Date: June 30th, 2010
"Broken Memories Pt. 1 - Amuro Encounter"
After she'd healed one shinobi caught in an explosion, Mushi had left the camps of the Waterfall. She'd come to help her hometown, not a ragtag band of hotheads. She, if no one else, had seen the Mizukage help her leader, and he'd paid them back with betrayal. She wondered what her village had come to. It used to be so good and noble… or perhaps she was merely remembered it from the eyes of a child. She hadn't even bothered to visit her father, if he was still around. Instead, Mushi patrols far away from the camps. Even still, she had a strong connection the Waterfall, and she didn't want to leave them if it meant their destruction. Besides, she was searching for someone very important. But for now, she rested.
Mushi sat in the middle of a camp with a tent and a fireplace amidst a grassy spot surrounded by trees. As usual, seals are placed here and there around the camp, an almost complete circle that will help to keep out any pesky rodents or bloodthirsty animals that may come her way. Anyone who'd travelled with Mushi would know well of the seals, though even if they stepped on them, it'd be a momentary freeze. Mushi is currently holding a kunai and a block of wood, shaving it off into some kind of figurine while humming under her breath. It's getting to be later at night, too dark to read, and too light for any starts to shine yet. Despite being sheltered some people would have an easy time finding her since, after all, she'd told Goh she'd camp around these woods if she decided not to stay at the Waterfall.
Indeed, after hearing that Mushi would be camping in the area if not at the Waterfall, the blonde Pickler had made this destination his top priority. Having somehow lost his memory and then using the Fire Stone to track down Amuro and his three cheerleader sidekicks, the ex-Jounin strides confidently through, peering about in the fading sunlight. "This.. should be the area, sort of." The distinct sound of humming comes across the air, causing the elder teen to sort of pause and turn his head. He'd recognise that tone of voice anywhere, of course! Changing direction, Goh heads off to the healer. It only takes him moments to close the gap.
Stepping over the seals as if he's done so a million times before, Goh waves. "Mushi! Good to see you're still okay. I haven't seen you since I dropped you off at the Waterfall. I've bet you've had some adventures, huh?" Sitting down near the Healer, Goh beams a smile. "Everything okay? Not interupting your wood carving, am I?"
Mushi stands up when she hears someone approaching. Despite her usual lackadaisical manner, she’s been on high alert ever since she returned to Waterfall Country. When she sees who it is though Mushi relaxes and plops down on the log again. Her kunai which had been clutched almost by a weapon resumes its carving of the wood. “Oh nothing much has happened,” she says, smirking. “I’m just carving this for a new acquaintance.” She holds up the chunk of wood which is long and starting to be pointed. “A wooden kunai. It’s a sign of goodwill you give to a person who you want to be peaceful with.” She goes back to shaving it bit by bit. But she would pat the log beside her, signaling that Goh might sit next to her. She looks at him curiously and says, “You look like you ran into a few adventures yourself. You haven’t been hurt have you.” If Goh would let her she’d place a hand on his shoulder to send a probing wave of echoing chakra through him.
Indeed sitting down on the log next to Mushi, Goh will examine the wooden kunai closely. "Nice work. I guess it's better than giving someone a real kunai, huh? Might interpret that slightly.. I dunno. Negatively. Hm?" As she peers at him, Goh throws his head back to laugh. "Haha! Me? Hurt? Never. It's weird… I'm suffering from some memory loss." A pause. "..I must have fallen into someone's technique, or a trap. That, or I just hit my head. Really, really hard." Extending his arm, Goh watches as a little Salamander scurries from his vest. "..but you can deal with that later, I'm sure. Right now, I have something more important. I caught the guy that got to the Second Tower. He also pilfered what was inside! A second stone. Yknow, those stones I was talking to you about? The ones that give you Godly power and such?" Pause. "I tracked him down, broke into his little fortress and got him with one of my super strategies! Ha!"
"Memory loss?" Mushi asks, surprised. "Well, if it's a seal I can probably get it off. Easy peazy if it's Chuunin level, or even some Jounin." She'd already be reaching out when he waves that agenda off, and goes on about a stone. A stone of great power? Mushi can't help but roll her eyes a little. The ninja world seemed obsessed with claiming there were weapons of power. Then again, she suspected the weapons of the Seven Swordsmen to be more than mere rumors, so even if it's unlikely it's not impossible. "More likely someone placed a pretty stone in a fancy tower to pull the wool over your eyes," she says dryly. She listens to his story without comment, and does smile when he claims he had a super strategy. Goh with a mastermind strategy…did he actually do something especially clever? But she's more curious about one thing. "Can I see the stone? If it has any kind of power, you should destroy it. It seems to be turning everyone around here mad."
