Date: August 27, 2010
A sand storm the likes of which has not been seen in more than a century has swept across the desert and is presently hanging over Sunagakure. During this exceptionally destructive weather, the inhabitants of the Village Hidden in the Sand deal with their own business -- some personal, some professional. None suspect what waits outside the Village walls, nor what lies at the center of the storm…
"Broken Memories Pt. 2 - Storm of the Century: Episode 1"
It is after noon, and the sun would ordinarily be blazing brightly, casting its harsh rays on the Land of Wind, and baking those people unfortunate enough to live here. However, instead of brightness, the desert lands is dim, and the sky is somewhat… Obstructed. Why? Because one of the biggest sand storms in decades has been gradually roiling across the land for the past few days, approaching from the north-east, and gradually sweeping towards Sunagakure.
The dust cloud covers literally hundreds of miles of desert, and the winds that accompany it have been howling like the voices of titanic demons since long before the the storm reached the Village. And now it has arrived. Travel outside the Village walls is not permitted presently, and even with the 'wind breaker' of the cliffs and valley that Sunagakure is situated in taking most of the edge off the storm, many people would rather stay inside than endure the bits of sand and dust that are cast into faces, and hair, and anything one might be trying to consume.
The storm will pass over the Village eventually. These things always do. But until then, everyone is expected to just tough it out. Weakness is generally not something that aids desert-dwellers, and is thus not something one finds often. The desert has a way of picking off the weak ones…
In the Administration Dome's Security Department, a tall young man with shoulder-length white hair, purple eyes, wearing a black, sleeveless tanktop, baggy black pants, and black combat boots is seated in an uncomfortable chair, with his gangly arms and legs slipped through various cuffs and restraints that are in turn bolted to the iron piece of furniture. Guards -- >NINJA< guards this time -- are stationed around the room. They watch this guy's every movement with utmost attention to detail.
The teenager has not tried to cause any further trouble following his capture, but he also took down a lot of people before he gave up. Though no one seems to know what to make of him, Sunagakure's shinobi are at >least< not taking him lightly. At the moment, he is staring boredly across the room at the featureless wall of this particular interrogation room. He tries once again to engage one of his jailors in conversation.
Turning his head to the right side he says, "Hey, guard-san!" The guard glances up, making a brief noise of surprise. "Mn?" The white-haired teen says, "It's really boring in here. Could you get me a magazine or something?" The guard lets out a sigh and then turns his gaze away again, to the box attached to the back of the chair.
Goro's lips turn down in a frown and he goes 'hmph!' before turning his attention to his left, where a female guard is standing. "Ohayoo~!" Goro calls out cheerfully. The woman startles, and looks at Goro. When Goro just grins, squinting his eyes and giggling, she sighs and asks, "What do you want?" The youth responds with, "How about you stand over here in front of me, first of all! I don't want to strain my neck. My neck is very delicate, you know!" He indicates the part of the room in front of him with his head. "…." the woman offers in response.
"Hey, I know! We can play 'charades'!" Goro continues. The guard asks, "…What?" She still hasn't moved from her guard post. The male guard on Goro's right says, "Kiku-san. Do not converse with the prisoner." Kiku lets out a breath and nods. "Hai." Goro frowns and turns his attention back on the male guard. "Hey, you shouldn't be telling people what to do. I'm just trying to have some conversation here!" The guard ignores him. Goro goes 'tch!' and focuses back on the woman. "So… 'Kiku', huh? Pretty name!" The woman remains silent. Hmmming, Goro decides a shift in tactics is in order…
Unbeknownst to him, however, there is another 'questioning' scheduled soon. And it won't be the same detectives and psychologists and so forth that have been here before. >Someone< up the chain of command has requested Full-Interrogation assets, including a Genjutsu-specialist. This kid might be small fry, or he might be really dangerous. No one knows, and that's what has made people hold off on torture so far. But there's other methods that may work, including the efforts of one who is experienced at getting what he wants from those who don't want to provide it…
Meanwhile, right on the edge of the sandstorm, less than a mile from the entrance of the canyon that acts as a natural barrier to both storms and potential invaders, there are three people standing around. They are unseen for multiple reasons. The first is the ongoing storm, and the small number of observers out in said storm watching for anyone unfortunate enough or foolish enough to be roaming in the desert in this kind of weather. The second is due to one of the three people down there. Specifically, a woman with deep purple hair, and vividly purple eyes, dressed appropriately for the desert. This includes a hood, and so forth, to keep the sand out of her hair. For some reason, despite being in the middle of a raging sandstorm, she does not seem to be truly >touched< by the wrath of the wind. She is, infact, >ignoring< it. Instead, she has both hands clasped together in a focusing handseal, apparently performing some sort of long-duration Jutsu.
The second of the three people present is a hunched over old man with an enormous hump-back. He wears a conical hat, a cloth mask over the lower half of his face, and loose white robes. He seems to likewise be focusing on a Jutsu, though his hand seal is different -- earth-style, for one thing. Both the man and the woman continue to stare towards Sunagakure, not paying any heed to the raging storm about them.
The third person is a young woman dressed in desert garb, who simply stands by and does nothing. Nothing except stare in the opposite direction that the other two are. Veins are bulging on either side of her pale eyes, as her Byakugan allows her to detect some of the Jutsu that the purple-haired woman is using. "That's… So… Pretty!" she practically squeals. No one can hear her, of course. Sand storms can be very loud. But what is she looking at? To the Hyuuga girl it appears to be an enormous soap bubble that covers a large amount of territory. Its outside is like polished glass, however. It is not transparent enough to see through to what is inside the bubble… Or >whom< is inside.
