Date: November 1, 2010
Serin and Taji have another clandestine meeting after a long period of time. Serin has completed his task in regard to Rain and the Takokujin, and it is time to check on Taji's progress. But someone else has joined Serin for this meeting… Someone perhaps even more dangerous than the Takokujin.
"Flashback - The Path Begins To Wander"
Empty Granary - Kusagakure
Kusagakure is a busy place these days. The tournament is still going strong, and there are plenty of people crowding the normally quiet and subdued streets. Not everyone is happy about the noise, the strangers, the mess left behind, and all the rest… But it does afford an excellent distraction for those who would rather go unnoticed. One of these individuals is someone who appears to be an old man, possibly blind, garbed in a frayed brown robe, and stooped in a low-to-the-ground positions as he walks. He has wisps of white hair clinging to his scalp, a bushy white moustache, a pronounced chin, and black glasses on his eyes. He navigates the street with a cane that he moves back and forth to determine what is in front of him or not.
He gradually makes his way to an unused and empty grain storage structure, whereupon he manages to undo the heavy-duty lock on the doors somehow, and then enter. He glances around, moving his jaw around idly, as though stretching the muscles, and then calls out in a frail voice, "Hello? I heard there was a ninja of Konohagakure that wished to speak with me? Something about fixing my problem?" He then just stands and waits, staring straight ahead with apparently blind eyes, at the dusty crates and wheel-barrows and so forth that have not been touched in years.
Taji had a note to meet here, from Serin, supposedly. He's got a Henge going, looking like a homeless guy, probably native, as he heads towards the building. He approaches the grain storage, then sneaks into the building, looking around, to see who is here. He's carefully not completely silent as he enters. He pauses as he lets his eyes adjust to being inside, studying his surroundings. He glances at the note then back around. Eventually he spies the old man and approaches cautiously. While he may look like a homeless person he's moving like a paranoid ninja, so it kind of destroys the effect, other than to hide exactly who he is directly. "Hello." He offers softly, trying to see if this is someone he knows or not.
As the homeless man approaches, the old man turns his head this way and that, obviously hearing the other but not seeing him. "Nani desu ka? Is someone there?" Once the other man is within speaking range and speaks to him, he turns to face the disguised Taji for a moment, his bushy moustache concealing his mouth utterly. The moustache twitches a bit as the man holds up one scrawny arm and gestures vaguely with his cane. "You the one? You the ninja that can help with my problem? You don't look like one. How do I know you can fix up my face? You know, I lost my identity during the war in the Waves. I lost my sight there too. But you… You can help me? You can give me a new identity — a new self — and give me back my ability to see the world instead of being buried in darkness?" If this is Serin, it is possible he is speaking figuratively. A new identity and the guidance of how to live a life without killing innocents. That is one way of interpreting his speech at least. If it is taken literally, though…
Holding up the note, the homeless person says, "Did you leave this some where?" Well, it clearly is a note from Serin. If this is Serin either the homeless looking person got the note from Taji or the homeless person is Taji. "And yes, I think I can help with your problem, if… if this is your note." He offers, before tucking the note back in his pocket. "Can we drop the charade? We don't have much time before I might be noticed missing." He explains, "People are… nosy and everyone is on high alert with all the people scattered around here. So… let's not be coy." He says as he studies the 'old man'. "You leave this note in a log or not?" The homeless man sounds aggitated, irritated for some reaosn.
The man peers at the note, reflecting its image in the lenses of his glasses. "Hmm… Yes, that looks like mine. Infact…" The man then turns all the way around, facing AWAY from Taji… And a moment later there is a hiss of hydraulics as the man stands up from his stoop, revealing that this is indeed Serin. He sweeps the robe off and reveals he is wearing some kind of metal frame with pistons and extensions and machinery, which was allowing him to manipulate some Puppetry-based limbs with 'skin sheathes' on them, as well as to move around a real-looking mask over another set of metal tubes that apparently allow Serin to see behind him via a set of mirrors on each side of his face.
