Date: September 5, 2011
Datura once again meets with the Tao Shih leader and makes a few unorthodox, and perhaps unexpected, demands!
"Broken Memories Pt. 3 - Revival"
Deep in the Tao Shih lair
The cavern was its usual dimly-lit, creepy-noised, forboding chamber of despair and horror, and was made no less so by the sound of the elevator coming down from the floors above. As it comes down the chute, it reveals a pair of boots standing upon it, the zip-up kind with unnecessary buckles across the calves and coming up almost to the knees, sporting four-inch heels. Given that only one person in the facility tended to wear boots like that, one doesn't even have to see the fishnet stockings and black satin mini-skirt with its chain-link belt to know who was coming down. Datura's top, sleeveless and low-cut, and just a little lacey, was hard to see under the misappropriated lab coat she wore, the stark whiteness of it contrasting with her dark hair. Somewhere on a higher level a hapless lab assistant was without his coat, thus providing the natural blonde some measure of protection against the chill, damp air.
When the elevator comes clanging to a stop, the dark-haired diva steps off of it, her heels making loud, hollow clicks against the stone floor as she begins making her way unerringly down a path between two rows of life-support machines keeping a bunch of disgusting-looking mutants alive, moving towards the statue. With their communication seal, the blonde-turned-brunette knew that the Tao Shih leader was down here somewhere, it was just a matter of locating him for a confrontation.
It was a confrontation that might end up getting herself memory-wiped, as her own skill at defending her mind had not yet reached a level where she could overcome the man's damned palm… so she would just have to hope her lips proved faster and more potent in staving off that fate. But it would not lessen her resolve. Unlike usual, no smile adorned her face, no look of smug hautiness, no bounce in her step, just the usual, unconsciously seductive sway of her hips and shoulders, despite her hands being in her pockets, that came from being such a creature of hedonism.
Her heels click to a stop, the clacking fading away into echoes. Finally, her voice rings out, lacking the usual musically-playful note it carried when she greeted those familiar to her. "AMUROOOOOOOOOOOO." The woman formerly known as Ryoko's voice was capable of reaching ear-shattering opera-like levels. But she hoped she didn't have to go to those octaves. …She had a recital later in that disgusting Grass village.
Amuro is not 'hidden' per se, but he >is< standing off to the side of the giant statue, in a particularly dark alcove, and though Datura's voice may drown it out with its volume and echoes and so forth, there >might< be a sound that indicates that Amuro is speaking to someone… And if Datura looks closely, she might even think she sees a second figure in the darkness… But moments later, the second figure — if it was ever really there — is gone and Amuro is turning about to step out of the shadows. "Datura, it is rare to see you here. Is all proceeding well?" his almost-inhumanly deep voice addresses the currently-brunette Yamanaka as he approaches at an unhurried pace that never-the-less carries him closer and closer by virtue of his long stride.
"Not all that unfamiliar," the Yamanaka quips as she continues to sashay towards the male. Her pace isn't exactly ground-eating, as the heels required careful walking in, but she walks forward nonetheless… only to innocuously slip to the side as if examining one of the corpse-like things on a lab table. This has the effect of notably putting something physical between the larger male and herself. "I've been stuck in this village for a month, you know. Coming down here is the most exciting thing I can do… almost the exciting thing I can do." She amends the last with a sly glance and smile, both of which quickly evaporate as she frowns down at the table.
"What is this?" She gestures vaguely at the table. …And then farther about to encompass the rest of the chamber. "I mean all of this. You've been growing clones and bodies and monsters for a long time, right? You even threatened replacing me with them once. But you haven't, which means either they're not ready yet…" She bends down, closer to the gray-green, slimey-looking flesh, then flicks her blue eyes up over the body towards the Tao Shih leader. "Or you like having us around. And since you want us to take over, well, I can extrapolate all day!"
She stands back up, leveling a determined frown-pout at the overly-tall male, who wasn't all that far away from being twice her height. Standing near Amuro, the way she had to crane her head back, had the effect of making her feel childlike. Maybe that's why he'd grown so tall.
"So why are you so interested in growing human bodies and cloning memories? Why is Mu-Mu always working like a opiate addict in search of a new, better high?" She folds her arms. "I want to know."
