Date: April 24, 2015
A happenstance meeting in a place honoring the fallen of Sunagakure.
Warrior's End Graveyard [Land of Wind]
A short distance into the Land of Wind's desert lies a burial ground for respected and revered ninja from both before and after the end of the Clan Wars. Only those killed in wars or who have proven themselves in life as worthy of the recognition of the Hidden Sand are honored with a burial at this graveyard. The desert winds scour and erode all forms of writing eventually, so instead of individual grave markers, instead the only legacy of all those that have fallen is a single iron pillar, surrounded on three sides by a curved 'half-moon' of a stone cliff.
A short distance into the Land of Wind's desert lies a burial ground for respected and revered ninja from both before and after the end of the Clan Wars. Only those killed in wars or who have proven themselves in life as worthy of recognition of the Hidden Sand are honored with a burial at this graveyard. It is a place Ayumu did not expect to find himself, be it alive or dead. He knew himself far too well to expect to garner that kind of approval. And yet, he stood before iron pillar, wondering still about possibilities. The expression that adorned his face certainly hinted at such, but who can really tell what goes on behind the scenes when an Iga is involved?
"Mah-ee… Will it be to the ends of the earth, or simply to my own, dear shadow? Surely there aren't others more worthy of your attention?" The lone man asks after adjusting his stance to 'regard' the entryway into graveyard. Nothing but the wind and shifting sands answers the Iga question. Even so, he kept his focus keenly there…
Why should Sousa be here?
It's a legitimate question, and one without an obvious answer. The location is relatively remote, not somewhere most people would go to without a purpose in mind. The typical one, to pay respects to the deceased (or maybe add to the residents), is not something that would likely interest Sousa. Maybe just for the sake of public image he might go on occasion, but he has a bit less interest in such now that he's retired as Kazekage, and anyway there doesn't seem to be too many others around to witness it. <strike>You could almost suspect even his player hasn't figured out a good excuse to put him on the scene.</strike>
Whatever the case, he's here. Sousa walks through the entryway at a casual stroll, noting and giving a nod to the former member of Sunagakure. "Greetings, Iga-san."
As Ayumu and Sousa gathered toward the entrance, another moved within the graveyard. At first perhaps Ayumu would notice her by scent, though it was faint. She wore her cloth version of her usual garb, without a jacket, leaving her midrift and most of her back exposed to the sunlight. Her skin and her scars. One from the Raikage, one from the Mizukage. Her face was covered by a mask, however. A white noh style mask with red and black accents about the eyes and lips as well as twin crimson tracks down each creamy cheek. The eyes were completely obscured by the 'lenses' set into the mask. At the moment she seemed to be reading an older stone, honoring one known to aid those caught int he desert's merciless grip. She was silent in her movements but move she did. And always just off to the side out of view.
Ayumu had begun to adjust his focus back on the pillar when Sousa's approach had given him pause. "Kazeka—er…. eh.. Hello, Sousa-san, jewel of desert whose reflection spawns many a daggers of light." He chuckles weakly while turning fully to face the ex-Kage full on. "Kidding of course, sire. Well, sort of… Maybe. Either way, so long as my presence is not a bother, I'd like to remain here if'n it is alright with you. I can't seem to recall if there's an actual rule per se, but.. it never hurts to get as much straightened out from the start."
Ayumu grins toothily. "I believe two others would ask for similar leniency, though only one would admit as much, neh?"
Sousa chuckles lightly. "An imaginative descriptor. A mind such as mine, with a strong and efficient filter for the inaccurate, would have difficulty generating such a thought." Sousa walks up to the iron pillar and begins tracing around its circumference with his hand. "Your presence should not be a significantly altering factor for the experiment I intend to perform today…oh, and I don't believe you are breaking any regulations by being here, if that was your concern."
The masked woman heard the two men speaking and stood smoothly. She was not interested in being caught here but neither was she interested in being thought of as a sneak or a liar. So she simply moved as if completely unaware of the two men, heading for the exit. it was a path that brought her directly past them and the pillar.
"All as always is a matter of perspective, sire." Ayumu says while giving a mock bow. Mid-way through the motion however, the Iga's head jerks upwards. "Experiment? Upon the dead, sire? Surely the light in you does not burn in that manner now does it?" He asks curiously. It is as he awaited an answer that his gaze jerks to the masked woman; a familiar presence.
