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    Post by Genkumaru on Sat May 30, 2020 12:55 am

    The rain was rampant and cascaded over the Scorched Desert like a torrential reckoning, of a celestial origin. The southern and western rivers had begun to flood and over saturate the floodplains of the desert locale, damaging several small fishing villages in their wake. The animals and avian life scattered to the winds, seeking shelter from what must have seemed like the end times to them. The seemingly ceaseless rain caused a heavy fog that made long distance sight all but impossible. Lightning strikes ravaged the landscape leaving wanton destruction in their wake. The fury of nature bellowed with a momentous cacophony that resounded through all who inhabited the desert this night. It would be a storm that had no equal for many moons to come.

    In the flashes of the raging storm a man laid bleeding, hanging on in between the very fine line that was the balance of life and death, his mind stuck in the place just before death. A heavenly transition was about to take place. His whole world began to fade, as he had tried to get up several times now and his body just would not answer the call. He had nothing left to give, his beliefs shattered the same as his body. The crimson fluid coalescing in the sand around him as it hardened. His form utterly broken against the rocks that had helped laid waste to him. His fight with the White Fox had utterly devastated him.

    Flashes of memories careened through his mind, was this the phenomenon known as seeing you life flash before your eyes? The man saw his early childhood, the orphanage and all of its kind staff doing their best to keep everyone moving forward, despite the sadness that coalesced in that place. Teaching them to be generous and productive members of society with their infinite kindness. His first friends in his “siblings”. His first crush, even though it was immediately fleeting. The days spent at the academy becoming a Genin. The day he blew up part of the orphanage injuring sister Ann… The years of self exile and training.

    His memories began to flood to modern day and all the friends he had made since coming back to the village. Images of Hikari, Kenji, Arashi, Kensei, Ryojin, Shizuka, Mikomi, Tatsuya, Sojiro and Kannagi…. Kannagi… Kanna! He had so many things left unsaid, how could he let this be the end? No! He wasn’t done yet. He had to live and see his friends again! He was still alive and damn sure he would keep it that way. His inner will was a dwindling spark that ignited beautifully as he roused himself to consciousness, lurching upwards in massive pain, a deep inhale piercing the repetitive noise of striking thunder in the distance. His body shivered from the cold that now took over him as the rain coated his form and washed blood forth from his wound.

    Maneuvering ever so slightly caused an echo of agony to shutter through him as he let out a gasping moan from the pain. His body was failing his efforts to arise. His inner fire began shrinking once more…





    This couldn't be the end could it?.....






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    One last thought of his friends crossed his mind as it pushed him, urged him ever further! With all of the strength he had left he forced his legs and back to cooperate with him as he rose from the ground, using his right arm to balance against the rock face he had crashed into. Blood was caked to his face from where his skull collided into the rocks, no doubt a splitting wound. His left shoulder had a v shaped chunk missing from it, as it hung limply to his side. He managed to take a few more steps before stumbling, only keeping himself from falling over and plummeting into the ground face first by letting a small explosion loose from his right arm, re balancing him.



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    His body fought his every move as he trudged back towards the village in the distance. His every movement attempting to tell him to just give in, he had fought hard enough. He would die an honorable warriors death if he just gave up now. However, deep inside he knew he wasn’t done yet. He needed to keep pushing further. He had to tell the village Sonin was near and what had transpired. He had to know if there was truth to what Sonin had told him. His convictions had been tested and it urged him on ever further to find the truth now.

    Within an hour of slow deliberate movements he had come within view of the village gates. His form like that of a zombie now, his once olive tanned skin, pale and sallow, the light in his eyes fading as he got closer to his goal. He was almost there! He was almost there…. With the last of his strength he bellowed out in the roar of the lion that he had taken as his moniker, “
    SOJIRO!”, and as the last syllable left his tongue it faltered and fell silent abruptly.


    His body had collapsed twenty meters from the gate…. The tank was finally almost empty…. The shield laid broken now….




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    Post by Kannagi on Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:55 pm

    Kannagi rested her chin on her fists, sitting at her chair by the window. It was her only chair and her only window. Her small studio apartment was barely noticeable among all the other business and windows in the area. She lived quietly above a tea shop at a good price. There was only one room for her basic cooking necessities, a plain bed, and a curtain instead of a door besides the wash room. Her blue eyes stared out the glass pane, watching the streaks of water slide down the frame and the occasional lightning split the sky into rumbling thunder and bright light. Normally, the kunoichi might have been asleep by now, but she was kept awake by the clatter beneath her apartment. The tea shop was having grand business given the weather forcing everyone to take shelter indoors.

