Mission: Capture the Princess [Private]
Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: Mission: Capture the Princess [Private] Tue 07 Apr 2015, 6:41 am|| |
• Capture the Princess •
Radiant beams of sunlight beat down relentlessly from the heavens, bathing all those that had thought to venture out during this cloudless day. The street was packed with a crowd of civilians going about their morning business. Customers, merchants, tourists - the people on the streets could be crudely categorized in this manner. This settlement, while a considerable distance from the much larger Konoha, was nonetheless a popular stopover for travelers. All sorts of people could be seen here, and it seemed that very few similarities could be found to connect them.
Well, that was, strictly speaking, an entirely specious statement. The townsfolk shared a great many similarities, and at the moment, there was one connection that could be taken particular notice of. Standing behind a handrail atop a four-story building, Masquerade diligently surveyed the gathering of people below him. The assembly consisted primarily of young adults, from teenagers to men and women in their late twenties. Even from his elevated position, Masquerade could clearly hear the thrilled chatter originating from the gathering.
The people’s euphoric mannerisms were triggered by the presence of a certain individual - one who stood at the doorway of what was, unmistakably, a theatre. A young girl, probably seventeen years old at best, was the object of their glee. A pair of competent-looking bodyguards were acting as boundary between the female and the excited crowd. Despite the rather enthusiastic mannerisms of the surrounding people, the girl did not seem unnerved by their actions. As a matter of fact, she was all smiles and laughter.
A whistling gust of wind assaulted the Nukenin’s attire, causing the loose edges to billow momentarily. His masked face titled to the side fractionally as he continued to silently observe the scene below. The exhilarated crowd was comprised of (arguably) the most obsessive kind of humans - fans. These folks were the admirers of the young girl before them. The girl’s name? Akiyama Anri, a famous actress. The celebrity had a strong following, either because she was good at what she did, or because she was attractive; or possibly both. Precisely what made her so popular with the
hormonal youths of today was not very important to Masquerade. To someone culturally ignorant as he, the actress was not worth his attention. The Nukenin had only fixed his sights on the actress right now because of a single, unethical source of motivation.
“Capture the princess” - that was what the Nukenin had been asked to do. A metaphoric princess, as it turned out. A couple of days ago, Masquerade had heard of two separate kidnapping requests put up by two unrelated people, and he had obviously chosen the client that offered the larger reward for this celebrity’s capture. The selected employer had been as rapturous as the actress’ fans when he had assigned Masquerade this task. Clearly, he was also an avid admirer of this Akiyama Anri. That much had been become obvious when the client had straight up called her a princess, and insisted (more like commanded) that Masquerade not inflict any physical harm to her - particularly her face. “She needs to be in mint condition”, he had said. Orders like that only made the Nukenin’s job harder; but alas, the customer’s provisos had to be obeyed, since he was the one offering the monetary rewards. It also established the pecking order in these kinds of situations.
Sighing in vexation, Masquerade crossed his arms over his chest and lifted his gaze from the actress and her fans. This was not the first time he was laying eyes on his target; he had actually been tailing her for almost two days now. Two long, tedious days that had consisted of nothing more than stalking and observing. Anri, along with a crew of other performers, were on a tour to promote a play. Or something like that. Akiyama Anri was the star of the show, and when she was not spending hours practicing for the performance with her colleagues, she was out mingling with the townsfolk.
In other words, she was always in another person’s presence - be it a fan, a coworker, or a random stranger. Her constant company with others made it difficult for the Nukenin to find a moment to covertly apprehend her. Well, he could just try and abduct her right in front of several witnesses, but he reasoned that such conspicuity would not be the best way to complete this assignment. Despite his client not saying so explicitly, Masquerade was determined not to draw attention to the actress’ abduction, lest it result in someone trying to impede him. Besides, an overt kidnapping was not very ninja-like.
Additionally, the bodyguards had to be taken into account. The shinobi had been frustrated when he discovered that the actress was never seen without a group of able-bodied sentries. As many as five watchful men and/or women tended to accompany Anri wherever she went. The guards were apparently trying to keep her safe from something, but Masquerade could not fathom what this potential threat was supposed to be. Some of the crazier fans, perhaps? Or was it actually so common for the actress to have people like Masquerade scheming to abduct her? Was it so common that she needed be under constant supervision? Even someone as pessimistic as Masquerade was stupefied by the amount of effort being put into protecting this girl.
The clamorous chatter of the fans was interrupted by the appearance of a middle-aged man with orange hair. Masquerade recognized him to be the stage director, and one of the many people who could usually be seen with Anri. The director, Matsuba, addressed the crowd, going on about how Anri had some business to attend to, how she had to be left alone, but she would be signing autographs at three o’clock at her hotel… Blah blah blah. Masquerade had tuned himself out during the announcement, only keeping his visual senses focused. Eventually, with a good deal of moaning and pouting, the fans slowly scattered and left the actress alone to her business. With the director at her side and two intimidating men behind her, the brunette set off down the street.
Great. Back to stalking.
