Date: August 2, 2010
Uchiha Fuyu leads a covert mission that is a follow-up to a different mission undertaken earlier in the day. A secret mistake of the past is revealed and corrected.
"Cutscene - Quarantine"
Land of Fire
Fuyu had not been entirely honest with the ninja that had been assigned to her team for the mapping expedition into the southern Land of Fire. Most of what she had told them had been true. But the fact remained that, even though she remembered quite clearly hunting down all the members of the Disease-maker Clan that she could find, she could NOT guarantee that all of them had been eliminated. All these years, she thought that they really had been wiped out. But now… Well, she was flitting through the forest at night, with three experienced ninja at her back, and two other four-man teams of Uchiha on either side.
They were all wearing rather odd outfits for ninja. Thick, cumbersome, and multiple layers, in a country that was not exactly cold. On top of this, every opening or possible entry point into the garments was sealed off with duct tape. Two pairs of gloves on each hand, two layers of flexible plastic stockings and then boots on top of those on each foot, three hoods, goggles, breath masks, an independent oxygen supply inside the outfits… Even to a dull-witted individual, it was obvious that whatever these ninja were doing, they expected to be entering a toxic or otherwise hazardous environment. Infact, the environment would have to be so dangerous that they would have to sacrifice mobility, sensory accuity, and so forth, just to have a chance of surviving.
Fuyu and the other two teams finally came to a halt, after about 50 miles of running and leaping. The Uchiha woman pointed down towards the tree that had started all of this. A large and old tree, that was no longer living, and yet showed no signs of being dead from the outside. Further, there was a dense collection of moss growing on the SOUTH side of the tree, rather than the north. This was not at all normal. A quick investigation by the botany expert that Fuyu had recruited to her own squad showed that the details were just as Hyuuga Yuzuna had said.
The tree was dead, but it was being maintained in a state of equilibrium somehow. Neither growing, nor rotting, the towering pine appeared to be healthy from the outside. But once the bark was cut off and the interior was exposed, the truth was revealed. Inside of the trunk were numerous 'pockets' that had been hollowed out somehow. Upon revealing the pockets to the air, small clouds of yellow steam were released. Fuyu and the others immediately leapt away to get out of range. There was no telling what that steam was. The botanist managed to get away without harm as well, but his clothing had been directly exposed to the sickly yellow smoke. Fuyu shook her head when he attempted to rejoin them. He had to stay where he was until he could be decontaminated.
The ninja hesitated, and then nodded. He was under quarantine.
An analysis of the steam would have to be performed, so the botanist began to seal the rapidly disipating smoke into a prepared scroll. Fuyu raised a hand and pointed ahead. The rest of them would move on. A short time later, the three teams of ninja (minus one member from Fuyu's squad) arrived at the abandoned hamlet that had been located earlier in the day. The buildings were still abandoned, and there were still no signs of human beings having been here in at least three years — probably longer. The only footprints were those of Fuyu and the team she had led during the daytime. Trackers with more skill than Fuyu, however, determined that there were human foot prints leading from behind some bushes, south of the small village, further into the dense forest.
They were recent.
One team stayed behind to burn down and destroy the hamlet, to ensure there was no possibility of anyone else becoming infected. Fuyu's now three-person squad and the remaining team both followed the trail. The tracks led on a winding route, through, over, and under various obstacles, as though the one they were following was attempting to lose any pursuers. But they did not lose the trail, though it sometimes took a short time to make sure they still had it. Eventually, the Konoha ninja arrived at a small camp. Only one tent, the campfire had been recently extinguished, and there were signs all over of the campsite being in use.
Communicating via hand-signs, Fuyu directed the various ninja to surround the site. And then… The tent was slashed in half by one Uchiha, exposing the interior. A teenage boy was inside. He looked up quickly at the shadowy figure looming over him, eyes wide with terror, and then yelled widly before attempting to flee. It was no use, though. Fuyu landed a short distance away, in front of the boy, causing him to halt his flight. When he realized he was surrounded, the boy's fear melted away to anger. The shift in expressions was odd, but it just provided more evidence that Fuyu's suspicion was correct…
She suspected that standing before her was the last survivor of the Disease-maker Clan.
