Date: July 7, 2011
While sifting through files, Itami came upon a file of Meimei, better known to her as Yoko, as a listed criminal. Feeling a bit uncertain and perhaps even fooled about who she really is, she summons Meimei to her office to address it. What she learns offers her more insight into Meimei and that some things are best left forgotten.
"Best Left Forgotten"
A thin layer of clouds covered the village today, but it did nothing to relieve the heat. It almost felt as if the clouds weren't there at all, but they were a welcome sight. Clouds weren't all that common around here, after all. Business carried on as usual, people going to and fro about the village to tend to their work, both inside and outdoors.
Itami sat in the office today going over different forms and paperwork that she didn't really care for and probably wasn't going to finish. Her aide wasn't here, but that was probably for the best. He never really took a day off for himself so everything had to be done on her own, including the summons she sent to a certain individual. While waiting, she decides to clean up the office a bit and have some water ready. It wasn't exactly the best of conditions in here as the heat of the sun managed to make its way inside, though less so than those who might be out in it.
It is, as can probably be expected, not very warm in the Land of Snow. It is not as bad as an entire planet covered in perpetual winter would be, of course. That would basically be death to most life on Earth. But despite this, the Land of Snow is still a frigid and often miserable place to live. Winter is the worst, but even during summer it is fairly unpleasant. 35 degrees Farenheit is considered 'worryingly warm' and is, infact, quite dangerous. It means a lot of the snow and ice is likely to melt, and in some cases this means falling through a sheet of ice that appears solid but is actually half-thawed. It also means avalanches, sometimes floods, and STORMS. The interaction of temperatures can lead to a lot of problematic weather.
And yet, even though she hated her home land and every second she spent there was one in which her life was in danger, the woman known to the people of Sunagakure as 'Hibiki Yoko' really misses the cold sometimes. Summer in the Land of Wind is one of those times. She is practically dying from the heat. She is sluggish, somewhat disoriented, even more irritable than usual, and ALWAYS SWEATING. Good LORD does she hate sweating.
She hopes Itami's office is air-conditioned. Walking up to Itami's office, she raps her knuckles on either the door or the door frame, depending on if the door is opened or not. There was a time when she would have been very suspicious of being called to see a Council Member or… Really, anyone at all. But even fugitives eventually let down their guards.
Meimei/Yoko is not wearing her typical outfit, which mostly consists of layers of black clothing that are not at all suitable to the desert. She is instead wearing a light, sleeveless, white dress (a DRESS!? For SERIOUS!?! :O) that makes her look even more like a teenage girl than she does normally. She also has a white sunhat on her head, and her long, bright purple hair is bound into a braid that goes down her back to about her waist. About the only real sign of her being more than a kid is that she is not quite as flat-chested as she generally appears in her usual clothes. This is mostly only evident because the dress has shoulder straps and no sleeves and is probably too big for her because the neckline dips a bit. She has 'bumps' but that's all she can reasonably claim to have.
Other than that, a pair of sandals on her feet and a pair of sunglasses with lenses so dark they appear almost black resting upon her minute nose are the only other exterior garments she seems to be wearing. However, for someone like Itami who has probably gained sufficient experience by this point to be able to spot hidden weapons, Yoko DOES have a kunai sheath strapped to her left lower thigh, and a shuriken holster on the opposite leg. They aren't exactly 'obvious' but if the skirt portion of the dress rests against them, the barely-noticeable outline would be plenty of indication for a Council Member.
Itami walks from the desk and towards the door to open it and greet Yoko with a smile. "Welcome! Of course, you know I've been expecting you…" She steps out of the door way and gestures her hand to the office, particularly the desk where a nice, big pitcher of ice cold water and cups were waiting. "Feel free to help yourself to the water." She would close the door quietly behind her after Yoko stepped inside the office. "It's just a bit warm in here, but better than being outside. So, how are you faring today?" She thought to start things cordially.
"If you need time to cool off, then that's fine. I wish to start this off with some amount of comfort." She doesn't think this would be a particularly comfortable situation to begin with, but she'd at least like to try. While taking her seat back at the desk, she scrutinized Yoko momentarily and took note of her outfit. It was nice, but she did catch a hint of something more beneath it. She didn't present any indication of it bothering her, though.
Yoko is practically panting like a dog when Itami opens the door. She is fanning her face with one hand, and pauses only to bow her head politely in greeting as she is invited in before dragging her feet all the way to the desk. In answer to Itami's question about how she is doing, the purple-haired woman goes, "Nnn." Then she pours herself a glass of water. As she is lifting the glass to her mouth eagerly, she then hears Itami say 'I wish to start this off with some amount of comfort.' Her hand stops moving, lips remaining pursed for drinking, head tilted back a bit. 'This?' she thinks. 'What the hell is THIS?' The wheels in her head start turning immediately, working through the heat-induced drowsines from moments before and trying to figure out what the meeting might be for. She honestly hadn't even considered it previously.
