Date: October 16, 2010
A meeting of Sunagakure's Councilors about the state of the Village, and how to resolve certain issues, is interrupted by the timely arrival of the Kazekage… And some startling news from an unexpected source.
"One Thing After Another"
Kazekage Administration Dome - Sunagakure
At this point the village felt a little stagnant. It suffered and endured through attacks and is now recovering, but the recovery rate is slow. Now that they're through the worst of events, it's not time to push through the slump that is overtaking the village to make it stable once more. This is something that will definitely take time, but what action is taken now can possibly help to shape the future on a more positive note.
So, a meeting was called for those of the council that were available to meet at the admin dome. There's much that needs to be discussed, but with the small frame of time they have, all of it might not be covered in time. However, all they can do is their best at the moment.
Koudo was among the few gathered around the large table with hands resting together in a thoughtfully still manner. It was a familiar place to be in, but there were some things that were pressing on his mind, and he was sure the others had pressing issues to bring up as well. This was a place for professionalism, but Koudo was not afraid to speak his mind. Still, he let the others gather their thoughts before he would start off. "The buildings, the commoners, the ninja…All of these need our attention. What else needs to be tended to, what can we look forward to in the near future? What are your thoughts."
Kuoroke gets to business, with nothing more than a "Good evening. Everyone is caught up on the numbers?" for formalities. "If you're wondering why I needed the mednins, I've had some of the supplies that were sent to us checked for poisons, our enemies may be trying to hit us while we're in a vulnerable position. So far, none of those test have been positive, which seems to be a good sign." He turns to Koudo. "You forgot 'protection', and 'work'. Even at this time, we are a ninja village, our business is that of soldiers. We still need to get our finances somewhere, and maintain what we can of our appearance as a strong village, while making sure a second attack doesn't erase us all."
Itami hums softly while her fingers rap idly accross the table they're situated at. This was a lot to take in. So much to think about. "Both of you are right in what needs to be focused on. However, we can't focus on all of these things at one time. That's too taxing not only on us, but on the village as well. Without proper action and decision making, we place a great risk on our people. I am just lost on how to balance a proper amount of haste with a proper amount of precision in handling these matters."
She leans back from the desk and looks up at the ceiling. "We have to focus on these things in sections…"
Koudo listens to Itami and Kuoro's responses and nods. "Thanks, you're right, Kuor-san." He says in a deep and considering tone of voice. Pursing his lips to the side, he says "Yeah, unfortunately we haven't been able to gather all the necessary aid, though it has seemed like a lot, we have been pushed back on out budget and resources in a major way…" They did have to focus on sections, and which topic was more pressing than finances, which they could most likely not do without. "If Sousa-sama, was more involved at this time…" He lets out a breath and proceeds, dropping the issue of the Kazekage, not wanting to bad mouth their leader. "I can ask for help from the Lucky Swamp village and surrounding villages. It is a population of experts and workers, so it would provide a good amount of support."
"If Sousa-sama were more involved at this time," remarks a familiar voice coming into the room, "he could think up a complex and clever solution to all our woes using only paper clips and used forms. Or he could use his magical Kage powers to turn the rocks into bread and the sand into water. Or he could wave his hands and convince the leaders of the other nations to drop all their business and come to rebuild us until we're the most wealthy and powerful village that ever existed." Sousa tilts his head thoughtfully as he takes a seat amongst the council. "Hmmm, that last one might almost be feasible, actually," he murmurs. Sousa clears his throat. "A pity he has other things to do. Oh, please carry on, don't mind me. I just thought I'd listen in on this while my latest set of tests are running."
"It seems only obvious, natural even, to suggest we focus on them in order of necessity for our survival." Kuoroke gives his insight. "Survival in the long run, to be specific. If we keep all stomachs full now, and only worry about everyone being happy now, we might be causing the village's death over a longer span." He nods to Koudo. "Indeed, the budget is tight, which is why we possibly will have to make some sacrifices in order to ensure the village's continued existence. The large question here will be, what can we sacrifice for what, and what is too valuable? As for speed… I believe that the greatest haste is necessary in rebuilding those parts of the village that ensure we remain an important force among ninjas, and not just among villages, and that should be our first focus. Agreed?" The Kuroki snaps his head at the entering Sousa. "Hello, sir." The greeting sounds unfinished, as if something else was supposed to follow, but got left out of the final version.
Itami frowns softly while she shifts her jaw back and forth as if sifting through the words that have been spoken and separating the impurities. "That's another one of my problems. No offense, Koudo-san, but…" Her voice trails off as Sousa enters the room and offers some of his input on the subject. Or what could be considered input. She smirks lightly, but it fades fairly quickly being replaced with a nod in greeting. "Greetings, Sousa-sama. We were just…actually, nevermind." She chuckles and continues with the meeting. He did say not to mind him.