"Leaf scum!" the boy snarled. "Get out of here! This is MY camp! You can't just come in here and attack me!" Fuyu stared at the boy, no emotion being displayed by any of the ninja present due to the concealment of their faces, and did not respond. Turning to the other ninja in a circle like a trapped animal, trying to keep his eyes on everyone at once, the boy continued ranting. "This is my home! I haven't done anything wrong! I haven't bothered anyone! Just go away!" The continued silence and staring from the circle of ninja seemed to drive fear and panic back into the boy. "Well!? Why don't you say something!? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?!"
Finally, as the boy screamed, Fuyu spoke. "What is your name, boy?" The boy whirled on Fuyu, breathing heavily enough that he was almost hyper-ventilating, and then looked the woman over dubiously. Eventually, as Fuyu showed no signs of going away, he answered, "…I don't have one." Fuyu thought she saw one of the others reach for his tool pouch. Truth serum, probably. Fuyu just shook her head minutely. The other ninja stopped, and just waited. Focusing back on the boy, the Uchiha woman asks "Where are your parents?" The boy tried to maintain eye-contat with the featureless, tinted goggles over Fuyu's eyes, but he just couldn't. He looked down at the ground, his mouth fighting between scowling and grimacing. "They're dead."
Before Fuyu could respond, the boy's gaze came up again, focusing on Fuyu. "They're dead, and it's you Leaf ninja that killed them! I HATE YOU!" The teen's hands were balled into fists at his sides, shoulders hunched, entire body practically quivering with rage. Fuyu spoke calmly still, and did not react outwardly to the emotional outburst. "Do you know why your parents were killed?" Whatever the boy had been expecting as a response, this question was not it. "Wh-What? No… You're just… Monsters! Murdering monsters! You didn't need a reason!" Fuyu once again kept her voice steady, though internally she was in a very different state. Guilt was eating away at her, and there was pity for this boy as well. Because she knew for a fact that she WAS responsible for the death of his parents. "That is not logical. To kill people at random would destabilize the country, and inspire fear and hate in the civilian population. They would not trust their protectors to actually protect them. Everything happens for a reason."
Now being lectured, the boy looked very confused. Just completely and utterly baffled. He had no idea how to respond. "I will tell you why your parents were killed." The boy's expression of confusion slipped away slowly, instead taking on a sort of hungry, longing look, mixed with fear. This had clearly been something he had wanted to know his entire life. The question of why his parents had died, why he had been alone, and everything else must have been eating him alive.
"The reason is…"
"…They had a special ability. One which I know you are aware of. They had the knowledge and capability of creating any pathogen they wanted, through the use of their energy alone. Viruses, bacteria, or anything similar, were all possibilities. And their Clan… YOUR Clan… Used this ability to try to eliminate all human beings that were not one of them." The boy, initially shocked at what Fuyu was saying — that she knew of his ability, and that there was more to it than he had assumed — turned to disbelief and horror when he heard the rest. Then he became angry again. "DON'T YOU DARE TALK ABOUT MY MOTHER AND FATHER THAT WAY!" He charged at Fuyu, heedless of the danger, but even as the other ninja prepared to take him down, the boy let out a cry of pain and fell to the ground as though he had tripped — or as though his leg had been injured.
There was no sign of an injury, but when the youth examined his leg he seemed to react as though he were seeing some horrible maiming wound there. He looked up at Fuyu in fear again, seeming to realize that he was facing abilities he had never encountered before, and further had never dreamed existed. Fuyu's Genjutsu attack had been simple, but effective. It was only to delay the boy, however. She wanted to keep him alive to hear the truth. That meant she couldn't let anyone kill him. "My words are true. Your entire Clan were xenophobic and genocidal. They hated and feared all outsiders. They wanted us dead, and they tried to make that wish into reality. We had to kill them. There was no other choice. To do nothing would be to die and condemn everyone we cared about to the same death."
The boy didn't want to acknowledge the words, to hear the regret in Fuyu's voice. He wanted to hold onto his anger and his pain. But he was finding it hard to do so. The woman sounded so SINCERE… Fuyu continued to speak after a brief pause. "I'm sorry." The boy stared at the Leaf-nin and snarled out, even as he wept, "You think saying you're sorry will fix things!? You think your apology will bring my parents back!?" The anger was bleeding rapidly from his voice, leaving only sorrow as he huddled on the ground and sobbed. He had probably had some romantic notions about how his parents had been good people. To lose those so suddenly, from the mouth of one he had long considered an enemy…
Fuyu felt her throat attempt to close when she swallowed. She had one last thing to tell this boy. Then it would be over.
