Date: February 17, 2011
Itami has gone missing. No one knows where she is. Not even her.
"Broken Memories Pt. 3 - The Room"
One moment Itami was in Kusagakure. Then she was somewhere else. A darkness had seemed to reach out of the scroll she opened, grab hold of her, and suck her inside of it. That was more than a week ago. Since then, Itami has been left in a single room lined with electric lanterns. It has a bed, a toilet, and a sink. There are no windows or doors anywhere in sight. The walls, floor, and ceiling are made of a smooth black material that cannot be identified as either stone or metal.
It is utterly immune to anything that may have been attempted to get through it. Attacks of any kind, techniques for passing through earth, techniques or devices for communicating at a distance, and similar just have no visible impact. Even punching has no effect other than hurting the hands. No food has been delivered. Water from the sink is fresh and continuous, thankfully. There is no sign of any devices, seals, or similar that might be used to watch Itami. She has just been sort of… Sealed in. Somehow.
How much time has passed is impossible to tell. There are no clocks. Everything looks the same at all times. What is going to happen to her?
Itami went from darkness to…darkness. Even with the electric lanterns lining the room didn't do much to counter the black walls that surrounded her. She did try striking them at times, but there wasn't much that she could do about the conditions she was living in. If it could be considered living. All she did was drink water and sit on the bed. Maybe splash her face with water a few times just to test if she wasn't sleeping.
She wasn't exactly sure of what was going to happen to her, but she supposes only time would tell and time hasn't been all that kind to her. A whole week in this place, but without seeing the sun or experiencing anything outside this place, it was like it just stood still.
There is a distant, high-pitched noise suddenly. It sounds a bit like something striking stone. Scratching or scrabbling noises follow a moment later. Rodents? Some other small animal? Then the striking noise repeats. Several seconds pass… And then the noise resumes, repeating regularly. It sounds like multiple things are striking stone now. And they're getting closer. Time passes and the sounds continue, growing louder, deeper, and now accompanied by the sound of shifting earth.
Is this room… Underground?
Has Itami essentially been >buried alive<!?
A soft sigh escapes Itami as she sat and stared blankly at the bed and then to the wall when she heard the high-pitched noise. She perked up, inhaling deeply and sighing the breath back out. She listens intently, eyes focused on the wall where she believes to hear it the most. She was't sure if she should prepare for the worst. Part of her mind felt she was in danger and the other was hoping that these sounds were her way out.
Her heart rate increased and her thoughts began to pile up atop one another without a chance of registering one before another took its place. Though, as the sound grew closer and louder, she seemed to have a sudden revelation. The earth was shifting and a quick scan of the room emphasized this. She was underground? The thought of her being underground began to induce some panic as she returned to her bed and sat down, now intent on trying to sit this shaking out without becoming a victim of whatever was to happen next.
The sounds of digging seem to be coming from a horizontal direction, not vertical. Thus, it is unclear if Itami is below the surface of the ground or not. But there is definitely earth between herself and whomever is doing that digging. The noises increase in volume and depth, as more and more dirt shifts. Eventually, it is obviously right outside the wall. Something hits the wall >hard< because there is a very sharp and nearly-painful noise as whatever it is fails to penetrate.
Words in a language that is unidentifiable are uttered. They sound like cursing despite being foreign. Then louder noises of yelling in that same strange language indicate that someone is aware of what they have found. More voices return the shouts and soon there are chattering voices crowding around just outside the wall, as well as more scraping and digging as whomever these people are try to expose more of the room Itami is in.
Itami grips the cover of her bed tightly as she backs up onto it. Something is coming through, but she does't know what it is. Whatever makes that kind of sound…was it some kind of beast? Since she couldn't flee anywhere, the fight part of the syndrome was kicking in and she was quickly losing fear and replacing it with confidence to fight.