Further, it seems Serin has been walking backwards all this time. Perhaps that was the only way he could conceal a body of his stature under that robe? Sami unhooks some parts of the contraption and then says, "You can reveal yourself now." His voice is normal, not like the old man's. His clothing is also different… He has a shiny new outfit of a grey padded vest with buckled black leather under it. Otomegami is nowhere to be seen either.
There's a puff of smoke as Taji lets the Henge drop. He's dressed as normal, as he glances around then looks back to Serin, "Well, enough of that foolishness." He says as he dusts himself off, "Okay, so… how go plans? Have you managed to tie up any loose ends you had dangling out there? How goes your efforts to find a way to conceal…" He looks over Serin, "Ah, your sword?" He ventures as he looks around, "And… any progress on figuring out how you will present yourself in the land of fire, after the changes?" He asks as he stretches a tad then moves a bit closer. "With luck we can start things in motion soon. Tricky but… the hard part, for me, will be finding a way to explain my absence for the amount of time what we have planned will take."
Standing outside the granary is a woman in a grey coat with black shirt and pants, grey boots, and a hood over her head. A blank, white mask with only a single, cyclops-like eye slit stretching from left to right, lies on her face. This is the Kusagakure equivalent of an ANBU Captain crossed with a Hunter-Nin and a more traditional police officer. They are known simply as 'Inspectors'. No one questions an Inspector. Not unless one is the Head of the Inspectors or the Daimyou himself. So the fact that an Inspector is standing around outside a warehouse in plain sight has pretty much made every single homeless person, miscreant, or honest citizen keep his or her distance and try not to even be within earshot.
The Inspector stands outside the granary. She waits.
Serin nods. "My business with the Takokujin is done. I have made it clear I am not affiliated with Rainos in any way anymore, and that he is to inform any others that remain allied with him that they are not to hand over confidential information or resources without appropriate monetary compensation, as would any other customer of the Takokujin. He will slowly spread the word that he and I have parted ways… Though to the rest of the Takokujin, it was a peaceful seperation. To everyone who might carry news to listening ears, it was a violent and intense divergence of goals, and Rainos wants to 'punish' me for my 'betrayal'. Rainos knows I want to disappear. He does not know why, or that I mean to make my disappearance as Serin and Sami permanent. He thinks it may have to do with the Mizukage and my old plans to get revenge."
A pause. "He does not know anything about our plans, or even that you exist. I spoke your name to no one. And that is something we should continue doing." He looks over his shoulder and lowers his voice. "If you trust me, then please…" He then holds out his hand as though to shake. But he is keeping his attention focused squarely on the door through which he entered the building. His grey irises and pupils just stare at the closed doors. Is he expecting someone? Is he watching just incase? Are they being watched right now?
Taji nods, "Yes, the fewer who know of our goals, the… better for everyone. If we do this right… no one need know what became of Serin. The secret will die, and eventually no one will even be looking, assuming something horrible happened." He says softly, then eyes the hand, suddenly getting a tad nervous as the idea of someone watching makes the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. He hesitates, as he looks at Serin's hand. He glances back up to Serin's eyes, frowning a tad himself as he tries to read what he wants to know just off of facial features.
Slowly Taji looks back over his shoulder, eyeing the door then looking back to Serin, "I was not followed, and no one I know knows I am here. Were… you followed?" His words are barely above a whisper, designed to carry only to Serin, just in case the two are being observed. He reaches his hand out to make it seem like things are still progressing as planned, again, just in case they are being watched. "With things done with Rainos, when should we start our next phase?" He asks, in a normal tone, even as he tries to figure out what to do next, clearly on a higher level of alert now.
The Inspector seems to realize there has been a change in the noise level within the granary suddenly, because she lowers her chin a bit, remaining still, and then turns her head to look towards the unlocked doors a few feet away from the wall she is leaning on. The silence/very low noise level from inside is apparently suspicious because she moves away from the wall, uncrossing her arms and begins walking towards the doors.
When Taji's voice starts up again, she does not stop walking. She just moves to in front of the huge double-doors and stands right in front of them. THEN she stops. She cannot see inside unless she opens the door a crack. But Serin had said not to come in until he gave the signal. He said that all three of them should be concealing their identities, but that the identity of his 'friend' should remain secret even from her.
