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Neasa sat in her captain's chair on the main deck of the Graceful Beauty, lost in thought. It had been a day since the failed hunt for the ninja known as Sanae, a fact that had been driving her crazy. 'It has been almost a year since I last performed a less than satisfactory hunt…' she reflected moodily as she munched on a cracker.

Crackers had always been a comfort food for the girl for as long as she could remember, so it was with much annoyance that she realized the box she held was emptied out as she reached in for another. "Butty, get me another box of crackers!" she called out, knowing her faithful butler Shibari-kun would be within earshot.

"Ah! Sorry mistress, but that was the last box!" Butty woefully reported.

"Well, that's just great." Neasa muttered as she stood up and stretched. "It'll be awhile before I can see the professor about those upgrades anyway…" She paused to grab her purple overcoat, slipping it on. "We might as well go into town for a bit and resupply the ship with vital equipment!"

"Don't you mean grocery shopping for more crackers?" Butty happily corrected, flying circles around Neasa's head. She lightly swatted him away, tsking. "Hush, you."

---

As her heeled feet clicked awkwardly against the ground, the Shadow Clan kunoichi Fuyu couldn't help but wonder once again whether she should continue humoring her friend's obvious attempt at revenge for the sake of a bet. 'No,' she thought to herself, 'I will see this through.'

Upon receiving a forced vacation from the Shadow Council after running herself ragged through a series of intense missions, Fuyu decided that if she absolutely had to, she'd do it with company. The candidate could only be her unlikely best friend, the ever loyal soldier Rui, bodyguard to Princess Elvina.

Convincing her to take a few weeks off for a vacation needed some doing, but by the end, Fuyu was backed by the combined might of Rika, Ruki and the princess herself. The two former bandits turned soldiers cheerfully told their 'boss' to 'take a chill pill and learn to have fun for once', while Elvina demanded her to bring back exotic gifts for her, all but giving her direct orders to go with the kunoichi. With no other choice, the royal guard found herself reluctantly packing her bags as well.  

The two now found themselves tourists of the distant city Chrimwa, a location selected for its lack of Shadow Clan activity in the area, in an effort to help curb Fuyu's desire to jump into a new mission. Upon booking an inn for the duration of their stay, Rui had revealed that she had packed more than just outfits for herself.

Slipping out a dark red sundress and stiletto heels from her traveling pack, she presented them to Fuyu. "You're supposed to be taking a break from all your ninja business, right? Well, it'd help if you stopped wearing your work clothes!" Rui reasoned. "Besides, you still haven't gotten the hang of acting like a civilian, you know."

"…I suppose." Fuyu relented, looking closer at the clothing. "This dress is even shorter than the last one you offered me." She noted, lifting it up. "I doubt I can hide nearly as much of my concealed weaponry in it. And these heels look…rather cumbersome to maneuver in. They might make nice balance training, though…"

Rui chuckled nervously at her friend's antics. "Must you over analyze everything? I bet you couldn't last the day in that outfit without finding some excuse to change into your ninja uniform!" she said in jest.

"A bet, huh? Tell you what – if I win that bet, you have to wear an outfit of my choosing for an entire day without complaint." Fuyu curtly replied, taking her friend's statement seriously.

"W-what?! What would I even get out of that?" Rui stuttered, already not liking where this was going.

"Hm. I'll wear this outfit for all of tomorrow, even if I find it to be less than satisfactory." Fuyu supplied, already changing into it. Rui blinked, taking in what she just said. "Wait, but that's not…I mean, that wasn't even a real bet, you know!"

Slipping on one of her stilettos, Fuyu nodded her head, actually agreeing much to Rui's relief. "Of course it isn't much of a real bet…not when I will win it soundly."

'You really get excited over weird things, don't you?' Rui thought to herself, already giving up on talking the ninja out of it. "Fine! But if I win, you, uh, have to wear it for the rest of the week!"

"You're pretty bad at negotiating if you think you can change the terms after already agreeing." Fuyu said as she finished slipping on the other heel.

When the two left the inn shortly thereafter, with Fuyu clad in the red sundress and high heels and Rui clad in a short sleeved shirt and blouse, Rui couldn't help but notice her companion seemed to be even more out of place in her new getup. The usually collected and graceful kunoichi seemed to struggle with her balance in her heels as they walked amongst the crowds of the bustling city, subtly stumbling in her step every so often.

Growing more concerned, Rui finally addressed it. "Hey…you don't have to keep wearing this outfit if you don't want to, you know?" she tried assuring her. "It's okay if you want to change back into your ninja outfit; we can always find something else for you to wear for a casual outfit."

Fuyu's eyes took on a determined glint at that. "And lose the bet? Nice try, but I plan on seeing this through…"

Glancing at Rui's opened pack again, Fuyu eyed a glistening red bottle within it. Grasping it, she examined it carefully. "Nail polish, too?" Fuyu asked, eying it warily. "Ah….yeah…the princess thought it would help complete the look." Rui admitted, thinking her friend would finally give in and call the whole thing off.

Fuyu paused, looking contemplatively at the bottle. "…very well then. Can you help me put it on?" she eventually asked.  