And there are a lot of people inside. The numerous men that fill the bubble can see out of it from within, but there's not much to see. A sandstorm. The gap between cliff walls that leads into Sunagakure. A big, reflective, bubble-thing supposedly hiding them all from view, as well as shielding them from most of the storm. But this is fine. Because it is not yet time to act.
When it is time to act, the man in charge will know…
Sousa has been hard at work in his office for quite a while. There are so many things to plan when a sandstorm of this magnitude approaches. Barometers and thermometers and wind force meters, assistants to monitor all the equipment and record the data, devices to capture sand samples at all the different alti--hmm? What's that? The Council expects Sousa to help organize shelters for the villagers and such? c.c Oh, all riiiiight. :P
So, yeah, very busy trying to get all those niggling little details sorted out while simultaneously drawing up plans for his experiments. He's also hoping to pop in on a certain interrogation that's scheduled to start soon. There could be a billion different reasons for somebody to try and steal information from a ninja village, but birth records? That's an intriguing one. Besides, unlocking somebody's psyche is such an engaging event. ;)
Nearly everyone was staying inside during the sandstorm. This is general considered to be a smart thing to do. Of course, Kichiro was not generally considered to be smart. The lanky teenager had, at least, enough sense to wear a tough robe and cloth face mask to protect his face. He had found a place to face into the wind. Is this kid really trying to practice a jutsu while facing a sandstorm? He stands in the gap of the cliff walls to give him a place to escape to should his strength fail him.
For those that love science as much as Sousa-sama, there are currently a band of ninja that are able to tough out the storm setting up instruments. They'd been given instructions on how to set up the devices and where to place them. Basically, they were grunts for the other scientifically minded as they didn't want to be in the storm, apparently. However, if it is for Sousa, then who would disagree? No one, the ninja would imagine. They haven't any idea what all this could be for. To them, it was just a sandstorm. A particularly more violent one, but a sandstorm none the less. And they come a dime a dozen here. They suppose there is a bit of curiosity lingering around in regards to this storm, but nothing they stay on for long. They just needed to get these instruments set up and quickly. The team of ninja had no intention of staying out here any longer than they were needed.
Meanwhile in the dome's Security Department, the interrogative crew would be headed down the halls and towards the room where the prisoner had been detained. Itami only met the prisoner once, but she can't really consider it a meeting. Not even an acquaintance. All she knows is that she had to floor him in order to stop his rampage. To her, he was dangerous. To others, maybe not. He /did/ manage to take out guards and ninja alike with relative ease and that meant not to take him lightly under any circumstance.
He has a purpose, but what it is, she doesn't know and it is something she has yet to figure out. She hopes this interrogation might be fruitful in some form. All of this was taking place for this guy alone. Not to mention that the officials at the admin dome were still a bit upset with the ordeal.
Kuoroke makes no effort to hide his intentions. His purpose here is to inflict all the damage that is necessary to this guy, and then possibly some, besides simply listening to what will be divulged. Oh, and it will be divulged. The Kuroki has not even brought his gloves, and is now quietly flexing his fingers in anticipation, and allowing small amounts of chakra ooze through the various tattoos. In the worst case, if the Genjutsu doesn't work, it will be a light workout, too, and not just something a lower-ranking ninja with a notepad could have done just as well, he thinks, walking at the back of the interrogative crew's procession. He may be 'dangerous' to Itami, but to Kuoroke, he is no more than a hostile information pinata.
Takumi had just finished his transactions inside the item shop, getting a new collection of sharp combat kunai, his current set having been turned into blunted training tools. After putting the new set away into his waist pouch, he moves to the doorway and peers out, checking the weather. The sand seems to have picked up a bit, and he figures more protection is needed than the loose, billowy wrap that covers from his nose down, bunching up around his neck. Takumi reaches down into the wrap, pulling up the extra material in which is sewn two leather-rimmed goggle ports and a buckled strap. He pulls the material up to his face, resulting in a tighter, full facemask that he buckles behind his head, over his long hair. Prepared now for the weather, he steps out of the item shop with a wave to the owner, and heads down the street.
The bubble that the Hyuuga is looking at is indeed big, what it holds no one outside would be able to see. On the inside though a young dark skinned man sits at the head of a large number of men who were waiting for things to begin. Head lowered, and his arms resting on his knees, the young man continues to meditate. He had been waiting for a chance like this, and to him this mission means more to him then anything right now. Hearing the sound of foot falls next to him, the young man looks up. A large muscled and powerful looking older man looks to him. Shinji, looks up at the older man and gives him a reassuring nod of his head. Hugo, smirks and pats Shinji on the shoulder. Shinji and Hugo have been working with this large group for a while now. And Shinji knew he could trust him, slowly standing up Shinji turns to face the men at his command. He could see some were not worried, others have worried looks in their eyes. But as they saw him and Hugo walking among the front, all eyes shifted to them. Shinji returns a friendly smile, one that he was always known for, even when things looked bleak, Shinji like anyone of them dug deep and fought hard. They looked to Shinji and Hugo and nodded their heads. Shinji then slowly makes his way back to the edge of the bubble and look out of it. There wasn't much to see and the bubble made it hard to see on the other side. For now he waits.
'Hibiki Yoko' as Meimei is known here in Suna, is inside the Dome. She doesn't know what exactly is going on with all this tightened security, but as long as no one tries to strip-search her, she can do without knowing. She is filing the paperwork for citizenship in Sunagakure, and a teaching license, and any other extraneous bits that might be needed to actually teach at the Academy.
