Hashiramako, Shoki (emitter)
Date: April 4, 2011
The Daimyo comes to ask the Hokage for assistance in both rebuilding, defense and finding Hiroko-chan (His niece)
"Daimyo's Missing Niece - Hokage and the Daimyo"
This meeting is no surprise. Official couriers sent notice with armed transport days in advance. The Daiymo does not travel lightly nor without significant guards. This is an arranged meeting and it is not insignificant that the Daimyo is coming to meet the Hokage. The meeting agenda was set for the rebuilding of the Land of Fire and various 'security' issues. The meeting is set for mid-day, post lunch. Various officials have been scurrying around head of the Daimyo's arrival and now, he is here.
Escorted in to meet with the Hokage, the Daiymo is an imposing figure, even with his age, his 60th birthday is just around the corner, but he has kept in shape and spent his youth fighting and leading armies. As he enters he is escorted by four elite body guards, each with face hidden by a bestial mask. He pauses at the entrance to take in the room then looks to the Hokage. He pauses, then gives a small respectful bow. Small because he is the ruler of the Land of Fire after all. "Greetings, Hashiramako-San." His voice is deep and gravel filled.
Meeting with the Daimyo didn't quite hold the same life-altering significance for Konohagakure's Hokage as it did for the average peasant. Granted, in the end, he was the only one she was absolutely required by fealty to answer to. Thus, Konoha had pulled out all the usual preparations for a visiting dignitary of his stature. Security was increased five-fold, several entrance routes were picked and prepared, just so no would be ne'er-do-wells could lay a plan along one specific trail, and everyone in the Hokage's office and guarding Konoha that day wore their best combat-ready gear.
The office had been cleared out, as the Hokage really didn't have anything to fear from the Daimyo or his guards. Except perhaps a demotion. Senju Hashiramako stands next to her desk, her hands casually at her sides as she hears the Lord of the Land of Fire's entourage tromping up the hallway. When he enters, she immediately bows low at the waist. She doesn't rise again until he has bowed back.
"Your Lordship. May I offer you a seat, or something to drink?" She gestures towards several cushioned chairs set around the desk. The old ones had been taken to a store room, replaced by the best that could be found in the village. One of them was 'on loan' from a local shop for the duration of the Daimyo's visit.
The Daimyo nods, no one has called him by his actual name of Hideyori in years but his closest friends or family. He stretches slightly and nods and gestures to his guards. The retreat, and close the door behind themselves, to stand guard outside the room. The Daimyo clearly trusts the Hokage, after all it is with her that he formed the agreement to form the hidden village in the first place. "Thank you." He says simply as he takes a seat, "No drink is needed, I hope to get straight to the point as there is much to discuss." He leans back into the chair.
The Daimyo is dressed in extremely fine garb, which includes a sword that is definitely not ceremonial, but he looks at ease and in this case it is simply a matter of taking it with him nearly everywhere. "After the invasion…" He starts then frowns, "The Land of Fire is still badly scarred, the land itself damaged by the inhuman clay beasts and their masters. I've come to discuss repair efforts and fortifications as well as early warning systems to prevent us from being caught off guard in the future, be it from a future invasion from any foriegn nation." He explains as he reclines.
The dark-haired Hokage doesn't sit until the title holder of all land in the Land of Fire does, at which point she slides behind her desk and pulls her own rather plain, if comfortably functional, chair under her. She merely nods and rests her forearms lightly on the desk top as the male mentions getting straight to business. The Senju leader inhales deeply, then exhales, sorting out where to begin in all of the mess.
"Their invasion is difficult to quantify. We had advanced warning of their forces, we had our own troops there ready to meet and repel their naval armada. We would have been victorious, but…" She inclines her head. "Then they used those abominations, fueled by captives, according to the reports. They were constructed at an island facility and marched under the ocean until reaching our shores."
Hashiramako leans back slightly, frowning momentarily out of her window. "There really isn't much more we can do. I know that's not the answer you're looking for, but no natural human can dive so deep as to keep track of the entire ocean depths. Further, we have so much coastline, and not nearly as many shinobi proficient in water jutsu. Our lookouts, spies, and border guards were functioning perfectly. But no one could have predicted an unseen army marching out of the tides."
"Quite simply, sir, there is no way we can directly watch for this kind of threat in the future. We knew the Land of Water was gearing up for major production, we simply didn't know what. And did not put enough resources into finding out. The only tangible solution is to increase our eyes and ears network, sparing no expense, the next time we hear of such a large-scale industrial, military, or economic mobilization."
The Daimyo considers, and appears this is not the answer he expected. He pauses, looking thoughtful. "I see, well, my reports painted that picture but… not the same conclusion. Many of my advisors recommended building massive fortifications along our borders Forts, check points, watch towers, that kind of thing. But I am glad you don't believe that is a good solution. It would divert so many resources from the rebuilding effort that I fear the suffering it would cause my people." He shakes his head and looks down, looking suddenly very tired, "I worry about their suffering." He mutters.
