Date: September 03, 2010
Continuation of "Storm of the Century: Episode 1".
"Broken Memories Pt. 2 - Storm of the Century: Code White"
Right about the present, the pain from that point-blank mental blast has begun receding enough that Kuoroke should be able to get up and be more or less functional. The 'static' in his head has more or less faded, but the pain will linger for awhile, even in its diminished form. A look around the room reveals its structural integrity has been compromised severely, there is some blood on the floor of the interrogation room near where Itami had previously been seated, Itami herself is nowhere to be seen, and the guards out in the >remains< of the hallway are simply dead at best or dead and in pieces at worst.
Also, the Chakra Suppressor on the restraining chair is fried, and the prisoner is gone. And another thing: The entire Village seems to be shaking violently enough that staying down here would be an experience akin to what an insect might go through if put inside of a small box that was then >shaken really hard<. Only in this case, all the humans in the closer quarters of the Administration Dome would be the 'insects' and the 'box' would be the Dome itself, and there is no human being out there shaking the entire building. It's just the land itself acting violent.
What is going to happen next…?
Kuoroke claws at the foot kicking his head. There was a foot here moments ago, and it was kicking him, that much he knows. Where is it now? The Jounin stands up from the ground, slowly, first just getting on his knees and a hand. The other one grasps his head. Whatever that was, it certainly hit him well. While he gets up on his feet, using the remains of the doorpost he was so succesfully guarding to support himself. The Jounin grinds his teeth. Tough little worm. A quick look around tells Kuoroke that there's nothing but corpses to rescue here, so he moves, stumbling at first but then picking up the pace. Even if the pain refuses to go away quickly enough, at least he can get used to it. "I'll get you…" He murmurs quietly as he heads out of the ruined prison, looking around for survivors to help in the cells, and any tracks of this Goro kid.
The blood that may have been noticed on the floor of the interrogation room (or maybe not noticed at all, depending on Kuoroke's state of mind at the time) does not stop showing up once he exits out into the hall to check on the holding cells and so forth. Droplets and small streaks of the red fluid have already had time to congeal and start drying on the floor and occasionally the right-hand wall. The splash-patterns indicate that the one bleeding was in motion, and that the wound producing the blood was likely being swung as a result — this precludes a head injury, for the most part. It is more consistent with the motion of a hand during a sprint.
Other spots are stained more definitively, where the wounded individual placed his or her hand on one thing or another. The stains do not appear to be overly profuse, so the person is probably not dying — at least not based on the injuries he or she may have had while he or she was still >here<. Beyond that, there is no indication of who is injured. Goro, the escaped prisoner… Or Itami, Kuoroke's comrade and fellow Council Member. But whichever it was, it is likely that Itami is either in-pursuit, or departed the area ahead of Goro. The latter does not seem plausible, since there was apparently no indication of an attempt to assist Kuoroke to his feet. How was Itami able to get up chase after Goro then, when everyone else around was still on the floor? Another mystery to add to the list.
The blood trail leads further down the hall, out of the cells and interrogation rooms and so forth, and into whatever the main room of the Security Department might be. Nothing else is visible from here. The ceiling is cracked and crumbling, and so are the walls. This hallway was built with the sturdiest materials by the most skilled Earth-users in the Village. It could potentially even survive a heavy bombing run (if such things even existed here, which they don't). But the intensity of this earthquake is damaging even this place…
The holding cells that have occupants appear to be intact, unlike the area directly outside the specific Interrogation Room that Kuoroke had been in. Those inside are either still unconscious or crippled by the mental assault, or they are trying desperately to get out of their cells by banging on the doors, yelling for help, and anything else they think might assist in getting them set free. None of them are ninja. The Administration Dome is not a prison. The worst offender presently being held is a guy that tried to get a bit too friendly with a woman he did not realize was a Jounin, and is now sporting a black eye, and legal repercussions. Have there been far worse prisoners in the past? Absolutely. But none of >them< are here >now<.
If Councilor Kuroki wants to get them out of here before the whole place caves in on itself, then it is unlikely anyone would complain about it later. And if they >do< complain, then it can simply be asked, 'What would you have done?' That should shut them up.
Kuoroke grabs a keyring off his belt. The tattoos on the back of his fist light up, and an angry roar and a punch later, the lock flies across the cell, allowing the door to swing open harmlessly. The edges of the hole are partially ripped, and partially molten. "You." Kuoroke points at the prisoner, tossing him -or her, who cares who it is?- the keyring. "Let the rest out. Don't know what you're in here for," his glasses glint threateningly, "but if anybody doesn't get out, you're a murderer to me." To emphasise his point, he gives the damaged door a sideways glance. "Move! Now!" The last order is barked as he already turns around. Confident his orders will be obeyed, or that this person will pay dearly, he returns to the trail of blood, following it as quickly as he can, without risking to lose track of it.
