I froze, wide-eyed, as the two figures appeared in the clearing. Wait, calm down, analyze, and they’re fighting now.
The masked Kiri nin was no one I recognized, male from their build, and ANBU, one of the nondescript masks associated with them. Which I knew from Zabuza was something that was deliberate on ANBU’s part since it meant that if you got a bunch of them together, it was hard to keep track of who was who, and thus, easy for them to surprise opponents in combat. Not that it seemed to work with this person.
The boy with long hair I didn’t recognize at all. His light complexion meant he probably didn’t come from Wind, his face was pretty narrow and his eyes angular, which could mean Rock or Lightning might be more likely. The hair threw me though. The more I thought about it, the more odd it was that despite most of the population having colors like black, brown, red and blond, that there were just people wandering around with purple hair and no one batted an eyelash.
As they fought it became clear that the boy wasn’t actually very skilled at hand to hand combat, but he was winning anyway because the ANBU was clearly injured. Still, why were either of them here? Who even was this boy and why was there a Kiri ANBU deployed this far inland?
Answers to these questions weren’t very forthcoming because they didn’t banter when they fought. Mister Purple Hair managed to throw the ANBU before doing a quick hand sign and doing a spitting jutsu that produced… was that tar?
No, that wasn’t right.
The liquid caught the ANBU in the torso and encased his body, pinning his arms to both sides as it expanded. The ANBU toppled backwards and just bounced a few times.
I nearly stood up in surprise as I stared at the ANBU encased in the strange material that was now a perfectly round sphere. He struggled against it, but clearly he wasn’t moving.
“Ha! Serves you right!” The boy walked over, grinning, and planted a foot on the encased ANBU. It didn’t sink into the former liquid at all. It was already completely solid. What in the world… No, it couldn’t be… could it?
Another figure appeared in the clearing, this one I did recognize. It was the young man who’d been with the little girl. He cased the clearing after landing. I tensed as his eyes wandered over my hiding place, but he didn’t seem to pierce the transformation before turning back to the other two.
“Is he alive?”
“Yeah,” Purple Hair replied before stepping back. “Bleeding, though. Not too badly, but I think he got a bit shaken in the skull. He wasn’t moving all that well.”
Blue Hair walked past and looked down at the man. He squinted.
“This mask…” He reached down. “I thought Chino said these were bandits.”
“They were attacking those travelers, weren’t they? Why, do you see something?” Purple replied.
“That’s a Kiri mask.” Blue Hair grimaced as he leaned forward, “This can’t be good.”
“If they’re looking to finish what they started we should just kill them.” Purple looked down. “Won’t be hard, I’ll just cover his head and he’ll stop breathing.”
“Hold on,” Blue set a hand on his companion’s shoulder, “We don’t know what’s going on.”
Leaning down, Blue reached down and pulled off the mask. I didn’t recognize who the owner was, but they looked older than Zabuza at least. Blue frowned as the man glared up at him.
“What are you doing here?” Blue knelt next to the man, who unsurprisingly said nothing. Purple reached out a foot and kicked the ball. The man let out a slight gasp of pain, but otherwise didn’t vocalize anything.
“Guess he’s not in a chatty mood. So what do you think?” Purple asked.
“I’m not sure. We might need Chino to talk things over.” Blue pointed to the ANBU’s legs, “Do his feet so he can’t kick us while we move him.”
Purple nodded and did his jutsu. Without running about and general confusion I could actually hear what he said. “Lava release: Rubber Binding.”
Was that literal?
The same black material spat from his mouth and formed around the legs. A moment later it hardened and the two of them moved to pick up the ANBU before running off into the trees. I waited a few more minutes to make sure they weren’t coming out before I dropped my jutsu. Moving across the forest I reached a hand out to a small amount of the back liquid that had been left on the floor.
It wasn’t gooey at all, having solidified in the short amount of time it was in open air, and had surrounded a few blades of grass that came up with it. Still, as I poked and prodded at it, even after a bit of hesitation chewing a bit into it, I realized that it actually had been literal.