She's kind of annoyed by all this, really. Sure, she got accepted. But if they want to give her reading and writing tests, why does it have to be on all these fricking FORMS!? "'Fill these out in quadruplicate!'" she mocks the woman who gave her all this stuff in a high, nasal voice. She switches back to her own voice as she mutters under her breath and heads to the Civilian Services Department. This is her fourth try at finding the right office in this stupid building.
Her goggles conceal her eyes, even though she is indoors, and not out in the storm or anything. Because otherwise, she would be kind of sort of completely blind. But her deep purple hair hanging out from under her hooded cloak is definitely an indication of potentially odd heritage. Or maybe she just dyed it. No one but her will ever know!
She pauses momentarily when a procession of ninja, as well as an odd-looking woman and a grumpy-looking man with tattoos all over his body march past in front of her. She looks down at the stack of papers in her hands. They weight almost half as much as her own body! She wants to put them down! But why are there guards and angry dudes in Civil Services? Is she in the wrong place again? She doesn't know, but she can't carry this stuff anymore!
She decides to follow them. She follows right behind Kuoroke, as it just so happens. Maybe he can give her directions, or at least lead her to a Comfy Chair(tm).
The storm continues, and rather than losing or maintaining its intensity, it >grows stronger<. The ferocity builds, and builds, almost as though in relation to some other, undefined element. The goons out in the storm setting up devices for Sousa would be buffetted by winds strong enough that being toppled to the ground and then buried by sand is a >very real< possibility.
…Or is it just the wind? It's almost like… The ground is moving a bit? Nah. Probably just the imagination. Except that at least one person in the general area can detect tremors in the ground. And he would be getting some very interesting sensory input about now…
The woman and the old man who are performing their Ninjutsu or whatever are still in place, though the woman is starting to show signs of strain. Sweat rolls down her face, only to be snatched up by the wind and flung somewhere unseen. Her breathing is becoming faster, and more shallow. What exactly is she doing that is tiring her out so much? What kind of Jutsu >is< this!? The Hyuuga girl turns her attention away from the reflective 'soap bubble' that, to just about everyone else, is simply another area of sand storm, with nothing special about it or visible within it. There is nothing to catch the eye at all.
Focusing on the other female, the young woman sees that the purple-haired and purple-eyed kunoichi is starting to run low on Chakra. Infact, if she had not been 'enhanced' she would have run out a >long< time ago. But she was maintaining her Jutsu for now. Hopefully, it would continue until the right moment. Hyuuga Tomoyo calls out to the old man, "Papa, when can we go back inside???" But the old man does not respond. His eyes -- eyes that are actually made of painted stone, and carved to resemble real eyes -- stare ahead at the cliffs. Unlike his companion, this seemingly old man, going by the name 'Yuubi' in this form, has so much Chakra still that it seems like he hasn't even started whatever he's doing yet. But he has been going on for even long than the purple-haired woman.
Tomoyo frowns at the lack of answer, even though she knows she can't be heard very well with all this >noise<. This was interesting at first, but now it's boring, painful, and kind of scary. The storm is getting worse. When can they go inside!?
Back indoors, in that interrogation room, Goro is once again trying to get a reaction from his guards. And he's apparently doing a pretty good job. Because by the time Itami, Kuoroke, and the rest of them reach the door, the two guards are attempting to strangle the youth. How did it get to this point? Well…
"Ohhh, hey, Kiku-chan!" Goro calls out to the woman. Kiku growls a bit in the back of her throat in annoyance. "I just noticed… You are very top-heavy, aren't you?" Kiku snaps her head towards the prisoner and sputters, "Wh-what!?" Goro explains, "You know. Your breasts. They're very big." "WHAT!?" Kiku yells. Goro says, "Most people wouldn't notice, because of those baggy clothes and that vest you wear… But I'm sharp, see?" Goro closes his eyes briefly and nods to himself, only to open one eye slyly to peek at Kiku. As expected, she is >almost< glowing with a visible aura of anger, fists clenched, teeth grinding -- the works!
"You know, you shouldn't be ashamed of your natural talents. You should embrace your gifts! Covering up is a disservice to you and to all the men of the world!" The male guard growls as well, but calls out, "Kiku-san! Calm down!" Kiku makes a very unhappy noise but starts to retake her stoic guard position. "…DD-cup, am I right, Kiku-chan? <3" he stage-whispers to the Chuunin. She yells, "THAT'S IT!" And starts to stomp towards the prisoner, shoving her sleeve up with one hand so it doesn't get in the way of punching. But before she can reach Goro to pound his grinning face, the male guard gets in the way!
"Stop it! You can't let him get to you like this!" the man says determinedly. Kiku tries to get around her fellow guard, but fails. "Kk! Johiro, he's being a total--" Johiro interrupts to say, "I know. But are you really going to fall for his mind-games? He's just a punk kid." Kiku sighs. Goro calls out in sing-song, "Kiku-chan, look at where his hands are!~" Kiku looks down quickly to find that her fellow guard's hands are awkwardly close to certain parts of her body. Johiro notices quickly too, thankfully, and jerks away. Before he can manage an apology, Goro adds more fuel to the fire.
"Well, well! Seems Johiro-kun has an >interest< in you, Kiku-chan!" "SHUT UP!" Johiro yells out ferociously. Goro replies with, "Such a fierce denial! And so >fast<! Almost like you have a guilty conscience…" Johiro yells again, "I-I SAID, SHUT UP!" Now it's Kiku's turn to stop Johiro. "Don't let him get to you, Johiro-san. It's just him being a child, and--" "o/‘ First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby, in a baby carriaaACCKKGGHH! o/`" And that’s when the strangling started, and that is the scene that the Interrogation crew walks in on when they open the door.