The prisoner leaps to obey after the demonstration provided. And also just to get out of that cell! The walls are falling apart! Though anxious to get outside, the goon follows Kuoroke's instructions to the letter, and frees all the prisoners in the area. He obviously can't unlock any high-security holding cells, but no one is in there right now anyway, so that's okay.
Meanwhile, the blood trail would lead Kuoroke himself out of the Security Division entirely, and into the central room of the Administration Dome. The 'entrance', essentially, even though it is a rather massive circular room, rather than a simple entryway. The receptionist's desk has a chunk of granite lying amidst its broken remnants, and though there are some injured people in various places while the floor continues to rumble and jerk at random, there is also a >huge< gathering of people over by the doors leading outside the Dome, to the long flight of stairs down to street-level. Many of them appear to be >just getting up off the floor<, as though the entire mass of fleeing civilians and workers and officials had been knocked down all at once! Or… >Forced< down? Hmm…
Depending on Kuoroke's knowledge of Itami's techniques, he may be able to surmise that it is possible the Watanabe woman flattened all these civilians with her non-lethal wind-based stun jutsu. Or maybe he'll just assume they were knocked down due to the tremors. But either way, there are some people in rather bad shape, littering the floor of the central room. Some have been trampled into a very injured state, if not death itself. There are a number of ninja, generally Chuunin or higher, who are not stopping to help these civilians get up and get out the doors, and are instead running up the thick stone columns that support the second-floor and third-floor balconies and walkways, above! They seem to be going somewhere with a purpose in mind. Other ninja are doing their best to organize and evacuate the civilians, but in this chaos, it's tough.
Whatever the reason there are ninja running up to the higher floors, it is unlikely simply to sight-see. The blood trail has eased off a bit, indicating the wound may be healing. Still, there is enough evidence among all the fallen pieces of ceiling and so forth to lead Kuoroke to… The same column that all those ninja are running up. That's not a coincidence.
Want to know what else is not a coincidence? There are various digital displays on the walls of this huge room that are showing a 'Code White' message in flashing text. That is >not< the emergency code. It is >not< something that can be set off just by earthquakes. It has to be intentionally triggered by a real, living, thinking human being. It should have been displayed in the Security Department too, but the power must have been off-line or the digital displays there damaged, because no such alert was shown. Still, Kuoroke would probably know at >least< what Code White is. It would have been one of the first things he learned when he was made a Councilor.
Code White means the Kazekage's offices are under attack.
Who's in charge here?! It's a complete chao- Oh. The "Code White" message explains the question that pops up in Kuoroke's mind. He looks around, finds the nearest Chuunin -a Chuunin is probably no match for anything that launches a Code White, anyway-, and points at him, moving into his way. "You! Stay here, get these people safe!" He barks. The Jounin anticipates any protests with, "Get some help!", and accepts no protests that doesn't cover. With those orders out of the way, he charges up the same column as the one his quarry has climbed, activating his trademark acidic tattoos again. As he clambers up, his hands leave undeep acidic burns in the surface, allowing any ninja who decide to follow him somewhat easier hand- or footholds.
In a less dangerous time, Kuoroke would have just taken off his cloak so it doesn't get in the way. Now, however, he has no time for such details the fabric tears, soundlessly in the rumble of rubble falling, people shouting, and earth shaking, and he throws away half of it. The rest just falls off, a useless rag. What is audible even in this noise is the roar that bursts out of his lungs, half a battlecry, half the growl of an enraged animal.
Kuoroke's charge up the pillar, just behind the various Chuunin and some Genin who are likewise racing up the cracked, vertical surface, might be curtailed if it occurs to him that all these ninja do not appear to be heading towards the Kazekage's office. Instead, upon reaching the third floor they head out any one of the two nearest windows, and then start running up the outside of the building. Why are they heading for the roof!? Well, wherever they're going, it's not where Kuoroke is going, and that means it's time for a detour. A hallway nearby branches off from the ring-shaped walkway that circles the central room, two floors below. That hallway is not marked as going to the Kazekage's Office, but as a Council Member and an individual quite likely to be very familiar with the layout of the Administration Dome it may occur to Kuoroke that since time is of the essence, going through the three meeting rooms that are inbetween the nearest hall and the Kazekage's office's hall may be quicker than following the circuitous route that will eventually lead to the same destination.