Rui wasn't sure what she should be worried about more - the fact that her best friend always managed to get her to agree to do weird bets with her in the first place, or the fact that she had no idea what Fuyu was so determined to get her to wear…

---

On her way to shop for more food, Neasa decided to stop by Chrimwa's barracks first, to see if she could get any new intel on Sanae. It was when she was halfway there, working her way through the bustling streets and  flanked by five Shibari-kuns chatting happily amongst themselves, that she overheard a most pressing conversation.

"Hey…you don't have to keep wearing this outfit if you don't want to, you know?" a vaguely boyish looking brown haired girl in a blue blouse and skirt said a short distance away. Neasa glanced at her and her shorter companion in the red sundress walking in the other direction, not paying them any mind as they passed. "It's okay if you want to change back into your ninja outfit; we can always find something else for you to wear for a casual outfit."

That gave her pause, as Neasa whirled around at the word "ninja" to reexamine the retreating pair. "And lose the bet? Nice try, but I plan on seeing this through. Now come on, we have something important to do…"

"Neasa-sama~ Why'd you stop?" one of her Shibari-kuns called, snapping her out of her intense scrutiny of the apparent ninja. "Didn't you say this was a mission of most pressing importance?"

"I'd say a ninja sneaking into a city in a disguise is a more pressing issue…I didn't even recognize her for one at first!" Neasa fumed, still squinting in the direction the pair vanished in.

The gathered Shibari-kun shared a worried look before one of them tugged on her sleeve. "Ah, but we've already got one ninja to worry about, right?" it reasoned. "I betcha that sneak will do something mean soon enough to warrant a big ole bounty, so we might as well wait until we can get some money from capturing her as well!"

The pirate hesitated for another moment. "It's not often I get a chance to be proactive rather than reactionary, though…"  

Shaking her head, she finally came to a conclusion. "We'll finish up with our business here first and see to tracking them down immediately after. Nothing good can come from letting a ninja run around freely after all."

She pointed a finger at one of her Shibari-kuns. "I want you to head to the store and get everything on this list for me!" she said, handing it one of her coin purses. "Hai hai hai~" it cheered, saluting her before taking off.

"And you," she pointed to another Shibari-kun, "I want tracking down that ninja to see what she's up to! The rest of you are coming with me to the barracks."

"Roger, Neasa-sama~" they sing-songed.

No longer waltzing with the sedate pace she held when she entered town, Neasa's heeled boots tapped against the ground in rapid succession as she hastened to the barracks.

---


Glancing confusedly at the map of the city in her hands, Rui had to ask, "Fuyu, why are we going this way? I thought the Museum of Ancient Weaponry was in the opposite direction?"

The pair had moved from the bustling town square and headed further into the less populated southern section of the city…and therefore, away from anything worth note.

"I felt someone watching our movements back there," Fuyu curtly responded, "And I wanted to assess the situation and see if we would have to engage in combat."

"And they're still following us? What would they even want from us?"

"Nothing, apparently. They haven't followed us at all."

"…then why have we been walking in the wrong direction this long?!"

"You can never be too sure…hmm?" Fuyu's eyes narrowed as she spotted something up ahead.

"What is it? Were…were we followed after all?" Rui asked, suddenly wishing she had brought her rapier along.  

"No…but it does look like we have something to address," Fuyu replied, grabbing Rui's hand and dragging her along. "Come on."

---

On the other side of the city, Neasa strode into the barracks, taking note of the bustling activity within it.

"Something must be done about this immediately!" she heard a pudgy man dressed in a regal waistcoat and breeches demand. "My daughter's life might depend on it!"

"What's going on here?" Neasa interrupted. The nobleman turned in irritation from the guard he was shouting at to address her.

"What's going on?!" he began, flustered. "My daughter was kidnapped this morning, and no one seems to be willing to do…anything… Oh, it's you, Neasa." He trailed off, realizing just who he was mouthing off to.  Neasa had something of a track record when dealing with nobles who particularly annoyed her.

Neasa moved to check the fliers littering the bounty board to see if anything else had been updated, absentmindedly asking "Oh? I'm sort of busy at the moment, but if you can give me any details I might be inclined to look into this for you…for a price."

The nobleman considered it for a moment, thinking of what he had heard about Neasa's normally stellar track record for bringing in bounties. "Very well…if you can find my daughter's whereabouts and bring her back safely, I'll have 50,000 drachma waiting for you."

"50,000…not bad, I guess," she muttered, disappointed that there wasn't anything else about Sanae posted on the board. "Any details about who the kidnappers are?"

"Some of my staff did manage to steal brief glimpses at them…it was a duo, a boy with brown hair and what looked to be a female ninja of some sort."

Suddenly turning to regard the man with full attention, Neasa's voice took on a harsh infliction. "Those two…I knew they had to be up to something!" The nobleman looked at her with surprise. "You know who these two would be, then?" he fervently demanded.

"No, but I saw them earlier, on my way here. They were headed for the southern section of town…perfect for sneaking out of town with stolen goods!" she said, omitting the fact that she knew the last tidbit from personal experience.

