With his hands behind his head and a slug princess on his shoulder, Kaminari Hikaru had a certain pep in his step as they moved away from the group and to one of the different entry points. Karu was looking forward to this! This was a real chance to show off his abilities, rather than barely floundering through a written exam (he was silently hoping his sensei never saw the results of that test). This was his best chance to show the world his moves.
The rank of chūnin had never been closer! “So, we need a plan of attack. Right? And a real one, not like what we usually do where, Mori is like ‘hey do we have a plan,’ and then I’m like ‘yeah, my plan is to attack, and then I use the Kaminari Wind Tunnel Burst Technique. Something with more clarity than that.” Karu stretched his hands up from behind his head and into the air, leaning side to side to get his blood pumping. “I’m itchin’ for a fight. Don’t tell me you guys want to be all tactical, right? That’d be so boring…”
“We can call it something different, if it would make you feel better,” Mori suggested drily. It was often two versus one in the department of not-rushing-off-and-getting-killed, and as the one on the losing side of this debate most often, he wanted to get his piece in first. “I vote for strategically making our way through this forest and fighting only the teams we need to get that other scroll. We want to come first place, right?”‘
With a skip to her step, Iza piped up to her fellow teammates, “Soooo like strategically kickin’ ass?” the wide, offset grin should point to more hazardous plans than just ‘kickin’ ass’ but who were any of them to question the half baked ideas that floated around in Izayoi’s head. If anything at all. “Who do you boys think the best team to knock out is gonna be? Hmm?”
“I talked to this guy, before the written exam… he seemed pretty strong. I didn’t fight him, but I wish I had! Maybe we can find him in there… then, of course, there are a few squads from Konoha worth looking out for. I know there’s Ashikaga guy — he blew through that heavy door at the center… then I think the Senju boy and Jiren were about to fight. It’s gonna be a war in there! Let’s just send it and beat the first group we found! Why take it slow?” He paused, and thoughtfully looked between the two of his teammates. For the briefest of moments, it seemed like Karu might have something important to say, something worthy of the team leader role he’d bestowed upon himself — without the insight of either of them. It seemed like Karu was about to step it up and be the man his mother hoped he could be, and then… he spoke.
“Maybe if we’re the first ones to the tower, there’ll be a huge celebratory feast!”
Mori’s hands were shoved in his pockets, rummaging around at the contents – scraps of paper he’d transferred fūinjutsu during the written exam and a few crumpled (but serviceable) sealing tags. He didn’t speak much at the question of which teams were strong, because any number of their graduating cohort would be a challenge, and a fight between them could go either way.
“We should find that out, Karu,” he encouraged. Quite frankly doing things fast was something that could be worked with; doing things with the usual Kaminari flair and flash, on the other hand, was antithetical to what he thought a ninja ought to be. “But we do need plans. What to do if we get separated, to defend against enemy infiltration, retreat plans… To make ‘strategically beating their–’ you know, easier.”
Iza couldn't help but roll her eyes before twirling around in her spot, eventually falling on her back and enjoying the sight of the leaves rustling in the breeze somewhere above them. "Easy is boring and you know it, Mori. Besides, I didn't get to actually fight nothing worth nothing before the written test…" She puffed her cheeks as she pouted thinking about the potential waste of time spent fighting nobodies earlier.
She had to admit though, both of her teammates weren't entirely wrong in their ideas for how the next portion of the test should be played out. Yes, some kind of plan was needed, but she also just wanted to do something. When the thought of Katsumi sensei berating her even more crossed her mind she couldn't resist gritting her teeth and snapping into a sitting position. "Just… ugh, sorry Karu, Imma hafta side with Mor. We need some kind of plan. I'm not gonna be the reason Katsu sensei chews us out. Not this time," Iza would be remiss if she said it wasn't time to start using Karu's title to their advantage.
"How's this, Mori and I focus on the initial attack and detaining of the team and you can land the finishing touches."
