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[Sep. 18th, 2013|11:22 pm]

ueno_katsuko
“On it,” Katsuko said, and launched out of the tree. Ryouma followed, a silent presence at her back. They cut through the bleak downpour with single-minded purpose.

A stand of rocks lay hidden by a cluster of young saplings a few hundred feet from the mine. Katsuko perched on the tallest boulder while Ryouma crouched beside her, rain streaming off his bare shoulders and mask. She brushed her fingers over the hilt of her mother’s broken kodachi and allowed herself a small, vicious smile.

Ryouma stared apprehensively through the trees at the mine entrance, then glanced at her. “So, uh. Are you fighting, or are you running?”

Katsuko chortled. “Are you kidding? I’m gonna run like a...” she searched for a proper simile and gave up. “A running thing. You with me?”

Ryouma let out a small huff of amusement. “I can run. But— if you distract ‘em, I can kill ‘em.” He hesitated, then shrugged one shoulder and reached into the front of his chestplate. He pulled out a soldier pill vial and unscrewed the cap, tipping his mask back. His long throat worked for a moment as he dry-swallowed a pill. His gaze drifted back to the mine entrance as he screwed the cap back on. “I’ve got six shots, and I’ll need to gather chakra in between ‘em. I need a straight shot, too, five meters or less. Think you can distract ‘em without getting in the way?”

“Done and done,” Katsuko said. “I carry twice the normal amount of explosion tags. I’ll see if I can crack those carapaces open for you.”

Ryouma looked up, surprise written clear in the line of his shoulders. Eventually, people would learn to stop doubting her altruism. “That’d be helpful. If I can touch flesh, it’ll save a lot of chakra.”

“That’s me,” Katsuko said. “Helpful.” She sank down on her haunches and sketched a semicircle on the stone between them with one finger. “After we pull the bugs out from this entrance, I’m going to stay on the ground while I lead them around to the relief shaft. I’ll focus on the largest ones for you to take out. Sound good?”

He scruffled one long-fingered hand over the back of his head, through his wet hair. “If you’d focus on the smaller, quicker ones, that’d be better, actually. Hit the leg-joints if you can. The big ones won’t dodge as fast, and crippled ones won’t dodge at all.” He nodded at Katsuko’s bandaged shoulder, voice turning a shade rueful. “I’d rather not make their acquaintance the way you did.”

Katsuko chuckled. “Alright. World’s most vicious game of tag with the smaller, bitey demons it is, then. Anything else?”

Ryouma met her gaze. “Yeah. I meant what I said about not getting in the way. If I hit you, I can’t save you.”

She held his stare for a moment and nodded. “Got it. Your jutsu aims for chakra; any chance it could be transferred back to me if you hit a clone by accident?”

“Uh...” Ryouma said, hedging. “I’m... not sure. Chakra goes back to you when the clone pops, right? So— better be careful.”

“Right.” Well, it wasn’t like Katsuko had joined ANBU to run easy missions. “Then let’s party.”
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