Amuro stops after a couple more steps. His long arms are >almost< completely concealed by his sleeves, but hints of his fingers are visible. He turns his head to look at the bodies indicated generally by Datura's sweeping gesture. There are other things in the cave, of course, but his gaze (however he manages to see with no eyeholes in his mask) is more or less directed over the dozens of gurneys with immobile bodies on them.
He does not look away again even after Datura finishes and insists on being told the scope of Amuro's plans. He eventually says, "Who was it, precisely, that threatened you with being replaced? I can guarantee it was not me. Was it one of the 'copies' I had made? Or did it actually appear to be me? This is important, as if there is someone masquerading as I…"
He trails off and then continues on to say, "I had a grand plan at one point. My plan was to find a way to create an immortal, indestructible, artificial body that possesses the Kekkei Genkai of many different Clans and the ability to link to the minds of all living things, regardless of their locations or natures. I was then going to implant myself into this body, and absorb the memories and consciousnesses of >all< beings into a single 'gestalt' mind. In this way, the sum total of all human knowledge and experience would be held in a single form… A creature that could adequately be described as 'God'."
Amuro turns his head suddenly to look at Datura. "I thought that the only way to overcome the pain and hardships of being a mere mortal who is doomed to die was to simultaneously surpass mortality and yet also embody the very essence of humanity. But the more I lived, the more I saw that the world itself is broken. Most of the people in this world are essentially scum. A deity composed of such people would be flawed in ways that most would never even conceive of. So, I then decided that the worst offenders… Those who were the most sick and twisted… Would have to be >removed< from our world, to ensure only the purest of 'raw materials' were available to create the God. The six Sage Stones were planted in various locations in order to control the flow of energy throughout the entire planet. In my younger years, I was powerful enough to create the Towers to house these Stones, and keep them out of the hands of others. But by the time I possessed the knowledge to make use of them correctly, I no longer wished to simply wipe out the majority of the planet's population in a single instant. I had learned the truth about myself and those who I am descended from… And I learned why I felt as though I was being urged to engage in such a terrible plot…"
Amuro then goes silent. Either he is lost in contemplation or he is waiting for Datura to say something.
"Yeah, yeah. One of your copy-clones. Those things were a real pain in the ass, too. I really hope they're all gone, because they were some arrogant- Well, you know." Apparently even the runaway mouth of Yamanaka Ryoko knew some boundaries, though it might be because she had other things she wanted to cover first. Offending the Tao Shih leader wouldn't be the way to get the information she wanted. And then he begins to explain.
Well that… was unexpected. And it's plain to see that she thought so from the look on Datura's face. It's the look of someone who had expected a great struggle to get what she wanted, only to find it fall into her lap. She's in one of her rare moments of not-talking, aborbing the words with something quite a bit less than stoicism. Particularly when the large male begins to speak of removing the worst of the offenders, the most sick and twisted, glancing away and poking the ends of her fingers together with an innocent smile. After all, of the sins of humanity, she was one of the worst offenders she had ever met.
As he goes quiet, she shifts quietly from one foot to the other, shoving her hands into her labcoat pockets and hunching her shoulders against the chill air that was cooling the skin of her face, neck, and upper chest where it was exposed. After a long, uncomfortable moment, she speaks up. "So… So you're not just trying to become the King of All Creation or something?"
It was certainly a surprise to her, given that her experience showed her that those in power only ever sought more power. But more than that, she had thought he sought to become immortal, as so many others did, but not just for himself. For another. "You're not trying to create some race of super-beings? You're not trying to…" A pause.
"…Bring Natsu back from the dead?"
Amuro lets out a deep 'hm!' of confirmation to Datura's question mention of copy-clones being gone, and then another about Amuro's current intentions. He does not want to be God, nor does he want to slaughter countless people for not meeting his standards in terms of 'ingredients' for apotheosis. But before he can answer the question about a race of 'super beings', the question about >Natsu< is asked.