“That’s ridiculous, why would I do that? I don’t wanna land the finishing blows, I wanna be the hero of the day! This is my chance to come into my own, and earn my last name! Or… something like that anyway… look, the point is, if i’m just comin’ in to finish ‘em off, then nobody’s ever gonna run on sight from me, they’ll just run from you guys! That doesn’t work, y’know.” Karu protested, just a little bit away from stamping his foot, in a childish tantrum, but he held back. A ninja doesn’t throw tantrums. He had to make his dad proud! His mom proud! And most of all, he needed to show his older brother how strong he’d gotten under Katsumi-sensei’s tutelage. For some reason, Karu ranked that the highest; it most likely had something to do with the rivalries some of the Konoha jonin seemed to have… well, except for Samuru-sensei, who seemed less and less like he should really be a sensei. In fact, Karu was fairly certain he’d never seen or heard of Samuru doing anything nearly cool enough to be a sensei!
But, that wasn’t the point. The point then and there was simple: Karu didn’t want to be babied. “I think you’ll find that I’m the one holding the scroll —” Karu waved the team’s Earth scroll around in front of his teammates. Having claimed he was the team captain, Karu was the one that had been handed the scroll. To Karu’s neverending surprise, neither of his teammates had spoken up when he’d staked the claim… Maybe they do believe in me! “— so I should have some say in what we do! I think we should split up, and do some scouting. We can have a password to make sure we’re not trying to infiltrate the group… hey, when did we get inside the forest?”
Looking around himself, Karu found that they had indeed entered the Forest of Death.
There was no stopping their ‘team captain’ when he was like this, so Mori silently followed without protest – shooting only a worried glance at Iza and a half-shrug at Karu’s form ahead of them.
“One of Katsumi-sensei’s lessons, perhaps?” Mori asked, scratching a low-lying branch with an errant swipe of his kunai as they passed. Already the trees were blending into one another, indistinguishable in the low light from the canopy above, so a few man-made landmarks could not hurt. “There are a few poetic ones in the book, which I know you guys have for sure read… and no-one else will have.”
And then, in the knowledge that at least one of them hadn’t, he continued, “‘Hear the reeds speak / they tell when to clasp and loose / the sacred arrow.’”
Iza grumbled lowly as she walked in step with Mori, catching his side glance and glaring at the back of their 'fearless leader's' head. If it came down to it she would restrain him and she would hope that Mori would assist. Something for her to run by him when she got the chance.
Another roll of her eyes at the mention of Katsumi-sensei and her extensive reading list she thrust on them; as a form of "training". "Yeah, that would work. It's not like anyone would gather what it is. Probably think it's just some death pack poem or something…" While Mori was busy cutting into branches on his side of the makeshift path they were creating she opted to do the same.
"Honestly think splitting up is dumb, but whatever… if we need to regroup, because we will, just follow Karu's shouts," She smirked at the both of them before taking off to the higher branches of the surrounding trees leaving the two of them to their own devices.
“Iza! We’ll meet right back here at night!” Karu shouted after Iza as she hopped into the trees, and in the same breath he threw a kunai, sticking it into the tree and marking their place. If they were going to hunt and explore the forest, then it was important that they had a home base… and this seemed just as good as any. Their craziest adventures wouldn’t be on the first day, right? That would be ridiculous. “Mori, how long can the princess be out? I’ll bring her back tonight!” Karu didn’t even wait for an answer before he was gone, flying into the trees.
Down on the forest floor and suddenly very, very alone, Mori pinched the bridge of his nose and drew his jacket closer to him. The ebb and flow of his connection to Princess Nurunuru tickled, like he was stuck by a leech, but he could feel it stretching away to the east as Karu carried her away. At least he would be able to keep Karu alive through chakra infusions if he got into the thick of it.
Knowing full well that neither Iza nor Karu were close enough to hear him ‘shout’ (when it would only ever reach the volume of a moderate drone), he called after them, “This wasn’t what I meant!” A quick hop up onto the nearest branch, and it wasn’t even a question who he was going to follow after – there was no way he could leave Iza alone out there.