Date: January 2, 2011
Lunch-hour at the Evolution Agenda's main office is always chaos. Chaos is what drives life forward. Motion is life. So what happens when the chaos just… Stops?
"All Is One, One Is All"
Evolution Agenda Main Office - Kusagakure
The middle of the day finds the Evolution Agenda headquarters quite full. Everyone is pressing in to get a meal and the staff is a bit overrun, trying to meet the demands of the populace which is great in number. One of those people trying to help direct everyone is Yuuichi. The caped shinobi is busy directing a couple of rather large, rambunctious Akimichi towards the food without getting run over in the process.
"No, you can't push your way to the head of the line, you have to wait your turn. I'm sorry, but that's the rules," he says to the first Akimichi who looks a bit steamed, but Yuuichi directs him down the way regardless. "Down there, stand in line, wait your turn. Cause any problems and I'll have to deal with it, so please don't cause any problems." The two Akimichi move off and he leans against the counter while taking a deep breath.
All the noise, all the activity, all the signs of life, suddenly just… Stop. The lights go out, the sound dies, the smell of food no longer fills the air, and everyone around the cafeteria area just freezes in place. No matter where they are or what they were doing, they have stopped moving. Hanging in mid-air, someone is holding out his plate of food, hovering a few inches above his hands, with food already starting to fly from the dish, as a child running through causes the man to trip and start to fall.
The steam rising from the various dishes and so forth stays right where it is.
There is no indication of how or why this is happening. Yuuichi appears to be the only one present who can continue to move around and interact with things normally. How… Odd.
He was about to yell at someone for shoving their way through when everyone suddenly stopped moving. Not a sound, not a single movement, but yet he could move. How strange was that? Why was he able to move and yet all of these people were stuck in place, not going anywhere? And what the hell? What could cause everyone to suddenly stop moving like that?!
Admittedly, Yuuichi was a little bit freaked out by this as he backed away and right into someone! Turning quickly, he grabbed the woman before she fell, heaving a sigh of relief. "This is nuts," he says as he rights the woman and walks around her, waving a hand in front of her face. Nothing happens, that he can see, so he starts wandering amongst the people, waving a hand in front of faces and poking people in the shoulder, trying to get one of them to move. Can he really be the only one?
As Yuuichi walks by, a figure appears in his wake that was not there before. Standing there, out of range of peripheral vision, is a man almost eight feet tall, in a black mantle with red clouds. His face has a black mask on it, with a red question mark on the surface. No eye holes. The man turns his head to watch Yuuichi, and then says in an extremely deep voice, "Yasujiro Yuuichi." He does not say anything further, and just waits for a response/reaction.
The sound of a voice in all of the silence immediately causes Yuuichi to freeze where he was walking between two people. If the speaker hadn't known any better, he could have passed for one of the frozen people. After a moment, though, he begins to slowly turn around and face towards the giant of a person with the deep voice that spoke his name only moments before. "Who… are you? And how do you know my name?" he questions first, staring up at the mask that faces him. "And why is everyone frozen?"
The masked man says simply, "Your name lies atop your heart." Sure enough, Yuuichi has a clip-on nametag to use while he helps out here! Though it does not give his >full< name, so that doesn't explain >everything<. "And Rei told me she had recruited you." Ah, that would do it. "The lack of movement on the part of the others occurs because I will it to be so. Causing the absence of activity serves two purposes. The first purpose is that it keeps me from being seen here. There are those who harbor me ill will, and I do not wish to draw their wrath into this place of peace and hope merely with my presence. The second purpose is to illustrate a point."
Amuro sweeps a hand in an expansive gesture at everything around. "As Kanami would say, movement is life. Take away the movement, and there is no life. Life is also inherently destructive. Those people there…" he points to a mother helping her daughter up to one of the tables by holding her under her armpits, while the little girl tries to ladle some soup into a bowl. The soup is stuck in the process of falling into the bowl. "That soup was made with fish. Those fish were once living beings. Perhaps they were not the most intelligent, but they were at least able to feel pain, and feel hunger, the same as human beings. Who is to say they did not have their own 'fish-equivalent' of emotions? Did they dream? Did they have desires beyond merely existing? Any possibility of accomplishing anything at all in their limited and short lifespans ended when they were killed. And yet they feed the human beings that will continue on to do great things."
The man shrugs. "Or great in the opinion of humans. There are >others< who might disagree…" He turns his attention back on Yuuichi. "When a woman is murdered, or a man dies on the battlefield, or an infant is still-born… All the potential of that individual ends upon unnatural death. And yet they live in the first place… Because they >eat life<." One long arm whips up suddenly and a finger is extended to point at Yuuichi.