After a moment he looks up and seems to hide the weight on his shoulders well, "I'd like you to try to focus your efforts into rebuilding what we can. Expanding a spy network is not easy or cheap and we can't afford to build the kind of network you are speaking of, but… perhaps keeping feet on the ground in each land around ours more so than we have?" He ventures, "A slow increase in passive monitoring so that we can focus spies when we hear of more could be a safe investment." He offers, "I leave the details to you of course, your ninja are your tools and you know how best to use them. I'd like to let you know personally that the more of your shinobi you can spare to rebuild the better. Consider this a formal request. I know you have your missions but those who are not currently assigned to other matters, all you can spar, to help the people, would be appreciated." He is careful to voice it as a request and not a demand despite his position, being as diplomatic as possible, "If you would keep my advisers up to date on your actions as well, so that we might coordinate with the Land of Fire army. I have mobilized all those that are left and able to assist in the rebuilding efforts. With the disaster that hit the coast just prior to the invasion many things have not been rebuilt since that time. I have authorized food stores and materials to be sent a well."
The Hokage gives a single nod. "I am not suggesting we increase our spy network or the number of shinobi actively undercover in other lands. Merely that we do so when we do detect such large-scale building or troop-movement efforts. If we had just known about the golems beforehand… many lives would have been saved. Instead, upon hearing of Kirigakure's mobilization, we simply watched out own borders more closely, rather than tried to ascertain the true nature of what they were doing. That is where I am suggesting we shift our focus."
She spreads her hands a bit, resting their edges on the top of the desk. "We were concerned only with how this could affect our country. If we had been more proactive and less reactive, if we had tried harder to figure out who was the target and what the nature of the threat was, we would have lost far fewer people. …Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, as they say, but I think it wise to expand our views to the world at large in times of unrest."
"As far as sparing shinobi for rebuilding, ninja are not craftsmen, sir. I will spare as many water and earth-manipulators as I can. Those who specialize in other elements, and are thus ill-suited for repairing damage to fields and structures, I will, with your permission, have continue their appropriate duties as applicable. I am afraid that shinobi are of limited help in times of peace, but we will assist as much as we are able. I will have several squads dispatched within twenty-four hours."
The Daimyo frowns slight, "I understand that many of the ninja are not craftsmen, but much of the work simply requires strong backs, something I think most ninja in fact have?" He points out, sounding a tad, just a tad, annoyed. "I'm not asking that you abandon your normal missions just that if there are any spare individuals or teams that you send them to help however they can. Even just escorting relief aid to avoid looting would be of some help." He gives a sigh, "But yes, several squads will be greatly appreciated. It is a trying time for all I'm afraid." He leans back a bit, trying to calm himself, "And perhaps we should try to increase, at least marginally, the number of shinobi on the ground in the foreign lands."
Pausing the Daimyo considers, "I admit that my forces have their own spies. I have taken the head of intelligence to task as well, and perhaps by working more closely together some gains can be made." He makes a hand gesture, "But that is a matter for bureaucrats, your people can talk to my people and they will work more closely. Or at least exchange information." He says firmly, "If they give you any trouble you will let me know and I will make that trouble go away." There is an edge to his voice, clearly he is displeased with the performance of many people resulting in the current situation.
The Senju leader nods amicably, filing away a mental note to put together several squads of water and earth jutsu users to dispatch towards the worst areas of devastation. She continues to listen as the Daimyo orders the cohesion of the military's and shinobi spy networks, already running through a list of names of people she would have to deal with, and others she would need to give slightly-adjusted orders to. On the surface, however, she attentively gives the feudal lord her undivided attention. Mental multi-tasking was a must for someone in her position.
"Very well, I will have more carrier birds for sending messages to and from the capital purchased for incorporating your top leaders into our intelligence networks. If I may make a suggestion?"
The question seems to be a bit rhetorical, though she does pause a few precious heartbeats before continuing. "I know the Land of Water is the obvious threat at this moment, but we can't simply neglect our other borders focusing on them. Many people are clamoring for revenge against that land, but the fact is that we're hurting right now. It's not just the coast we need to guard, or homes that must be rebuilt. We need to tighten all of our border security to prevent other countries from attempting to capitalize on our misfortune. Including Kumogakure and Sunagakure. Just because they did not wish the Land of Water to overtake us does not mean they are not willing to do so themselves."
Nodding, the Lord of the Land of Fire accepts this and says, "Diplomatic missions should be sent to both lands, to head off any possible threat. Perhaps negotiate some kind of deal with them, some kind of exchange of sorts, anything to keep them thinking of ways to attack us or take advantage of our situation. Your point is well taken though. I've been hoping to avoid it but several of my advisers are pushing for conscripted service of sorts to fill in the manpower voids, short term of course. To basically take one person or so per family to help man the forts and help rebuild as we get things back to normal. Again, I've resisted this suggestion because of the simple fact we need our people doing what the do to keep the land from being poverty stricken."
The Daimyo pauses, "Ah, I do have one more matter, which is of a rather serious nature but first I'd like to ask if you are aware of any serious active threats from these other lands or any other source at this time? I'd rather we not be caught off guard so badly again if possible."