"No." Goh replies almost instantly. "..the stone reacts to chakra, and I'm pretty sure it cannot be destroyed by any techniques that we have. It works sort of.. I dunno. It amplifies your chakra a thousand fold, Mushi. It's impossible to describe. Anything seems within reason! Nothing is impossible. But I don't keep it on me, because it corrupts. It's stored underground with the Salamanders. They seem to be immune to its lure." With Reiko scuttling down on the ground, Goh clears his throat. "Anyways. The second stone.. we can't let bad guys have it. They could take over everything if they so wished. So! Lucky that I got him." Looking over to Mushi, he stands up. "Anyways. Take my hand. We're gonna go down and question Amuro about the Stone. Where it is, and where he's put it."
Amuro himself would be in hardly ideal surroundings. The entire room he's in appears to be very meaty, complete with fleshy walls, floor and roof. Little puddles of acid lay here and there. He was truly in the belly of a lizard! Furthermore, toxic gasses within the creature sap virtually all of the man's strength. He has enough energy to stay conscious, but movement, and furthermore, techniques? Out of the question. Mind you, since the fleshy walls have absorbed his arms and half of his body, any movement would be difficult anyway. He's sort of just pinned. He's there until someone either gets him out or he recovers. And, knowing this guy, it's probably why Goh insists on doing everything sooner rather than later. Out from the darkness, where a fleshy wall seemingly opens up, emerges Goh and Mushi. They slowly approach the captured man, who still wears that mask with a question mark. "Mushi, this is Amuro. The man who's also after the Stones. Amuro, this is Mushi."
When Goh speaks of the sensation of chakra multiplying, she smiles and says offhandedly, “Actually, I do sorta know what you mean.” She gives a nod when Goh says where it is. His salamanders seem quite resilient and upright. They’d be a good protecting place for the stone. But when Goh leads her into the mouth of the salamander she can’t help but shudder. It’s just so fleshy. When she notices the air shimmering from the fumes, Mushi would begin gathering chakra, before she realizes the effects aren’t touching her. She glances at Goh and then at the man at the far end. Clearly, he’s not affected by it as the other man is. Her grip on his hand tightens a bit. %r%tShe turns to face Amuro. She seems uncertain how to greet the bound prisoner. Eventually, she smiles and says jokingly, “Guess you wouldn’t want this place for a summer home, hmm?” She has the lilting tone of one whose obviously telling a joke that’s supposed to be laughed cheerfully at by all. Nudge nudge wink wink. “But…umm…nice to meet you.” She gives a slight bow, which Amuro could clearly not return, and then looks to Goh. “If you want me to help him wake up a bit I can clear his system a bit of this gunk… or just give him some energy.”
No, Goh caught him easily 'cause Goh is just awesome with amazing plans. :|
"He's.. uh, been under the fumes for a while, but he should be fine to talk, if he so wishes. It's just the process that makes him talk." Goh says simply, looking up at the large man through calm eyes. "The fumes won't hurt me, obviously. Part of the reason that the Salamanders 'picked' me to become their sage is because I'm immune to their toxins. One in every few generations is immune. Anyone I touch is also immune. Dunno how it works, but some Salamanders don't even have toxins! Pretty weird." Looking the man up and down carefully, he sucks in a breath.
"Yeah.. you might have to do that, Mushi. Truth be told, he's been in here for a good few hours now. If you could wake him up, stir his brain.. do something to jump his system, that would be good. Be careful though, huh?"
The masked man continues to hang there silently. If Goh is able to use the Salamander's stomach walls to interpret biological data of those bound in the lizard's flesh, all signs point to Amuro being in an extremely relaxed state. Whether he is conscious or not is up for debate, but he's at least not trying to tense up or actively escape, or otherwise prepare to try anything that would likely fail in such a hostile environment as this.
The black mask on his face with the red question mark on the surface shows no sign of eye holes, breathing holes, or anything similar. How does he even see anything through it?
Mushi would give a nod and gather chakra around her hand. She'd place it on the man's shoulder before sending a cooling wave of chakra through him that'd blast away his fatigue and make most pain he had go away. It'd clear his head despite the fumes he'd inhaled. "Energy Rush," she says. "I made it for wounded shinobi so they could move regardless of wounds. Unfortunately, it allows someone to push themselves to death by overcoming their limits, but it's very useful for exhausted or nearly comatose patients. Until it wears off." Usually the technique would give an hour of energy, but with the fumes still in the air, Amuro would probably have only minutes. "That oughta do it for a few minutes. It's like adrenaline. Or caffeine."
"Hmmm." Goh says, just sort of watching the man above him. "He shouldn't be very hurt. Just exhausted and spent. Either way, if he's meditating or something, then this should at least make it more difficult for him." Otherwise, Goh just stands there, peering at the body in the fleshy walls. "Amuro? Still alive?"