He stands and stares silently at Datura, no sign of what his face may be displaying beneath his mask evident. Inwardly, he is performing a number of checks mentally to determine who knows that name, if there is anyone else by that name who Datura could be referencing, who he knows that Datura has been in contact with, and so on and so forth. Eventually, he comes to two possibilities that are equally probable. There may be further answers, but he will need to ask a question first to obtain the facts need to extrapolate other solutions.
"You have been Speaking to Tomoyo recently, have you?" That is the one that makes the most sense. He recently revealed the prior existence of his wife as well as her name to his adopted daughter. It is likely that if Datura spoke to her, that this information was conveyed, along with the existence of the two >other< members of Amuro's family… He considers doing something about this leaking of knowledge, but he is not sure to what extent Datura knows about him yet. He needs to find out more. Knowing Natsu's name is not enough to give her an edge. But if she knows about Amuro's >daughter<, then she could potentially use extortion to obtain whatever she wishes by threatening to harm the other woman… Or perhaps engineer the capture or 'framing' of the Uzumaki daughter of the Tao Shih's leader… Or any number of other things for a clever mind. But it is best not to get ahead of himself. He is old and paranoid, but he should not assume too much…
"No, that is not my intention. I have seen too many things… Too much evil… I am old and set in my ways as a result of all the wrongness I have seen. I do not trust myself to complete my current mission. I would judge too harshly those who just need a second chance to become legendary champions of freedom and joy who will be remembered throughout the ages. Perhaps you have been given a second chance, Ryoko, but there are others who I would simply destroy because I can no longer see the true beauty and purity that lies within them. The world needs people such as yourself who have walked both sides of the line between light and darkness to lead them to a future in which Ryoko and Riku reach adulthood with mutual love and respect for each other, and never grow apart. You can show them the way to fix this world, as well as themselves. You have been broken, and you have been repaired. Who else but you and the others would be able to see the problem >and< the solution?"
Following this rather long speech, Amuro shakes his head. "The clones are not intended for my use. They are intended as a 'safety net'. If some unforeseen tragedy occurs, and one of we Tao Shih are taken from the world before it is time… It will not be the end for that one. He or she will awake, fully intact, and able to continue to make the dream of a world of unity and acceptance a reality."
"No. I haven't even seen Tomo-chan in months. It's almost as if she's avoiding me." Not that the Hyuga didn't have reason to avoid the Yamanaka, what with cold shoulders, snide comments, and being stuck with the entirety of Datura's entourage's hotel bills and being ditched. Twice. Still, the young blonde had turned over a new leaf, or so she fancied, but hadn't been able to show it to two of their number much yet. She had this nagging, ANNOYING need to make some kind of… 'amends'. And just when she talked herself out of doing so, that even-more-annoying almost-heard voice came whispering into her head.
She was pretty sure this was what it was like to be crazy, only The Voices urged her to mercy and compassion, rather than the opposite.
She waits until the end of the speech, still standing in the same spot, more or less, despite the occasional restless shifting that many her age are known for. After a moment, she frowns and looks down at the tips of her boots. That was the Grand Plan for her? To chain her in power and the restraints of responsibility? Every fiber of her being rebelled against such a thought! She was doing everything she currently could to DISTANCE herself from the throne of the Land of Grass! To think that she would ever develope such a sense of responsibility and duty was… laughable!
But she does latch on to one bit. "So you do like us." And then the next. "And you can bring people back from the dead. You can remake their body, or Mu-Mu can, and you know how to control the memories and implant them or resurface them or-or whatever, right? Right!? You can do that, can't you? Because the price of my services just changed."
The blonde-turned-brunette licks her lips nervously. "…Riku. You have to bring my sister back."
Amuro takes in the fact that Tomoyo has apparently not spoken to Datura after all. That means that the other possibility is much more likely… That the rogue Yamanaka somehow saw Natsu in Amuro's head at some point. Or when he was in >hers<. When Datura seems to be looking down and frowning, he gathers — based both on his vast experience and his insight into who exactly Datura really >is< that she is displeased with what he said about his plan.
Then she asks questions that he is not given a chance to answer. The towering masked man hears the currently-brown-haired young woman's new 'price' and the response that she receives in turn is… An icy silence. He simply stands there and stares (or not. Who can be sure?) and lets the sound of machines that are pumping air into the lungs of comatose creatures be what fills the cavern.