The Inspector does not like secrets. Or rather, she likes secrets she can uncover the truth of, but not those that she can never solve. She starts to reach for the door handle.
Serin can see the shadow of a person outside the doors being cast underneath the edge, even as he listens to Taji. He takes Taji's hand suddenly and firmly, and Taji would then feel a sudden and intense vibration being transmitted through his hand. Not painful, but it's enough to make the very bones in his arm vibrate. The vibration stops. Then it starts up again, but this time in short bursts. There almost seems to be a pattern. Almost like… Speech? With Taji's newly developed Chakra Sensitivity he would probably be able to tell now that Serin is somehow producing vibrations in Taji's arm that travel all the way through his body and up to his ear canal, where the pulses resolve into words. Distorted, toneless words, but the brain interprets them anyway.
<Ta-ji. I. Have. Ki-shi. Muh-yoon. With. Me. She. Does. Not. Know. Yoh-err. Ai-dent-it-tee. You. Will. Have. To. Hide. Fay-ss. Nay-muh. Tay-kuh. My. Chah-kruh. Use. For. Hen-juh.> That is the full message that Serin transmits in pieces via their physical connection. By the time it's done, Taji may feel like his arm has gone numb. But the message should also have come across. A rush of Chakra from Serin attempts to surge into Taji… But only if he allows it would it remain. Otherwise it just disperses into the air. The level of Henge no Jutsu that Taji can perform with this much Chakra… He could probably make himself into a giant! Or a snake! Or a giant snake! All without cost to himself. The general idea, however, is to supply Taji with enough Chakra to maintain a Henge no Jutsu for a long period of time without having to draw on his own reserves. Just incase this takes awhile.
When the shadow under the door stops in front of the spot where the door handles are located, Serin narrows his eyes and lets go of Taji's hand, turning to stand inbetween his young friend and the eyes of the new arrival.
Taji was already thinking of throwing up a Henge, and… being granted the chakra from Serin to do so, he will, as he quickly throws up a change, simple is the easiest, and Taji has been practicing a few forms. This time it is of what amounts to a faceless Konohagakure ninja. And by faceless, it is the most non-descript face you could ever imagine. Taji spent time working on this form, looking for a face that would simply blend into a background crowd. Nothing distnictive at all about it. Plain nose, plain mouth, plain eyes, down right plain, but not so 'plain' as to draw undue attention. It is a nifty trick and took Taji quite a while to come up with. His outfit changes as well, heavy on the weaponry side now, but pretty much a standard nin-outfit. No sign of a clan symbol or anything, just plain, again designed to blend in to the masses.
Taji manages to get this off before the door opens, fortunately. His eyes go to the door, and he shakes his hand a tad, trying to get feeling back after the vibrations, but otherwise he stands there, in fact he reaches for a kunai, holding it loosely and twirling it in his fingers. A very un-Taji like thing to do, but apparently Taji has some practice at pretending to be this fake person, and knows enough to hide manerisms and even create fake ones.
The Inspector reaches a hand up, and knocks on the door three times, with a second between each knock. How nice of her to warn in advance. She gives no time after that, though, and opens one of the enormous doors enough to admit herself into the building. "…." The masked woman is silent as she surveys the building interior, spotting the two individuals. She recognizes Serin, of course. The other one, she does not recognize at all. "…We all have schedules to keep," the woman says finally. "I would like to get this meeting out of the way as well." She strides further into the room and closes the door behind her.
"Serin-san says that he knows someone who needs medical equipment, resources, and possibly instruction. I may be able to provide all three. But I'll need to have a good reason. PAYING for the equipment and resources would be a nice start, since most of what I have access to is already in use for a different purpose, and replacing it would keep me alive and healthy longer than not doing so…"
She walks further into the warehouse, heading on a curving route towards Serin and the ninja he is standing in front of. She sees the Konoha ninja finally, and notices nothing odd about him… Why is he important? Is he just an intermediary that will take a message back to the ACTUAL important person? She doesn't know, but the way Serin was trying to shield his companion from sight… Hmm…
"So what is the deal that is being offered? Keeping in mind what I just said, that is."