Without changing anything about his body language, bio-data, or anything else, the nearly eight-foot tall man responds in his almost inhumanly deep voice, "Hai, Akuu Goh. My existence continues for now." His head doesn't move at all, but there's the creepy-crawly sensation that he's looking at Mushi somehow, without any eyeholes.
"You are aware that you are now guilty of kidnapping, correct? It is truly amazing what changes can be wrought on an individual who lacks the will to handle the Stones. How many months has it been since you found the Stone of Spirit? How much of your values and life time of experience have been twisted during those few months? Years of living with the belief that you are 'good'… And now this. I wonder how much that your friend really knows about you…" He trails off meaningfully.
Mushi waits, wondering if Amuro is going to try to play sick. When Amuro speaks, Mushi blinks and glances to Goh. She'd not known he was Akuu…she'd definitely heard that clan name before. By the end of Amuro's speech however Mushi looks indignant. "You don't have to know everything about someone," she says, "to know that they're a good person. Goh-kun is one of the best people I know, and I'm sorry for your predicament, but I wonder how much you know about him." She gives a nod, and looks fiercely at Goh while still holding his hand. He ought to stand up for himself! She nudges him in his ribs as if to provoke a response on his behalf.
<Neutral> Hiraku has connected.
With Mushi defending his honor and then poking him, the blonde winces a bit. "Uh, yeah. Kidnapping?" Goh sounds a little confused at this. "..na, it's not really that. Well, I guess maybe? Technically—okay, it is. But I just wanted to talk to you without the three annoying girls there. If looks could kill, they would have deaded me fifty times over. And I haven't really changed at all." Goh says, defending himself now! "I've only touched the thing three times. This is just the only thing left to do. If the second Stone falls into enemy hands, we're all dead." A hand lifts to scratch his head earnestly, thinking a bit. "True. Life changes when I hold the thing, but when it's super far away down underground? I'm fine. Anyway, we're not talking about me. It's all about you. What makes you think you can hold them? Who are you? What do you know about them?"
Amuro hmphs. "I wonder," he answers mysteriously to Mushi's fierce retorts. But then he turns his attention on Goh. "That is how it starts, though… You use it a few times, and eventually you stop wanting to keep it at a distance. You start wanting it closer, so you can keep it safe and keep an eye on it. Soon, you start suspecting those around you of covetting your precious treasure. And then one day…"
He turns his head from Goh towards Mushi again, as he says, "…As you look at the blood on your hands after beating a loved one to death for suggesting that it might be better if he or she held onto the Stone instead of you… You get one brief moment to wonder how it came to this. And then you see the Stone and you know: It's because you're too weak to resist. You >want< the power. You >enjoy it<. And you will do anything — absolutely >anything< — to retain it. Once you give yourself up to the Stone, it is only a matter of time before it will eat you whole. Body and soul. It will have nothing further to take from you. And then you become part of it… And add your voice to the others as you try to feed all of your endless hungers for power."
There is a period of silence, unless broken by one of those present. Then Amuro tilts his head to the side and says, "Or not. Maybe you're some special person who can resist the temptation of absolute power. Maybe you can do what no one else has ever done. Let me know in a few months."
Mushi is nodding to everything Goh says. Yep, he'd made sure to put it at a distance. Perhaps he was the one who was best suited for keeping it out of reach from everyone. Besides, why would a Pickled Vegetabler have need for ultimate power? Even if he is from the Akuu Clan which is… why can't she remember it? As thoughts chase thoughts through her head, Mushi pays only a little mind to Amuro. But by the end of his speech he has her full attention. She looks highly disconcerted. "Goh-k-kun and I aren't in love!" she says, as if he'd been singing K-I-S-S-I-N-G all this time rather than speaking of absolute power. "…I think. But yeah. He's not that kind of guy…or the kind of guy who'd become that kind of guy." Goh would notice Mushi's grip on his hand is painfully tight. Then she shakes her head, as if clearing it, and says more calmly to Amuro, "What would you do if you had the stone? Are you so pure of heart?"
"Funny, I don't see you rambling on about the latter option very much." Goh comments, smirking. "..probably cause it's not nearly as dramatic. But no need. Like I thought, seeing into the future isn't really one of your abilities. And even if I begin to slide that way, I have heaps of things to stear clear me of it. The Salamander have agreed to keep the Stone away from me if I ever start to slide. I trust them completely to do the right thing. Annnnnyway. I can't help but notice that you've.. I dunno. Not answered any questions. Are you really that mysterious?" With his hand tightening a little around Mushi's, Goh tries his next gambit, peering to Mushi.
"..he already has the Second.. so it's not really a case of what if. It's what will. I'm pretty sure he was speaking of experience. Seeing someone else have the Stones? Maybe even it was you ages ago who did that to loved ones? You said that you possessed them decades ago, after all." He says nothing about being in love. Oy!