    She could make out the shadows below: flower boxes across the way inviting morning customers into Pastries with Pa-Nash, a pleasant bakery, emptied vendor stalls where the weekly vegetables imported in could be sold, and a building with boarded up windows, some old abandoned place. It was like riding Cirilla, just as she knew every muscle, every motion, riding Cirilla was like breathing... so it was when she looked out this window. After the four years she had lived in this small studio, Kannagi had studied and memorized the sight, and her eyes followed every cornerstone and brick and decoration with a relaxing familiarity. There was then a strange thing in the shadows, the form of one man carrying another. She squinted her azure eyes downward, recognizing them with a frown.

    She hadn't seen either of them in a while and considering how she knew so little compared to what she thought she knew about them, Kannagi couldn't judge just exactly what they were doing out there. After a moment, Kannagi got to her feet; if Genkumaru had simply gotten drunk, he wouldn't be carried like that. He looked more like a ragged child's toy than a reeling drunkard. A foreboding feeling filled her stomach and the kunoichi dressed herself, collecting her shinobi gear before locking and leaving her studio. Hurriedly, the blue haired woman caught up to the pair and reached out a hand to help hold Genkumaru, just as Sojiro had awkwardly maneuvered to try and heal him on the go. She recognized the jutsu from what he had done to her ankle. "How can I help?" Kannagi stated unaffectedly. She didn't doubt Sojiro's skills and in the dark could not see the damage done in full either. She also had no doubts about Genkumaru's strength; if his wound was bad enough that he could die, all it would take would be his will to command his body and he would make it through the ordeal with Sojiro's help.

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    Post by Genkumaru on Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:27 pm

    His body jostled as he was carried through the streets, his strength so faded that speech was impossible. The rain smashed into his body like crashing waves, the resounding thump thump, thump thump of the patter of the rain continuously keeping what shred of his consciousness and willpower he had left, clinging to this remnant of life he still had remaining in his body. He kept trying to speak as they carried him and it was like running through a pool filled with mud. He just couldn't muster the traction needed.

    Blood would cascade from his lips as a short, raspy, quiet sentence came forth from his form, "
    Bingo... Strong... Fox... Sojir...", what remained of hsi breathing became even shallower as he tried speaking, until eventually his chest faltered as it rose on inhales, looking like a stutter signifying limited breathing. The shoulder wound had exposed bone and several muscles and tendons were severed, the wound being non uniform and jagged. Whatever had caused it, was done with immense force or skill.

    And so Genkumaru's frame would become heavier in the arms of his friends, as all but his shallow breathing remained to suggest he still lived. His body limp as they went onward towards wherever his best friends and partners were taking him. To any onlookers they may have recognized who he was, given how well known the blast boy had been, especially to others who had children in the academy or had grown up at the orphanage. The once tall and proud giant had been humbled by a former hero of the village and unless someone had heard him, there could possibly be no clue as to what had happened.



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    Post by Kannagi on Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:58 pm

    The hours had passed quickly and tensely, Kannagi's focus and control a pivot that Sojiro could rely on. He had given her complete directions the entire time and with his terse manner she had done as he commanded without question. The blue haired shinobi had enough experience at home with giving and receiving orders in both a kitchen and medical capacity. It wasn't long before she had started teaching the youngest how to clean injuries and apply ice properly. Kannagi knew how to do plenty on her own, but with Sojiro's oversight this night, she had become slightly more efficient. She could tell that she could certainly learn from Sojiro's experience in the future.

    Blood stained her clothing, her arms, and her fingers. Tending to the devastating wounds and injuries on Genkumaru's body illicited emotion from her that she hadn't expected. It had been years since she had formed any friendships, anyone close to her had been left behind in the desert. However, considering her abrupt nature, her sometimes cruel by being honest words, and the way she had continually shot down the compassion of others, both Sojiro and Genkumaru had stuck by her. They had encouraged her and instead of being intimidated by her, they had challenged her to be better. As she helped Sojiro she felt as close to the both of them as she had ever been.

    The coat she had besmirched a few days ago on the patrol mission with Genkumaru was still sitting, freshly cleaned, at her studio. The idea that she might not be able to return it to him after he had lent it to her that cold night left her unsettled. There was something about the way she had questioned his good natured gesture as a possible ploy for affection that annoyed her now. A pit in her stomach grew and was pushed down and ignored as Kannagi helped Sojiro. Yet, now as she stood there, washing her arms and hands with nothing else to do but wait, the pit grew larger and larger. She fidgeted with her hands, something she hadn't done since she was a little kid.