Meanwhile, out in the street, as Takumi heads for cover or wherever he is going, he >may< find his balance a bit… Off, suddenly. Almost like the ground >lurched<. But all seems to be fine now… Hm. Odd. Even odder than this storm. Certainly, the cliffs that surround Sunagakure provide a buffer against the wind, but with the intensity of the wind at present, things that were tied down to buildings, especially around the vicinity of rooftops, or upper floors, are either plummeting to the street below to crash or smash or spill or what-have-you, or if they are light enough, they are torn free and vanish into the sky, never to be found this side of eternity. This is not just one of the strongest sand storms in the past few decades… This might even be the Storm of the Century!
And that is something that Sousa, with all his various equipment and tools and instruments -- at least if they have been set up by now -- should be accutely aware of. Even people who are indoors, with a solid barrier between interior and exterior should be able to detect the >growling< sounnd… Or… No. More like >grinding<. It's like the wind is >grinding away at the Village<, trying to erase it from existence. This is not limited to just Sousa, but anyone who is paying attention to the noises outside.
The tall, lanky, and some might think suicidal teen suddenly stops his practice. He gets knocked back by the wind and sand and scrambles for the lee of the cliff wall to regroup himself. He plants his hands on the ground and concentrates hard on something, a little panic on his face… not that anyone can see it with the cloth mask over it. he scrambles, racing to the nearest guard post. "There is something coming" kichiro announces. "something big. Not the storm. its hiding in the storm. it feels like a mountain is taking a walk.. No I'm not kidding. This is an attack, not a storm!"
Kuoroke turns around when Meimei joins the group. Worked up already in preparation to possible violence, he snaps at her, "Why are you here? This is highly classified business!" With that tone, one could shoo a dog away. He stops, allowing the rest of the team to go ahead, and quite simply places himself in Yoko's path. A harsh glance through his glasses, into her goggles, is meant to stare her down.
Once she backs off, he turns around again, and follows the team. By the time he catches up to them, the door has already opened, but he still gets a glimpse of what's happening inside. "Release the prisoner at once. If anyone's going to be choking him…" He raises and eyebrow. "…if he will need choking, we'll take your desire to do so into consideration."
The team was just about done with setting out the devices, but what they didn't expect was for the storm to grow even more violent. It was all possible, weird things happen in the desert all the time, but this was beyond what they'd experienced before. The wind is enough to push them with a decent force and it stung, even beyond their protective gear. Bracing wasn't going to be enough. There wasn't going to be any communicating in this storm and perceiving the area was a bit more difficult to do with the increasing intensity. Radios were all but useless. They could only hope that they all met back at their rendevous point and report a job completed as well as what they've experienced.
"Let's hope this goes smoothly. Interrogations aren't a fun process…For some…" She looks up to Kuoroke and then off to the side at the procession of ninja behind them. A brow is lofted in curiosity as it seems one extra has joined the procession and they…kind of stuck out compared to the rest of the crew. "Eh…?" She inquired, but said nothing of it. Not now, at least. Kuoroke already had it handled, it seemed. Upon entering the room, the group would be greeted to the sight of Kiku choking 'Goro' and an angered, yet embarrassed Johiro. Itami lifts a hand to her head and sighs. "Right. Let's just try to get this over with." A few of the procession were told to guide Yoko to wherever it is she needed to be, but in this environment it seemed like her business wasn't going to be handled until a while from now.
"Alright, so it seems we'll have to get down to business…" The council woman gestures Johiro and Kiku away even though Kuoroke's words should have been enough to make them back away. "Anyone gain anything from this guy? From the looks of things, I'd say not, but I have…a small amount of hope."
While the storm raged on around the bubble that was keeping Shinji and the others he was in charge of, the young wanderer continued to stand. There wasn't a whole lot to look at, but as the time continued, he would look at his arm for a moment, then back out of teh bubble. No light is able to penetrate the bubble, but the longer the time went by the more he heard murmurs coming from his soldiers. Turning to look at them, his eyes would narrow, they all knew that they had to keep quiet. Anyone who didn't and kept making news would be dealt with swiftly. Hugo pushes Shinji back a bit then begins to walk ahead of the others, any murmuring that was going on stopped. Shinji looked in the direction of the cave where Tomoyo and the others where, again he couldn't see out, but he knew they were there. "Be more patient." he says more to himself then to anyone else.
While walking down the street, Takumi pauses as his footing becomes suspect for a moment. When the ground seems to have settled down, he notices the increase in wind activity. With how powerful the storm is within the city, he can imagine its true power outside the valley. As visibly starts to decline, he decides he should probably make his way to the hospital, checking if anyone has injured themselves due to the storm. Even though his protective clothing, the biting wind and sand is beginning to hurt, so he decides to head through the center of town, taking temporary shelter in whatever building he comes across as he goes, keeping his senses primed to spot any citizens that are disoriented or hurt.
Finally managing to square away all the storm preparedness stuff for the village, Sousa fairly skips out of his office and heads to the nearby conference-room-turned-laboratory set up nearby. Inside, workers sit around the table, watching dials and numbers go up and down and diligently making marks on tables and graphs. Sousa strolls around, looking over their shoulders at the data gathered thus far. Hmmm, very interesting…VERY interesting. A little too interesting, in a way.