"I already have one of my Shibari-kuns tailing them as we speak." She said, heading out the door. "I'll meet up with it and bring those two to justice, just you wait!"

Pulling out her portable radio, she relayed a message to the two Shibari-kuns she sent away. "Put the groceries back into the Lifeboat immediately and regroup with us on the southern side of town! We have new prey to hunt…"

---

Neasa hurried onwards to the southern docks as fast as her heeled feet could carry her, knowing that there was little time to spare if the kidnappers planned on using it as an escape route.

"Still no sign of them?!" she mouthed into her radio in askance.

"Sorry Neasa-sama, but those ladies are doing a good job at hiding!' her scouting Shibari-kun dutifully replied. "Ah, wait, I think I hear a commotion in one of the storage shacks! I think it's them!"

"Stay where you are, then! We're almost there!"

Taking a few shortcuts, Neasa and her other Shibari-kuns arrived on the scene just a scant few minutes afterwards. "Has..has anyone left the building yet?" Neasa asked the Shibari-kun as she caught her breath.

"This Shibari-kun is proud to say that no one has escaped its sight!" it proudly stated, before looking a bit confused. "Not that I actually saw anyone in the first place…heard them, though! No one has escaped my…hearing?"

Neasa eyed the shack, only paying the Shibari-kun partial attention. "Alright, then…I want you five to assume aerial positions around the shack and out of sight." Patting her sheathed rapier, her eyes took on a nasty glint. "I'll distract the two for you."

"Are you sure?!" "Neasa-sama's so brave!" "Don't get hurt!" "We have your back!" "Go get 'em mistress!" the Shibari-kun clamored as they floated off to their designated spots.

Neasa herself pressed herself flat against the side of an adjacent shack, eying the door as she heard voices get closer from the other side.

"...well, that takes care of that, I guess." She could hear one of them say. "But do I really have to be the one to carry her?"

"You're better dressed for that."

"About that…you didn't change out of the dress this whole time. I'm a little bit impressed."
"I told you we could take care of things without much worry."

"Though…I'm not sure why I'm surprised you still had weapons on you. How'd you even manage to hide a rapier on you!?"

"A ninja always has emergency supplies stashed somewhere…especially for underprepared comrades."

"Under…but how was I supposed to know…oh, whatever. I'm just glad this is finally over with…" The door finally swung open, revealing the duo Neasa had ran across earlier in the day. The ninja was still disguised as an ordinary civilian, and the brown haired girl…

…was carrying a bound and gagged red haired girl in a pink dress.  

The ninja paused, suddenly glancing in Neasa's direction. "I don't think it's over yet, Rui. We've got company." She said, pulling out two kodachi blades.

"Huh?" Rui asked, glancing down at the unconscious girl in her arms. "We haven't even gotten a chance to get this girl out of these –"

"You'll be doing nothing further with that girl!" Neasa declared, stepping out from her hiding spot. "Turn her over to me immediately and I'll consider making things less painful for you two!"

Rui glanced at her companion. "…think she's with them, Fuyu?" The ninja, eying the purple haired pirate intently, immediately recognized her. "She's the one who was watching us earlier. One way or another, she's clearly looking for a fight."  To Neasa, she said, "We don't have time to deal with you. Move aside."

"I think not," Neasa curtly replied, pulling out her own rapier. "You're not leaving here with that girl."

"Well, I guess that answers who she's working with," Fuyu declared before dashing into action.  Rui called after her "Actually, it really doesn't – "

Fuyu leapt at Neasa, preparing to use the blunt hilts of her kodachis to render the pirate unconscious, her dress billowing in the wind. Neasa, even after having dealt with many ninja in her life, could still barely keep up with the swift movement.

But being able to keep up at all was her boon, as she managed duck to the side of Fuyu's incoming attack at the last second.

Two things happened at once upon the kunoichi's landing. Her feet, still clad in the stilettos provided with her dress, threw her normally perfect balance off as she landed, causing her to stumble for a brief moment. And in the second that Neasa had dodged to the side, she had also given signal to three of her hidden Shibari-kuns.

They descended upon the ninja with practiced speed and coordination, one of them looping a wide lasso around her torso, ironically catching her as she stumbled forward. It tightened the rope, pinning her arms together at the elbows, before extending one of its clawed hands to the base of her neck and emitting a tiny electrical shock.

It wasn't enough to render her unconscious or immobile, but it did the trick in keeping her off balance. It entered sleep mode, its weight suddenly increasing tenfold. The rope tugged her backwards, causing her to topple over onto the ground. Her blades fell from her grasp in the process, and as she prepared to try leaping back up, another Shibari-kun was upon her legs, coiling a rope around her thighs as the third trailed behind it with a smaller lasso of rope against her ankles.

The Shibari-kun that had ensnared her torso activated itself again and detached itself from the coil of rope, quickly knotting it in place before snatching her arms as she tried to lift herself off the ground and holding them behind her back. It dispensed more rope from the bottom of its body before wrapping the coil around her wrists, tying them tightly together.

In just a span of twenty seconds, Fuyu went from being on the offensive to being a trussed up damsel on the ground.

