Date: February 27, 2011
Nai approaches the Kazekage about his being assigned an "apprentice" by the Sasaki Elders… Along with some more delicate topics.
"Blood Red Sandman - Good and Evil"
Kazekage Administration Dome - Sunagakure
Sousa is a busy man, of course. But Hone Nai has scheduled an appointment with the Kazekage — through the proper channels, rather than a mysterious request to come talk in the Catacombs, this time — and so all the other issues will have to be shelved for at least a little while. It is unclear what the specifics of this meeting will entail, but Nai wrote 'Matters related to the unwarranted assignment of an apprentice to myself' in the appointment application, along with 'and other issues'.
When the appointed time arrives, Nai has been waiting for at least thirty minutes — just incase Sousa somehow can see him early. He is standing in the waiting room outside the Kazekage's office, where the private secretary of Sousa has her desk, rather than the room prior where multiple secretaries and office assistants work almost constantly like bees in a hive.
The recordskeeper is holding a stack of papers and at least one (already opened) letter. But they are not the huge bundle that he normally is seen carrying around.
A muffled *WHUMPH* shakes the building, particularly near Sousa's office. The doors of said office strain slightly, and a thin stream of sand pours out through the cracks. Then they unlatch and fly open, allowing a hill of sand to topple out into the hallway. Sousa walks down the pile, dusting the sand from his robes. "That was a very interesting reaction. I wonder if there's a hole in the desert somewhere now? Too bad it would disappear before it could be found anyway." Sousa turns toward the secretary. "Michi-san, would you please call — " " — Clean-up crew to the Kazekage's office," she is already saying into the intercom. "Better bring shovels and wheelbarrows this time." e.e
Sousa nods to the secretary then looks over to Nai. "Ah, Nai-san. You wanted to see me? Something about an apprentice, I believe?"
Nai, if he batted an eye at the eruption of sand, is not noticed doing so. His goggles conceal his eyes well and are basically almost completely opaque. He waits until he is addressed and then nods. "May we speak privately? I have all the necessary documentation here, but there are some other issues that are more sensitive…" he rasps. A pause, and then, "…one of which involves your brush with death last year." He then waits to either be invited into the office or lead somewhere else, since the office may become a bit crowded shortly.
Sousa nods. "Of course. I believe the conference room is unoccupied at the moment." Sousa leads the way toward the aforementioned room. Of course, this would be about Nai's 'condition'. Not that Sousa blames him, it is a pretty all-consuming problem. In more ways than one. c.c Sousa ushers Nai into the conference room, then makes a quick check for spying devices. A place like this is always at risk for such, after all, even if nobody was expecting this conversation to take place here. "We're fairly isolated here, though it's not inconceivable that we be interrupted. Still, nobody should be able to hear anything without opening the door if we keep our voices low. What would you like to discuss?"
Nai follows to the conference room. He has no idea if the room is bugged. But he does not plan to reveal anything too secret regardless. "The first issue is that I received a notification from the Sasaki Elders — BOTH Paths — that I am being 'assigned an apprentice'. Sasaki Imota. I ignored the letter due to my assumption that the authority of the Sasaki Elders did not include designating duties to a recordkeeper that go beyond the scope of his job. However, Imota arrived at and entered my house. He presented himself and said he was 'reporting to me'. Upon examination of the letter, I discovered that it has your stamp on it."
A pause. "I am assuming either you stamped it without looking, or someone else stamped it in your place. You know very well why the Sasaki should be kept away from me."
Sousa raises an eyebrow. "Really? Fascinating." Sousa pulls out a little notebook and scribbles in it. "Circumventive behavior observed in population, precise subject unknown," he murmurs. "This is rather encouraging, in a way. They may yet learn to govern without my direction. Ideally, of course, they should believe they still require me as a figurehead…" Sousa puts the notebook away again. "I find it interesting that they would go to the trouble of getting my stamp upon it," he remarks. "Evidently they felt they needed to awe you into submission. But they aren't very observant if they thought you wouldn't question me about it. We are in relatively frequent contact, after all." Sousa taps his chin. "I suppose there'll have to be an indignant-looking investigation," he muses. "The fraudulent use of a Kage's stamp is not something to be taken lightly. Anyway, I don't imagine it will be too much trouble getting this Sasaki child reassigned. What else is there?"
Nai nods briefly. He already has all the forms ready and tells Sousa so. However, he pauses to mention, "They clearly want to place someone close to me to confirm their suspicious that I am a Sasaki rogue or… The other individual that the Wind Path accused me of being. I do not feel it is self-governing so much as trying to push their agenda forwards." Then he moves on to the next subject.
"Have you read the report from Team 01 following their mission to the Land of the Sea to recover Rurohashi Rinako? I am uncertain to what degree I was mentioned — if at all — but I discovered something while I was 'assisting' them. A 'truth', you could call it. The monster that was blamed for the destruction was very much real. However, it did not fit neatly into any given category of life I am familiar with. Plant, animal, microorganism, virus… Not even artificial life seemed to fit. It was simply… Beyond nature. Beyond the concept of 'living' as you might identify it. I tried to obtain a sample of its Chakra and life force for you to study. I had hopes that an entity hundreds of millions of years old might hold some hidden secret to curing me… That perhaps it was, in some way, a very ancient 'False Immortal'."