"You! You, Yasujiro Yuuichi, are alive because you >EAT LIFE!< You >are< life! You will eat a rabbit, but one day you will die, and then you will become food for a fox. As your remains decay further, you will become food for ants. As your bones are buried, they will eventually become part of the earth itself, which will then give rise to grass. That grass will then be eaten by rabbits, which will in turn be eaten by other human beings." The man lowers his arm slowly. "Do you understand? Life is movement not because of instincts that direct us to track moving objects, but because >live is a circle<. All life >flows< through this circle, and returns to where it began. But if you take away movement…" He turns to look at the a man standing next to him. "…What do you suppose would happen if I left you like this? What if nothing ever moved again? What if your body was unable to digest anything because it could not break down the static molecules? What if you could not process water you ingest because it would lock in place rather than permit gravity to motivate it down your throat? What if you are no longer able to >breathe< because I stop producing this 'air bubble', and the plants are no longer creating oxygen for you to inhale? What then? Life would be over for you. All because movement was removed. And if I then allow motion to resume? By then you would be dead. You would be >removed< from the circle prematurely."
Yuuichi listens when the person behind the mask speaks. He wavers just a little bit in his stance, seeming to shrink down into himself the more that this strange person talks. His eyes are wide, shocked, as words drift across the air with so many ears to hear, but only the two on his own head will do so. He shrinks back away from the man a little bit despite the assurance that the man is here because of Rei recruiting him. He seems wary, almost afraid of this man.
The goings on about life cause him to look speculatively on each person about them. He notices the mother attempting to feed her child and how she seems determined to feed her of this dead animal turned into something else. A shiver passes through him and he licks his lips, though not in hunger. Rather, his lips have become parched, dry, cracked, likely because he is afraid of this person who stands in front of him.
"You… scare me," he notes to the man when he's done speaking. He turns his eyes back to him, focusing on him. Hands fidget a bit at his sides, but he doesn't move away, he just stares wide-eyed at the man. "I know what you're saying… I exist because I kill… but… why are you telling me this? Rei-san told you about me? I don't know who you are…"
The man turns completely to face Yuuichi and nods an affirmative to the question about who told him about Yuuichi. Then the tall stranger takes a few steps towards him. "The Evolution Agenda is about more than just helping people short-term, and about more than just the long-term goal of ending war. It is about ensuring the circle remains unbroken. And right now, there are those who seek to either influence the circle's movements or to end such movement entirely. You were recommended to me as someone who can be counted on to make sure life continues moving normally until such a time when the Life-Breakers are brought to heel and made to suffer for their crimes against the entire >planet<. I will give you assignments and instructions that will advance the goal of preserving life whenever possible, and you may either complete them or you may return to the life you had before meeting Hino Rei. If you choose the latter, you will of course not speak to anyone about what you may have seen, heard, or accomplished while working with us."
The man pauses and then says, "You may choose now. Your choice will determine whether you are given a name to call me by or not."
Stunned silence is what comes from Yuuichi when the giant of a man steps towards him. He doesn't back away, though. A lesser man would surely have backed away in his fear of this masked giant. Yuuichi is afraid, but he stands his ground, resolute in the knowledge of his capabilities and unwilling to show weakness. But this man is a giant and he stares up at him, especially when given the mans ultimatum. Choose to work for him or walk away from this life he'd taken up? Become an outcast with nowhere to go again or have a purpose in life? And it would send him away from Rei and Mune, too… "I… I accept," he says with a small nod of his head.
The man accepts what Yuuichi says without any sign of acknowledgement, other than a single sentence. "You may refer to me as 'Amuro' when you refer to me, but not in front of others." Then he turns his back and says, "I look forward to working with you, Yuuichi. I will have one of our mutual acquaintances communicate to you anything of importance." Then the world seems to be torn away in shreds of black and grey, to reveal the original reality. Yuuichi would find himself right back at where he was leaning against a counter. He is not in the position of one who has fallen asleep. It is more like the entire conversation happened in a infinitely small fraction of a second… Or as though it happened >outside< of time itself… The memories would be clear as day, but the events would seem to have never happened at all.
The sound of everyone coming to life, the glare of the lights, the smells of food, all assault Yuuichi. By one of the serving tables, a little girl held up by her mother is ladelling herself some fish soup, while a man with a plate of food has just tripped over a child and lands on his face, the food going flying onto the floor. People from the Evolution Agenda quickly come over to make sure he and the child are okay.
Yuuichi nods his head at what Amuro says, and then blinks. When he blinks and looks around again, everything is back to where it was before. He steps back from the counter and watches the man with the plate trip. Turning his head to the side again, he watches the woman feeding the girl she holds up in her arms. No words escape him, but he looks completely perplexed by the situation that goes on around him. "That was… weird," he says to no one before he shakes his head and someone pushes him off to go back to his work.