"Other curious one, why do you leave? Are you perhaps like the other shadow I wonder… Ah, I hope not. That would imply a certain rudeness, neh?"
"I generally do prefer living subjects," Sousa remarks. "They exhibit far more interesting behaviors for the most part. Certain avenues of research do require deceased organisms, however, especially when one brings societal impediments into consideration. Still, that is not the motivation I have for coming here. I can acquire cadavers much more cheaply and with less furor than I could by digging up the bodies of those buried here." Sousa pats the iron pillar. "No, there is something much less pedestrian to be found in this location." ;) Sousa quirks an eyebrow at the retreating Kiri-nin. "As well as something rather unexpected, it seems. Did you perhaps know someone who was buried here, Kiri-ojou?"
Akane paused when she heard the course of Sousa's words. Combined with Ayumu's she knew she was not leaving here without a satisfactory answer. And yet. She turned and took a few steps closer, figuring that anyone the Iga man called 'sire' was probably good enough that a few feet wouldn't save her sorry neck should it come to that. Hopefully it would not. Still she kept that mask on, though her general body language spoke of formality. She bowed politely to both Sousa and Ayumu. "It's a long story…" Taking a moment she reached up and moved her mask off to the side of her head, exposing her face, jade green eyes and the scar over her left eye and cheek. "I am Doihara Akane." Her eyes while not hostile were astute, well aware of what was going on around her.
The corner of Ayumu's lips creep upwards at Sousa's initial remark, and remained that way well after the fact. As for the rest, the Iga's curiosity nearly doubled as a result. However, there was the matter of Akane to investigate first. "Akane-san? My my, even I find myself curious of that. Then again, whatever it is cannot be that big of a surprise, no, such a long story at all. Things have only begun to recently cool down since the Silence decided to upend the world." Ayumu says, gesturing off-handily every now and then as if to emphasis random points. As per the norm, most if not all is just a smoke screen to buy his sensors time to transmit and analyze the data collected so far. The time for games does not last long at all. "I would propose a trading of stories all around, if'n such would be adequate. Or perhaps the ventures of three are a bit too much?"
Sousa tucks his hands into his sleeves and gives a polite bow. "Well met, Doihara-san. I am Kokoroe Sousa, a researcher. Although most seem more interested in my position as a member of the Sunagakure Jounin Council." And, y'know, retired Kazekage, but if she doesn't already happen to know about that he's not going to make a big deal of it. e.e Sousa pulls a little doohickey from his robe, something with a small mallet sticking out of it, and begins plastering it against the iron pillar. "I would enjoy hearing Akane-san's 'long story', should she care to share it. This procedure will take some time to run, after all."
Akane glanced over to Ayumu then to Sousa, resisting the urge to pull on her glasses. The introduction by Sousa was nice, but she was well aware of the titles attached to his name meant. Sh was right, if it came to a fight she would lose. Five feet would not have saved her. She chided herself silently for even thinking that way. She wasn't doing anything improper and she was not here to do anything against Sunagakure.
She offered a bit of an apologetic expression. "Please forgive me, the Silence …incident… did leave me on edge. I have not been out of Kirigakure since then so I must remind myself that we are allies." She wished they would let it go, but she had a feeling that they would not. She could easily lie (and probably do it well) about why she was int he graveyard. Something about honoring the dead of her ally or similar would probably work, but she shook her head, glancing back toward the grave marker she had been crouched beside. "I was looking for any possible connection to a man I once met."
Ayumu raised a hand and made to adjust his glasses. But upon finding nothing there, the Iga chuckled quietly and palmed his forehead. "Right." He murmured while shaking his head in faint amusement. "… An easier thing said than done; especially here of all places. The desert is not so kind even to those of us with preternatural senses." Ayumu says off-handily, gaze shifting absently to the device Sousa brandished. More and more curiosities were popping up from the woodwork. Or perhaps Sousa teased him like he did with the wanderer's predecessors? The thought alone nearly turns the curl into a full blown smile. Unfortunately, Ayumu found the need to resist the temptation as he wandered about towards the outer rim of the crescent.
"That said, you are a curious one too, sire, or are ye not? Perhaps you might be kind enough to offer a hint or jest that might help our fair lady?"