Sighing in exasperation yet again, Masquerade made his way down to ground level, utilizing the various plumbing pipes and window ledges on the building’s walls to assist in his descent. Once he was in an alley behind the building and out of sight of the general public, he made use of a simple Henge to alter his appearance to something a bit more… commonplace. Black hair, black eyes, black clothes - he looked the textbook definition of bland and ordinary. No one would find any reason to look at him twice - that was an undisputable fact. Stuffing his hands into his trouser pockets, the disguised shinobi stepped out into the street and merged into the crowd. Whilst trying to look as discreet and unimportant as possible, he tailed the actress and her companions. One might wonder why Masquerade did not simply follow them from the rooftops; his answer would be that a lone figure on the roofs was easier to spot than as a common face in a thick cluster of people.
Plus, this way he could remain in earshot of his prey; this was fortunate, since he was thus able to hear the conversation taking place between Matsuba and Anri.
“- for a few hours,” the orange-haired director was saying. “I have a meeting to attend with some sponsors over in Shukuba Town. But I should be back before your autograph signing ends.” Matsuba gave the shorter and younger girl a look that was reminiscent of a mother’s when she was telling her kids about curfew. He even wagged his finger sternly at her. “In the meantime, I want you to be careful, and stick with the guards. Don’t go wandering off. Okay, Anri-chan?”
Anri pouted visibly at her superior’s austere tone. “Aww… Alright, fine. But, Matsuba-san, do the guards have to go everywhere with me? It’s kind of ridiculous, if you ask me. I mean, don’t you think we’re being a little overdramatic?”
Oh, you most certainly are, the transformed shinobi thought in agreement. He had stopped a safe distance away from the now stationary party, and was feigning interest toward a stack of magazines. Upon hearing the director’s words, the Nukenin was once again bewildered by their security precautions. If he had not been confident that his presence had gone unnoticed thus far, Masquerade might have suspected that the reason this touring cast was so cautious was because they knew of his plans to abduct the star of the show.
Matsuba shook his head in disagreement. “It’s for your own safety, Anri-chan. I don’t have to remind you of what happened in Yu no Kuni, right? None of us want a repeat of that. So please, just bear with it for now.” He patted the girl’s head in an obvious display of affection, eliciting an equally friendly smile from her. The gesture also served as a signal for his departure, for Matsuba left the party following a quick, verbal farewell, and a final reminder for the girl to be responsible. Following the director’s exit, Anri then continued her stroll through the town, with her two bodyguards in tow.
Looking up from the magazine article he had been pretending to read (something controversial about socks), Masquerade pondered on the situation at hand. Even with the director gone and the girl seemingly resolved to spend her time wandering the town’s streets, Masquerade did not expect any opening to arise for a successful kidnapping. At this rate, the actress’ autograph session would begin before he managed to capture her; and once that event started, the Nukenin knew that his chances would be limited even further. All those clingy fans, and the additional security, and the rest of cast… a furtive abduction would be nigh impossible with so many people gathered in one location.
No… There was no point in waiting for a suitable moment to capture his target. He had to force an opportunity to occur. Luckily, Masquerade had an idea for how he might be able to do that.
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Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: Re: Mission: Capture the Princess [Private] Thu 09 Apr 2015, 6:07 am|| |
Ducking into an alley as surreptitiously as he was able to (which was pretty darn surreptitiously), Masquerade dropped the disguise he had crafted, and immediately replaced it with another. Now, his six foot frame had shrunk down to a meager three feet. His face was younger, dirtier, and possibly even less expressive than his masked visage. A head of unkempt, pale blonde hair fell around the small face, stained with specks of dirt, grime, and other manner of filth. Large, slate gray eyes stared vacantly from behind the messy bangs hanging before his face, holding no sentience in their depths; the dark circles underneath added a further lifeless look to the prepubescent face. The knee-length cloak and hat he wore had more holes in them than a colander, and both were coated in the same mucky stains as the rest of his emaciated, pale-skinned body. Indeed, he looked like a vagrant that had no knowledge of good hygiene.
The child looked down at his body, examining his overall appearance. Two boney, veiny hands were rubbed together in apparent satisfaction, but the soulless face did not alter in the slightest. Now resembling the unsanitary hobo that he been as a youngster, a barefooted Masquerade scurried out of the alley and back onto the street. Being a midget with the practiced agility of an experienced ninja, his presence went completely unnoticed by the much taller folk. A few did grimace in disgust when they momentarily looked his way, but no one paid him any actual mind; which was just what the disguised shinobi had been hoping for. This way, he could execute his plan without hindrance.
Three more steps, and he “accidently” ran into the white dress of the actress. The unexpected collision startled her, for she had not seen the munchkin approaching (and as far as she knew, he had not seen her either). The little figure had already darted past her after the bump. And he did so with such quickness and quietness that neither Anri, nor her guards, had properly comprehended what happened. Therefore, it took a few seconds for the actress to realize that the purse she had been clutching had vanished from her hand, and an instinctive yelp of surprise came from her following this discovery.
“Wha-! My purse! It’s gone!”