Looks like Itami has made mistake #1 with her careless wording. However, only a couple seconds pass before Yoko completes her objective of guzzling down the entire glass of water and then thunking it down on the desk with a satisfied, 'Ahhh' to accompany it. Wiping her mouth with the back of her other hand, she seats herself in whatever chair may be available. She leans back, knees apart in what some old-fashioned individuals might consider an 'unladylike' manner, and seems completely relaxed and comfortable here in the office of a leader of a foreign Hidden Village.
Yoko is quiet for several seconds as she looks around the office in a casual manner, though how she can see anything with goggles, let alone dark-lensed ones, is up in the air. Eventually, she turns her attention on Itami and asks, "So, what's going on, Itami-san?"
Itami has never seen someone so uncomfortable before in this village. Perhaps some travelers, but they didn't appear this extreme. She watches Yoko drink the water in record time and her expression is clearly surprise. "What…what's going on?" She inquired in a distracted manner before clearing her mind and refocusing back on the initial subject. "Right, what's going on… Well, I was going through some files concerning another individual, but I came upon another that mentioned you." She starts. "Who, exactly, is Onohara Meimei?" She knows its her, but what she wishes to know is what she's all about. "I only know you as Yoko, an instructor at the academy and guardian of one of the students. You're wanted for various charges, but I haven't known you to be a dangerous individual and I don't think that now. What is this all about?" She shrugged as she asked these questions of her.
As she waits for an answer, she takes up a glass and pours water into it to drink. "What all occured before you came here?" She's sounding a bit like a broken record, but she's mostly curious about all of this as well as concerned.
Yoko doesn't react immediately to Itami's questions or words. She waits until the other woman is done speaking and then lets the silence sit for awhile. As the quiet drags on, she just sits there with her arms hanging down loosely, no attempting being made to reach for anything or any other suspicious actions. Eventually, she does speak.
"I guess it was too much to hope for that the past could lay buried and forgotten, huh?" she asks with a faint, humorless smile. "Somehow, memories just seem to have a way of… Catching up with you." she finishes distractedly while glancing off to the side, and out the window. After a few more seconds of silence, she explains things a bit more.
"The Onohara Clan were a native population of the Land of Snow. Ever been out that far? No? I figured. You don't seem like the type to like the cold. Anyway, they were mostly pacifists. They didn't cause problems, they didn't like fighting, and the only ones really trained in combat were the shinobi expected to either hunt and provide for the Clan as a whole, or to protect the entire Clan. The latter category were known as the 'Guardian Path of the Onohara' or simply 'Guardians'. The entire Onohara Clan had a Kekkei Genkai known as 'Shoumei' or 'Illumination'. Outsiders and foreigners often called it 'Shoumeigan' due to the belief that the abilities of the Onohara were centered in their eyes. They DID have very light-sensitive eyes, and shinobi of sufficient skill or power could cause the appearance and abilities of their eyes to change via Chakra, but this was just an 'aspect' of the over-all genetic ability."
Yoko finally lifts a hand, but it is done slowly and she just scratches her cheek a bit, apparently having an itch, before lowering her hand again. "The secret of their ability is only for Onohara to know. But I can reveal that if you cut out an Onohara's eye or eyes and plant them in someone else, all you will wind up doing is making that individual painfully sensitive to even the smallest amount of light. Nothing else." Sighing, Yoko lifts both arms interlaces her fingers and stretches them over her head, grunting a bit as her muscles strain for a few seconds before she relaxes.
"Only the Guardians possessed Shoumei strongly enough to access the true power of the Onohara, known as 'Light Release'. It is not strictly-speaking a Combination Element, such as Ice Release or Lava Release or Banana Release or whatever the hell else exists in this world." She waves dismissively. "It is more to do with using Chakra to control light itself. 'Light Chakra' doesn't exist. No such thing. But a Guardian Onohara can take existing light and shape it into a beam, or hold it still as a sword, or create illusions similar to Genjutsu by hypnotising people… Anyway, long-story short, during the Clan Wars, the much larger and much more aggressive ninja of the Land of Snow wanted to unify all the people who lived there so that they could not only defend the — at the time un-named — country's borders, but also to claim new territory and eliminate rival Clans."
Yoko's smile has faded by this point, and she looks directly at Itami. "They tried to press the Onohara into service. The Onohara refused. They didn't want to be part of the wars. They didn't want new territory. They were doing just fine on their own. So, all these war-mongers saw this as a 'betrayal' or something, even though they had never been allied at any point. Further, they saw the Onohara as a threat. So they waged a war of their own against us—them. A war of GENOCIDE. When the heat of their rage had cooled, these others saw what they had done, saw how the once great and powerful Onohara had been nearly rendered extinct. They were horrified and they were ashamed. But they were also selfish. They wanted to keep the rest of the world from discovering what they had done. They tried to cover it up in three ways."