Sousa adjusts some dials on the doohickey. "I am very curious indeed. That is why I am a researcher. I suppose you mean more the 'peculiar' meaning of the word, though. In which case…you have no idea." Sousa flips a switch, and the tiny mallet of the doohickey commences rhythmically tapping the iron column. "At the risk of seeming like a shameless salesman, I trust you have given some consideration to availing yourself of Sunagakure's services in your search? I quite understand if issues of privacy make it a delicate matter, and it may seem shameful for a professional to hire others in their own field, but Sunagakure is, after all, the most specialized of the Great Ninja Villages in the area of intelligence-gathering."
Akane watched Ayumu's movements, not really moving from her place as the Iga moved to one side of the crescent. She had come hoping to find names but all she found was an iron pillar. Of course that was of little help. Ayumu's words made her smile softly. She couldn't tell if the man was baiting her, helping her or mocking her… And yet she couldn't dislike him either.
Sousas little mechanism garnered a bit of a curious expression from her but Sousa's words brought out a chuckle. "Indeed, but I fear the person is…" She paused as if sobered. "Was…. Not on good terms with Sunagakure. He defeated me in battle once Yet allowed me to live. Now he is gone but I wished to know more about him." She paused , as if hesitating, her eyes flicking back and forth between the two until she added quietly… "Perhaps you have heard of a man named Yuuto."
There wasn't so much as a particular look, but just… a way about the Iga that came about after stopping briefly to regard Sousa. Its simple message: "Try my imagination, sire." Regardless of whether or not Sousa caught the oddity of expression and presence and decided to respond to it in kind, the Iga is already on the move again. He never gets a chance to stray to far before something else truly grabs his attention. Sadly, it isn't Sousa's sales pitch, though that did at least earn a quirked brow and an ignite a silent debate between two halves of a consciousness.
But no, that honor belonged to Akane and the stating of a simple name. Ayumu did not bother trying to conceal his shock — brief though it was. He simply turned about fully at its passing and too on a more serious facade before asking, "When did this battle took place… if you do not mind me asking?"
Sousa silently watches his little device tapping away at the iron pillar for a while. Tic, tic, tic, tic. "I believe I have run across that name in personnel files before," he remarks at last. "I'm afraid I don't recall the full details offhand. Perhaps if you visited the Administration Dome, they might be able to pull up some records. Of course, you understand that much information is bound to be classified. Why might you be seeking this Yuuto-san now?"
Akane was no fool. She knew what name she spoke and the implications of a fight with him. But she had not expected Ayumu to react so sharply to it. His suddenly serious demeanor made a voice in her head hiss at her, warning of danger. She hushed the voice, though the small inner conversation did appear on her face as a kind of disconnect, her eyes shading darker for a brief moment before she blinked several times and returned to herself. "When? Hmm.. Perhaps a year? I believe he had already broken from Sunagakure at that point." That was the official story right? That he had left Sunagakure with great pomp and a show to remember….
Sousa was a sharp one, though, and his question cut deeply into any kind of 'excuse' she would possibly make up. She sighed softly, watching the former kazekage's little device for a ong moment. "I have not been to Sunagakure for quite some time. I thought perhaps I could learn more of the man. One does not get your life spared by an enemy every day. It is good to know one's opponents."
If Ayumu noticed any changes in the woman's demeanor, his reactions to them were non-existent. He seemed more or less completely focused on hearing her answer solely over tempting fate by allowing himself to be distracted by any old curiosity at this point. It is a level of intensity one might associate with the obsessed or very determined.
There is little warning; only a change so abrupt that it happened within a second. "I must be one fortunate man to have been spared all those times then. Or really unfortunate depending on one's perspective. Death is known as the lesser of two evils in the right setting, though only because so many I either assured of one ending, care not for the what, or consider the unknown a genuine boon." Ayumu says nonchalantly with an absent-minded smile in full view again. "But I digress. While learning a bit of history is all well and good, such precautions taking in regard to what many might consider a fluke is the type of silly thing that only I would be caught doing from time to time. It would be another thing entirely if one expects to perhaps meet the odd storm… though then, it should not matter to anyone else involved so long as they have certian limits set in place, neh?"
Sousa watches the device thoughtfully. Tic, tic, tic, tic. "Hmmm. Most people, I expect, upon finding that an individual is capable of besting them and yet willing to spare them, would rather alter their mental model of that individual such that they are no longer considered an opponent. It is a generally safer approach, after all, to not antagonize those who are stronger, especially when they show signs of willingness to coexist." Tic, Tic, Tic, Tic. "At any rate, whenever this happened, Sunagakure and Kirigakure are allies now, so I do hope there won't be any embarrassing personal disputes between our constituents."