While the bed rattles from all the shaking, she adjusts herself in attempts to level with all the shaking. It was difficult, but she managed. The piercing sound that hit the wall prompted her to lift her hands to her ears, but it didn't help much to subdue the pain that'd already entered her ears. It was loud and they were ringing. She was angry. After removing her hands from her ears, she couldn't hear all that well, but the faint sound of voices was picked up. "What…?" She inquires into the air.
Approaching the wall where the sound stopped, she began to listen with more focus, despite all the ringing and as it began to die down, the voices on the other side began to filter in. "…Hello?" She asks in a raised voice. Stepping closer the the wall, she placed her hand on it and began to knock on it. Soon banging as she shouted, "Who's out there!?"
The voices quiet down suddenly, and there is a sound of a scuffle or something as whomever is out there moves away. Then a man's voice calls out, "Hello? Can you please identify yourself, miss?" He has an odd accent, but he can at least speak an understandable language! "We are doing our best to determine how to enter this 'structure', but some more information before you are freed would be appreciated. Let us say that…" A pause. "…We have learned from previous occasions that not everyone we find is safe to speak to face-to-face."
Itami went quiet. Identify herself? She's trapped inside an inescapable box! "I'm trapped inside an inescapable box and you want me to tell you who I am!?" She shouts to the man on the other side. She sighs and shakes her head. "I'm…I'm Itami." She states. His concerns had a good enough reason to be that way. "I'm not going to attack you. Not…not unless you plan on attacking me. How do /I/ know that I can trust /you/?" She returns the favor. "I just need to get out of here." She pauses. "…Where am I at?"
The man says, "My apologies. The 'box' is not inescapable. Or at least the others have not been. Each one needs to be opened differently if we do not want to accidentally destroy the contents — or, inversely, cause ourselves to be destroyed." He pauses. "My predecessor was unfortunate enough to cause the latter." Then some excited speaking in that foreign language occurs, and the man says, "Just a moment. We may have found a way to release you, Itami-san." Then he begins speaking in the same language to the owner of the jabbering voice.
After some back-and-forth, the man becomes understandable again. "Am I correct in assuming you do not have any Water Release Ninjutsu?"
"Destroy the contents…" Itami looks around at the box. She's not exactly sure of what this box is capable of, but she doesn't want to know. "I'm sorry to hear that." She remarks and nods, even if the man couldn't see her. She kept close to the wall to hear just in case there was anything else she needed to know or hear. The language wasn't understood by her, but that didn't concern her much. "You are correct in assuming that. I do not have any Water Release Ninjutsu."
The man is probably nodding, though he cannot be seen. He does say, however, "That is probably why you were placed in this room. If you had Water Release you could have gotten yourself out on your own. What we need you to do is to turn on the sink full-blast and then stand as far away from it as you can get. We will do the rest." As he speaks the sounds of digging have resumed, and are making their way around to the opposite wall — where the sink and toilet are located.
"Hmm…Alright." Itami stated and began to make her way over to the sink, turning the knobs up until she couldn't twist them any further. The sink was beginning to fill and quickly. Listening to the sound as it began to come around towards the sink, she moved in the opposite direction and stood in a far corner away from where the activity was to be taking place.
The pipes or whatever start to creak and groan once Itami is away from the sink. A few seconds later the pipes, the sink, and all the rest just >bursts< and sends a powerful stream of water — far too powerful to be simply burst pipes, infact — across the room to slam into the far wall! The wall >shatters< outwards. There is much yelling that is suddenly much louder than before, as well as some screams. But the wall has ruptured, and it soon begins to crumble up-and-down the room.
Revealed beyond are some… People? It's unclear >what< they are, but they are at least >somewhat< humanoid. They are also scrambling to get away from the blasting stream of water. Some seem to have actually been thrown through the air when struck by it, and some are lying on the ground or floating into the room limply as the tunnel begins to flood.
