Sami (as Serin), Taji
Date: October 8, 2010
It has been a week since last they spoke. Taji is at the assigned place at the assigned time. News from both Taji AND Serin is grim. And yet hope remains.
"Flashback - Walking The Path"
Miati Forest - Land of Fire
Taji has found time to sneak away, busy busy but… he has managed. He waits, hiding in the hollowed tree. It's been a week, and as per instructions he's tried to hide his trail as best as he can, making his way to this safe place, and left just to wait, hoping that Serin will in fact show up, unsure if this will work at all. He watched himself but, as far as he could tell, no one followed him. The day is cloudy, but not that cold, just a bit 'damp' in feeling, making it a tad unpleasant to wait.
Serin, meanwhile, is waiting for other reasons. He is present already, and as concealed as he can be in a foreign country he does not know the terrain of. But even so, he can tell via the vibrations fed to him by Otomegami that the only two life forms in the area that 'feel' like humans are Taji and himself. It's possible there are ANBU hiding around, using some sort of Ninjutsu to mask their presences… But how many know techniques to make one's very heart inaudible to foes so distant that they should be unable to hear it in the first place? Not many. Very few think to still the noises of their own bodies.
And so it is that Serin decides that Taji really is alone. Standing where he is, Taji would be in a prime position if he is looking straight forward from within the large, hollow tree trunk, to see a figure in a brown cloak and hood step out from behind a tree and start swiftly walking towards the meeting place. The stranger is not running, nor does any weapon appear to be in evidence, other than the bandage-wrapped bundle on his back. The flesh of this man is not the pale, almost dead-white that Serin possesses. But he is generally the same height and build, and the familiar shape on his back…
When he is closer, it becomes obvious that it really IS Serin. He is just using Henge no Jutsu to modify certain details of his features enough to appear to be someone else. Not a total make-over, just small alterations. He enters the tree with Taji, and crouches down, with his back to the inside of the trunk. "We're alone," he confirms.
The Ninjutsu illusion vanishes in a poof of smoke, revealing Serin's normal features. "What news have you?" he asks calmly.
Taji watches, waits, and… tenses when the figure comes into view, but he doesn't flee, only waits. As Serin approaches and then speaks, Taji nods simply, getting straight to the point, "Was afraid you wouldn't make it. My news? Someone who may become my team leader wanted to take me to the land of lightning but there… is other news, an issue of a cave with a corrupted chakra presence inside that I am being assigned to go investigage by the Hokage and her second in command. Apparently my team got the furthest into this cave in one piece." He shakes his head, "Anyway, this means that I won't be around, potentially, for a while." He explains.
"That said, I've been working hard on figuring out if we can do what I suggested, and… I think it maybe possible to give you that new start. I have… well, I wish I could speak to someone experienced with medical jutsu and surgery, working from scrolls is problematic, but I've expanded my skills with a lot of hard studying lately. The problem is I have to work on something new for fighting or those watching me will get suspicious. I have convinced them, a long time now, that I don't know how to do tree walking, even though I do know how to do that. So I can 'reveal' that and that should calm some people and buy me more time to work on these skills." Apparently Taji is quite the sneak, to have planned so far ahead on skills he has hidden from others. "But what news do you have? And have you found Rainos yet? Have you done what you wanted to do? Or do you have to go back?" He asks as he gives a worried look towards Serin.
Serin listens. The corrupt Chakra presence is news. The team leader and the Land of Lightning is news. But that is not the news he wanted to hear about. When the part about skills is described, Serin nods minutely but approvingly — or perhaps just in acknowledgement — about the plans to hide his skills. Then he gives some news of his own. "I did not find Rainos. He was not in Higuregakure. It may be that he is out on some task, or that he is hiding somewhere. It does not seem like him to hide, but he likes to think he makes himself hard to predict by doing incongruous things. They all have the same base motivation behind them, however, so tracing back the threat of intent will always lead to the same conclusion about his true objective. If he appears to be hiding, there is a reason. He will not simply sit idle while concealed, so there must be something else he is working on, and 'hiding' is just what he allows others to assume he is doing."
