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On the Prowl

Akatsuki's Hunter-nin

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Character: Kamibana Zetsu (arranged in the Japanese style; family name isn't canon)
Series: Naruto and Naruto Shippuden
Version: He.... really doesn't have much difference between the manga and anime. XD He's current with the manga now, though, putting him in the early 400s.
Age: Mid to late 30s
Gender: Male--though as plants often tend to have both reproductive organs, he could be considered both during the times when he's in bloom.

Appearance: Zetsu is a man of average to slightly tall height and weight, though to count his leaves, one would find him to be closer to 7’. His eyes are a vivid, unsettlingly bright yellow, with neither pupils nor whites, and can be seen to glow faintly. He has spring green hair, short and typically a bit ruffled, and his complexion is…. odd, to say the least. His right side is an even jet black that covers his entire body on that side, (save for six white dots on that side of his face and neck, though they aren't promiment enough to be immediately noticed unless you're looking for them) while the other is a pristine white, both divided cleanly by a perfectly straight line that runs down the length of him. He has two deep forest-green, saw-toothed venus flytrap leaves that grow from his upper arms and back to enclose him, rising to at least a foot or two above his head and ringed with stiff guard hairs. The outside is slick and glossy, while the inside seems almost fuzzy with the sparse carpet of trigger hairs that blanket it. The scent and nectar glands within give him a light, sweet floral smell, as if he wears perfume; he smells much more like a plant than an an actual person, which has been known to confuse animals to no end.

He usually wears a floor-length black robe, with a chin-high collar, red insides, and large red clouds, edged with white. These come with a pair of black pants, white leg-warmers, and black sandals, as well as the ring worn always on his right little finger, with the kanji for “mysteriousness” on it--and glossy, dark purple nailpolish, worn on both his fingers and toes. He always goes shirtless, as it would be pretty much impossible to wear one in his condition, but his hitai-ate--a dark blue length of cloth, bearing a metal plate with a stylized symbol of several blades of grass on it--is tied around his chest in its stead, with the symbol cleanly and decisively slashed through with a blade.

(For a visual reference, Zetsu can be seen here.)

Personality: Zetsu is a divided man, a fact which even literally emerges in his dual-toned skin; he is a human on the one hand, but on the other, the plant he is merged with also lends its own distinct voice, visually represented as the black, wilder side of him. His plant half is a venus flytrap, and as such, has many rougher, more vicious aspects of a predator wholly unconcerned with society and all its trappings; it is insensitive, vicious, caustic, and pragmatically self-interested. It easily cuts through emotion despite being quite impulsive and instinctive itself, and human ties and conventions rather exasperate it. It would much rather do what needs to be done, get on with things, and enjoy a blood bath every now and then. It's restless and has an almost perpetual sort of hunger, a drive Zetsu tries to keep satisfied with his work when he can. It isn't very fond of other people as a rule, though it does lead him to sometimes be absurdly protective over his lighter half and those he cares about, even as it finds fault with them. It can make him bestial, and because of it, one might not be entirely misled in some respects when calling him a monster.

His human, lighter side makes up for this in some respecfs, being as intimately connected as the two have been for his entire life; had they not developed together and balanced each other out, (and spooked and pushed Zetsu as it did) perhaps he would not have been shaped as extremely as he was His more human half is thoughtful and deliberate, sensitive and social, with a powerful need to belong and be useful, to be worthwhile to and cared for by others. He wants a nakama he can trust and care for, and as such can be surprisingly affectionate, kind, and gentle when a situation calls for it; his nurturing, almost paternal side in the meantime manifests itself in an extraordinary knack for cultivating plants, and formerly tending to and teaching his ward, Tobi, whom he tends to consider something like the son he never was allowed to have. He's cautious and surprisingly peaceful, when left to his own devices; were it not for the circumstances that shaped and directed him, he might have been quite happy to leave a calm life among nature, maybe as a sensei and mentor, which was one reason the Akatsuki and its ultimate goal appealed so strongly to him.