    She exhaled, having not said any words to Sojiro except for clarifications in the overnight healing. "You're not just asking me that so you can make me clean up this mess are you?" Kannagi asked, turning to face him with a small teasing smile. The woman sat down on a nearby chair and let out a sigh, "It would be nice to help out in the community more. Maybe, I can find my place." It was a hard thing to say and her blue eyes were tilted to the floor. The night had tired her out, but so had her emotions on this night. She was usually very good at hiding them and controlling what she showed to others. Here in front of Sojiro, she felt no escape from the vulnerability the event had caused her. Tomorrow, she would return to her usual composure but while in this moment, Kannagi also felt the need to set things right.

    "I want to apologize. Before you consider taking me on here in your clinic, I want you to know that I was wrong about you that first time we met. And I was wrong about you on our last mission. You are not only capable, you are trustworthy. I haven't meant many like you and Genkumaru since arriving in Nikkousato but it doesn't excuse the shame I have brought to myself for my actions."
    Her eyes lifted up and sought out Sojiro's own. "Do you think he'll be okay? I have some herbs I can use to prevent infections, or to ease his pain. Should I get them?"

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    Post by Genkumaru on Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:00 pm

    The pain that racked his body through the long grueling night of intense surgery had gone unnoticed due to the anesthesia that Sojiro used on him. However, his mind had experienced a lot in its slumber.

    He had awoken to a darkened room with a camping fire ablaze in the center, four wooden log benches flanking its sides. On one of the benches was an older mid thirties male ninja of Nikkousato that looked oddly similar to Gen except less built and more swimmer like in form. The man was clean shaven and had a high fade top crimson colored hair line. He looked away from the fire up and into Gen's eyes giving him a feeling of his soul being pierced as the man did so. Wordlessly Gen went to sit on the log to the man's left and stared into the fire, where was he? What was he experiencing?

    As the young man sat in front of him the man spoke after a few long moments, "
    Genkumaru Iwamura.... It's not your time yet boy. Don't give up while you have so much going for you and people that care for you. An Iwamura doesn't surrender...", his words trailed off as he stopped watching Gen and focused back on the fire. Within moments Gen would respond to the man after digesting what he had heard, "I don't think that is a problem anymore.... I did what I always do and destroyed what bonds I had left a short while ago. The woman I love... I treated her as some prize worth earning like a trophy, and my best friend... I let him down in a horrible way, I was supposed to support him and we were going to grow together, but I messed that up too. The only thing I am good at is destroying everything in my path. I was never meant for the pleasures in life. But I didn't surrender and that is why I am here now I think...", his own voice trailing off as he looked deeper into the fire and saw images of his very early childhood as a new born, things he had never known or could be capable of remembering.

    Moments passed before the Man spoke again to Gen, this time with a gruffer more stern tone, "
    What are you prattling on about? Your only good for destroying? Such a petulant child. You create hope, and faith in others with your actions, but what you lack is hope and faith in yourself boy.", pausing for a moment he then continued with increased vigor, "I never expected you would grow into such a pain in the ass, I am surprised anyone can stand being around you as you are. If there is one thing you need most right now, its to strengthen that resolve boy! How else do you think you will become the "Shield" of the people? Your hopes and dreams? No, you need to start with the first person you are the shield of, yourself.", his words sunk into and tore through Gen like a knife through butter. They were close to what Kannagi and Sojiro had told him. They were the same private thoughts he had for weeks. He wasn't who he needed to be.

    Shuffling on his log for a moment he closed his eyes, a tear falling from his face both here and in his real body, which would most likely have gone unnoticed by those who were keeping him alive. Tilting his head up he opened his eyes and was graced with the same night sky as on the first night he met Kannagi, the beautiful moonlit atmosphere of that moment now swirling and circulating through him. Speaking to the stranger that had berated him so and seemed to know everything about him, "
    I have a lot to work on to really be worthy huh? Kannagi had told me a long time ago to forgive myself and only then would I begin to heal....", the man would cut in at that moment, "This Kannagi sounds like she is wise beyond her years, you should listen to her, she at least knows more then a muscle head who can't see past himself.", with every truthful word spit from the mans mouth it tore away at layers of hate and resentment that Gen had piled up over the years. He knew the man was right about everything. Continuing to speak again Gen's voice had more confidence, "Your right... Sojiro was right too. I didn't even stop to consider him, I am like a boulder falling down a cliff, once I have momentum I can't stop.", laughing softly and rising he formed a fist in front of him before speaking again, "No more! I am done running from myself. I Genkumaru Iwamura forgive myself. I will strive to be the shield I know I am, and I will go the distance and be there someday!", with a new fiery resolve burning in him the campfire blazed ever higher and began to brighten up the darkness that shrouded the area.

