Theme: July challenge, seven times ten'
Notes: This is set in the universe of Mockingbird, where Tenten's father is a retired ANBU, and her grandfather is an industrialist
"Blah" means dialogue spoken in the language of Yong.
We blast out the rock an' we shovel the mud
We make 'em good roads an' -- they roll down the khud
A group of three people stood in silence. There were two men – one fairly young, the other in his late forties, both in very good shape for their ages - and a young girl. All three shared enough physical similarities, particularly marked in their amber eyes, to mark their shared blood. A small cadre of bodyguards – not active shinobi, but either well-trained armsmen or retired but still capable ninja, all of the same Yong ethnicity of the three amber-eyed figures – stood at discreet distances behind them, fanned out in standard protective detail. The oldest man possessed enough wealth to make kidnapping and/or blackmail a real, everyday possibility – and the two with him were his heirs.
Of course, those two were less likely to be kidnapped than most wealthy Yong.
They stood in front of a large cleared site, filled with piles of rubble. The air was dusty and smelled of stone and earth and a faint overlay of smoke. Jagged pieces of concrete, large as a tall man and wider than a dining-room table, were scattered all over the area like the fallen toys of some giant ogre-child. Smaller, pebbly pieces of building material were everywhere underfoot, crunching when you walked on it. Splintery-ended wooden rafters stuck up here and there, blackened by fire, but most of the wood had been flash-burned into ash. It looked like the end result of a very determined assault by artillery.
Yesterday it had been a building.
"Geseki, byung shin geseki – and all the gods laughing, no doubt," the younger man swore to himself, reverting to his childhood tongue as he usually did when distressed. "I cannot believe... this...this. Tien!" he shouted at his daughter, who swallowed nervously.
Her father never used her real name, forsaking the more affectionate nickname he had given her, unless he was very angry.
"What in the eight cold hells possessed you to such…such arrant stupidity!"
The older man – Jian's father, Tien's grandfather – laid a calming hand on his son's shoulder. "Calm yourself, boy. And do not use profanity in front of my granddaughter," he warned, eyes narrowing in well-brought-up affront. He turned his gaze back on the demolished building. "The building was scheduled for demolition, in any case. Tenten may have just preserved me the fee I would have paid the demolition crew."
"That is not the primary concern in this," Jian snapped back, still agitated. "The kernel of the matter is that my daughter apparently had access to – and used – enough explosives to destroy a building! Tien! What have I said concerning the usage of explosive tags? Oh, do not bother to dissemble," he said, waving his hand, as Tenten's eyes widened. "It is apparent enough what you employed in this affair. In the future, if you wish to disguise the usage of shinobi explosion tags, be sure and start slower-burning fires to contribute to the destruction. The texture of flash-burned ash is much too distinctive. Also, arrange matters so that the maximum destructive radius of the tags is not used; they are too efficient."
Jian seemed to snap back to himself and ended the lecture, which his daughter had been eagerly taking in. "Answer me!"
"You said, to identify the weak points of the structure and then destroy them in a cascade pattern so that each explosion would substantially weaken…" Tenten recited, deliberately sticking to Nippon.
"Not that!" Jian said angrily, but could not help a twitch of his mouth. He was well aware that he was too fond of his daughter; that she could charm him out of very well-deserved rages when he really ought to stay angry at the little imp – but, he thought, looking at Tenten's carefully blank face with the dancing amber eyes, who could blame him? "I told you that you were not to remove any explosive tags from the armory except with my express permission!"
"But I didn't, daddy," Tenten told him. "I made them myself. So I didn't disobey you, you see."
Jian and his father gaped at her self-assuredly casual statement. "You…you made them?" her grandfather asked. "When did you learn this skill, granddaughter?"
"I watched Tae-jun make explosive tags in the workshop last week," Tenten said humbly, ducking her head, and using the personal pronoun that translated as "I, who did not give you notice," – she knew that when she spoke High Yong it pleased her grandfather. "Tae-jun graciously agreed to teach this one the ways of making it." She also knew that her grandfather, a craftsman at his heart, was pleased when Tenten showed skill in that area. Sure enough, she peeked through her eyelashes to see her grandfather smiling broadly.
"Last week? You learned this last week? And then you…how many points did you identify?" Jian asked.
"Ten points, daddy."
"Ten points…so, you must have used…around seven, eight tags per point?" Jian estimated, his eye roving over the destruction with practiced analytical skills.
"Seven," Tenten confirmed, nodding her head.
"So, seven times ten equals…You made seventy tags? On your own?" Jian couldn't help it and finally broke into a wide grin. "You little fire-dragon."
"And look, she dropped it right into its own footprint," Jian's father murmured, switching to fluent if accented Nippon in response to his son and granddaughter's own conversation. "What an implosion! Couldn't have been nicer if I'd paid that jiralhanae the absolutely obscene amount of money he was demanding. 'Explosive-demolitions specialist', pah!"
"Does that mean I am forgiven?" Tenten asked winsomely, trying to look as cute as possible. Jian and her grandfather resisted the urge to hug her.
She brought down three more buildings for her grandfather that year, as neatly as anything, and was well-rewarded for her having saved him several million ryo. She liked the complete set of masterwork blades, of course, and the jewelry too – more for the cunning workmanship than for anything else – but to be honest she would have done it for nothing.
It wasn't every genin who got to practice their demolition skills on actual buildings, after all.