The three meeting rooms in question each share a door with each other. Thus, the first meeting room has the hallway door and a door shared with the next meeting room. The next meeting room has a door shared with the first room and the third room. The third room has a door shared with the second room and the hallway that Kuoroke is headed towards. And even if they didn't share doors, he'd probably just punch his way through the walls for the sake of expediency.
It would take about 45 seconds less to go that way than any of the other routes available. That might not seem like a lot, but in a situation like this, it may mean the difference between life and death. Regardless of which way Kuoroke may choose to go, the general situation when he arrives is the same. The heavy oak door leading from the hall into the Kazekage's office hangs from its hinges. There are various office assistants, secretaries, clerks, and even a few advisors and other officials, all strewn about in the room >and< in the hall outside the door. None appear to have been harmed by the earthquake itself, even with pieces of the ceiling lying around on the floor. Some are merely unconscious for whatever reason, while some others are conscious but wounded. The window behind the Kazekage's desk is wide open — mainly because the glass doesn't exist anymore, and the frame has fallen off somewhere outdoors. The curtains thrash across the floor like wounded animals, having been torn from the curtain rod by the violent winds long ago. Bookshelves have toppled, various knick-knacks that used to clutter the desk are broken or missing, and one of Sousa's 'experiments' that looks a bit like an animated blob of mold is currently attempting to escape towards the window now that the bottle it was being kept in is shattered.
But where is the Kazekage in all this?
Then Kuoroke may see it. The white and red hat of a Kage lies on the floor behind the desk, only half of it visible from the doorway. The carpet is stained bright red in that vicinity. Why the hat hasn't blown away yet is unclear, but it may be that some weight is holding it down… Like a body…?
Kuoroke gets up the pillar. The roar that started at the bottom now is getting close to a mouth-foaming rage. He takes the direct way, the one through the meetings, not because he understands how much time he'd save. Right now, instinct is simply telling him, a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. In this case, the points are the Kage's office and the top of the pillar, and it leads him through the doors, one going after the other. The furniture in those meeting rooms, at least that which is still standing in the onslaught of the elements, meets a tragic fate: as he runs through the rooms, he runs over one table, but the second one, he simply plows through, splinters going everywhere as his fist pulverize it. May not have been the smartest idea, since it takes him about three valuable seconds, but his pre-planned straight line went through there, and there's that little excess anger to get rid of. The last of the three meeting tables has already been cleared for him by a piece of ceiling.
Similarly, the straight line did not pass exactly through the middle of the door, so when he storms into the Kage's office, his shoulder slams into the doorpost, slightly cracking it. The shoulder is bruised, too, but not gravely damaged. The fact the lines etched over his back and limbs have lighted up somewhere during his mad charge certainly helped this. Due to the impact, his entrance into the room is something of a half pirrouette. Once all this linear and rotational momentum has been neutralized, the Jounin looks around frantically, notices the hat, and leaps towards it.
The heavy desk that the hat is lying behind was obstructing Kuoroke's view, but once he leaps towards the discarded head-wear, the details that were hidden become visible. Lying behind the desk is a person. Or, perhaps more accurately, a person's >body<. The individual in question wears white robes, and has one arm extended, the fingers clenched tight on the rim of the hat. A large piece of the window is planted in the victim's back, and the white robes are stained red all around it, along with the carpet that the body is lying face-down on.
However, as grisly a discovery as this is… There is one small ray of hope. The body that lies at Kuoroke's feet is >not< the Kazekage's. It's a woman named Mara — a friend of the Kazekage's from before Sunagakure was founded. She has been working for and with him for at least a decade. And despite her grievous injury, it appears that she is >not dead<! Her eyes open suddenly when Kuoroke lands in front of her, and she looks up at him with a mix of panic and desperation. She tries to open her mouth to talk, but when she does so, blood pours out from between her lips. Still, she does not give up there, and instead tries to lift her right arm, the one that was previously lying at her side, and reaches up… But not towards Kuoroke.
She is not pleading for help. She instead points out the broken window, as the wind tears through it, sending dust and sand to pelt off various surfaces. She moves her lips, but with all that blood in her lungs, and the roar of the wind, it's very hard to make out what she's saying. Is she trying to indicate where her attacker went or where the Kazekage is? If the latter, then she may be trying to inform Kuoroke so he can go warn the leader of Sunagakure, or perhaps rescue him.
…And let Kuoroke pray that it will not be to avenge him.