Sousa leans close and peers at one chart in particular. Either this is a totally unprecedented meteorological phenomenon, or… "Something is attempting to do us harm," Sousa murmurs. The worker in front of the chart glances meaningfully at Sousa. "Something…or someONE?" Sousa swats the back of the hapless worker's head without looking. "Someone is a subset of something. Don't muddle the situation with weak melodramatic witticisms." Sousa straightens up and walks briskly toward the door. "Kazekage-sama," one of the other assistants calls out, "what should we do about this?" Sousa halts in the doorway and blinks at the one who addressed him. "/You/ will continue to monitor the phenomenon, regardless of its source and intent," Sousa replies. "/I/ will do whatever proves necessary to expediently resolve any issues which arise." Sousa heads out to start organizing investigation and defenses. Such a hassle…then again, Sousa would be very interested to learn about somebody capable of causing such a sandstorm. ;)
The refugee from the Land of Snow halts when Kuoroke turns around and stands in her way. Before she can answer his question, he has already informed her there is some 'classified business' going on. What an uncouth little toad! …Okay, so maybe he's not so little, given that Meimei is only 5'0" tall at the most. But he is still a toad! She frowns and does not attempt to advance further, instead explaining to a couple members of the ninja team directed to help her by Itami. Kuoroke heads off to do his 'secret, secret, I gotta' secret, domo arigatou, misutah robotto' whatever-the- he's doing, that she doesn't care one iota about. For some MYSTERIOUS REASON she does not miss his presence!
"So, anyway, I'm just looking for the Civilian Services Department. I was told to turn in all these stupidly-heavy papers there. I'm not sure how filling out the same mind-bogglingly trivial information FIVE TIMES proves I'm qualified to teach at the Academy. Maybe it's a test of patience. I hear dealing with kids requires patience… Hmm…" She thinks it over, then remembers her arms are about to detach from her shoulders and flee for their lives before they die of the dread condition known as 'holding something heavy for too long'.
"…Well, maybe I'd be more PATIENT if I didn't have to CARRY all this crap! …Why am I holding this anyway!? You! Man-guy! Yes, you! Hold these!" She then tries to shove the huge stack of papers into the arms of whichever of the two ninja assigned to help her looks the most like a male, whether he/she is or not. If there are any protests, she snaps, "Shut up! I'm a woman, dammit! Now show mere where this Civil Services place is." She takes several seconds to add on, "Please."
The ground moving around and the rush of the wind in the background, audible even over all the noise in the Dome, is a bit disquieting, but Meimei has experienced some pretty bad storms in her own country. …Though not so much in the earthquake department. Yeah, that second thing is kind of new and scary.
The guards at the nearest guard post are pretty much very unhappy about being out here in this weather, but they are also kind of nervous. Neither of the Chuunin posted at this guard house have ever been in a storm this powerful. They may have >heard< of such storms, but they have certainly never >lived< one. Their guard house, a structure made primarily of stone and metal, is actually >shaking< with each blast of wind. The windows are basically just holes that have steel plating slid into place over them, and then more steel in the form of bars on the inside of the 'windows' to reinforce the 'shutters'. They check outside occasionally despite just wanting to keep the door locked, bolted, chained, all the rest, and just plain >closed<. They wouldn't be doing their job too well if they hid in fear instead of making sure everything was okay out there.--Not that they were afraid, mind! They would be the first to tell anyone who asked or didn't ask that they were absolutely >not< afraid. Also, how can anything be 'okay' during a storm of this nature!? They'd have to be fools to go out there again before things settle! Having convinced themselves of their courage and practicality, the two men resume drinking heavily at a small table in the guard house.
The one nearest to the door looks up suddenly. "Hn?" "What's wrong?" the other man asks. "I thought I heard something…" "What, you mean like the >wind<?" "No! Like a >voice<!" "Oh, come on. Who is going to be stupid or suicidal enough to be out there at this point in--" then the other guard hears it too. Turning to look at the door, both men are soon up and opening it, just in time to catch sight of Kichiro as he rushes up. They manage to make out the word 'attack'. They didn't catch the rest of it, but they are >definitely< alert now, if a bit confused. "Whoah! Hold on!" one guard says, and tries to bring Kichiro inside where he can be heard more easily. Presumably the explanation will be given again. If so, they may not really understand the concern -- or the idea of a walking mountain -- but they aren't dumb enough to ignore it. A guard says, "Stay here, where it's safe!"
No sooner are the words out of his mouth, there is a rather powerful and >noticeable< movement of the ground. It is almost literally as though the floor and the earth beneath it had just risen like a wave and tried to >buck< the people standing on it! As the Chuunin outside has the same problems, but apparently to a lesser degree, and is yelling something currently not audible thanks to the wind growing even >stronger<, something comes >SMASHING THROUGH THE METAL-PLATED STONE CEILING<! It nearly crushes Kichiro and the Chuunin who is inside with him. "OUTSIDE, OUTSIDE! NOT SAFE, NOT SAFE!" he starts screaming and trying to shuttle the Genin outdoors.
It would be good if Kichiro joined him, because the ground is starting to bend, crack, and fall >inwards< somehow. That's probably neither good nor normal.
Meanwhile, back indoors, Kuoroke appearing at the entrance to Interrogation Room #5 and ordering the two guards away from Goro is a bit like shoving a cattleprod into the mouth of a yawning cat. It is completely unexpected, inspires an immediate, loud, and energetic response, and probably has a picture in the dictionary next to the word 'unpleasant surprises'. Which is actually two words, but >your mom<. Now what, huh!? Moving on! The specific reaction that Kiku and Johiro display is to jump back from Goro like fifty feet even though the room is 1/4th of that in size, and puts their arms straight at their sides, and their feet are together, and their backs rigid, and they basically try to mimic some kind of standing-up-straight-thing that they are >really hoping< will not cause further displeasure for Council Member Kuroki Kuoroke.