"Where was I…? Oh yes, asking for help. The only problem I see with asking for help is the assisting village expecting ours to owe it to them. I don't want to owe anyone anything. Being held by our necks is not a position I'd like to be in. And…" She looks at Kuoroke. "While I think investing in our ninja is important, how much /should/ we invest. I understand that we have to keep our village protected and our military strengthened, but if we're ever met with another attack like the previous ones, I'm not sure if that would be finances well spent."
The Kazekage has begun a study of Hone Nai in regard to the funerary medallion that was used to subvert the 'Earth Release: Corpse Soil' technique that threatened the entire Village. That is the public reason, at least. That does not excuse Nai from his duties when he is NOT involved in a given series of tests. And right now, the Head of Records — once just a recordskeeper, before a relatively recent promotion — is carrying up a tall stack of rather thick file folders personally to the Council Chambers. Four of them are personnel files, and one is the accumulated records on the actions of one of Sunagakure's various ninja teams, from shortly before its founding up to the present.
Nai arrives at the doors, garbed in his robes and cloak and hood and bandages and goggles and so forth, and manages to shift the teetering pile of files into one arm long enough to raise a hand to knock. But his hand pauses moments before rapping on the door. The room is supposed to be sound proof, or as close to such as is possible without making it air-tight. And for most people, it would be. But some sounds make it through to Nai and he has to take a moment to regain his composure.
Knocking quickly and opening the door without being invited in, Nai strides into the room and approaches the large table that the Council — and now Kage — are seated around. He carefully sets down the huge stack of file folders and then says in his dry, raspy voice, "My apologies, Kazekage-sama and Councilors. It appears, however, that I picked an excellent time to bring this matter up, due to the current topic of discussion." A pause, and then, "…Or perhaps a terrible time, depending on one's point of view."
Nai is not one who likes conflict. He does not like interaction with others. He does not like discussion, he is not a leader, and he is not outgoing. And yet he is here, interrupting Council business for some reason. His head turns slowly so that he looks at every person in the room in turn. The goggles hide his eyes, of course, but there are only so many places someone can look while wearing such goggles.
"I believe we are all aware of the potential for additional threats to the Village. According to a recent mission report filed, which I was in the middle of processing, it appears we have the potential for a very large threat very soon. I have brought copies of the mission report, and the personnel files of those involved." He turns to look around again, and then asks, "Would you prefer if I came back later?"
Koudo racks his mind to find anything that could help, but it seemed he was blocked somehow. He peers in the direction of Sousa when he enters, having been caught in a moment of thought trying to come up with a game plan. He offers a respectful nod to the Kazekage, and re-focuses his attention on the others present at the table. Kuoroke surely had the right idea, and Itami was able to shed some light upon his own musings, which he was thankful for. It was surprising to see the records keeper, and he thought, what could be the reason for his presence here. Sending a curious glance in his direction. He was so curious in fact that he raised a hand to Nai, approving of his request. "I think that, if Nai-san can speak, it might be advantageous to our proceedings." As he knew somehow that the dark records keeper had some important info.
Sousa leans back in his chair slightly and twiddles his thumbs. "Perhaps I really should be more involved in these things," he murmurs. "The village could crumble around me at this rate." Sousa sits up and raises his voice a bit. "Might I remind the council, that strength has never been our 'strength'? Yes, we are one of the Five Great Ninja Villages with the military clout which that entails, and we must be capable of exerting a certain amount of force, but when it comes to competing with the other Great Villages, we aren't a match for them at the best of times, let alone now."
Sousa raises a finger. "Ironically, there isn't much reason for other nations to invade ours. We live in the middle of a desert, and while /our/ people have found ways to make it livable, there's nothing worth conquering here. About the only reason we might be attacked again is to prevent us from /becoming/ a viable obstacle to another nation's ambitions again. Thus, if foreign invasion is the concern of this meeting, I submit that our best defense is to appear broken. Don't give the other Villages a reason to fear our resurgence." Sousa folds his hands beneath his chin. "I might also point out that the one who orchestrated /this/ last attack would likely be displeased if we were to show too strong a focus upon rearmament." e.e
And then here comes Nai with more bad news. Ah well, it may still be something that can be worked out to advantage. "I believe the floor is yours, Nai-san," Sousa says, gesturing.