You paged Akane with 'Though not stated as such outright, Ayumu seems to have interpreted her desire to learn more about Yuuto as taking a precaution for the future, rather innocent curiosity.'
Akane eyed Ayumu. Her eyes were sharp as she listened to him basically tell her she was doing an odd thing. he sighed as though she agreed, looking at the ground as Sousa spoke, the woman took a slow deep breath, genuinely looking affected by something. When she finally spoke it was with a soft voice and a hint of pain. "There will be no disputes, Kokoroe-dono." She lifted her now deep green eyes to look at Ayumu as well. "And no need to worry about the future. Uchiha Yuuto is dead. I merely wanted to know more of him when he was alive."
"There's that." Ayumu commented on idly while Sousa tapped(?) at the pillar the second time. Beyond that however, the Iga remained quiet and attentive up until Akane dropped the second bomb. He doesn't so much as gasp or faint, though Akane most definitely had his attention now. "Yuuto is dead? Mah-ee… That is some unexpected news… But how did you come about this information?" He asks of her before casually turning towards Sousa and inquiring, "How badly has Sunagakure been slipping? Things have been hectic, yes, but so much so that news like that went unnoticed?.. A hushing up perhaps?"
Sousa quirks an eyebrow at Ayumu. "As much as I would enjoy having Sunagakure be a perfect engine of information-gathering which misses no event regardless of how others may try to hide it, there is actually a great deal going on in the world of which we are unaware. On top of that, as much as I would GREATLY enjoy having an infinite personal capacity for the absorption and storage of information, I am really quite limited. Only a tiny fraction of the intelligence which Sunagakure gathers was brought to my personal attention even when I was Kazekage." TIC, TIC, TIC, TIC. "Akane-san, you refer to him as Uchiha Yuuto. I'd appreciate it if you would be very cautious regarding the usage of such names. There are those who might kick up considerable fuss if a rumor circulated that Sunagakure had stolen a member of such a prestigious clan, and you can be certain that 'stolen' is how such people would look on it." e.e
Akane blinked several times at Ayumu's reaction before an expression like a mask dropped over her face. Her head dropped just a little as the odd Iga questioned Sousa on the information gathering abilities of Sunagakure. She had not thought when she had given that information, surely they had known… Her eyes slide back and forth between the two men, studying them silently.
Sousa, though, had a point when he spoke of using Uchiha carefully. She tilted her head and smiled a little, laughing as if she were a silly woman. "Oh indeed, forgive me. I was never formally introduced to the man, merely forced under his sharingan." Jokes aside she got more serious. "I never knew his name then I guess." She studied Sousa for a long moment.
Along with the truth of Yuuto's heritage she had little doubt that the rumors about her own background in the Land of Fire were available to the former Kazekage. Nothing very specific, of course, though definitely that she had come from there. She understood well the danger of being from another land…
Then she turned to the tapping device as if they had simply been discussing the weather. "And what is the purpose of this thing?" She asked, pulling on a pair of glasses a if she needed them to see properly. The lenses were reflective and completely hid her eyes from view.
He was teasing of course, and anticipated the rebuttal. Even so, it carried a sting that made Ayumu visibly cringe over the limitations of Sunagakure. "So misfortuante…" Ayumu says softly before bowing his head and letting out a heavy sigh. None of which is bound to go heard by the duo, what with the tapping actually being louder this time around.
In any case, the Iga doesn't perk up again until the sound of laughter teases his innate curiosity. He quietly watches for awhile, wondering if she ever did answer his inquiry about learning about news of Yuuto's death. 'No… she didn't.' A grin spreads into being, only to die just as quickly as it came into being. "Well now! I believe it is about time that me and my shadow get going. No point in overfeeding, neh? Heheh.. Ja ne." Ayumu turns about as the last few words are uttered. As he left, he throws a polite wave over his shoulder.
Sousa nods faintly. "Hmmm. Well, it's likely enough there are several individuals named Yuuto in Sunagakure's records…although had one of them openly gone by the surname Uchiha, I'm fairly certain that would have been brought to my attention." Sousa glances back up at the device, which is now going TONG, TONG, TONG, TONG — or more accurately, the iron pillar is. "A resonant frequency inducer," Sousa explains. "By adding energy to a system with precise timing, waves can be built up using relatively small power. Of course, it eventually reaches a state of dynamic equilibrium in which the bleed-off of energy into the surroundings matches the input…but it's surprising how long that takes and how much can be stored in certain materials."