He keenly appreciates beauty of all sorts, though he seldom offers an opinion on the subject, or offers any personal philosophy thereof. It seems simply too personal and subjective a thing to define like that, and too wonderful an ideal to try and limit in such a way--he knows it when he sees it, and is content to admire and appreciate it since he doubts he could make it himself. He also holds a strict respect and love for nature itself, and though not religious, could be thuoght of as spiritual; he cherishes life and holds it to be almost sacred, something worthy of and demanding respect and honor, however one chooses to express that. He dislikes killing without reason, and wasting a kill when made; eating the dead is a sign of respect, and a token homage to the life, as he joins with it and returns it to the earth. It's an attitude not often shared by shinobi, but aside from his other half's grounding in stark reality, he's had to convince himself that there would be no point in killing anything or anyone, if not for a purpose and if their lives had no meaning or significance.

All in all, he'd like to know what it's all about, and hopes that it's all meaningful and worthwhile, and that he's been a valuable part of life that has done what he was supposed to do to make it a better place. He might not have any real, higher ideal to do so in the name of, but that at least leaves him free to attend to it in the smaller, subtler, more concrete ways that so many inspired visionaries tend to neglect. He works in the background, sweating the small stuff so that others won't have to and making sure that everything runs smoothly, being the one strong, supportive constant element in a sea of chaos and uncertainty.

Fears: Zetsu is afraid of a lot of things, though he doesn't like admitting it. His upbringing lent itself to an extremely strong drive to serve and belong and work within a group setting, so it frightens him badly to be alone and unaffiliated, as well as being outright rejected and despised, being forced out of a group. Being useless or worthless is a frightening thought, as is letting down and failing those he cares about most. He is frightened of being inferior and not good enough, and evidence of such can easily prompt doubt and depression. He also fears truly being a freak--shunned by and apparently going too far in his family and village's eyes, yet inhuman and terrifying in the eyes of those who are normal, the thought of being truly unable to belong to any one side and being fundamentally set apart seems to be a terrible thing.

Weaknesses: Being in dark or extremely dry places for extended periods of time leaves Zetsu weakened to some extent, though not cripplingly so. Things like pesticides and the like also leave him ill. The awkward addition of his leaves makes him somewhat less proficient at hand-to-hand taijutsu than most, though he does make up for it by being unusually proficient with his other jutsus--his preference is for sneak attacks and long-ranged combat, which would necessarily be difficult in an enclosed location like a house, and he tends to dislike confrontation at all as a rule. It can be difficult to act on occasion, when his other personality is urging other courses of action or trying to assert instinct over reason. Additionally, he looks like a monster, and would likely be treated as such by most people.

Strengths/Abilities: Zetsu isn’t the sort to attack head on; being more of an assassin and spy-type, he is much more likely to strike from a distance, or while the target is unaware, and make the hit as crippling and debilitating as possible, if not killing them with it. His preferred methods for doing this is a blowgun, or simply hand-thrown needles, usually dipped in various types of poisons and aimed at critical spots. He also sports kunai and shuriken, though those aren’t used nearly as frequently. If forced into close combat, he’s more proficient with using his leaves and legs than his arms, preferring to keep those free to perform hand seals for his jutsus, which is his preferred way of actual combat.

He broadly specializes in jutsus working with plants and animals of all sorts, often manipulating them or summoning them forth, but he also has the ability to merge with plants and the ground, traveling long distances rather quickly. He can also use plants as an extension of his own sensory organs, seeing whatever would be in their field of vision and the like. His eyes, as evidenced by their odd appearance, have powers similar to the Byakugan, which make him an excellent spy. They also have the capacity to record what they've seen in some fashion, acting as an effective eidetic memory for him and permitting total recall of what he's seen; again, this allows for extremely proficient spy work, and makes him a very fast learner.