Yes, a tunnel. There's some sort of rocky tunnel leading into what appears to be a rather large cavern thirty feet down the passage. Some shouting has been going on for several seconds now, and eventually penetrates the mind of whomever is using Water Release. The water cuts off and turns into a trickle. The man from before comes around the corner awhile later. He is somewhat pudgy, but not fat. He wears a business suit and a bowler hat. He also has a curly moustache. He bows to Itami and tips his hat. "Greetings, Itami-san. My name is Wilhelm Grimm, of the Brothers Grimm. I am glad we got to you in time. I imagine you are hungry and distressed, so please follow me to somewhere you can eat and relax. An explanation will also be provided when we arrive."
Itami was thinking that the room was going to flood. She wasn't thinking that the pipes would send a torrent of water to break the wall. What was this!? She tried to keep away from the area as best as she can while watching the water pass by. She hears screaming and shouts soon after, but she wasn't aware anyone else was here with her. She only knew she wanted to get out, but not at the cost of others being harmed.
When the water stopped, she listened to the water trickle to a stop and observe the flooded room with some concern. Were those people alright? Apparently, not so as some bodies begin to float into the room. She thinks she's having some deja vu.
Then…who the hell is this guy? How does he walk past all of this? "I am hungry and damn right I'm distressed! Look at that!" She points to the body. "Wha-what do you mean—Explanation? What?" She asks with too many things running through her mind at once, but each coming out in some way from her mouth. "Fine, alright. I'll follow you out of here." She wonders if these are sights she'd have to get used to.
Wilhelm looks towards the bodies and adjusts his small eyeglasses. "Yes, I see. You need not worry. These pygmies are not really people as you or I are. They are very disposable. They live about 3 years at most, and are not especially intelligent." Pygmies? Is that why they looked so different? They are like… Miniature adults, with oversized heads, hands, and feet. The rest is all very small. "Believe me, I was distraught over their propensity for dying when I first encountered them as well. But it happens all the time, and there are more where these come from."
He then starts walking down the tunnel. "Please, watch your step. The footing can be treacherous. I would not wish for you to sprain your ankle." The pygmies run up and down the tunnel, walking right over the corpses of their fellows, looking around the room that Itami was previously stuck in, and then running back out. They just keep running around, looking for something, not finding it, and then departing it.
Itami looked around at the pygmies that were floating in the water and wasn't sure of what to say. She's learning a lot in such a short time. Even if they weren't exactly inteligent, she didn't think they had to suffer for her being trapped in here. Well, it's over now and there wasn't anything she could do about it.
Following him down the tunnel, she watched the pygmies as they went to and fro, stepping out of the way of a few corpses along the way. "Right…" She offers to him while looking down on the ground, reflecting on things. "…I was never told where I was…or where we are." She starts. "Where are we?"
The cavern beyond, when Itami and Wilhelm both enter into it, is rather large. It has a huge hole in the center of it, meaning the 'floor' is a comparatively thin ring of stone around the outer rim. Lots of walkways and bridges and such have been constructed to span the gap, and allow people to get around quickly. Elevators, stairs, ramps… And many tunnels like the one that Itami just emerged from all over the walls in every direction.
Wilhelm says, "This is a place known as Mountains' Graveyard." The man then indicates the hole as the skeleton of some sort of… Creature of unidentifiable species is hauled up out of the depths. It looks like it's about as about as big as the Kazekage Administration Dome back home. Or maybe two or three times larger than that. It's hard to tell from here. "It's where great beasts have come to die since ancient times. One might even find dinosaurs around here!"
Wilhelm leads the way along the rim, not venturing out of the massive pit. He continues to speak along the way. It is clear that the pygmies are the workers, not the overseers. Normal humans direct them in their duties all over the place. "You are the 'guest' of my employer for the time being. The reason you wound up where you were is solely because you would not have agreed to come here willingly, and yet your presence was deemed very important. I do not know the details beyond that. I am not involved with each individual, just in ensuring you are all freed safely."