"We have no new news, I'm afraid. I'm unsure if that is good or not, but the absence of an apparent threat isn't a reason to relax vigilance. All I can honestly say for now is that it does not appear that there is any concerted effort or plot from any of our immediate neighbors to broach our borders."
She doesn't comment on the conscription of soldiers from the civilian populace. Was it necessary? Problem. But on the other hand, was terribly hard on the very people it was meant to protect. Ultimately, it was not a ninja decision, and she thus keeps quiet on it. Her job involved this village and the people in it, and running it was hard enough. She didn't need to add in hundreds of thousands of civilians onto her worries on top of everything else.
The woman about half the age of the male settles back into her chair and makes a horizontal flipping motion with her hand. "Please, tell me what you need. The whole of Konoha is at your disposal, my Lord."
Daimyo nods, "Well, form two squads you trust and send them each to Sunagakure and Kumogakure with the intention to build relations, offer some kind of exchange or trade agreement and while there see what is going on. I'm sure your people will be able to do that efficiently." That said he pauses, clearly trying to put off this last bit.
Eventually the Lord speaks, "I'm afraid you know that my Niece is missing? I know the rumors are out there and many wonder if she is even alive. I need you to find her, before anyone else finds her or kills her, and if she has been taken by another group I need you to get her back by whatever means are needed and as quietly as possible. We need this to remain as quiet as possible and get it done as quickly as possible by those you trust." He stops and looks to you, "And it must be those you trust. Too many have too much to gain by using what information I am about to give you for their own uses."
The Hokage nods, making another mental note of personnel both suitable for the task of spreading goodwill between villages and who could be spared from other duties. Unfortunately, it was a rather short list. But she would have to make do. At the mention of his niece, Hashiramako's eyes return to the Daimyo, and she gives a slow, cautious nod.
Of course that was what he wanted. A case that was months old, at best, with a trail that was as nonexistent as it was cold. She dosn't let these thoughts surface to her features, though, hiding them behind a stoic mask. She finally lets out another breath and bows her head in acknowledgment of the task given to her, which she would now have to give to another. Who would then have the unenviable task of trying to accomplish it.
"Very well, sir. I have just the person to send on such a delicate assignment. If the task is capable of being accomplished and the safe return of your royal niece is possible, Uchiha Fuyu would be the one to do it. I will give her the missive authorizing her to pursue all possible leads across all national boundaries tomorrow."
The dark-haired woman hesitates briefly. "But please understand that such things can take time, especially when the person has been missing for so long. Please be patient and… Whatever her captors, if she were captured, have wished done to her has already been done. Getting your hopes up at this point would be… ill-advised. You will be the first to know if we obtain any information."
The Daimyo apparently has additional information, and he waits for a moment, "Uchiha Fuyu? I see…. Well, if you believe she is the right person to send. But I am fairly sure she is still alive. If some group had her and had done away with her, they would have revealed it. My bigger worry is some group has her and… is making sure she bears an heir who would have a claim on the line of succession. The reason that I've held back a full forced man hunt is right now many in the capital believe we are just hiding her because of possible additional threats to her life. I can tell you where she was sent for protection. I can tell you how she can be identified, what marks on her, what items she may have that are unique and a pass phrase she was given to prove her identity." He explains, "But this is delicate. If she is not found, or she is found dead, and I and my brother pass away, this land will surely be thrown into civil war as the various lords fight for control of the Land of Fire." He eyes the Hokage to let this settle in.
"My own sons were already killed off. I sent Hiroko-chan off to be safe, with basically the safest people I could think of. I didn't want her to be under risk and wanted her to be raised away from the corruptions of the capital. I took what I thought were the best measures I could. Very few knew where she was sent. I have had two trusted agents looking for her, but… they have not found anything. I come to you to ask only because, I will be honest, I am desperate to find her. Both because she is family and because, right now, finding her is necessary to quell the grumblings of some of the other nobles."
"Yes, much the same thing is happening in the Land of Grass right now due to questions about the line of succession. The obvious solution, sir, is to sire another child or publicly choose a successor. That would officially quiet any questions as to the line of succession. It's a regrettable thing to be one of the last of one's kin."
Hashiramako brings her fingers up and steeples them under her chin as she thinks on this new information for a several moments. She mulls over the information in her head, still not entirely sure the girl isn't dead. There was no reason to proclaim the deed if those who wanted it done wished anonymity. Only a fool would proclaim to have done such a deed that would so surely bring down heat and wrath upon his head. But she ultimately decides not to bother the elderly male with such things. He was already a busy, busy man.
"I will pass on any information you can give me about her to the one selected for this task. I can only promise discretion and that no effort will be spared, not success. But is she can be found, she will be. Please, my Lord." The dark-haired Senju leans forward slightly, her sharp mind ready to memorize the information given. Such was too sensitive to write down and risk being seen by those who should not. "Tell me what you know of her. Even the smallest details may help."
Of course, this was likely to not be a short list, and the Daimyo and Hokage are likely to be in her office for many hours, late into the evening discussing various stratagems to employ in the search.