Aside from fighting, Zetsu has great benefit from the plant he is fused with; its strong digestive juices can break down even a human body with relative speed, and the digestive systems are linked; any nutrition he or the plant gets is shared between them, but by eating with the leaves, not only does he not have to taste anything, but the leaves eliminate the wastes as normal plants do, removing the need to take restroom breaks This also extends to filtering out and/or being able to effectively utilize some forms of toxins, providing him immunity (if not outright strength) from things that might otherwise harm him. He can also survive for an unknown length of time on pure photosynthesis, though it doesn’t leave him at full strength; supplementing normal eating habits with photosynthesis tends to strengthen him and help him heal and recover energy more quickly than normal. Things like Miracle Gro, while humiliating, would probably make him stronger as well, as his leaves might convert it into energy to be funneled and used as he saw fit.

History: (***The stuff before Zetsu joining with Akatsuki is purely fan-created to give him SOME background and flesh, as he isn't much of a character in his own right, and Kusagakure basically gets no mentions either. And because he has very little overt action in the plot of Naruto, that will probably be only briefly summarized.***)
Zetsu was born to the Kamibana clan in Kusagakure, the scattered military organization of a small, ecologically rich but otherwise poor nation, battletorn due to being centrally located between several major powers. The Kamibana clan itself is one of the two "major" tribes (though his father hails from the other) in Kusagakure, and respected for its power, prowess, and strong traditions, though otherwise feareed and looked upon with some distaste for the clan secret which leaves their members mutated beyond simple humanity. Each child born into the clan is implanted with specially cultivated and prepared seeds at birth, which then grow with the child, ensuring that they mature into a chimera-esque hybrid of person and plant. Once the plant has fully developed and integrated itself into its host's physiology and psyche, the child is considered an adult and full member of the clan, cemented and made official by a final ceremony, in which full-body, two-toned tattoos are administered, with one side bearing a number of dots corresponding to their current age--the fewer there are, the more respect given. Any signs of pain or weakness during this prompt the ink to be removed, requiring the ritual to be repeated.

Zetsu's plant half, being an exotic predatorial species and strong-willed enough to be capable of independent movement, manifested unusually early and strongly--at age eight, in fact, and became something akin to a second personality for him. He graduated from Academy at the same age, and learned quickly, passing the Chuunin Exams at 10 and making Jounin at 14. In the meantime, his natural talents lent him well to becoming a Hunter-nin working for the local ANBU, receiving extensive tracking, medical, and assassination training, among other things, as part of his line of work. Because of Kusagakure's traditions and social taboos, he refrained from settling down with anyone or starting a family, and because he had no brothers or sisters, he spent his time in his cousin's households rather than keeping his own, helping to raise their family and provide much-needed money and tutoring; his co-workers became like a second family as well as they could be under the circumstances, given the high rate of mortality in his chosen profession.

It was at age 19 that a mission went awry, he managed to complete the objective, though only barely, and his teammates had not been so fortunate. His Hunter training had stressed the importance of not leaving a body behind for enemy shinobi to find, and he respected his friends too much to allow them to become pawns or fodder to be used against their village.... so he ate them, as he did with the other corpses he disposed of, uniting the team and returning them to the earth as fully as he knew how. It came as a violent shock and outright betrayal to him that his own people so thoroughly condemned his actions; he was dishonorably discharged from his position, and his own tribe seemed to shun him, so profoundly that he slunk away in disgrace before an official exile was even put in place.

He wandered for quite some time afterwards, alone and directionless, doing what he needed to stay alive and uncaptured. Eventually, he was approached by the Akatsuki, who had caught wind of his unique skills and offered him a seemingly just goal to pursue, an accepting (more or less) group to belong to, and a means by which he could make himself useful and worthwhile. He accepted with pleasure, and has worked for Pein ever since, with the tenacious resorcefulness and selfless loyalty that only a man who owes a heartfelt (if metaphorical) life debt can bring to bear.Hos devotion and skilled services have been such, in fact, to earn him a position as Pein's left-hand man, acting as Pein's eyes and ears, and an essential fount of information and surveillance. Even as the Akatsuki falls one by one, he remains, and would have likely continued to do so for some time to come--if he hadn't slipped and fallen into the Dollsyhouse while earthmelding, that is.