"SIR, YES, SIR!" Johiro yells unnecessarily in the enclosed space, that happens to not soften yells at all. "Our apologies, Kuroki-sama!" Kiku calls out sincerely but not at the same volume as the male Chuunin. "He was being an instigator!" Johiro also calls out, bringing his own volume down a few notches. More quietly, and at conversational volume, Kiku relaxes slightly as she says to Johiro, "But we still shouldn't have let him get to us, Johiro-san. We should have had more self-control, and discipline, and making excuses won't--" "Oh, hey! Your butt is big too, Kiku-chan~!" Goro interrupts.
Not even half a second later, Kiku is forming handseals rapidly and yelling, "DEATH RELEASE: DIE, DIE, DIE, AND DIE AGAIN!" Then she raises both hands and points them at the restrained prisoner who just looks pretty neutral about the whole thing, even as a sphere of green fire begins to form between Kiku's palms. Fortunately, unless no one else stops her, Johiro rushes over to help Kiku calm down, and then directs her out of the room, presumably with the blessing of Itami and Kuoroke. She is clearly in no emotional state to be dealing with this right now.
Johiro stays standing next to Goro for a moment, facing the door, and watching to make sure the female Chuunin actually leaves. Looking troubled about this entire day's events, the male Chuunin mutters, "Fist Release:" and then sucker-punches Goro in the face. "Ow! Hey! That hurt, you know!?" Goro calls out to a not-very-remorseful Johiro as he also moves to leave, only responding with a negatory to Itami's questions, under his breath, in passing. "No one has gotten anything out of him but lip, insults, and mockery. Oh, and his name is 'Goro', apparently." Then he attempts to get out of there.
Goro can't turn to face the door, or those standing behind his chair, so he just grumbles. Loudly. "I think he may have broken my nose. Or maybe it's just bleeding. Is my nose bleeding? I can feel something wet on my face! Someone bring me a tissue!"
…Well, this is probably going to be fun*.
(* Does not actually imply anything fun will occur or be involved.)
Meanwhile, leaving the insanity and ridiculousness of the indoors behind, things are growing quite serious >out<doors. Takumi would likely have been a witness to a stone spire attached to one of Sunagakure's very few religious buildings -- this one believed to date back to the days when the religion of 'Ninshuu' was spreading like wildfire across the entire world, thanks to the efforts of the Sage of the Six Paths -- cracks… Starts to topple… And then a combination of quite-possibly hurricane force winds and a sudden, powerful tremor that shakes the entire Village and continues to do so even after the more intense portions subside, sends the solid stone structure hurtling through the air, in order to land point-down somewhere off to the south… And from the barely-audible >CRASH<, it apparently landed on something. Given the spire was at least a ton and a half of stone, if anyone was hit by that thing, they are unlikely to be among the living anymore.
Of course, what it actually hit was the guard house that Kichiro and the Chuunin were at, so no one was hurt. But the Medic-Nin doesn't know that for sure! Out in the desert, the ground is shaking so violently that if the wind weren't blasting the sand everywhere at once, the individual grains of sand would be 'hopping' off the ground in waves. The winds, the sand, and the tremors of the earth are easy to hear, and feel anywhere in the Village, though the sand would not be impacting people in a relatively-sealed structure like the Administration Dome.
And yet standing on the edge of that invisible bubble, the woman, the old man, and the Hyuuga remain untouched. To those inside the bubble and looking in the direction of the trio, the wind would be >visibly< splitting into different streams and going >around< them! This is because there is so much sand in the air, that the path of the wind can be tracked by the presence or absence of sand! The woman making the invisibility field finally falters, hunching over and releasing her Jutsu. Her Chakra is low. Almost enough to be life-threatening.
Quite suddenly, an entire army, along with siege weapons, and so forth, appears out of nowhere, right in the middle of the storm. If anyone is even around to see it. Shinji and the others are no longer invisible. But somehow, the storm continues to move to avoid harming them, almost like a sentient thing. They are no longer hidden, but at this point, most people would have more >pressing< concerns -- such as the fact that the entire Village Hidden in the Sand seems to be trying to shake itself apart! What is going >on< here!?
…Actually, a more important question would be: how can anyone make it >stop<!?
Kuoroke audibly grinds his teeth at the guards. "Control yourself or I'll control you for you." He promises with cold aggression. He turns his attention towards their annoying captive. "You will not speak unless spoken to, or I will make sure you can't speak at all… and a tissue won't help, believe me. Don't worry, we'll let you write what we need." He promises. If the his tone of voice was cold earlier, this time, it's that of a threat he sounds almost, but not quite, eager to put into reality. The Jounin steps into the room, back against the wall next to the door, and quietly ready to intercept the young man should he make an attempt to flee. That's something Kuoroke could expect from this one. Standing there, the Kuroki stays a glorified guard for the time being, allowing Itami to take care of the subtler approach while it works. It's much more her cup of tea than his.
The ninja nearly loses her balance upon having the papers shoved in her arms. Even if she was trained in all sorts of ways, this stack of paper was a bit heavy and had even her questioning why Yoko was given so many papers to fill out. Either way, now that she has them, she isn't sure what to do with them as the Civil Services department isn't where she's from. Maybe the other one knows. The guy begins to try and think about where the location of the department was. It's been a while since he's had to go there. "Was it down this hall and across the main hall or…" He thinks to himself aloud. This was enough to make an already frustrating process that much more frustrating. "Erm…hmm…" The male ninja continues. He knows he knows where it is, but where it is he can't quite figure out. "Uh, it's coming to me, just give me a few more moments…" The guy attempts to try and think for as long as possible. Meanwhile, the female ninja stands aside hoping that he'll figure out something soon. Those papers were heavy.