Nai feels perhaps he said too much for a room of questionable secrecy with that last term… But it is too late now. So he procedes on. "I was right. It was, in essence, a False Immortal. Perhaps the oldest. Perhaps the FIRST. However, I was incorrect. There was no life force. There was no soul. I obtained no sample. I did discover a very unpleasant truth: there is no 'cure'. I am what I am. This is permanent. If I am destroyed utterly, that is the end. But as long as I exist in this world… I am an intruder. I no longer belong and am no longer part of the natural order. I removed myself from the circle of life when I performed the Preservation Technique on myself… And now I am trying to remember why I ever wanted to remain human to begin with. I have seen humans do so horrible things to each other and the world around them, and for the stupidest reasons imaginable. It is always the same. The same greed, the same hate, the same fear… People are stupid. They will remain stupid."
He turns and starts pacing up and down the room. "You all think you can justify what you do… That you are 'good' and that which you oppose is 'evil'. You do not seek understanding — only confirmation that your fears and beliefs are justified. And anything will serve as evidence!" His voice is raising gradually, shifting from harsh rasp to his true baritone. "But what none of you realize is that your entire world view is based upon assumptions! It is easier to assume than to ask. Easier to believe than to question. Easier to destroy than to create. Humanity is a plague upon this world!" He turns to face Sousa, cloak swirling about him. "I have watched you all for too long. I have grown to loathe your entire species. Human beings are not 'mammals' as they are commonly categorized. Every other mammal on the planet instinctively establishes an equilibrium and balance with nature. Life and death occur. But no other mammal destroys everything around it the way humans do. You are closer to being VIRUSES."
Nai goes quiet for a moment in the middle of his rant. He grasps the back of a chair in one bandaged hand. "I am disgusted that I was ever called human. I am ashamed that I wanted to return to being one for so long. But you might be different… For every ten-thousand or hundred-thousand humans, ONE might have the potential to be worth the resources spent to raise him from infancy to a position where he can make a difference. I have trusted you, Sousa. I do not know how much you trust me, but I feel there may be a level of understanding between us… A connection of some kind. What do you think of all this? Are you able and willing to prove humanity capable of advancing beyond a mere corruption of nature? If so, what do you propose be done? You know for a fact that Death intends to claim you in the future. And we know that it intends to claim me as well. But I feel I will likely not be claimed until long after you have passed on. So tell me… If I have to procede forward for another fifty years, or a hundred, or three-hundred… What should I keep in my mind and heart? What legacy would you wish to leave behind and have carried on by one who may well exist for thousands of years?"
Sousa listens quietly while Nai speaks. He's itching to pull out his notepad and jot down some observations, but he expects that would have an adverse effect on Nai's flow. Best to just trust to memory for now. Sousa waits for a moment after Nai finishes to be certain that he is done, then smiles wanly. "Nai-san, we are men who perform feats that others would regard as magic. Even some of us who do these feats consider them magic. Yet we do them thanks to concrete methods and observe well-defined results and rules regarding these acts. We may not fully understand them as of yet, but that is no reason to suppose they are somehow exceptions to the natural order. This beast — or should I say thing, as we lack the vocabulary to properly define it — is fundamentally no different. Your 'beyond nature' is merely 'beyond our current understanding'."
Sousa folds his arms. "As for your indignation toward humans…you are mostly correct, of course. The point regarding other mammals is unsound, I've observed similarly short-sighted and self-destructive behavior in a variety of species, they merely lack the capacity to outdo the checking influences of their environments. But yes, humans are quite willing to categorize things as good or evil in order to rationalize their desires. But what of it?" Sousa shrugs. "Maintaining a balance that will sustain a variety of life on the planet for as long as possible is not good either, nor is it evil. There IS no such thing as good or evil."
Sousa leans on the back of the nearest chair. "That said, I won't attempt to convince you to change your desires. That would be equally pointless. As absurd as all of our desires are, though, we do have them. So since you ask…" Sousa steeples his fingers and taps them against his lips. "…I suppose what I would most like to leave behind is the will to comprehend."
Nai listens to Sousa's response. He drums his boney fingers on the chair back contemplatively. Then he says, "Very well. The will to comprehend. Understanding is what I will promote for however long I exist. However… I must say that the idea that 'good' and 'evil' do not exist is false. They may be subjective… But they are also absolutes. There can be no good or evil without a soul. If you have no soul, you can be neither good nor evil, except in the eyes of those who DO have souls. You have a soul, Sousa. Death wants to claim it. Please consider whether you can honestly be free of the responsibility to do good instead of evil merely because you are objective about it…"
Then he turns and says, "Thank you for your time." His voice has returned to a rasp. He then procedes to leave, unless stopped.