Serin allows the 'Inspector' to walk around in a half-circle so that she can see Boring-san the Konoha ninja. He waits until the woman finishes speaking and then answers, "The 'deal' is that facilities are needed, as is surgical equipment, life-support, and possibly some other things. My companion here is acting on behalf of the one who requires these things. I do not have the full list of what would be necessary, but I am sure that this courier-nin has the list memorized and can recite in general or in specific what is needed. You then can name a reasonable price for the space and equipment. When we have come to an agreement, you will be paid, the equipment will be delivered, and we will go our seperate ways."
He then turns to Boring-san, seeming to silently urge him to play along. Not as though Taji doesn't already know that, but…
Boring-san gives a simple nod, just quietly agreeing to all Serin has just stated. From the looks of it the nin from Konohagakure must be a messanger. He can't be more than a genin. And he's in no bingo book, that's for sure. He reaches into a pouch and pulls out a small scroll, "I actually have a list of the needed items." He says, as he looks down to the scroll then back up to the other two, "I'm afraid it is still sealed, so I am not entirely sure what is on the list." And in fact, yes, it is sealed with a drop of wax. There is no seal mark in the wax, just a splotch of it to ensure it stays closed. Taji wasn't expecting this to play out quite this way, the scroll originally was to give to Serin but… this works too. Good thing he thought to seal it in advance, as it seems to lend weight to the story of him being nothing but a messenger.
The 'Inspector' who is actually Mune hmms. Then she moves forward to accept the scroll, holding out her hand and just assuming it will be given to her. That's why they're here, right? "I'll see how much I can get quickly and how much I'd have to go looking for, then I'll get back to you with an estimate. I trust your master can wait until then?" She breaks the seal and starts to examine the scroll, but then looks up. "And what about the person needing instruction? When can I meet him or her?"
Serin shakes his head in answer for himself, after Mune speaks. "I said nothing about instructing." That is all he says, because he knows that he did not. Mune is angling for more information about who exactly needs this equipment. That is her nature… To seek more and more knowledge. Serin gives nothing beyond what is necessary.
Boring-san, a good name perhaps, simply shrugs, "I have been instructed to offer a scroll on the teachings of a medical jutsu from the ninja wars, but I do not know the details of the scroll, just to say it is possible that a jutsu could be offered in payment instead of ryo. I can ask if instruction is needed, if you wish. Or I can take a message back with me." He offers, very politely. The list itself is a rather long list of very basic medical supplies for sugery and recovery from surgery. The supplies look like enough for several rather complicated procedures including some triage materials for emergency treatments. It almost reads as if someone is trying to stock an emergency room of some kind. Nothing in the list is the kind of thing that would be prohibited to buy, but everything on the list could draw unnecessary attention if someone attempted to buy it in these quantities or without the proper connections to explain just why they needed surgical tools and the like.
Mune nods, the mask doing an excellent job of hiding any betraying emotions that might appear on her face otherwise at the mention of a special scroll. "Yes, please clarify that matter for me. I am willing to teach others medical skills," she says as she resumes reading the list on the scroll. "Hmm… I should be able to get all of this delivered fairly quickly." If it's THAT easy for her to get THAT amount of equipment THAT quickly… She must be drawing from a very extensive pool of resources indeed.
"I trust that our good friend Serin here will contact me once you have word from your master?" she asks sweetly, and once she has an answer, she bows her head briefly and then departs without so much as a goodbye.
Serin waits for the answer to be given by Boring-san, then nods to Mune a bit more slowly, but just as briefly as she nodded to the two of them. Only when he is sure she is gone, does he turn to the disguised Taji and say, "That went well, I believe. Better than I had expected."
Holding the Henge, all Boring-san does is nod then reply, "Well, once she lets you know how long it will take, I can make sure the scroll of the technique can be brought to her, and we can engage in the trade. With luck she'll be able to provide the materials in scroll form, as I do not like the idea of having to haul materials back to…." He trails off and shrugs, "In any case, something to think about. You know how to reach me once you hear from her on delivery time? She seemed far more interested in a scroll than ryo, which may make things easier on all of us."