidou tapped his fingers against wet bark, thinking. They had a duty to save lives where they could, but he had a duty not to kill his team for a hopeless mission.
Are you here to find Hiroshi?
“Use clones for this entrance, Rat,” Raidou said, making his mind up. “Pull the demons out, then get around to the relief shaft and do the same. Ram, stay on her back. Kill as many as you can. I’m going to trap the main entrance. Hound, if you see a route inside, take it. Tanuki, I want you on his six. We’re going to try and free the villagers. If anything goes wrong, get out and we’ll bring down the mountain.”