Whoever that Purple Hair was, he had the ability to make actual freaking rubber.
Following the trail of Blue and Purple was not at all hard. I don’t know how graceful they were normally, but carrying the ANBU they basically had to burst through the leaves and brush.
Which was a good thing because Rio was taking her sweet time following me.
Apparently the short rest after the long sprint wasn’t long enough for her taste and she didn’t really want to run with me through the woods. Leaving her was an option, but we were in the middle of nowhere and while we hadn’t run into any yet it didn’t mean things like wolves and mountain lions weren’t a threat. Though it was pretty slow going, at least Rio didn’t fight me pulling her lead as we moved forward and eventually got to the outskirts of a small encampment. There were a few bedrolls, a set up tent, but no fire.
Two young men were milling about, one with short dark hair, the other with a brown top knot. They were currently standing around the rubber bound ANBU who’d just been propped up against a tree. Blue and Purple weren’t there, but from the tent came the blonde girl who’d previously spoken to Haku and she made a beeline towards the other two boys.
“He talk yet?” The girl asked.
“Nah.” Dark hair replied. “Like Nowaki said, this is probably a Kiri nin.”
The girl sighed, “Well, that’s no good. What’re you even doing here?” She leaned over the captured man. “I thought Kiri had closed borders. Why would you be out attacking caravans?”
What in the world did she… wait.
We were traveling the roads, we looked like a caravan, were we just attacked by Kiri ANBU?
“Did you have any insights?” The girl’s head shot up and faced directly to where I was in the trees.
My first instinct was to flee, but they had a prisoner who I wanted to ask questions to now too.
Also a dude who could make rubber, that was actually really interesting.
“I think so.” I spoke as I walked out, pulling Rio along. The other two guys and the ANBU were a bit startled by my appearance. Not sure why, I hadn’t exactly been under a henge this time. “What are you doing here?”
If the sound of my voice surprised him, actually seeing me flat out startled the ANBU, who started trying to break against his constraints. The girl actually put a hand on the rubber.
“Woah, what, calm down what are you…”
“Shut up you pretenders!” The ANBU spat, “Release me at once! I have a mission to fulfill.”
I blinked and looked at them, they looked as confused as I did. “A mission to do what?”
“Can it, you don’t deserve your breath you traitor! Your death was marked from the day you sought to destroy the seven families.”
The word sort of resonated in my voice. This wasn’t actually an ANBU, someone from Kiri had sent a hitman after me.
Or maybe, hitmen.
The thought occurred a little late since a few seconds later, two more ANBU jumped into the clearing.
Well that was a long break wasn’t it.
Anyway, lets talk about fanfiction, and more specifically how it relates to my posting schedule.
So Sugar Plums is a very long story for a lot of reasons, the main one being that it’s essentially a stream of consciousness sort of writing that has somehow been shaped into something resembling a coherent narrative. Which is pretty obvious when you read the first sixty paragraphs or so. Now there’s been a lot of reasons why updating has slowed down, the pandemic, unemployment, crippling depression and my undiagnosed ADHD being the main ones.
Now where do we go from here, well, I’m not certain, but I am certain of this. I’m not done with Sugar Plums, or Plum In the Dark for that matter. A Quirk in Space is a bit nebulous but I do have more ideas where that can go. I do have plans, I do have more story arcs, I do want to continue. But, my time is split, and no it’s not because of the novel I’m writing. In fact writing a novel has made me want to write this stuff more because in a weird twisted way it feeds my ADHD that working on one project immediately wants me to jump to another. I should also say that I’m reasonably sure making something I want to sale has improved my writing so ya’ll will get that as a fringe benefit even if none of you buy my novel.
For now I’m keeping the current set up, I’ll post fanfiction on my website first, than onto fanfiction.net about a week later.
I’m not posting A Quirk In Space (Alternate Ume Travels/My Hero Academia fanfiction) on fanfiction.net. If you want to read it, go to my website lynettebaconnguyen.