Pretty in-depth analysis of someone Serin barely knows. Serin is no 'genius', but at least Taji isn't the only clever one in this tree. "I will go back when I have more information about his location, yes. I have to sever my ties with him, and let him know not to come looking for me. He said when I joined his 'Takokujin' that anyone could leave at any time. But I would not be leaving if I had not been abandoned. He has to be made to understand that his goal will not be reached if he places himself on a pedestal above others, using us as tools to achieve his ends. He has to understand the folly of betraying those who are assisting him… And the folly of betraying me specifically."
He goes quiet for awhile. Taji can say something during that time easily, but Serin will not respond immediately. Instead he waits a few minutes and then says, "I may know of another medic-Nin who can help you. She saved my life for no reason that I can think of. I do not know her 'well', per se, but I know her name and may be able to contact her. Her name is Kishi Mune, and she may be just the person we both need to continue with this plan."
Taji takes a deep breath as he listens closely. After a bit he addresses things one at a time, "Can you tell me what the purpose was behind this 'Takokuji' group? It might be very helpful to me to know." He explains, "And… I want to help you, I want to help you turn over a new leaf but we have to work together. I know you might not want to reveal their goals but you are right, he did abandone you. I saw you trying to leave the village, remember. And no one was there to help you. No one came back to look for you, to see if you were okay. In fact I kind of thought I'd find you dead out here when I came to look for you to be honest." He admits, "So…" He trails that thought into the other thought about this Kishi Mune person.
"Any attempt to do this will need facilities, do you think she might have some? It… is tricky. The kind of things we need to do shouldn't be done in the woods, but in a well lit surgical ward, with the right tools, the right equipment, to have the best result. Plus I really could use someone else to work with. Do you know how to contact this person? This… Kishi Mune person? What might she want as payment or do you think she'd help just to… well, help?" He ventures, frowning a tad, "I have to admit I feel like there are a hundred threads of things going on and I'm too close to see the tapestry all at once but if I had just a wee bit more information it would make a lot more sense." He says with a bit of frustration.
Serin shakes his head. "I don't recall asking the purpose of the group, but I've heard things anyway. They seem to be a sort of 'temporary extended family'. Anyone can come or go at any time, with no obligations. If one stays, one is rewarded. If one goes, one is forgotten. But there is no animosity between members, as far as I know. All of this is the superfical layer. The REAL purpose seems to be 'helping Rainos in his goal due to being convinced he wants and knows what's best for everyone'. They're told he can help them, and then he does just enough to make them loyal. Loyal enough to stick with him even through adversity. But he does not really care. His goal is…" He considers whether to reveal this or not.
He eventually decides to phrase it in a specific way. "…As far as I am aware, his goal is to distribute suffering evenly amongst all the people of the world. Those who make others suffer for their own pleasure would thus suffer in turn while the victims were experience a 'lessening of pain'. Note that this is not the same as 'make the bad ones suffer and the good ones feel joy'. This is 'everyone suffers the same'. So someone who has never done anything to hurt anyone, but has had a happy life would suffer the same as a mass-murderer who tortures his victims to death. No discrimination between one and another. All pain equal for all people. That is my understanding. He is not necessarily insane, but he is far from being balanced enough to be the judge that decides such things."
Serin pauses for a moment and then says, "I do not know what her resources are per se, but she appears to have SOMEONE'S backing. Because I was thought dead by everyone, and had just walked — bleeding and with diced intestines, kidneys, and so forth — from the Land of Waves to the Land of Rivers. No one should have known I was still alive. No one should have been expecting me to travel west instead of east, back to the Land of Water. And yet she was already there, waiting for me. She later revealed some man had told her to be there and be ready to treat me. If she had not been, I would be dead right now. That is NOT an exagerration. I would be dead. So whoever told her to be there must have a lot of information sources… Or one very good one. Meaning that Mune may have more available to her than the entirety of Konohagakure. I do not know for certain, but I will try to find out where she went. She is a member of the Takokujin, but she serves on the command of a mysterious man, not because she believes in Rainos's 'grand vision'. I believe she is thus both trustworthy and not. She serves the will of another, but she will not simply betray us because we become inconvenient, as Rainos did."