Then he turns a corner suddenly and a much more well-crafted and 'normal' seeming hallway lies beyond, with the aroma of many kinds of delicious foods drifting down it, overriding all the smells of oil, dirt, smoke, and so forth from the cavern. "You will be free to do as you wish, ask what you wish, speak to whom you wish, and all the rest once you have had an opportunity to eat." At the end of the hall is a large, circular room with various other rooms set in the walls. A kitchen lies on the other side of the room from the hall. Wilhelm turns left again, and stands by an odd, high-tech door. Like something one might see in a science-fiction manga. He waits for Itami to come over with him.
Itami still had hear head down until she stepped out into the large cavern where she lifted her head and looked at the expanse. She was taken aback by its size and she somehow felt slightly at peace if only because she remembered caverns like these when she spent her time underground. Granted, the caverns weren't this large.
"All these…things. This is just too much to take in at once…" She looks at the elevators, mostly as the ramps and other things are normal for her, but seen together with those makes them feel just as foreign. Her eyes go up towards the opening where a skeleton is being hauled up from the depths below. "Mountains Graveyard." She isn't sure she can process that either. "That's interesting. These old beasts. I have heard tales, but I never thought I'd experience them first hand. I know not if these bones belong to the creatures I've heard of, but I think it might be a safe bet that they might." She hums.
While following along, she continues to look around, her worries of before now being replaced with awe and wonder of all that was going on here. She felt calm until the conversation continued about her being brought here. "Guest?" She pauses on the walkway. "I don't think guest is the proper term for what happened to me and who is your employer? Shouldn't a 'guest' know that?" She didn't care much for the unwilling part. It was probably true considering the way she was snatched up. She wondered if it was that Akimichi guy. He was the last one she saw before being sucked up into the scroll.
Catching up with Wilhelm, she continues behind him into the hallway only to be distracted with the smell of food. Her stomach immediately responds. "Are you certain I'll be able to do all those things you've mentioned? This is all so confusing considering my position in all of this." She admits, but food was sounding soooooo much more important and she was leaning towards that than trying to figure things out the more the aroma of food wafted into her nose. Once they arrive at the door, she inhales deeply and sighs. "…When do I eat?"
Wilhelm smiles at Itami. "All valid concerns, Itami-san. Please be assured that any worries you have now will be laid to rest shortly. All you have to do is have a civilized breakfast with my employer. I am sure much will be explained during the meal." Then he touches a hand to a panel next to the door and it slides open. Within is a long table, a window through which sunlight streams in, and the >top< of the cloud layer can be seen stretching out >below< the window. So they're not beneath the ground… They're… >Above the clouds<!? Well, that's one thing to consider. Two more important things might catch Itami's eye sooner than that trivial detail, however.
One is the table >covered< in a wide variety of 'breakfast' foods, in all manner of bowls, plates, platters, pots and pans, as well as beverages in pitchers, glasses, punch bowls, and even a juice fountain in the middle.
The second thing that Itami may notice is that she has company for breakfast. Six people from various shinobi nations are seated around the table, with guards of some kind stationed at each corner of the room. And seated at the head of the table, looking directly at Itami, is someone producing rattling breaths, almost like something from a respirator, that are audible throughout the room. He is tall, even while seated. If he stood up he'd be around 8 feet tall. He is also garbed in a black robe with red clouds, and bears a smooth, black, eyeless ceramic mask on his face, with a red question mark emblazoned upon it.
The same man that lead the Siege on Sunagakure. Itami saw him before. And she should know the name from Sousa if not others.
It is as this point that Itami may realize that if she had any weapons, tools, or similar upon her person prior to being sucked into the scroll, they were >not< removed from her possession before now. Everyone is seated and waiting peacefully. They would be totally unexpecting if she were to act immediately. Should she?
Itami wasn't sure if she should feel insulted by that. After sitting in a box the whole time and now coming here, she thinks she might still be able to carry herself in a civilized fashion. As she entered the room, she shut her eyes at the light that streamed in. This room was bright and vibrant compared to everything else she passed by on the way here.