In the room, Itami grumbled softly. Why…? Is this really what they were dealing with? Pulling up a seat, she gave the blessing for Kiku to leave. It was going to be difficult with her being around as a distraction to filter Goro's attention on. On that note, Johiro as well. She huffs. "Goro…right…" She remarks to the ninja in passing. Now that the room was cleared up a bit, Itami sits back and waits for Kuoroke to finish his statements so that she might speak in turn. "He's not lying. Tissues don't quite help. Besides, I don't think your nose is bleeding." She shrugs. "Anyway, so your name is Goro and so far that's all I know. Care to tell me more about yourself?" Seems she's ready to get down to business.
The activity outside the walls doesn't bypass her as she's a bit unsettled by the way the storm sounds and at first, it wasn't going to affect her, but with the shaking that came along with it, she even had to stop herself from figuring out what's going on. No storm has evern shaken the foundation of the village. There were few guards on duty in the room and although she didn't want to stretch them thin, she thought to take the risk in order to understand what was going on outside. So, she gestures for a guard to leave the room and gather information about the condition of the village. "You're still free to speak. I'm not leaving anywhere despite how the circumstances seem outside these walls."
Kichiro rolls his eyes and follows the guards back out into the storm. "Duh!.. when theres a walking earthquake headed to your town, don't stand inside… Ack!" he dives out of the door and grumbles, "so what are we going to do about it? charge in blindly? get reinforcements? Charge the blind reinforcements? Look. you're the chuunin here. Its got to be in the handbook somewhere. What do we do when a giant sandstorm covers up a walking earthquake coming to attack the village? Look in the glossary under 'Holy Crap'" He scrambles away from the collapsing building and ground, running along walls or floors, using his hands and feet, having no real connection to the vertical plane as he runs.
As the Bubble falters then fades, Shinji closes his eyes for a moment. Shrugging his shoulders, he turns around and looks to his army, "Stay quiet, the storm is still keeping us hidden." he turns to look at the woman, and old man. He bows his head to Tomoyo, then looks to the seal along his arm. Nothing yet, he crosses his arms over his chest, "At least they can't see us." he states as he looks around as the storm continues to go past them. He does occassionally look behind him to see what the rest of his troops were doing, seeing that they were quietly holding small conversations with one another, and others looking around them at the marvel of the storm going around them. Turning back around, "Are you alright?" he asks towards the purple eyed woman who was now exhausted.
While huddling in the doorway of some building he can't place at the moment and trying to keep his footing through the moving earth, Takumi saw the terrible sight of a massive stone spire crashing to the ground in the distance. Whatever that spire landed on is a lost cause, but as he well knows, large events create a radius, and those people can still be helped. Setting his mind to what must be done, he runs off through the streets, trying to keep his balance and make his way to the scene of the accident. As Takumi closes in on the village entrance, the tremors and gusts both seem to grow in strength.
Sousa strides through the hallways of the Administrative Dome, stopping off at various critical offices. Hello, nice to see you, by the way we're under some sort of attack so get your department geared up for battle. Y'know, that sort of motivational chit-chat. Once the military engine is jump-started to Sousa's satisfaction, he pulls a radio from his robe and speaks into it. "Where is it coming from?"
The other end of the radio communication is a young comm officer back in the conference room-cum-laboratory. He glances at a map summarizing the effects of the sandstorm at various points around the village before replying. "The sandstorm is still blowing from--" "Not that, the shaking!" Sousa interrupts. "I'm certain I could determine which way the sandstorm's blowing just by stepping outside." The comm officer furrows his brow. "Um, how are we supposed to know where the shaking's coming from, Kazekage-sama?" Sousa gives an exasperated sigh. "Hasn't anybody there studied basic trigonometry? Somebody should've noticed this already. Look at the times when the readings have been erratic, those should indicate a wave passing that station at that time. Triangulate from those to determine the source!"
The laboratory staff hurries to comply with Sousa's directions. Sure enough, using the spots where the graphing needles jiggled violently and calculating distances based on that indicates a point out in the desert, roughly 100 miles to the northeast of Sunagakure. While the science assistants are busy figuring this out, Sousa gives out orders for a defensive force to be assembled, massed on the side of the village the sandstorm is coming from. Anything that could cause such tremors from a hundred miles away is definitely a huge threat, but getting out that far to see what it is, let alone deal with it, simply isn't an option under the circumstances. :P The sandstorm's source is probably a lot closer, and very likely will hold some answers to the whole situation.
Meimei/Yoko waits impatiently for this guy to figure things out, resting her arms that feel like wet noodles after all that heavy-lifting. And while that's going on, the ground begins to shake more and more, until she is basically just trying not to fall over. "Wh--What the ing !? Since when is this ing Village on a fault line!?!" She looks around quickly, somehow able to see just fine, even with tinted goggles on that are so dark the lenses are basically black. "Okay, uhhh… Just… Just put those down somewhere and we'll get back to them when things aren'tINGFALLINGONMY***HEAD!!!" She ducks and covers as pieces of the ceiling begin to rain down on her.
Yeah, she's not sticking around for this shiz. She is going to find out what the heck is making this happen, and stab it until it stops. This may take awhile, though.