    It was then that the man spoke for the final time, "
    My son... Be a strong ninja who others look too in time of need, and never be the one that causes others to turn away. Above all channel your strength into good ideals and people. Your mother and I are proud of you and what you will become, alas its not your time yet.", and with a sudden and strong movement the man rose from his seated position and grabbed Gen by the back of the neck casting him into the fire.

    With a sudden gasp Gen awoke and attempted a stiff rise as he tried to lift his torso unsuccessfully from the surgery table he found himself on. He had lived? Where was Sonin? Where was he? Looking around the room he saw the two people he loved most in this world, together, something he wasn't sure if he would ever see again. It dawned on him what must have happened after the Sonin fight went sideways. When he fought with every step towards the village and collapsed he must have been saved by the two of them, no doubt Sojiro's medical arts and Kannagi's excellent skill and supportive nature seeing him through the worst of it. Relaxing he resumed laying flat on the operating table and extended his right hand out towards Kannagi as he spoke to both of them, "
    I am sorry. I don't think I ever apologized truly for what I did that day. Sojiro... Kannagi... Thank you for saving my life.", tears swelling up and leaving his eyes, as they cascaded down the sides of his face and pooled on the table, "And I don't just mean tonight, I mean thank you for saving me from who I was and the shell of the life I had before I met the two of you. I have never belonged anywhere... But when I am with the two of you I feel like I actually have a place in this world and I am maybe not just an unbridled weapon.... That maybe I am capable of having a life worth living.".

    Closing his eyes for a brief minute and realizing he was extremely sore, like he got hit by well.. himself, he spoke again, "
    I hope that you can forgive me for being so foolish... I ran into someone from the bingo book last night while I was on the Kataki road outside the village, I had decided to take some time to think about all of this and was on a walk to clear my head when I ran into Sonin - The White Fox. I tried to do my duty and honor the village by apprehending him... He is terrifyingly strong and he was headed here and I tried to stop him... He told me something while I was fighting him, he said that the village... the village couldn't be trusted. ", stopping from a small surge of pain still hosted in him, he then continued, "After his finishing blow I almost gave in. My spark flickered out ad just as I was about to say goodbye to this world I thought about all of you and saw my life flash before my eyes. My last thoughts were about Sojiro and you Kanna... I couldn't leave here with so many things unsaid and in the state we were in. If it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't have made it back to the village.", centering himself he spoke softer, "Sojiro.... will you fetch an Anbu or the Kage? I think they need my report even though I do not know what will happen from this now..", finally going silent he smiled softly as he looked up towards the ceiling and then over to Kannagi ,"Kanna....", the words he wanted to say escaped him and so he simply just looked at her with a soft expression on his face.



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    Post by Kannagi on Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:41 pm

    Kannagi slid her eyes to the side for a look at the hand Sojiro placed on her shoulder. Somehow it seemed that there was a new understanding between them both. She didn't doubt that they would argue in the future, but of person to person, it was like they saw the truth in each other and who they really were now. She blinked and the image was gone, but the invisible string connecting them wouldn't be lost to her spirit. He could have awoken with a single question or phrase, but when Genkumaru started speaking she knew at once he would be fine because of how much there was coming out of his mouth.

    Kannagi moved to his side, crouching there and resting a hand on the bed beside his head with a wide smile on her face. His long winded apology was largely unnecessary for her, his millionth sense of self realization redundant, and his reckless explanation for taking on a rogue shinobi foolish and in the same pattern of his self destructive emotional responses to daily events made it expected. But still, Kannagi grinned like a slack jawed buffoon. She nodded as he spoke, taking it all in seriously, of course it was all very grave news. Not trusting the village sounded like something a rogue shinobi would say to justify his attacks. Missing children were still a large concern but the shinobi were all doing everything they could do. There was no conspiracy here.