"Fuyu!" Rui cried, shocked at how easily her friend had been subdued. She gently lowered the unconscious girl in her arms onto the ground before pulling out her own rapier, rushing forward to aid her friend.

Neasa stepped in front of her, blocking her path. "Don't think I've forgotten about you miss…Rui, was it?" she said, giving the soldier girl a critical eye. "You know, it's the strangest thing. When I look at you, I see someone who seems to have an honorable air about her. Why is it, then, that you are partnering with a ninja? " Neasa asked, inquisitive. "Is she blackmailing you in some manner? Filling your head with lies about what you're doing will somehow saving this girl from some terrible fate?"

"Fuyu is my friend! She'd never blackmail me…I think. But not over something important!" Rui hotly declared, shifting herself into a fighting stance. "And she doesn't have to tell me anything – I know for a fact what we're doing is for the best! No one deserves something like this in their life!"

Neasa graced her with a pitying look. "You really think you're helping her, huh? I guess there's no way to talk you out of this, then…very well! Let us meet in battle!"

Neasa lunged at the brown haired soldier, thrusting her rapier outwards in a classic maneuver. Rui saw it coming from a mile away and parried it with an almost casual grace. "Is that the best you got?" Rui demanded, sparing a moment to glance at her increasingly bound friend.

Fuyu's body had been tightly secured by now, with more rope winding across her shoulders and across her thumbs, leaving her arms and hands completely immobilized. Likewise, along with her thighs and ankles, more rope had been added above and below her knees and across her calves. Her heels had been slipped off at some point, leaving her bare feet free to wriggle around. A Shibari-kun by her head had just shoved a cloth rag into her mouth and was securing it in place with another cloth serving as a cleave gag over it. The other two Shibari-kun seemed intent on adding a hogtie by connecting her ankle and wrist ties together with more rope.

All in all, Rui needed to get over there, and fast.

She deflected another blow aimed at her side, noting that while the purple haired woman seemed decent enough with the blade, not even all of her grace could make up for the fact that she simply wasn't as good as a royal guard. In fact, it felt to Rui like the woman hadn't even finished learning the style, with the occasional mistakes she made in her strikes. With this in mind, Rui switched from the defensive and began launching her own offense, forcing Neasa backwards as she desperately tried to keep up.

With a poorly timed counter attack to one of Rui's strikes, Neasa suddenly found her rapier getting smacked away from her grasp and her body knocked on the ground. Pointing her rapier at Neasa's throat, Rui huffed out a demand. "Yield! And call off your helpers from my friend!" she said, gesturing with her head to the Shibari-kuns putting the finishing touches on Fuyu's bindings.

"Okay, okay, you win…" Neasa muttered as she stared up into Rui's determined eyes. Sighing in defeat, she let her tense body lay limply on the ground, causing Rui to slightly relax her arm holding the blade pointed at Neasa. Taking a breath, the pirate called out, "You guys! I need you to…"

…and promptly sprung into action, kicking at one of Rui's legs. The off-duty soldier stumbled forward, almost hitting Neasa with her rapier in the process. The purple haired woman moved her head out of the way in time for it to imbed into the ground instead. Coiling her legs to her chest, Neasa kicked out against Rui once more, this time landing a hit squarely against her stomach.

The soldier stumbled back, grasping at her stomach and leaving her rapier stuck by Neasa's side.

"…help me subdue this one!" Neasa finally finished, her voice taking on a triumphant note as she stood and dusted herself off. Grabbing a hold of the rapier that had just been used to threaten her, she ran at Rui and tackled her to the ground just as the brown haired girl got her bearings.

Just like that, Rui found herself in the situation just moments ago she had Neasa in – her own rapier hovering over her in a similarly threatening manner. "I want you to stand up – slowly, no funny business, you got that?!" Neasa ordered. 'I guess I have no choice…' Rui considered. 'Her other helpers still seem preoccupied…maybe if I can distract her I can get my rapier back!'

With that in mind, Rui did as she was told, slowly standing up and making sure to refrain from making any sudden movements as Neasa kept the blade pointed at her throat. Just as she began to formulate a plan for distracting Neasa, two more Shibari-kun arrived, having been hidden behind the shack they had exited from and approached their mistress.

"Waaahh, we were so worried Neasa-sama!" one of them cried as it spun circles around her head. "Not me! I knew she had it under control the whole time!" the other cheerfully declared, peering curiously at the downed soldier.

"Enough! I need you two to subdue this one as well." Neasa interrupted, causing the two to salute her and descend upon the girl. "W-wait, stop!" Rui tried to protest, only for the two of them to start binding her arms together into a box tie. Neasa tossed the rapier aside, smiling smugly at her latest capture.

"Well, that takes care of that," she said, turning around to retrieve her own weapon. In an act of panic, Rui attempted to lash out at Neasa while she was still in range. Disarmed as she was and with her arms already being securely pinned together, that left just her legs. Neasa felt a kick to her butt, causing her graceful stride to flatter. "Why you…" Neasa growled, spinning to face Rui once more. Eying the offending leg that dared strike her, she tacked on an additional order. "If you like kicking your feet around everywhere, you just had to ask. You two, remove her boots when you get to her legs!"

