Date: March 16, 2012
A secret threat hangs over Sousa and Itami, but not knowing when it will strike, they must deal with other pressing problems…
"Blood Red Sandman - Nebulous Deadline"
Kazekage Administration Dome
The opening of the Kazekage Administration Dome leads up a flight of stairs, into the lobby of the expansive building. Looking upwards, the entire building is open to the sky. Each floor is a ring, built with a hole in the center to allow a view both upwards and downwards. It is a very impressive sight, with many people visible moving around the upper levels, and stopping to chat around the railings.
The lobby has a tiled floor, with a intricate concentric circular pattern, and the walls themselves have been actually painted, and have designs etched into the hardened sand. The only piece of furniture on the first floor is a desk, and directly behind that, a stair case moving up to the next level. On either side of the desk are Male guards, their faces covered, and a make secretary is seated behind the desk, ready to take any questions or arrange appointments.
No one proceeds to the upper levels without the secretary approving them, and in most cases the armed guards also check them out to make sure they are carrying no weapons. However, there are a few people who can walk back and forth easily without the guards checking them, although all of them must first speak with the secretary.
An early morning and that means that Sunagakure is at its coolest. Ah, but don't worry. It will be hotter in the next hour or maybe two if they're lucky. Spring certainly doesn't exist here.
Inside administration, people are already buzzing around getting work done and or arguing with one another, barking orders and whatever else may occur inside this place. In the upper levels, it's fairly quiet since the majority of the business that takes place in those offices are of a bit more weighted. Speaking of business, Itami had some to do with the Kazekage, so she found herself going to his office to speak with him about a pressing matter. Then again, she wonders what can really be considered pressing anymore since what she wishes to share has always been pressing in some form. She sighed and shook her head before stepping inside and closing the door behind her.
Sousa thinks in odd ways, by the standards of most people. For example, if an ordinary person knew that there was a seemingly unkillable monster intending to kill them and everybody in their village, they would probably place extremely high priority on defending themselves from this fate, or possibly the whole village if they're more altruistic. Sousa? Well, the whole monster-coming-to-get-me thing does weigh on his mind, but he continues to fulfill the role of Kazekage as though he isn't expecting any trouble out of the ordinary.
His reasoning goes something like this: everybody has to die eventually (well, the probability of it is very high anyway), and what's important to him is not so much how long he lives, but what he learns in that time. There is no guarantee that the knowledge attainable in this life will also be available in the next (if indeed there is a next), or that there is any way of returning to this life (certainly there is no abundance of people with verifiable claims of having done so). As Kazekage, Sousa has access to resources, underlings, and authority which enable him to learn things several times faster than he could as a more ordinary person. Thus, continuing to live as Kazekage is several times more valuable to him than continuing to live not as Kazekage, and his odds of surviving the nebulous deadline hanging over him would not improve several times if he were to make preparations against the threat that would jeopardize his position — say, by informing the general populace of the Ghoul's identity and his own part in hiding it for so long. Weighing it in the scales, the decision is simple for Sousa: handle the problem himself as much as possible, and hope he lives to continue enjoying the benefits of being Kazekage.
So when Itami walks into Sousa's office, he's busy doing Kazekage stuff, burning through a stack of paperwork. He's been unusually diligent about that lately even, trying to get enough of it done that the administration won't be up in arms if he does have to disappear for a few days. He glances up as Itami enters and closes the door behind herself. "Greetings, Itami-san. Your demeanor indicates poor news, correct?"
Itami had to wonder about being read so easily, but then again, the only times she does come in here is to bring up some bad news. Besides that, she looks terribly tired and struggling to keep herself together. "Yes, it does," she replied simply. "Nai has now confirmed himself as The Ghoul and now is bound to go a more destructive route than before. Granted, I know he's been around, but I think this time, for sure, things are going to be fairly difficult. I've been trying to determine if it's best to warn the public about this threat he's promoted himself to be now more than ever?" She inquires. "I just don't want to endure more chaos. The village was recently attacked by Kirigakure ninja, though they were dealt with quickly, I have to dedicate time to another matter and now…we have The Ghoul to deal with," she sighs and walks forward to plant herself in a seat. "I want to tell the public what they may be up against, but I just don't know if it'd be truly in their favor. Panic is the last thing we need, but then again, I feel they deserve to know."
Sousa resumes scratching away at documents. "My own assessment is no," he says flatly. "Our best recourse is to use Nai's fixation upon me, and hope that he will come after me first. Were the general populace to be informed, not only would there be a great deal of unproductive scurrying, but they would interfere with any plans we might attempt. Some would be determined to protect me, in spite of any orders to the contrary. Others, likely more in fact, might grasp upon the idea of offering me to the Ghoul as an appeasement. Either of these would of course have low probability of success." Sousa lays the current document in the finished pile. "So, what happened for Nai to confirm himself as the Ghoul?"
"But his fixation no longer seems to be on you, but instead on the village. More than the village," Itami replies. "I understand those concerns, but…" She lifts her hand to her head and rubs her temples gently. "Then what are we going to do about this? Actually…" She shook her head, "Nevermind about that. I'll need to leave the village and take a few shinobi with me. I have to fulfill my duty to someone that I failed to protect. Do we have any resources that might make my trip easier? I need a means to get from here to the Land of Fire quickly. From there, I'll need to cut across the water. The individual I'm looking for is the niece of the Fire Daimyo. If I don't get to her, the Land of Fire could suffer a civil war."
Sousa chuckles softly. "Duty to someone you failed to protect? And people think you cold-blooded." Sousa drums his fingers on his desk. "Some would regard civil war in another country as advantageous to us. In the wider scheme of things, however, I would prefer that one of the friendlier nations not be torn apart at the moment. There are machinations in the world which may require alliances to counter." Sousa sighs. "Take anyone you wish with you. I've no immediate need for any particular shinobi…except, ironically, you." Sousa gives Itami a look. "Please try to hurry back. It would be unfortunate if the Ghoul made his move in your absence."
"That's something I also fear," Itami was definitely worried. So much to do. "I'll do my best to hurry back. I don't want this to last too long. I can't…let that happen." She clenched her fists lightly with some determination building in her. "Alright. I won't tell the village. About the Ghoul, I mean. I'll just gather up some shinobi and head out immediately. My first stop will be Konoha. From there, I'll go after the niece."