    And just like that, Genkumaru took on the position of temporary boss as he requested Sojiro to depart and with the sulky and scornful attitude left. There was something in his tone though that suggested equally that the medical nin was happy for Genkumaru's awakening and was bantering with him like friends sometimes do. In the face of being suddenly left alone with Genkumaru, recalling the two or three times now that he had insisted they talk in the past, and his emotional vows that she had literally thrown back at him, Kannagi's heart skipped a beat. While wanting to develop friendships without losing her occasionally gritty demeanor, she was filled with uncertainty as to how this conversation was about to go. "I should go get your coat. You left it, so I had it washed for you," The blue eyed woman blurted out gracelessly as she stood up next from his side.

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    Post by Genkumaru on Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:34 pm

    Sojiro's objections and teasing were pleasing to hear, it meant maybe the man actually did forgive him for his actions. The tender moment with his closest friends was only heightened further as Kanna leveled herself with him and smiled towards him. She was so beautiful and it only made this harder for him. He knew what it was he needed to say and yet he couldn't bring himself to utter it. This was going to be a much different confession then before, and it held implications that he thought he was okay with but still made his heart pained to even think of.

    Taking a deep breath as he was prepared to begin speaking to her, he was caught off guard by the mention of his coat, having forgotten she still had it. Laughing in confusion he became wracked with pain and grabbed his torso, clutching his chest as the pain subsided, "
    I can't... Kanna... Thank you for caring for it.", his infectious kind smile graced his face once more as he beamed up at her with his eyes. Choosing to sit up and swing his feet over the edge of the bed he looked her in the eyes and kept his face soft and kind as he searched her eyes to build up his own inner strength.

    After a moment he felt confident enough to speak once more, "
    Kannagi. I shouldn't have put all of that on you before, when we were experiencing the harsh realities of our selfishness, I am supposed to be your friend first and foremost, and I have been awful with that haven't I?", taking a deep breath he let the pain give him a slight rush of adrenaline to keep going, "I know now that I lied to you when I told you I could shelf my feelings for you, because I can't. That last mission was an eye opening moment for me, as just being around you hurt and so I avoided you until today. However, now I know what is precious to me in life after seeing the other side... I.. don't want to spend another moment without you by my side and if that means that it is only as my friend, then so be it! I wouldn't have it any other way.", he would rise up to his full height right in front of her, occupying much of her personal space as he did, "Your value to me Kanna isn't as a woman or a Kunoichi. Your real value to me is as a pillar of support in my life, one I don't want to be without.", he would look down and into her eyes as he spoke his face still calm and kind, despite that he was now extremely sore and probably shouldn't be standing.

    Wavering a little as he stood, he stopped himself from falling over by locking his knees as he regained stability, "
    Please never stop being at least my friend Kanna...", pointing towards his flak jacket laying in the room he spoke again, "Search the inner left pocket, there is something for you in there.", finally giving in as he couldn't be the strong one all the time, he let his body fall back into the bed and kept himself sitting upright to be closer to eye level with Kanna. If she searched the pocket she would find a horse brush in the Irezumi style with crystals of blood inlaid into the mahogany handle, a sentimental gift from him to her of their first mission together.



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    Post by Kannagi on Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:12 pm

    The moment Kannagi saw Genkumaru starting to stand, she used a forceful push of her hands to guide him back to the bed. "Stay. Don't move around until Sojiro says so," She declared. Kannagi made sure he was lying before he spoke to her again. His confession for once wasn't both dramatic and hopeless, rife with self shame. She listened and nodded her head. "I will be happy to stay your friend and I will continue to guide and support you. Just don't go getting yourself killed any more." She stood up straight and looked down at him, one hand still resting at his bed side. When he asked her to retrieve something for him, she assumed it would be something of value to him: perhaps it was an old photo, a pocket watch from his first caretaker, a hair pin from his first lover, or something along those lines. Kannagi bent slightly and reached into his inner pocket, pulling out something about the size of an ordinary brick.

    When the horse brush was in her hand though, she marveled at its craft. She turned it over in her hands and whispered, "So that's what you did with those crystals. Thank you. Cirilla will love a new brush!" She examined it a moment longer until Sojiro reentered the clinic. Kannagi took the brush and walked away from Genkumaru. The blue haired woman turned back to give him a smile. She was exhausted from being up all night and her eyes hurt from the lack of sleep. As Sojiro dealt with his patient, his friend, Kannagi spoke loud enough for both him and Genkumaru to hear her. "I'm going home to get some rest. I'll be back later to help you fix the place up, Sojiro. And Genkumaru is under my strict orders as a friend," She shot him a look, "To listen to all of your instructions for wellness. Farewell." The kunoichi bowed and left the clinic, looking forward to her own bed and bath, the sparkling horse brush within her grip.


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