Amuro hmphs again. The stupidity of youth. "Well, I am not really being offered anything in exchange for answering your questions. You kidnapped me when I offered you what you sought. Now you hold me prisoner and demand answers. If I did not already know a lot of what there is to know about you both, I would probably be asking you questions in turn."
Looking up at the ceiling of the lizard's stomach, Amuro continues to speak. "Instead I will say this: Seeing the future is not a gift of mine. But knowing the past and calculating likelihoods based on my experiences is definitely something I can do. And I am telling you right now that I have seen the Stones corrupt in the past. With my own eyes I have witnessed men and women far purer than >you< turn into devils, and be consumed in their quest for ever greater power. And most of them never realized how far they had fallen, even at the end. Because the Stones convince you that you deserve the power, and that you are the only one who can possibly handle it, because you have good intentions. The evil ones are lost fairly quickly, because they already believe in their methods whole-heartedly, and people gather quickly to stop them. It is those who are 'good' that cause the most harm to everyone."
He looks around a bit more, and then turns his attention on Goh. "I will answer one of your questions if you answer one of mine. If I had the Stone of Spirit I would use its power indirectly. Using it in person will always result in corruption. >Always<. I have the will to resist the whispers for a month or two of sporadic use, I imagine. After that, it would be too late. But there are >other< ways to use the Stones. You do not have to hold it in your own hand, or spend one of your >own< three energies to fuel them. They can be—Well, nevermind about that."
Despite his deep voice seemingly constantly monotone and bored, just before the end he began to speak a bit more forcefully. He relaxes again, though. Heart rate, pulse, breathing, all normal. Then he says, "I have given you an answer to one of your questions and more. But answer one of mine: If you knew there was someone else out there who could not only use your 'Fire Stone' for a good purpose, but would also avoid being corrupted in the process, right this >very second<… Would you be able to hand over the Stone without worrying about it leaving your possession?"
Mushi looks surprised at first when Goh says Amuro has used the stones in the past, but she quickly gets past that. Only someone who really used it could speak of it in that detail. She seems almost captivated by what he's saying. Good and evil, purity and corruption, it's things she's thought of even more than her healing powers. But she does say to Amuro, "You describe it, but there are those who've never seen the stone, but still know the feeling of having ultimate power at their fingertips, and must resist the urge to use it. Power that is certainly evil but can become very addictive." She looks curiously at Amuro. "But it's good of you to tell us this. We won't let your knowledge go to waste, for sure." Done with her piece, she turns to Goh to see his answer to this matter and perhaps if he'll answer Amuro's question. After all, he really has no need to.
Goh listens and listens, and at the question, he seems to not respond. His eyes close, as if thinking. "Of course." His eyes snap open as the youth replies with the utmost seriousness. It's not a snap-made deicision… but likewise, it's not something that the blonde has to think much up this instance since he's given it plenty of thought already. "I wasn't kidding with what I said before, at your little fort. The Stone is evil. Even if used undirectly like you said, I'm sure there's a negative thing. What it is I don't know, since I don't know of any other way to use it. I want to get rid of it as soon as I can. No human should have that sort of power. But it can't just be 'thrown away'. People that you're talking about are pretty hard to come by. Everyone has their shadows, after all." He pauses a little, head tilting up. "Getting rid of that thing would be a huge weight off my shoulders. Not having to worry about it anymore.. Not having to worry about hiding it, not burdening the Salamander with it. But unfortunately, I don't know anyone like that." A glance goes to Mushi, where he grins sheepishly.
"..no offence, Mushi. You're pretty pure, but I'm sure even you have some dark spots that I don't know about."
Amuro hmmms deeply. "I will tell you one last thing before this conversatio ends. Listen very closely, because I will only say this once, and I do so only in what I am sure is a moment of temporary insanity for believing what I have witnessed for more than one-hundred years can change because one >boy< wishes it to be so."
The masked man makes sure he has the full attention of Mushi and Goh. Then he says simply, "The Stones are incomplete. As long as they remain incomplete, they are tools of discord and chaos. If used indirectly they become weapons of stagnation and oppression. But when all >three< of the Stones are brought into >balance<… They become something else. Something pure, and perfect, that can fix the world and all of its wrongs… I want all three Stones so that I can accomplish this goal. I am the one who wishes good with the Stones and knows how to avoid being corrupted. I am the >world's savior<. So the next time we meet, I expect you to abide by your promise and hand over the Stone of Spirit. Until that next time, Akuu Goh, and Nikumari Mushi…"
There is a moment to wonder why he is speaking as though he was going someplace, or as though he can just call an end to the conversation. And then he vanishes in a poof of smoke. Somewhere outside of the Salamander's stomach, the real Amuro will have just absorbed the knowledge of his Shadow Clone. And now he'll come looking for Goh.