Her equilibrium may have been tanked to some degree from being down and then up, but that's something else that would recover in time. Besides there's /food/ and she was hungry. A glance went over the room quickly before she went to take a seat at the table. It was only when she began preparing herself to eat that she looked again and a familiar color caught her eye. Immediately, she focused on Fuu and her eyes began to narrow into slits. "You!?!?" She called out aloud, raising from the table.
She was furious and her senses alert. She wanted to act, but wasn't sure of how to. There are guards as well as others seated at this table. Were they on his side? She breathed in silence while trying to balance the line of composure and anger. "You…" She exasperates. "What is this all about? Give me a reason that I shouldn't kill you where you sit." Stand just didn't seem appropriate.
The others around the table look towards Itami when she enters, interrupting their quiet conversation. She seats herself, and they focus on their meals. Then she leaps up suddenly, yelling, and every person in the room except for Fuu reacts instantly, reaching for their weapons, or moving into position to defend themselves… Only to remember they have no weapons. Only the guards, dressed in black cloaks and hoods, with cloth masks concealing the entirety of their faces, seem to be carrying anything. Really nasty-looking polearms of some kind that seem to be combinations of melee weapons and kunai-bomb launchers, and possibly may have Ninjutsu capabilities as well, judging by the Seal-carved metal rods that compose the hafts of each weapon.
The guards shift, but do not seem inclined to attack.
Fuu says in his extremely deep voice, "Aside from it being terribly rude to kill someone before breakfast…" Then he leans forward and rests his elbows on the table. Or his elbow. His left arm seems… Odd. Like it is there, but not. "If you think you can kill me, feel free to try."
Itami's eyes shifted about the room watching how everyone reacted. The individuals seated, while they didn't have weapons moved to try and attack. Then there were the guards in the corners who appeared to be more than willing to do their jobs. When she looks back at Fuu she grips the tablecloth with some anger saying, "Hardly. I wouldn't consider being snatched up and placed into a room with no food kind behavior, myself." She states and grows quiet. She wanted to kill him, but she…couldn't. She knew it and feeling so powerless made her even angrier.
"…I know what you're capable of…I…can't challenge that." She admits honestly. It left a bitter taste in her mouth as she took her seat back. "What purpose did you have for attacking Sunagakure?" She inquires. "And why am I here? I know your name, but I don't know what you do. All I have is a story to work with. And who are all these people?" She didn't hesitate in fixing herself something to eat. She was going to take advantage of that.
The masked man says, "There were over three-thousand criminals living in your deserts. Human scum of the worst kind. They preyed upon innocent and guilty both, without compassion, understanding, or any attempt at bettering themselves through honest means. They were a cancer upon your country and the human race at large. So I had them motivated to attack Sunagakure." He says he 'had them motivated' like one might say he or she had his or her suit or dress sent to a cleaner. "And now they are dead, and Sunagakure remains. There were losses on your side, of course. This is regrettable, but it also served the secondary purpose of the siege. I have to make everyone understand how much war hurts. I have to make everyone understand the pain that one inflicts on others when one chooses to go to war. The Clan Wars should have been enough! But they were clearly not. At the time that I arranged the attack as a demonstration, Kaguya Mitsuo was still in power in Kirigakure. The War in the Land of Waves had just finished and he was not satisfied. He was going to act against the other nations eventually. I tried to warn Sousa. I told him at the end of the Siege to inform the other Kage that if they did not work together to >end all war< I would end it for them."
Everyone is listening to Fuu intently now, none of them touching their food until he finishes. "Mitsuo ignored my message. The tournament was a step in the right direction, and I told Sousa as much. I also told him that Mitsuo was planning something. Sousa failed to act upon this information. So I did." He then looks down at his clean, empty plate. "A little while later, Shodai Mizukage vanished." He then says nothing else. He just lets that sit until Itami figures it out. And then he asks conversationally, "How is the new Mizukage doing at his job so far, do you think?"