“Over there!” As it turned out, one of the bodyguards had been paying attention. This man, distinguished mostly because of his sunglasses, was pointing at the tiny figure fleeing into an alley. Before his charge could give any orders, the guard in question had already darted off after the thief. Not a moment later, his compatriot followed suit, with Anri right behind him. The first bodyguard was shouting at the thief to stop, while the other two were telling him to stop. Neither command was obeyed, so all three of the older people ended up pursuing the child off the street and into the narrow alleyway.
If he had not been in the middle of a chase, Masquerade would have steepled his fingers together and heartily declared “Just as planned!”. Probably with an evil chuckle, too.
He resisted such melodramatic tendencies, instead dropping the snatched purse after he turned a corner and vanished from his pursuers’ sight. No sooner had he released the bag than he was hopping up the side of the building to a higher vantage point. He had plenty of time to situate himself comfortably on a windowsill, and undo his transformation. Nimbly perched several meters above the deposited purse, the Nukenin patiently waited for the three to catch up; and catch up, they did. In a matter of seconds, the sunglasses bodyguard was appearing round the corner, and upon spotting the discarded purse, he came to a halt before it. Just as he was bending down to pick it up, he was joined by his colleague, who announced his presence with a scolding remark and a light smack to the back of his friend’s head. It took Anri a little longer to show, possibly due to her being a slower runner than her fitter sentries.
By this time, the pair of guards had already begun arguing over the first’s actions, and it was only after the actress intervened that the dispute was put to rest. With the theft prevented (not that any of them had had a hand in doing so), the guards and their charge turned around to make their way out of the alley. Anri was leading the way, and her associates were walking behind her - which meant that she did not see the figure drop from above the bodyguards. Like the world’s biggest and ugliest bird, Masquerade swooped down onto his targets, one hand stretching outwards to clasp the back of each male’s head, prior to using the momentum of his descent to forcibly smash their faces into the ground. The impact knocked the guards out right away; either they were frailer than expected, or the force of the collision had been stronger than it looked. They would probably be unconscious for a few minutes at most - unless the shinobi had inadvertently given them a severe concussion, in which case, they would be out for much longer.
In any case, both figures remained stationary on the ground, and Masquerade was crouched between their prone figures, a hand still wrapped over each of their skulls. As he slowly looked up from his handiwork, his eyes met those of his target. She had not seen the guards being knocked out, but she had certainly heard their abruptly silenced exclamations. Hence, she had stopped and turned around just in time to return the gaze of masked man kneeling behind her. And surprise, surprise: she looked downright freaked out by his sudden entrance. Masquerade couldn’t blame her. He definitely would have been disturbed by the sight of a grown man in a mask seemingly fondling the heads of two unconscious adults…
Well, maybe that wasn’t the reason why Anri looked so unnerved.
Wordlessly, Masquerade rose to his feet and took a step closer to his prey, only to force her to (predictably) back away in fear. He knew she was about to make a run for it, and he thus acted promptly to obstruct any plans for escape. Lazily, he dug his hand into his weapons pouch, and casually flung a kunai at the girl. She had just started to turn around to run away, but she dropped to her knees as the projectile dug deep into her thigh. The wound was obviously not fatal, but as the shinobi had hoped, handling pain was not something that his prey was experienced with. Even a Genin her age would not be hindered by such a simple attack; but this girl was just a civilian. Injury was not as common in her life as it was in a shinobi’s. Hence why she had been subdued with laughable ease.
Masquerade had no scruples with “scratching up” his target a bit, even if he had been told not to. Technically, the client only wanted Anri in “mint condition” when she was brought to him. As long as he healed any injury he inflicted on the girl before delivering her, his employer should not have any reason to accuse the Nukenin of disobeying orders.
Along with having a low resistance towards pain, the girl also seemed to lack basic survival instincts. Surprisingly, no adrenaline rush - no “fight or flight” instincts - kicked in as Masquerade approached her. She simply sat there on the ground, cradling her stabbed leg, watching the purple figure with widened eyes of fear. Her pathetic trembling actually caused him to pause for a nanosecond in pity, though his body language remained unreadable.
“What’s wrong? Having second thoughts?” asked the Shichibi.
Hardly, he answered unwaveringly. He did hesitate to take another step forward, however. But that was not because of cold feet either. A whistling in the air had caught his attention, and his gaze shot downwards to take note of the kunai that had just dug into the ground at his feet. The weapon had not been aimed at him - that much was clear. The more important fact, however, was that there was an explosive tag tied to the thrown kunai.
Instinct compelled him to leap back from the projectile, with an arm raised before his face as a makeshift shield. He had moved back not a moment too soon: the tag detonated right as he cleared its immediate blast radius. Still, he was close enough for the noise to assault his ears, and his face scrunched up as the unpleasant ringing dominated his thoughts. Only briefly, though, for he was soon looking over his shielding arm at the origin of the attack. A snarl was hidden behind the mask’s smile, but his general displeasure was discernable nonetheless. Obscured eyes narrowed, Masquerade glared at the individual standing protectively between him and the young actress. It was, unmistakably, a shinobi.
Every. Single. Time, the Nukenin grumbled.
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