Yoko raises one hand and holds up three fingers, and tics them off as she outlines the methods of truth suppression used by the enemies of the Onohara. "First, they announced that the pacifistic Onohara had been nearly destroyed by the Uchiha Clan. Next, they took all the civilian Onohara left alive and relocated them to the city that was under construction in the Land of Snow… It would later become known as 'Yukigakure'. There, they kept the Onohara civilians in a private quarter, isolated from everyone else, and fed them a fictional history that painted Yukigakure's rulers as the saviors of the Onohara who had rescued them from the evil Uchiha. That was more than a generation ago, and so there is probably an entire generation who have no idea that the ones who keep them imprisoned are the same ones who tried to kill their ancestors."
"The final method was to hunt down and kill every single Onohara who practiced the ways of the ninja or attempted to learn them. This was basically the ones who had survived the genocide and avoided capture. They remembered the truth. They remembered, and they fought back. They struggled to stay alive and to one day reveal the truth to their imprisoned cousins… I was the daughter of two of those survivors. Further, I belong to the Guardian Path — the ones most sought after by Yukigakure's hunters, due to our Kekkei Genkai. I barely managed to escape that country after my family was ambushed. I have spent most of my life on the run, never staying in one place for too long, never practicing my Light Release too much, and avoiding using it even in self-defense whenever possible. It only takes one witness to expose me as Onohara. But then I came here… And I thought maybe I was safe. I thought I could rest, and maybe build a normal life. I thought I could adopt Risu and be like a big sister to her… Or perhaps a mother. I'm not sure which fits better. I wanted to stop running, stop plotting revenge, and just… Be the woman I never had the chance to be."
Onohara Meimei, for that is who she is, sighs and then sits up in her chair and starts to stand. "But it looks like I'm not done running after all," she states rather ominously. "The Kazekage knows who I am and where I came from. I told him the truth when I applied for my job. He said he'd keep it a secret and I was welcome to stay. But I haven't made any such agreement with you." Looking completely serious now, Meimei looks sternly at Itami. "So I guess I have two options now. Option one is to try to kill you and make it look like an accident or pass it off as someone else's doing. Option two is to flee. The first option probably won't work, and it would eventually be discovered, so I'd have to run regardless. Option two is not exactly palatable to me, as I've kind of gotten attached to this Village, but I don't really have any other choices. There's plenty of light in this office. You didn't really prepare for keeping someone like me contained prior to this meeting. So if I wanted to, I could lock you in an illusion before you could even move. I could walk out of here and by the time someone checks on you or you snap out of it, I'd be long gone."
Meimei then asks calmly, but with a bit of an edge to her voice, "But I'll ask you first before I decide what to do… What did you plan to do if I confirmed my identity, as I just have? What do YOU think I should do? If you've got an 'Option Three' that isn't 'surrender and be chopped up for my Kekkei Genkai' or 'get turned over to Yukigakure for more of the same or worse', then I'm all ears."
Itami sipped on her glass of water while waiting for Yoko to explain herself. She halfway expected some negativity, but it wasn't in the way that she intended it would be. The negativity that happened to be drawn up was that of a past that was best left forgotten by Yoko. She can't say that she isn't feeling some measure of guilt for it, but she did wish to know. So, she listened to the explanation, remaining quiet so that she couldn't impede anything, attempting to gather as much as she could from it. It appears that this is more than just a personal history, but has much to do with the clan itself.
Once the history narrows down to Yoko or Meimei herself, Itami is now leaning back in her seat, arm propped on the rest and head in hand. She wasn't bored, but she was allowing herself to relax after being so tense. Yet, it seems she can't relax for much longer as now it appears that she's become a target. Understandable, but that's not a comfortable position to be in. She can't say she's witnessed the full extent of her abilities, but she doesn't want to. Not used on herself, at least.
Raising up from her lax position, she situated herself in a proper sitting position and upon being questioned, she shook her head softly. "Honestly? I didn't plan to do anything. I may have been suspicious and maybe somewhat agitated when I went over your information before, but…" She sighs, "I don't think it's anything you should be booked for. I'm going to take your word or words, rather for the truth." She takes her cup in hand and lifts it to her lips to drink the water within and sets it back down after she's finished. "You haven't done anything to Sunagakure. All you've tried to do is live." She shrugged. "I can't take that away from you and based on the history that you've told me, that would mean that your listing is based on lies. Under these conditions, you're just an average citizen of this village, have always been here and are make a living as an instructor." She thinks. "Meimei doesn't live here. As far as I know, you're still Yoko. Therefore, I think you should stay here and continue with your life before I decided to bring it up. No surrendering or being turned over to Yukigakure."