"Hai hai hai~" they chorused, continuing their work. With the exception of a hogtie harness, Rui soon found herself tied similarly like her friend, her arms and legs tied tightly together.

Two of the Shibari-kun who had worked on Fuyu had since left to scout the area further for any other details while one watched over the squirming ninja.

"Wahh, such a scary look!" it had said as it observed Fuyu glaring up at it. "Let's get you looking nicer young lady!" it scolded, moving to her bare feet and racking its claws against her soles.

The bound ninja squirming intensified as her hardened expression gave way to wide-eyed shock. The additional claw the Shibari-kun produced made things worse, her mouth eliciting a soft, muffled squeak in alarm as the additional hand dug themselves into her soles.

Neasa watched the scene with amusement before shaking her head and turning back to the girl before her. With Rui's bindings firmly in place, they began to rummage around for a gag.

"Hold it!" Neasa cut in just as they began to tear at the bottom of Rui's blouse for some material. "I want to ask her a few questions before you gag her."

Rui glared defiantly up at Neasa, clearly not in the mood to talk with her captor. Patting her hair, Neasa broached her first question. "Now then…where is it that you two hail from? That ninja friend of yours in particular is someone I'm quite interested in finding out more about."

"As if I'd tell you anything!" Rui hotly denied, "And why don't you just ask her if you're so curious?"

"Considering your own response," Neasa dryly remarked, "do you really think a ninja would be any more forthcoming with information?"

"Well, you shouldn't expect to get anything out of me either!"

Sighing, Neasa removed her hand from the bound girl's head. She glanced back to her other Shibari-kun having fun at the ninja's expense and contemplated. "If you insist." She eventually said. "You know, I'm somewhat surprised with how ticklish your friend is." She mused. "You'd think a ninja would be hardened enough to be removed from such an embarrassing weakness."

Neasa turned to look down at Rui once again and gave her a sly smile. "But it does seem like a rather convenient, easily exploitable one, you know?"

"What are you getting at…?" Rui wondered aloud, really not liking where this conversation was going.

"Ah…I'm a bit curious if a tough girl like you shares a similar weakness. It would certainly make this interrogation more…amusing, wouldn't you agree?"

"Wha-no! I definitely don't agree, you crazy layyyyydeehehehe!" Rui's outrage was interrupted when one of the Shibari-kuns who had tied her began vibrating its clawed hands across her pantyhose encased feet. "Stahahahahap it!" she cried, already losing control.

"Wow," Neasa blinked, honestly surprised, "I didn't think that would work that well."

Recovering, she launched back into her interrogation. "Now tell me…just what sinister purpose did that ninja have in mind for this young lady?!" she demanded.

Rui tried twisting her legs away from its groping claws, the other Shibari-kun that had aided in her capture grasped them, hoisting them slightly in the air and lassoing a new rope around her ankles. When it shifted into its density increasing variant of the sleep mode, Rui suddenly found herself unable to avoid the assault. Worse yet, additional hands popped out from her deceptively cute, intensifying the tortuous sensations.

"S-sinsteheheheherr pur-hahaha-purpose?!"

"Well, you two kidnapped her for a reason, didn't you? Did you plan on ransoming her? Sell her off as a slave?! Answer me!"

"Whahahahahat?! You hehehehe you thohahahahaught we werehehehehe trying to - n-no, we hehehe! We were....ahahahaha trying to rescue her!"

Neasa frowned, realizing that the girl honestly seemed to believe every word she was saying. "I…know how dull or bad the life of a noble can get, but kidnapping someone against their will to liberate them from such a life isn't the way to go about it!" she scolded. "Besides, I'm fairly certain little miss ninja over there is just pulling a fast one on you…I bet this was really some kind of job she was hired on for from slavers of some sort!"

"W-whaaaahahat? We…we were just hehehehe here to rehehehe relax, not ahahahaha any business like thahahahat!"

"Oh? So it wasn't a job, but a ransom, then… I think that'll be enough for now."

Neasa nodded to the other Shibari-kun floating around them. In its claws it held fabric ripped from Rui's clothing itself, which it promptly shoved into the still laughing girl's mouth. "Nmmph!" Rui cried, tears falling freely from her face as the other Shibari-kun increased the intensity of its tickling despite the interrogation finishing. The other Shibari-kun fastened another strip of cloth around the stuffing around Rui's head, giving her a tight gag that covered the entirety of her mouth.

Neasa eyed the soldier girl for another moment, sizing her up one last time. "Hmph. Anyone who so willingly trusts a ninja is either incredibly naïve or are just as untrustworthy as they are. For you to stick with her even after this showing of her true nature, I presume you err on the latter half of that equation, don't you?" Neasa snidely surmised.

Rui squeaked out another muffled cry of protest through the veil of laughter as she futilely attempted to slip her feet from the lasso keeping them pinned. The movement, however, only served to work against the brunette. Her shifting and squirming legs and feet caused her pantyhose clad soles to rub deeper into the claws raking them. With her body so helplessly pinned down, she had no choice but to simply take it.