"If we're ever met with an attack like the previous ones, we need to be prepared. And we need to get prepared before it comes." Kuoroke nods. "In the short run, aid from other villages would be good, but in the long, it might be problematic. Still, we need resources to draw on, and either we return our all of our ninja to active duty, and try to get our normal business back, something that barely sounds realistic in our current situation, or we request money from outside." The Councilman turns to his superior. "What does the Daimyo say, sir? As for strength, as the devastation wrought recently has shown, we could do well with a little more of it, with all due respect. We should also take into account, enemies have attacked us, which shows they had a reason to, and the other villages may well want to rid themselves of a weakened rival." A momentary, dark grin moves onto Kuoroke's face and is immediately replaced by a far grimmer expression when he hears the record keeper's news. Being right is pleasant, but not in this case. "Go ahead, speak." the Kuroki agrees with the others. "We'll need to shift what funds we have to preparations as soon as possible."
Itami balled her hands up into fists momentarily only to release and allow the frustration to leave out through the tips. She leans forward with a frown embeded into her features, eyes closed as she listens to the words around her. She was hoping that she'd have some agreement, but with Nai's comments, that doesn't seem likely. Opening her eyes, she says, "That is true…" She remarks specifically to Sousa as she remembers the words of Fuu ringing in her mind. "I never thought about it that way, but…" She taps her fingers on the desk lightly, "They may want to, but Sunagakure has always been weak. Besides, I'm sure you know how much of our military was lost to this attack. Strength is important, but when you have someone that can call forth undead and mountains to do his will, I don't think we'd want to include others with that. Instead, what we should be doing is relaying the threat that he gave us to other villages. If they think about attacking us or another weakened village, that will only serve to push the threat he gave us into a reality. We wouldn't be the only ones in danger after that…"
She then looks to Nai and inhales deeply. "Please." She gestures her hand to him along with a nod to indicate that she's done speaking and he may now take the floor.
Nai bows in thanks, waiting until everyone has said his or her words, and then speaks. "A report was filed relatively recently… On a certain mission that Sunagakure's Team 01 — 'Team Ruri' — returned from after being gone for approximately two months. No contact with anyone here during that time." Nai begins passing out personnel folders. He only brought four copies, because he had assumed Hibari would be here too. She is not, so there is one for the Kazekage as well. "In each of those folders are the relevant details on the four members of this team. Rurohashi Ruri, Uudo Kara, Maneshi Shemri, and Rurohashi Rinako — who is, as you probably know, our Village's Jinchuuriki. I also have four copies of the mission report for Team Ruri's most recent assignment." After passing out those four copies, Nai dares to seat himself in whatever chair is available.
Well, if he is here on official business then perhaps he shouldn't have to stand? Either way, he gives everyone time to read the summaries and anything else they want to read in the files. He is not in a rush, and public speaking is not his strong point. The files would describe in pretty stark detail what the situation is. Team Ruri was sent out to investigate an aurora borealis that had appeared in the desert. They somehow crossed over to an 'alternate spatial environment' or perhaps simply an 'alternate reality'.
There they discovered that much of the Continent had been conquered by a combination of Ninjutsu-induced never-ending winter, and armies of thinking undead. Ruling over them are four individuals. Three that form a 'Dark Triad', and one even higher than they… The 'Dead King'. All the information from that mission is provided in these files. It would be easy to dismiss as hallucinations, insanity, or Genjutsu. But the amount of detail given, the claims of having attempted to break out of any potential Genjutsu, and the fact that the team vanished for two months only to reappear on the day of the Corpse Soil Serpent's attack, and to be completely unaware of what had gone on in their absence…
It just does not seem made-up. Still, that is not for Nai to decide, obviously. "If the events and details of this report are to be believed… There is another world parallel to ours where this Village no longer exists, and most of the Continent's population is dead. Further, there is a rather large army of the undead with rather advanced Artificial Ninjutsu Weapons and equipment, and they are already experienced at crushing multiple nations with minimal casualties on their side. They could simply starve us into submission, as they did on their own world. Their military technology alone is formidable… Similar to what we saw during the final days of the siege by the bandits, when they pulled out kunai cannons and flamebomb launchers and so forth."
Nai stops and then adds, "And it has already been shown that it is possible to cross from one world to the other, and back again, since Team Ruri has returned to us. Their arrival was timely, of course. The Three-Tails was able to disable — nearly completely destroy — the miles-long stone serpent. But this has hospitalized her for quite some time, and the other team members were not in very good condition either. You saw how much trouble was caused by thousands of mindless dead creatures. Imagine an army — or two — of well-equipped, well-trained, unkillable, and SELF-AWARE soldiers, under the command of one who supposedly has taken down Jinchuuriki in single-combat, and may even have harnessed their powers somehow…"
He shrugs, the motion nearly concealed in the baggy, nearly-engulfing robes and cloak he wears. "I am just a recordskeeper. But I would suggest that if we wish to avoid war, and if we wish to avoid being wiped out, our first priority should be discretely BUT QUICKLY finding a way to seal off access to this other reality — from either side."