The man then raises his head and says, "I brought you here because you have suffered as the rest here have. You know that war is terrible. You do not wish for it to continue. Unlike your Kazekage, you are not willing to sacrifice lives for the sake of an experiment or for obtaining knowledge. Do you know what kind of monster he keeps in your Village, existing right under everyone's collective nose? …No. I imagine you do not." He dismisses the matter with a wave of his right hand. "These others are representatives of various ninja Villages and nations who want to change things. Some came willingly, and some had to be transported here as you were. All of them have the same thing in common: they have what it takes to end all war. I think you do too."
"Am I wrong?"
Itami listened while eating. Sometimes she was calm, others she was disappointed. The whole time things were up and down while she ate and gave her ear to what was being said. So, Sunagakure was attacked in order to rid the deserts of bandits and scum? That was it? The whole thing? The sandstorm? The golem? The snake? What did all that have to do with getting rid of them? She wanted to ask, but there was too much. It wasn't long before she finished her plate and partook of some water which she gulped down quickly only to cough due to choking. The water went down the wrong pipe.
Setting her glass down, she thinks over the events that happened since the siege. She was aware of the Mizukage, but she didn't know much about his plans to carry out war to other places. She wouldn't have wanted that to happen and it appears the situation was taken care of. Wasn't it? She didn't know too much of anything even though she was sitting on a Council. She felt lost more often than she wanted to be. "I…I don't know. The current Mizukage, I mean." She adds quietly.
"I know that war is terrible. I don't wish for it to continue. I…" She pauses. "I don't think people's lives should be sacrificed for such things, but…the monster." She thinks she has a good idea of what it is, but she won't say. Fuu's words make her think otherwise, though. Was there something else that she didn't know about? "I don't know if I have what it takes. War is something that's difficult to stop. I didn't think it'd be so easy to stop. I just want to prevent it, at least." She explains and grows quiet.
"It's something that just can't end. People just don't…do things that way." She's hoped for war to just end, but she doesn't believe it's possible to achieve. People are just too complex for that kind of thing. They'd find war for any kind of reason.
Fuu listens to what Itami says in response. Then he says quietly, "I see." Turning to everyone else, he says, "The scrambled eggs are getting cold. I recommend the fresh grated cheese as a topping. It melts perfectly." The others break from their trances and go about eating. Fuu remains with an empty plate. Maybe he already ate. He says one last thing to Itami as he adjusts his napkin. "I disagree about war being unpreventable. And I hope to prove that to you and the others in the coming days." He continues fiddling with his silverware, nudging his plate around, turning his water glass as though to make sure the light from the window reflects off of it perfectly, casting a prismatic effect on the table… And all around, everyone continues to eat fresh fruit of so many different kinds that some of them look like they are from a different planet due to their alienness. Bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, waffles, ramen, soup, toast of at least 80 different kinds of bread, butter, apple butter, cherry butter, all other kinds of butter one can imagine, sandwiches, breakfast burritos… So many kinds of breakfast foods, from all kinds of countries and cultures.
And the beverages are so many that they actually did not all fit on the main table. Two other smaller tables stand in the corners on each side of the door, out-of-sight for those who first enter the room. These tables have drinks a-plenty as well. It's extravagant but not… 'Fancy'. It's just… Wholesome, good, healthy, delicious food. Rather than being wasteful, it feels like the fondest memories of home and childhood… Even for those who have never experienced the things those memories are attached to. Which is very strange indeed.
Finally, the door that had slid closed when Itami entered slides open again. Wilhelm stands there. "Your last guest has arrived, Fuu-sama." Then a 'presence' one could call it is felt. The others look up briefly before returning to eating. The Chakra level of this 'presence' is immense. It is also very 'cold'. Fuu is probably on about the same level, but for some reason his Chakra is very subdued… About the level of a Jounin at rest, rather than what he demonstrated at Sunagakure. And yet… If the presence approaching is not preparing to kill them all, and this >too< is 'at rest'…
Who the hell could this last guest be!? >God<!?
Fuu watches the door until a man in red armor, with a huge mass of black, spiked hair sweeping back from his forehead enters the room. "Aa…" Fuu says. "Madara-san. How nice of you to join us."
The door slides shut behind him.