Fuyu had watched the teenager sit in the cold mud and cry, anguish from a life of solitude and fear clearly expressed through the heaving of his shoulders with every sob. Then she told herself that there was only one thing left to do. She had to unburden herself of this secret she had kept for so long, and follow through with her responsibilities. She was responsible for this. So she had to make up for it. "Do you know why you survived when no other member of your Clan did?" The boy took a moment to pull himself out of his sorrow, and refocus on Fuyu. He just shook his head, in no condition to form words.
"It is because when my Clan and various others destroyed yours to make sure everyone else would continue to live, it came time for the children and the babies to be killed." She knew what that sounded like. It didn't make her sound like a goodguy at all. But then again, she really wasn't a "goodguy", so that was fine. The truth was better. The boy stared wide-eyed at Fuyu, not really being able to grasp what was being said immediately. "However, I was weak back then. I found a young boy with brown hair inside a house, hiding in the closet. I knew I was supposed to kill them all. I knew I could let anyone of your Clan touch me, because they could kill me with that same touch. But I couldn't bring myself to kill that boy…"
The Disease-maker boy's eyes, previously wide with horror, now were wide with understanding. One hand reached up to his own long, shaggy, brown hair. "So I wrapped him in a blanket, carried him out of the village, and released him far away, in the forest. I occasionally visited him for a couple months to leave him food, or teach him how to hunt or fish… But eventually, it was too dangerous to keep seeing him. People were becoming suspicious, and I couldn't afford to lead them to the boy's location. So I told him goodbye, and I left him forever." Then she took a step forward and leaned over, putting her hands on her upper legs. "…Until now, at least."
The boy got up quickly from his seat, all the other emotions vanishing from his face, except for one: Joy. He held his arms out wide, and even with the illusion of an injured leg, he managed to limp forward to embrace Fuyu. Fuyu moved forwards as well. If she did nothing, then someone else would act. Kneeling down, she accepted the hug. "It's you! It's… It's really you! I thought I had dreamed you… I thought… I made you up!" the boy laughed as he buried his face inbetween Fuyu's neck and shoulder. He still had his hate for the outsiders, but his fond memories of one particular woman were presently overriding that.
Fuyu felt the guilt swelling within her. She fought back the sobs rising in her own throat, but behind her goggles, her eyes were leaking tears.
The Disease-maker boy and the Uchiha woman continued to remain locked in their hug for at least a minute. Then one of the other ninja said quietly, "Fuyu-san…" Fuyu sighed under her breath. "Hai. I know." The boy lifted his head and moved back a bit, a suspicious look given to the ninja who had spoken, and then an inquisitive look towards Fuyu. "What's going on? Did… Did you…" His eyes widened suddenly and a smile broke out on his dirt-stained face. "Did you come to get me? To bring me to YOUR home!? That's… I've wanted this for SO LONG. I can't wait! I want to see your Village, and meet your friends, and your family, and EVERYTHING! That's why you're here, right?" Fuyu felt another little piece of her soul die when she forced herself to answer honestly. "No." The boy jolted. It wasn't from the shock of what had just been said, but from something more physical.
His mouth worked open and closed without releasing any words. His face went completely pale. Then he looked down at his chest, where the sudden pain was coming from. His bare chest had a kunai firmly and deeply planted right in the center, penetrating his heart. Blood poured out in a small river. The boy stumbled back a few steps, trying to bring his gaze back onto Fuyu one last time. But his eyes rolled up into his head, his sight moving right over her, and up to the sky. A short time passed after the boy fell to the ground.
Fuyu remained kneeling, watching and waiting to make sure the youth was really dead. Then, sensing that her companions were becoming anxious, she rose to her feet. "Burn it all. And no one come near me. I need to be decontaminated." She then turned and began to travel north, to see how the other team was doing. The guilt she had felt, the pain, were finally leaving her. She had fulfilled her responsibility at last. She had finally done her duty to her teacher. Her mistake in allowing the boy to live and to suffer had been corrected. Now it was time to recover, and allow her heart to mend.