Akane tilted her head, face exposing nothing further as Sousa seemed intent on misdirecting her inquiry. That was alright. She had other ways of achieving what she wanted. Ayumu's sudden disappearance got a tilt from her head. Then she turned her attention on Sousa's explanation of the.. whatever he had said. Akane wasn't exactly the best when it came to mechanical things. "I..see. My husband would probably understand that more than I. What is the purpose of doing that here then? Or are you merely testing a theory of yours?"
Sousa chuckles. "Oh yes, I am 'merely' testing. I suppose I understand the mindset that applies that word to such things as testing…after all, a test is generally intended to have as little influence upon the world as possible, and vice-versa. Still, I've always thought of it the other way around. Testing is what breaks ground, what creates advancement, what discovers the principles of the universe…everything else is merely making use of that knowledge." ;) The sound coming from the pillar now is not so much distinct TONGs synchronized with the strikes of the mallet as a wavering, low-pitched, continuous ringing.
Akane noted that he was not answering her question really either. Well turnabout and all that. She tilted her head, curious about what exactly he was after with this iron pillar and his little machine. But if the sound continued to grow and that translated into some kind of physical reaction.. well, she wondered why such a test would be done in a graveyard… She took a step back, looking up at the surrounding cliffs curiously, then looked at Sousa again. "I suppose that's one way of thinking about it. Though I wonder why you would put it all into a testing of such a place as this."
Sousa shrugs. "Where else am I to find a large object of homogenous material which is not being employed in some mundane capacity? Most of them are of a structural nature, and people tend to become quite nervous when you experiment on the buildings they are in. Even if you assure them there will be no damage or likelihood of structural failure." e.e
Akane chuckled at Sousa's words. His comments had merits, of course, but also was that a hint of sarcasm? She looked the pillar up and down then turned to the man again. "Well I guess that's understandable of them. But I still do not understand your purpose here. I've seen genjutsu based on sound before, perhaps that is your goal?"
Sousa sighs. "Must everything have a military application? I'm certain I could devise some way of incorporating this principle into a shinobi technique, but it does not seem like an especially fruitful avenue for development, except perhaps in the area of subtle sabotage or demolition. And if that were my primary focus, I really would be testing it on buildings, though most likely abandoned ones." e.e Sousa folds his hands behind his back and looks up as the pillar's ringing reaches a hum that sounds monotone to human ears. "No, Akane-san, I am a scientist first and foremost. The search for knowledge is, in and of itself, my purpose."
Akane tilted her head, honest curiosity showing on her face, what he could see of it anyway. She chuckled genuinely and shook her head. "I suppose you have a bit of a point. But even when I was a child I was focused on how I could use something to gain the upper hand. I suppose if you do these things to see what happens I do them to advance in battle. I've been told I fit in well in Kirigakure because of it." Though her healing and some philosophies seemed to be more suited to less brutal villages. Most of it anyway.
She looked up as the sound began a low audible humming, once more looking at the cliffs about them. She half expected the rock to begin to crumble. "So, tell me, I know you knew the Yuuto I was talking about. I know of his death and how he died, would you like to trade information?"
Sousa exhales. "Such persistence." -.- Sousa looks over to Akane. "I rather doubt there is much of interest to Sunagakure regarding this individual that we could not learn for ourselves should we truly wish to. Meanwhile, the mere admission of having knowledge regarding a person such as you describe could potentially be inflammatory. So, on the purely hypothetical assumption that I have such information to trade…I'm afraid your offer is rather lacking."
"Oh my you /are/ a tough one aren't you?" Akane grinned, fully aware she had pushed a bit, and finding it entertaining that Sousa might be annoyed with her. His comment sounded like a light threat aimed at getting her to be quiet. She wasn't stupid, though, and stood up again, peering at the pillar silently, watching the thing continue it's pounding. She was curious what it might create or do now that he'd started it. She would stick around a little longer to see if anything interesting happened.
Interesting? Only to a scientist, really. That is, it remains more or less the same for a good while, which is interesting in its consistency. Eventually Sousa stops and removes the doohickey, and the humming of the pillar fades away fairly quick. Then Sousa heads off to do whatever was next on his agenda.