Glancing aside, Rui noted that Fuyu didn't seem to be fairing any better, her friend tearing up slightly as her bare feet were mercilessly tickled. 'She's getting tickled even harder than me…' she barely managed to think, coherent thought becoming difficult to maintain thanks to the maddening sensations. Though the kunoichi seemed to be struggling fiercely against her bindings, she was having just as little luck with finding a way to loosen it. Together, the pair shook as laughter coursed through their bodies, their wriggling bound forms completely at the mercy of their robotic tormentors.

"Ah, Neasa-sama!" one of the Shibari-kuns she had sent away to scout the area cried, speeding up to the woman. "There are two more suspicious people over here in the shack!"

"Accomplices of theirs, I take? " Neasa asked, rising from her kneeling position in front of Rui. On the ground, the still laughing girl seemed to be trying to shout something at Neasa, but between the layered gag, her laughter and Neasa not particularly caring, her cries went unheard.

"Well, the weird thing is that they're tied up, mistress!"

Neasa contemplated this new development for a moment. "More captives, then?" she wondered.

"Welllll, you might want to check it out yourself, Neasa-sama!" the other scouting chipped in, grabbing Neasa's sleeve with a claw and leading her in.

She peered through the open doorway of the shack at the unconscious figures within. One was what seemed to be a very feminine man in dark clothing while the other was a teenage boy with brown hair. Her mind whirled as she processed the scene before her. "Oh." She finally said.

"I think I see what really happened here," she continued. Pointing a finger back at Fuyu, her voice took on a sharp tone. "You hired these two to throw the authorities off your trail, suckering them into thinking they'd get a cut of the pay when in reality they were to be left behind as you spirited away this poor girl! By the time they got this mess cleared up, you'd already be long gone with your 'cargo' and the trial would be lost!"

Fuyu and Rui, through their muffled laughter, simply…stared at the pirate.

'What kind of leap in logic is that?!' Rui thought.
'Is she seriously that misguided?' Fuyu similarly thought.

Noting both girls' expressions of disbelief, Neasa gave a noise of triumph. "Hah! Judging by your looks, I'd say I hit dead center on your little scheme, eh? Well, the only thing you two should be planning now is how to spend your prison sentence!"

"Alright everyone!" she called to her scattered Shibari-kun. "Let's bring these ruffians in, shall we? You two, carry the ninja! You two! Carry her accomplice here! And you!" she said, pointing to the fifth Shibari-kun. "I want you to help me untie the girl! I'll be carrying her back myself, so you keep an eye out just in case there was any backup for these two!"

"What about the two in the shack, Neasa-sama?" One of them asked. "They're decoys," She explained, "so while stupid to get caught up in this in the first place, I'd say they only warrant some sort of community service. They probably weren't the masterminds behind this, after all. Just look at them!" she said harshly, pointing back into the shack. "I can't imagine either of these two goons successfully stealing candy from a baby, let alone pulling off a successful kidnapping! We'll just alert the guards that they have two more suspects waiting for arrest and let them handle them."

"Ah, Neasa-sama is so smart!" "She always knows just what to do!"

With that, Fuyu and Rui found themselves finally given a chance to catch their breath as the respective Shibari-kuns that had been mercilessly tickling them finally stopped. It wasn't much of an improvement they found as moments later new lassos found themselves wrapped around their bodies, lifting them up into the air like packages.

Meanwhile, Neasa finished untying the nobleman's daughter, removing the large gag covering her nose from her freckled face. Neasa briefly sniffed at the rag before grimacing, tossing it away. "Looks like they chloroformed her pretty good," she softly said, "But aside from a few extra hours of sleep, it looks like she's unharmed."

Neasa gently lifted the girl up into her arms. "Come on…let's bring her home."

Fuyu and Rui, meanwhile, could only groan in frustration at the seemingly heartwarming scene before them.

---

Neasa barged into the barracks as she so often did, striding in with an air of complete confidence. "You there!" she said, addressing the nobleman. "I believe I may have found something precious that belongs to you…"

He spun about, startled, before resting his eyes on his slumbering daughter in her arms. "P-Pearl! Thank heavens, you really found her…! Has she been harmed?!" he rambled, rushing forward to get a better look. "She's fine," Neasa calmly assured him, "She just needs to rest for a little bit."

He took the girl from Neasa's arms, cradling her in his own. "Thank goodness…" he muttered, before looking at Neasa again. "And her captors…?"

"Dealt with. In fact, I stopped by the jail before coming here to have them dropped off." She explained. "They had a rather convoluted plot going from what I could gather that involved the use of decoys to mask their crime, but they couldn't fool me!"

"Well, thank you for this, then. Here, your reward…" he said, shifting his grip on his slumbering daughter to reach a hand into a pocket. He tossed her a bag loaded with coins before nodding his head back to the front desk. "I left the reward with them, but I want you to have this bonus of 5000 drachma as well!"

"Ah…well, you're welcome! Now, you be sure to keep your daughter safe from here on out, you hear?"  Neasa sternly chided. "I suggest you stopping by the jail when you get the time, to see just who was after your daughter. It helps to know one's enemies, after all." With that, Neasa waltzed past him to collect her reward.

"Hm…I may well do just that." The nobleman softly spoke, a light frown marring his face.