Goro nods affirmatively to Kuoroke, even though it likely can't be seen, since Kuoroke is by the door, meaning the back of the chair obstructs most of the prisoner's movements. However, he responds in a way that is more noticeable a moment later, despite his instructions not to speak unless spoken to. …Well, he >was< spoken to by Kuoroke, so apparently that means he can speak, on a technical basis! Doesn't mean it's >wise< to do so, though. "Yes, sir, General Punkmeister, sir! But what's gotten you so upset? Is it your nap-time? Would you like some candy? I think I have a slightly-used lollypop in my left pocket…" He squirms around, trying to get to his pocket, but just like they have been since he was strapped in, his arms and legs are restrained quite securely to the chair. "No, good. Can't reach it. Sorry, Mister Sad-In-The-Pants. But, hey, if you untie me I'll be glad to--"
He breaks off as Itami sits down or sits back or performs some form of sitting and prepares to speak to him. There is a box or case attached to the back of the chair. It's a new invention based off of certain special >crystals< that were obtained both by one Akuu Goh, at the First Tower, and by Tenjin Hibari at the Second Tower. Essentially, this machine is able to suppress a given subject's ability to perform Ninjutsu, Genjutsu, or… Really anything that involves Chakra at all! How? Because the device >drains away< any Chakra that begins to build in a given subject, and stores it for future retrieval and/or use. It is rather helpful for keeping especially dangerous prisoners under control. Such as the types that do not need to form hand seals to destroy one's sanity, or turn an empty room into an empty room full of >fire<.
Goro has yet to demonstrate any degree of skill or knowledge concerning Ninjutsu, Genjutsu, Kekkei Genkai, or any other strange powers that might need the Chakra Suppressor. It may be experimental and all, but it will >very clearly< indicate when it detects Chakra build-up and when it is in the process of stopping such build-up by draining it away. That is why either Kiku or Johiro was watching the device at any given time. Theoretically the machine can stop even a Jounin-level target from gathering the Chakra to perform the simplest of Jutsu. But no one knows for certain that it will be up to the task in such circumstances, or if it can handle anything higher. Mechanical design and projections of how things >should< work are one thing. Actually getting the machine to perform as intended is quite another.
Seemingly unperturbed by the way the ground, walls, and ceiling are shaking, or the deep, powerful roar of the wind outside the Administration Dome, Goro looks at the woman before him impassively as she asks him to tell her about himself. "You want to know about me?" he asks in a semi-incredulous tone. His expression has changed a bit. Now he looks like a cross between confused and offended. Or perhaps confusion over whether he should be offended or not. Eventually, seeming to detect no particular verbal trap in Itami's question, he shrugs as best he can with his arms bound, and says, "Well, I can start telling you about the real me by finding out how much you know--Oh, don't worry, it's a simple question and won't tell me anything secret. My question is this: Do you know of the Sage of the Six Paths?" That is… Probably not quite what Itami or anyone may have been expecting to be asked.
Goro shakes his head. "Nevermind, it does not matter. I was going to explain it anyway. Essentially, there was once a man with a vision of unifying the entire world in peace and understanding. He was the Sage of the Six Paths, and was widely known as the 'Savior of this World'. The secrets of Chakra and Ninjutsu itself were created by him, and taught to many, in an attempt bring enlightenment to people that had previously known only suffering and literally >constant< war. And I >do< mean >constant<. The Clan Wars were as nothing compared to the state the world was in before the Sage appeared. However, even though he was quite long-lived and quite powerful, he was still only mortal. He had two sons, and on his death-bed he chose one to be his successor. The older son, who inherited the Sage's 'eyes': the power of his Chakra and his spiritual energy, believed that power was the true key to peace. The younger son, who inherited the Sage's 'body'; his willpower and physical energy, believed that love was the true key to peace."
Goro attempts to lean forward as he speaks, but he can't move that much. "But to most, the Sage of the Six Paths, and even his sons, are at best myths and legends. Do you know what trivial detail was left out of the history books? The Sage had a >third son<. That son was born even before the elder son. But he was also still-born. He was born >dead<. And so his body was discarded. What almost no one knew then and what almost no one knows now, is that after being abandoned the dead infant >breathed< and >lived< again. No one knows for certain how he survived as an infant thought dead in the middle of winter. There are a handful of theories and conjectures, but since most do not even know he existed to begin with, no one really gives it much thought. What is known by at >least< one man, is that the child >did< survive, and grew into a man. And he inherited a gift from the Sage of his very own…"
Goro leans his head forward and whispers, ">Nothing<." Resting back in the chair, he smirks and says at normal conversational volume, "He inherited all the things the Sage possessed but had rejected. All the things the Sage had seperated from himself, and left to languish in darkness. This son -- the Eldest Son -- inherited the Void itself. And wouldn't you know it, just like the Sage's more >well-known< sons, the Eldest Son had descendants of his own. However, as far as is known, none of them survived into the present… Except one. And he is the one who shall become the next 'Savior of this World'."
Grinning broadly, Goro says, "Two guesses as to whom I represent with my presence here."
And while all this is going on, as Takumi looks for the injured without thinking about his own safety; as Kichiro and two Chuunin flee the guard house that almost appears to be getting >sucked down< into the earth itself, trying to warn those in charge of what is coming; as the defense forces of Sunagakure rally and head directly towards an army that they do not know is there; as Shinji waits for the sign that will start the attack on Sunagakure; as Sousa tries to unravel the mysteries of the storm, the earthquakes, and an approaching force that may well be capable of simply rolling right over the Village in its entirety; as Meimei attempts to find something solid to hold onto, and some sort of stability, in a land that seemingly has none; and as an unknown Hyuuga, a woman with features very similar to Meimei's own, and an old man with more Chakra available to him than should be conceivably possible for a mere human being all stand in the middle of the storm and remain untouched; there is only one thing that has the potential to ring out in the minds of >everyone< in the area.
And that would be the massive wave of mental pain that was just unleashed as a certain prisoner sets off the Genjutsu traps in his own head.
On Shinji's arm, the Seal tattoo given to him displays three numbers. 3. 2. 1.
The number '3' just started glowing red. The Signal to Begin has been sent…
To be continued…