After what likely feels like an eternity, and possibly after Datura has repeated her demand or spoken further to try to smother the lapse in conversation with her own words, Amuro says, "You know not what you ask of me. To return the dead to life is beyond my power right now, if it is even possible. Some interesting reports indicated for a time that Senju Tobiramako was working on a jutsu for resurrecting the deceased, but then she suddenly stopped and sealed away her work thus far. Very disappointing. I was hoping she would complete it so that we could use it for our own needs."
So, that appears to be his answer. He either can not bring Riku back, or is unwilling to. "Your clone is linked to you. Your memories will be instantly copied to it if you die. But there is a difference between copying memories and transplanting a soul. Further, I do not have access to your sister's memories. She was already dead long before I encountered you, and further, as you may recall, >Ryoko<…" He turns half-way to the right as though planning to go somewhere, and then finishes, "…There would not have been enough gray matter remaining for a memory copy to be attempted even if I >had< been in the area."
The young woman's eyes narrow at the last rebuttal given to her demand, her eyes narrowing into slim glints of dissatisfied anger. It was usually followed by screaming, throwing, and breaking things. And often, in the past, attempted murder, or at least plots and conniving to do such. This time, however, the natural blonde wets her lips and stiffens her posture, and her voice remains level, even if the contained anger is noticeable.
"I don't care." Her blunt words shoot out of her mouth like an arrow. She takes a step forward, wetting her lips as she scowls. "You can do it. You can look into it. You have resources, y-you have people and experts and jutsu research that no one else does. I know where she's buried, we can get her genetic material. I still have a piece of her in me." A pause, like hesitation. "It's not complete, but it's there. There's something there."
Another step and her finger jabs out. "You're talking about second chances for those who deserve them in the same breath you're dismissing my sister's! If anyone deserved one, it would be her! You've been in my head, you carried part of her around, you know what her soul was like. You know the world would be better off with her in it. You said you'd looked past the monster I was and seen the person I could become."
"Well, this is going to be the first good thing I've ever done. If you can't do it alone, then I will find the ones who can fill in the pieces. I'm on the verge of handing you the Land of Grass on a platter. …And I'm telling you that if you don't at least consider bringing Riku back, if you won't even try, then I'm going to flush those months of planning and setup down the shitter. Looking into it is the least you could do."
Amuro had turned to his right. He is no longer looking at or facing Datura, even as she rails against his dismissive response. He is not ignoring her, though, appearances aside. He may be staring out across the sea of operating tables, gurnies, hospital beds, and their occupants… But he is considering his options. Finally, when Ryoko is done, he wastes no time in responding, unlike before. "There is a way. I was already looking into it, but I have not yet had a chance to obtain it. The Kazekage has failed to act upon the instructions I gave him about retrieving the Stone of Yin-Yang from Konohagakure. He does not trust me, but he seems to believe he is too valuable for me to dispose of… That I have kept him alive because he is the one in a position to move the world and shape the future. He is wrong, and I am done waiting."
Amuro's Chakra levels are not what they used to be. Even as little as a year ago, when he was not intentionally concealing his true strength from those around him, he could be detected from miles away by most sensor-nin. He was strong enough that just being in the same room as him could make the air feel somehow 'heavy' or harder to breathe. Now, even though he is 'at rest'… Unless he is hiding his strength right this moment, he is just a little bit over half as strong as he was back then. What was he like when he was young? How strong was the man who once wielded the Sage Stones with impunity, seemingly immune to their corruptive taint?
"I am tired of waiting… And I am tired of living," he says in his deep, deep voice. Then his Chakra begins to surge and rise. Various medical instruments in the area begin to jitter and vibrate in their trays. Bio-readings being displayed on computer screens and such begin to show erratic data, and the screens themselves flicker increasingly quickly. Amuro's Chakra levels continue to soar, until dust and small stones in the cave begin to >float up off the ground and into the air<. An aura forms about him, visible to the un-aided eye… Faint at first, but growing more and more noticeable. It is a dark blue that is almost black, and at the tips of the flame-like licks of energy that extend off of the aura, it actually >is< black.
