Fujibayashi Nagato slammed her hands down on the planning table, a map of Wakigami castle rolled out before her. "Didn't we have any better maps of this place?" she asked, looking up past her bangs at the man standing opposite her, "This is barely half-complete." "The Hashinara Clan has some secrets," Tsukuda Katsuo answered. He stared into the distance, idly running his fingers across a scar on his arm, "Otherwise they wouldn't need people like us." "Yes, obviously. We'll work with what we have. You remember the mission, right? Sanosuke-sama wants us to deal with the Oda Tea Master, Sen no Rikyu. She's been overstepping her bounds here recently. He must want it done secretly, or else-" "Else he wouldn't have asked us. Right, I've got it Fujibayashi-sama," Nagato frowned. She was usually able to keep her cool in all situations, even when wounded, or during a stressful mission, but something about her subordinate always managed to get under her skin. "I don't pay you to finish my sentences, Katsuo. Anyway, didn't I ask you to call me Nagato?" "Of course not, Nagato-sama. You pay me for my good looks," the other responded, his face and tone completely deadpan. Furrowing her brow at the odd comment, Nagato decided to let this one pass and turned back to the map, placing a finger down on one of the guest rooms that made up the majority of the castle's second floor. "Sen no Rikyu's quarters are here. We don't know much about her except that she's a magician, probably a powerful one," she paused, looking up again to make sure the other ninja was still paying attention. "She's also pretty good at making tea. We know that," he stated, still staring somewhere into the middle distance. Nagato sighed, "Yes, Katsuo, we also know that. That probably won't be relevant on this mission." She could feel her annoyance starting to slip away, the thrill of planning a strike like this washing through her and setting her heart to beating faster. "We'll use a simple decoy tactic. You'll come in through the window, make as if to strike her, then use your substitution technique to avoid whatever counterattack she throws your way," Nagato illustrated her instructions with short, swift motions of her finger on the paper. To her satisfaction, Katsuo seemed to be paying attention now, his eyes focused on the map and her gestures, "Meanwhile, I'll be outside the door. We'll make sure it's unlocked beforehand of course. I'll sneak in behind her and incapacitate her. Then, we'll put her into the sack and meet up with Fujino-san here ," she jabbed at a junction just outside the room to punctuate the sentence, "and have her teleport us to the Date Clan Headquarters." "She knows where that is?" "She will. I've asked her to study up on it," Nagato waited a moment, but Katsuo didn't seem forthcoming with any other comments, "Right. We'll strike just after sundown, once it's gotten dark." "It's not likely to be that easy. It's hard to tell what spellcasters will do when you put them in a corner," Katsuo cautioned Nagato merely grinned, already relishing the prospect of the mission. This was far better than listening to the whining of the ninja clan heads back in Iga Province. She cracked her knuckles. "We'll adapt. That's the fun part."
Nagato waited outside the door, cloaked in the shadows. Stealth had always come fairly easy to her. Something about being able to dampen her presence, to will other people not to notice her; somehow it worked, and she was rarely spotted when she didn't want to be. Now she waited, similarly hidden, for Katsuo to launch his assault. The Tea Master inside would be stupid not to have some sort of defenses set up, behind enemy lines as she was, and it was Nagato's hope that the other ninja would activate these before she went in for the capture itself. Not that she didn't care about Katsuo's safety. As annoying as he could be, he was a skilled and loyal ninja, and had more tricks and techniques than Nagato could ever hope to remember. He also had an uncanny way of staying alive in the worst of circumstances, as evidenced by the many scars that run up his arms and across his face. A wise commander makes use of her subordinates' abilities, and so she applied this strange survivability of his whenever it seemed appropriate. As if to punctuate her thoughts, there was a crash from the room, a short gasp, and the thudding as of several kunai embedding themselves in the tatami. Nagato held back a curse. She had told him not to use any sort of lethal force. A good ninja can kill their target, but a better ninja can keep them alive for as long as is needed. Without hesitating another moment, she twirled and kicked the sliding door open in one swift, silent motion. The portal rolled back on previously-oiled hinges, not making a sound; or, at least, not enough of one for Sen no Rikyu to notice against the situation that now dominated her room. Katsuo stood next to the open window, broken splinters of woodwork scattered around from where he made his entrance, warily watching Sen no Rikyu in the center of the room. The Tea Master, for her part, was facing the intruder with her back toward Nagato. From her position at the door, she could see some sort of deep green, liquid barrier hovering in the air between the two. Several kunai stuck from it, now losing their momentum and floating harmlessly into the bubbling mass. Presumably what she had heard before was the impact of the throwing weapons hitting the shield. Nagato breathed a sigh of relief that it hadn't been the sound of them thudding into Sen no Rikyu's flesh. Still remaining as silent as she could, Nagato slipped swiftly up to the Tea Master's back. What she lacked in technique, she more than made up for in speed. Sen no Rikyu had no chance to react as Nagato inserted one arm in front of her neck, bringing it backward in a twist that would wrench her head to the side; ideally just enough to incapacitate but not kill. Much to her surprise, rather than the pressure of flesh against flesh, the ninja met with nothing, and stumbled forward, her momentum thrown completely off by the lack of resistance. It took Nagato a moment to regain her bearings, and she quickly realized that she now stood between the bubbling liquid shield and Rikyu, who was looking at her with an expression of consternation. Strange as it was, it seemed as though she had stumbled straight through the Tea Master without any sort of impact. That meant either that there was weird magic afoot or that she was a... She didn't even want to think the word, but it stuck in Nagato's mind like a red-hot needle. Sen no Rikyu was a ghost .