He considers his information on Mune and then says, "She assisted in getting that man, Naraku or whoever, into Konoha. But she did not stay afterwards. She was presumably paid for her help, and then left. That implies that she does value an equal exchange. If she is going to help us, she must be awarded appropriately. 'Just because' is not a good reason for her."
Taji listens, and ponders, he takes a while to answer on this, "If… if we include her, then someone else will know about your new life. There… are some other options but none of them good. One would involve stealing what we need, or building something. I have a few ideas but… they are tricky." He shakes his head, "I don't know. I need to think about this, but if she is a member of the 'Takokuji', I don't want to get her involved without being /very very/ careful." He emphasizes. "It is not worth the risk, and I don't want Rainos to have a clue of what we are doing. In fact, I'd rather he thought you were dead, I'd rather everyone did, but not sure how to make that happen." He admits.
Taji glances up at the sky, "So what is the plan? I do more research, you investigate where Rainos went, see if you can take care of things with him? I don't like the sound of this 'shared suffering' bit of his, because I imagine the only way to manage that is to make everyone suffer quite a bit. Sure it will be equal but it would be horrible." He notes, "If you can talk to this healer, and find out who her source was, that would be good. Tricky, but good. Do your best to not mention me, if you can help it." He adds, "I'll probably have to meet her at some point but let's go cautiously at this time. Since I don't know if I can meet you here next week… how can we set up our next meeting? Not like I can send you a note." He pauses, "Or rather I could. I could hide it here, in this tree, leave it for you to find?" He ventures, looking to see what Serin thinks of this idea, "You can leave a note here for me too, that way we can communicate if we can't set up a specific time, just do the best we can to keep in touch until we can figure out what to do next?"
Serin stares out at the forest with his corpse-like eyes. "I had no intention of mentioning you at this point, no. What I thought was that I could perhaps convince her that you are in need of instruction in Medical Ninjutsu. You could be disguised as well, if necessary. No one needs to know you are who you are, or that you have any connection to anyone else. You can assume a false identity, and then when you have learned all that you need to, or have access to the resources you need, we can both 'disappear', or we can simply make sure that the only ones who know I am alive are you and I." He looks up at Taji from his crouched position, to make sure he catches the implication. "…The ONLY ones."
That may be going against Taji's request not to kill innocent people, but it has not been established that Mune is innocent. Either way, he stands up and says, "A note should work. Coded, if possible. Invisible ink would help too, as should concealing it amongst various other bits of writing. Doesn't need to be anything important. A history book, perhaps. A decades-out-of-date book on medicine and biology. Anything that a page with a cryptic message on it could easily be concealed amongst. Likewise, I shall do the same in regard to leaving messages."
He then says, "I have stayed here too long. For now I will have to leave. I will check back occasionally for any notes, and we can schedule our next meeting. While this place is good for leaving notes, we should meet at a different location each time from now on. Never the same place twice." Then he focuses Chakra into his feet to lessen the impact of his body weight on the soft forest floor. "Unless there is anything else…?"
Taji shakes his head, "No, I have nothing else to add, but we will stay in touch. And…" He hesitates but has to say it, "I know we need to keep us the only ones who know, but at the same time a future birthed in blood won't stand the test of time, nor will it have the desired effect of purging the beast from you. You… you must know this. So please, do what you have to do, but be prepared to leave that life behind. Think of this as a chance for a new life where you don't have to be that person, where you don't have to be the monster." He says softly but surely, as he tries to make his point, "Better that we just convince her you are dead and I simply never was anyone real to begin with, a false identity for me, a faked death for you… should be enough. The trick will be something public enough that it spreads far and wide and people stop looking for you." He adds, "Something I'll work on, think on. So… stay in touch and we'll meet when we can." He adds, looking around then getting ready to head back to the village himself.