Listening to the others remarks, Koudo was slightly ashamed of his intellect not being able to rise above the obvious logistics of the case, yet he felt lucky to be part of such an advanced team, and knew that his skills were of a different nature. Some things were not explainable even by the Kazekage or Nai, and he knew they had to make some sort of decision. Opening his file and reviewing it as Nai spoke, he was certainly overwhelmed by the scale of matters that had been mentioned, but he found the easiest answer simple enough. "Indeed, this is difficult to wrap my mind around. Yet, if we can find a way to close the portal, we will have defeated the utmost threat. Now all we have to do is search, and wait. Perhaps we can find a way to lure them into our own hands and take control." This tactical advantage maneuvering was however, not his strong suit, and he felt like he could leave it to the Kazekage to work out when the time came. His mission now, was to help them get to that point. Letting out a nod and a grin at each of them around the table, he apparently seemed satisfied with his conclusion, but was still completely open to the others ideas.
…Well. That's some rather interesting news. Sousa's almost more tempted by the idea of a parallel reality than he is alarmed by the dire description of the place and the threat it represents. But, of course, he has to take the part of the responsible leader and think about the issue's effect on the village first. Sigh. e.e "Sounds like yet another research project for me," Sousa remarks, scanning through the report. "I do hope the council will be able to handle the rebuilding of our village with minimal supervision from me." Sousa lays the report on the table. "Right, we are all ninja here, people. Think of these problems as you would a shinobi conflict. Think outside the box, look beyond the obvious solutions. We need to obtain resources to rebuild our village, distract other villages from the idea of attacking us, and appease this Fuu Ka person with a show of building peace. Is there any way we can do all of these things at once?"
Koudo has disconnected.
More threats? Itami sighs and shakes her head. When will this all end? She supposes she'll have to look this file folder over to find out. Picking it up and clutching it in her hands, she looks at the folder and sighs once more before she turns the cover of the folder and reveals the contents of it. Inside, she reads over the information provided by the team, the extreme detail and accounts for what took place in this alternate spatial environment or whatever it may be. These things are beyond her. She remains quiet the whole time as she tries to take in the information within the folder, but the majority goes right over her head and induces strain more so than understanding.
When she finishes, the folder is dropped flat on the desk and the papers slide out from their resting places, though not enough to disorganize the contents. Itami opens her mouth to speak with an even deeper frown saying, "This is just…so much…" She never expected to do anything like this as a Council member, let alone as an ordinary individual. "Now the level of threat has raised once again. I am…just not well versed on things that are of this nature. In fact, it frightens me to some degree. This is beyond my realm of thinking. How do we close something like that? I know not of any jutsu that can do such a thing, let alone how to go about making such a jutsu." She looks to Koudo and felt the words tingling at her lips to object, but she decided against it. She supposes she's so used to objecting, the words come without much thought.
"I…" Itami starts and looks at Sousa now. They definitely need a plan and it seems that the impossible or near impossible is going to need to be managed by the Council. She lowers her head to think and tries to convince herself to be positive about this. A soft smirk passes across her features as she lifts her head and says, "I think we can manage. I was…thinking of taking a trip to Konoha in order to negotiate lumber for the rebuilding of our village as well as familiarizing myself with them to possibly discuss future trade. I am not certain of an alliance, but I would not be there to consider such a thing. I only wish to know how they operate in order to determine the possiblity of such." She lifts a hand to the back of her neck and rubs it gently. It feels a great deal hotter than it did before.
"On that note, we have to open up to Iwagakure. We'll be in need of stone and other materials of the sort to build as well." She explains. She still isn't sure about the aurora or anything, but she imagines that can be handled by people that know about that stuff.
Nai nods and bows, having provided the information. He has kept a tiny tid-pit to himself, but anyone who reviews the full mission report will see it anyway. But no one but he, and perhaps Sousa, would realize the full importance. So Nai backs out of the room and departs, closing the doors behind him. Sousa and the other Councilors will resolve things. He is sure of it.
Sousa drums his fingers. "That's a good start, but formal alliances would be risky. If we're seen as choosing sides, that will make us a target for anybody on the other side, trying to cut off any advantage their enemies might gain from it. Besides, Fuu Ka would likely see it as an attempt at gaining military strength. I still think he's our biggest current threat, if only because he's already demonstrated that he'll attack without provocation for reasons of his own." Sousa leans back. "What we need is something to draw all the ninja villages together equally…something we can do as ninja, without violently opposing each other…"
And so, around the council table, a radical new idea for peaceful interaction between ninja of different nations is gradually formed…