About a month later…
Everyone but Fudini meets at the fountain as usual for the morning mission briefing. Kam has taken to wearing a metal plate over his face. Sensei walks up and takes her headphones off as usual, but this time is being followed by the head of the Nekodama clan and a young Nekodama female who was in the next graduating class. Sensei introduces her team to Kenta (the clan head) and Mizuki, who apparently has been rushed through the Academy and given an early graduation. She then says that Kenta wanted to test her team’s ability since his little cousin was going to be joining them, so she’s going to check on Fudini while Kenta handles today’s training mission.
After Mina leaves, Kenta says that he wants to give the team a basic test as an opportunity to see how Mizuki will fit in the group’s teamwork. He’s hidden ten little toy mice around the village for them to find, and offers a orange cloth-filled-with-sawdust mouse toy as a sample when Tajomaru asks what they look like. Kenta sits down on the fountain and waits to see how everyone does.
Tajo offers the sample to Tanuki, who chatters something and runs over to a nearby dumpster. There’s a bright orange-and-yellow striped mouse taped down by fake exploding tags on the top of the dumpster! Tajo grabs it, and the tags explode into a cloud of that turns Tajo and his clothing a bright shade of pink.
Li takes to the rooftops for a different vantage point; Mizuki transforms into a grey housecat and starts looking for any that may be in a real mousehole; Kam creates nine clones that scatter to search the widest area possible while he himself stays at the fountain to coordinate everyone; Tajomaru and his animals also run off to hunt.
One of Kam’s clones finds a bright yellow mouse taped to a wall about 10 feet off the ground; he runs up the wall and pulls it off, narrowly dodging a fishing net that is thrown at him. He takes the mouse back to Kam at the fountain before rejoining the search.
Li spots a yellow-and-green striped mouse near Mizuki. He calls out to her and she sees that it’s caught by the tail in a mousetrap. Not noticing any traps, she turns human again and calls Tajo over to investigate it. Tajo knocks the mousetrap and mouse a few feet away with his staff…and a bunch of needles shoot out, hitting Tajo and Mizuki each with two needles.
(Unbeknownst to everyone else—a Kam-clone finds a mouse toy tied to a bush. He unties it, notices a note tied to it as well that says, “remember kids, drugs can do weird things to you!” and promptly poofs, dropping the toy and the note.)
A few minutes later, Li spots that same fallen mouse toy and calls Tajo over. Tajo picks up the toy and ignores the note. The mouse starts singing a happy, perky, bubbly song (that only Tajo hears) about how delicious mice are and how they make yummy snacks. Tajo gets mad and starts punching the mouse, which has no noticeable effect. Tajo keeps punching the mouse intermittently.
Another Kam-clone finds a blue mouse down an alleyway with a little paper speech bubble taped to it that reads “feed me”. He tries pushing some cheese where the toy’s mouth would be, but only succeeds in knocking it over…and is hit in the back of the head by a wad of cheescloth that smells like a horrible mix of chloroform and limburger. He takes the mouse back to Kam at the fountain and poofs, adding the scent of flower petals to the strange mix of odors. Kam makes a replacement clone and sends it to take the blue mouse to Tajo before it starts searching again.
Asking around at a businessplace near the forest, Mizuki is told that Kenta left a cat statue there recently. She finds a small statue with a blue-and-purple striped toy mouse stuffed down its throat. She grabs a stick and tries to pry the mouse out, but the statue bites down, breaking the stick! After it opens its mouth again, she puts a kunai between its jaws vertically, keeping it from closing, and is just able to slowly work the mouse out . She takes the mouse back to the fountain, and Kam sends it via clone to Tajo.
Tajomaru, not finding any mice himself recently, quickly runs down the Nekodama twins from his graduating class, and tells them that he’s supposed to be hiding some mice for Kenta to find. He asks if they’ve played similar games with Kenta before and might know where he tends to hide things, so that Tajo can avoid using those spots. The twins give Tajo about 8 possiblities, five of which he’s already checked. Tajomaru thanks the twins and goes on to check the other spots.
Another Kam-clone finds a red purple-and-red striped mouse tied to the handle of an umbrella, sitting open on the ground in another alley. After looking around, he manages to spot a bucket sitting on the roof of the nearest building, above the umbrella. He runs up, verifies that the bucket just has water in it, and then takes the bucket back down so it won’t fall on him. He then takes the umbrella and mouse, eventually getting the mouse to Tajomaru.
Li spots a red mouse up in a tree, at the base of a branch, tied with ninja wire to that branch. He jumps over to the tree, cuts the wires and grabs the mouse… and is knocked out by some sleeping powder. After a minute or so, Tajomaru realizes that he hasn’t heard any advice from Lin in a while. He sends out Youshun to search, and finds Li unconscious at the base of a tree. He wakes Li up, and gets the eighth mouse from him.
A Kam-clone searching in the forest finds a red-and-orange striped mouse taped up to a tree trunk with several fake exploding tags. He hides off to the side, and then practices his chakra-lamp-puppetry to cut the tags with a kunai. When the tags break, a set of bola are thrown in Kam’s general direction, but not close enough to catch him. He recovers the mouse and takes it back to Tajo, who goes back to the fountain to wait for the last mouse to be found.
Li, still somewhat out of it from the sleeping gas, notices a old grey toy mouse in a sewer grate. He calls a Kam-clone over for assistance, and together they are able to recover the icky toy. They bring it to Kenta and ask if he hid that one also. Kenta isn’t cure who hid it or when, or if it was thrown out or lost rather than being hidden, but it’s not one of the ones he set out for this team to recover. Tajomaru, while waiting for the last mouse to be found, is trying to clean the pink dye from himself in the fountain, and has started singing snatches of songs about mice being tasty. He takes occasional breaks to punch the blue mouse angrily, and refuses (also angrily) to say anything useful when questioned about this behavior.
Finally, out at the war memorial in the forest, Mizuki (in panther form) tracks Kenta’s scent to a little shrine with food and lit incense sticks, and a orange toy mouse with a bell on its tail is in the center of that display. The shrine is in honor of Nekodama Isamu and the others who have given their lives for the village. Suspicious although she doesn’t notice any traps, Mizuki throws some pebbles at the mouse from a distance, knocking it over. When nothing happens, she pokes at it with a stick. When still nothing happens, she turns back into a panther, grabs the mouse in her mouth, and runs back to the fountain with it.
Once Mizuki brings back the final mouse, Kenta collects them all and congratulates the group on their hard work. When handed the icky grey mouse as part of the collection, he picks it out and puts it on the wall around the fountain. He then asks the team to take good care of his clanmate, and leaves just at about the time that Sensei comes back to officially end the training for the day.
[ 1 CP all! ]