---

When the nobleman arrived to the city's jail half an hour later, sleeping daughter still held tightly in his weary arms, he demanded to see the kidnappers. He was led to a cell where the two were unconscious and thoroughly chained up, having been chloroformed by the suggestion of Neasa. "You can never be too careful when dealing with a ninja" was what Neasa had always said when it came to changing a captive ninja out of their bindings into new ones. The guards had to learn that lesson the hard way after a few successful escapes.

He peered through the bars to examine the two prisoners carefully. 'Well, they certainly match the description…' he mused, recalling what his staff had told him about their fleeting glances at the sneak thieves.

He suddenly felt a shifting in his arms. Looking down excitedly, he realized Pearl was finally waking up. "Wh-where am I…?" she blearily asked. Remembering what her last memories were of, her eyes widened in fear, blinking frantically as she tried to get her bearings. Setting her down and helping her steady herself, her father wrapped his weakened arms around her in a hug. "My dear, you are safe!"

"Father! I…I am?" she asked in wonder.

"Yes, my dear, and the dreadful ruffians who kidnapped you have been subdued as well!" he declared, gesturing with an arm at the cell before them. "Never again will they bring you harm, I promise you this!"

She peered into the cell, somewhat eager to assure herself that her nightmare really was over. "Uh…father?" she hesitantly began. "These…these two were not my captors."

Her overjoyed father paused heavily at that, blinking at her in confusion. "…excuse me? But these two matched the description… are you certain?"

"Father, I was still very much awake for much of my kidnapping. I think I'd remember what they'd look like…besides, these two are both female. My captors were both males."

"Then…where are –"

His panicked thoughts were interrupted when the clanging of armored boots echoed through the halls, towards their position. "Guards, guards!" he cried, rushing to meet them. "I'm afraid there may have been a terrible mistake…made…" he trailed off, looking at just what they were bringing in.

On either one's shoulders they carried two bound forms, each one looking vaguely similar to the female captives that had already been brought in.

"Ah! It's…it's them! It's definitely them, father!" Pearl cried, looking at them with wide eyes.

"Where did you find these two?!" the nobleman demanded. 'That blasted Neasa…I do believe she just swindled me!' he thought to himself, fuming.

"Oh, these two? That Neasa lady tipped us off on their whereabouts; said she couldn't be bothered bringing these two in herself or whatever her latest excuse was…"

"Wait…so she captured these two as well?" the nobleman tried to clarify.

"I guess so?" one of the guards answered, moving past them to place them in a different cell.

"Then…who are these two?" the nobleman wondered, gesturing to Fuyu and Rui.

"Yeah, that's what we've been wondering. Guess we'll just have to wait until they wake up until we can ask...sometimes I really hate having to work with Neasa."

---

Hours later, Rui and Fuyu finally managed to walk out of the jail. It had taken much of that time for the effects of their chloroforming to wear off, and another lengthy amount of time to clear up the misunderstanding they had found themselves in.

The two responsible for Pearl's kidnapping had been a feminine man by the name of Julio and his nephew Victor. Greatly in debt from several gambling mishaps, the pair plotted out a scheme to not only pay off the money but to have plenty to spare to meet ends. They had staked out the estate for weeks, making note of the comings and goings of the staff and family before enacting their plan.

Using the last of their remaining money, the pair acquired the tools and clothing they'd use for the job. Julio had dressed in dark outfit and face mask vaguely resembled a ninja at a glance, and Victor sported a similar dark blue outfit.

Aside from being briefly spotted by a few maids in their hasty retreat, things had gone without a hitch. With Pearl captured, they had planned on exiting the city through the run down southern docks, spiriting her away and holding her for ransom. Since that section of town rarely saw any activity, with a carefully planned path from the manor through a series of alleyways, they would be out of the town without anyone spotting them.

What they didn't count on was a particularly watchful tourist accidentally stumbling into that part of town. Fuyu had spotted them when she dragged Rui away from the town square, making note of the subtle shifting in the large burlap sack Julio had been lugging behind his back.

Following them to the docks, Fuyu and Rui made short work of the would-be kidnappers…moments before their fateful run in with a certain zealous pirate.

After much negotiation between all parties, it was finally decided the two could walk free, having done nothing wrong. Since Neasa had already claimed the bounty and had technically made sure the right criminals had been brought in at the end of the day, Chrimwa law dictated that she was within her rights to keep the claim. Still, no good deed would be left unrewarded as far as the nobleman was concerned, and so he promised to help ensure the rest their stay was as enjoyable as possible.

"Looks like we've been in here all night," Fuyu idly noted, glancing at the darkened sky.

"Yeah…guess so. Would it really hurt to go just one adventure with you without getting tied up at least once?!"

"I think you have other things to worry about right now." The kunoichi dismissively stated as she began to walk back to the inn.

"What do you mean?" Rui asked, trailing behind her.

"It's past midnight. I lasted the whole day without once removing this outfit, despite how useful that would have been. Therefore…it'll be my turn to dress you up tomorrow."

"You're still thinking about the bet at a time like this?!"

"You're not?"

Rubbing her forehead in exasperation, Rui could only sigh in response. "What…what did you even have in mind, anyway?"