Then two pinpoint of utter blackness form in the air in front of his mask, one corresponding to the same 'plane' that his eyes are located at in the face hidden behind the mask. They begin to spin and swirl, but do not grow much larger. And then, as the life support machines begin sparking and >bursting into flame<, all of those tables and machines and the people and creatures hooked up to them start to fly from the ground in a horrendous clatter and cacophony, banging against each other, dragging metal edges on the stone floor occasionally, and looking extremely bizarre even if the noise were not an issue.
They all fly from where they were, and seem to be intent on pummeling, burying, and perhaps killing Amuro himself, as they are on a crash course with him! Is that what he meant? Is he going to kill himself somehow!?
Before all the bodies and machines and metal can strike, they start to simultaneously collapse and >stretch< like taffy, before vanishing into those two terrible points of darkness. In a matter of seconds, all of it… Machines, bodies, beds… It's all gone. Gone into whatever hellish jutsu that the Tao Shih's leader just performed. His Chakra levels are once again low… Depleted even lower than before, even.
Then he turns to Datura, and even his voice sounds weakened. "Possessing all of the Sage Stones will make bringing your sister back almost a certainty. But even if we can only obtain a few of them, the one that is absolutely vital is the Stone of Yin-Yang. When we went to Ankoku Cave, it was that Stone that I sought. I mistook the Yin Beast for the Stone as they felt the same… They had the same foul Chakra of only a single aspect. But what I sealed away was just the pet world-killer of the ancestor of my Clan. He still had the Stone. And now it has been relocated to the Leaf Village. If you want your sister back, we need at >least< that Stone. Without it, anything I could craft for you, any resources I would expend would simply be an imitation… A body, perhaps even with some of your sister's memories… But no soul. No conscience. No empathy, no compassion, no mercy. She would be more 'evil' than anything you may imagine you once were at any point. She would be an abomination, and there would be no telling what she might do. She could simply make your life more miserable than hell itself, or she might simply kill you as cruelly and painfully as possible for no reason other than that she >can<. She would not be your sister. Just a monster wearing her face."
The young woman's brow furrows deeper as the older male begins to speak of the Kazekage and the Village Hidden in the Sand. But before there can be any discourse on that topic, the small hairs on the back of her neck, the ones that continually warn of imminent danger when something perilous not quite detectable by the senses is being detected. It makes the blonde-turned-brunette's heeled boots shuffle back a half-step in wary response. She watches as the aura forms, taking another hesitant step away. She had been aware coming in that she might end up with her memory erased, or even vanish herself, replaced by some clone. Her only insurance policy had been that those closest to her would find out and attempt to correct the problem. Or at least avenge her.
But now, as the entire world begins to float and whip around like some sort of violent vortex, it seemed Amuro was ready to end not only himself, but her and the entire base, as well! And she wouldn't even have time to warn Kanami and Mune that he was doing such if they were still within the facility. Though the thought that she was for once worried about the harm of others rather than herself doesn't yet trigger in her mind. She's too busy croching low and covering her head with her arms.
Yamanaka Ryoko didn't know what was going on, didn't even see most of it as her eyes were squeezed shut, expecting a horrible, rending pain that would end her life at any moment. She wasn't even trying to defend herself. She knew her direct combat skills were a joke when compared to almost everyone else in their cadre. Even some of the better trained guards were likely able to defeat her if she were foolish enough to confront them head on.
And then… silence. Slowly, she lowers her arms, opens her eyes… and then stands up uncertainly. Her eyes passively note the change in the Tao Shih leader, the slightly differing posture, the absence of oppressive chakra, the change in his voice. She's still looking around at the suddenly-empty vast chamber around them as he's telling her of the damage premature revival of her sibling would accomplish. She didn't care about a conscience or apathetic views towards life. Anything wearing her sister's smile without being her sister would be an abomination, no matter how nice and loving.
"We still need you, Amuro-kun. I still need you. You don't get to stop living yet. I'm going to finish what I've started in the Land of Grass." The rogue Yamanaka begins to turn, her heels clicking quickly towards the large elevator that would lead back up to the upper levels. "And then I'm going to have myself a little homecoming. I'll get you what you require, and then we'll both have what we want."