"I have a ninja outfit in your size…"

"What?!"

The two walked off into the night, arguing back and forth in their playful, friendly manner. Thankfully, the rest of their vacation would prove to be much better from there on out.

---

Back onboard the Graceful Beauty, Neasa hummed contentedly in her private quarters as she snaked on her freshly acquired crackers. The sting of her failure to capture Sanae had been lessened with her triumphant victory today. Not only had she managed to restock on her precious supply of the crackers she was oh so fond of, but she brought another ninja to justice…getting a nice little payday out of it as well.

The fact that she also managed to save a girl who reminded her of herself a little bit had nothing to do with her glow, she tried to reason.

"Butty!" she called out, "Get me a line with Professor Humboldt! We need to repair Capture Crew 17 and upgrade you lot immediately!"

'With upgraded durability to counter her vast strength,' Neasa confidently thought, 'There's no way she'll be getting away next time…'
Looks like the ever vigilant Neasa is faced with yet another convoluted, multi-layered ninja plot! Can she cut through this devious scheme in time to save the day?!

...what's that? Are you trying to say something's a little off with this description? Sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of me munching on these delicious crackers.

A glimpse at Rui and Fuyu's outfits can be found over yonder: [link]
And a scene from the story over here: [link]

Fuyu and Rui belong to :iconlostonezero:
Neasa and the Shibari-kuns* belong to me.
And a big thanks for :iconjackmackhack: for proofing this for me. :)

*Tune in next time to witness Neasa opening up her own band as the lead guitarist! Sanae will be on bass of course, as well as providing back-up vocals. Of the "Mmph" variety.
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:iconthe-omega-metroid:
The-Omega-Metroid Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2014
Somehow, I get the feeling that a direct sequel would be...

Neasa is in town, and sees Fuyu & Rui enjoying their vacation.  Not aware that they were let out of jail for being innocent, she'd capture them, bring them back, and be met with confusion when she insisted that they escaped.  After being told that they were let out because they had saved the girl, not kidnapped her, Neasa would insist it's just part of some kind of scheme to get everyone to lower their guard, and would eventually be forced to take a break... and get to know the two.  After being subjected to her, well, kidnapping and tickling them twice, they'd decide to give her a taste of their own medicine, and wouldn't let her out until they'd had their fun and she apologised.
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:iconpoorusername:
PoorUsername Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
Hah, that does sound like a fun idea.
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:icondamselbinder:
Damselbinder Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014
Oh, boy are there a lot of things to love here:

1. Fuyu in a dress. Seeing the ninja in something so girly is just great. Not to mention the heels contributed to her capture! Her getting trussed up by the comical robots while being such a serious character herself really adds to the sense of distress. I also liked that, once Rui and Neasa were in combat, you cut BACK to Fuyu, only for us to find that she's being tied up even more - hogtied no less! That really added to the sense of her helplessness, as she was very much a damsel waiting for rescue. She actually came across as much more of the feminine of the two here, a nice contrast. It also made sense in character: the dress made her a little shy to start with and, in captivity, her quiet personality made her seem passive.

2. Neasa. Just Neasa. Cheeky, mischievous, but capable and heroic at the same time, her interactions with the two captives absolutely great. Her self-righteousness gave an interesting spin on the domineering captor looming over whimpering captives, as they were whimpering because they couldn't tell her what was going on.

3. Rui and Fuyu chloroformed in the cell. I just love that the poor girls don't even get a chance to explain themselves. They just get a rag full of chloroform in the face, and are left tied up together!
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:icondoctoransem:
DoctorAnsem Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Well done, dood.

Personally, I find the endless misunderstandings to be a highly frustrating experience, but at the very least it worked out for everyone in the end... including the actual villains. I'll be sure to tune in next time.
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:iconpoorusername:
PoorUsername Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2012
Hah, well, I suppose between this and Jack's recent stories featuring her, Neasa's been neck deep in misunderstandings as of late. I'm happy that you still liked this story despite that gripe, though. Here's to happy endings for everyone across the board! :D
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:iconmysterio0:
mysterio0 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2012
Awesome and illustrative story my good sir! Neasa's adventures are truly awesome :D

I love this little series you started with this character and I look forward to more!
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:iconpoorusername:
PoorUsername Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2012
Glad you're enjoying the ride so far! I've got a few more story beats I want to cover to wrap up this story arc of sorts. I should have them all done before the summer is over. ;)
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:iconblangelemon:
Blangelemon Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2012
Great story! I just love the logic of Neasa for easily jumping to conclusions (remind me of Anna Lemouri in the game Mana Khemia :love:).
That's the kind of humor who would make me laugh during my interrogation (even more than what Shibari-kuns could inflict ;))
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:iconpoorusername:
PoorUsername Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2012
Thanks, glad you liked it! Neasa is so used to dealing with plans within plans when dealing with ninjas usually, since its in their job description to be tricky!

If a ninja left a rock on the ground, Neasa would assume that the rock is rigged to explode or otherwise do something unsavory! And more often than not, she'd be right. But...sometimes a rock really is just a rock, and a vacationing ninja really is just a vacationing ninja. =P
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