Date: July 31, 2010
After rejoining their alternate selves (and alternate Sheex), Ruri makes an offer to the alternates and Team 01 gets to hear part of the history of the Land of Winter right from the mouth of one who has lived in it for the past four years…
"Mirror Mirror - Other-Ruri's Story"
Resistance Safehouse - Land of Winter
As Kara and Shemri are shuttled out into the central room of this underground safehouse, Other-Shiikaa unobtrusively slips out alongside them. Someone might have noticed and commented on the fact that the feline had been in the storage room with Team 01 during their conversation ordinarily, but Other-Shiikaa has a few Jutsu that Shiikaa does not, it seems. For instance, the one he is using right now, where he radiates Chakra in a certain way that confuses human brains into thinking that he is not important enough to pay attention to. This particular technique, known as the 'Somebody Else's Problem Jutsu' is invaluable for remaining hidden in this world where he and his allies are hunted -- and apparently for spying on potential enemies too.
However, shortly after the two women and one cat have exitted the storage room, Rinako informs them that she needs to speak to Ruri alone for a moment. "…Uhh, okay?" Kara is a bit puzzled, and hopes that there isn't going to be some huge fight between them. They are already in dire enough straits without their >own team< breaking up or something. And so, the door is closed behind them, and Kara and Shemri are left in the main room with their alternate selves. "…So, nice weather we're having, huh?" She grins around the room.
Other-Sheex seems to be undecided whether to smile politely or just look away and pretend nothing was said. Other-Shemri has picked up Other-Shiikaa (where did he come from, anyway?) and carries him into the room across from the storage room. Other-Ruri is nowhere to be seen, and Other-Kara ignores her younger double. Kara sighs and sits down, stretching her legs a bit, and trying not to think about how close she came to something bad happening out there in the cold. If she hadn't been brought down here… She would probably be dead by now.
Sometime later, a noise from above causes Other-Sheex and Other-Kara to leap into combat-ready positions. The rapid footfalls on the stairs do nothing to ease their concerns. But when Other-Ruri is the one to appear, they relax. Slightly. Other-Ruri announces, "The lights in the sky are gone." Other-Sheex nods and says, "I see. I wonder what caused them in the first place…" Around this time, whatever Rinako and Ruri are discussing is likely to have concluded, and the two can rejoin everyone else whenever they're ready.
The two Rurohashi siblings are separated for a number of minutes before the door to the storage room finally slides back open. The elder twin is the first to emerge from there, managing to look both pensive and relaxed, as if she were trying to cover one by pretending to be the other. Whatever they had discussed had obviously been tense, and the dark-haired jinchuriki's eyes sweep across the others, taking note of those present, and the likely lack of conversation going on, to say nothing of the tension so palpable that one could cut it with a knife.
Folding her arms under her chest, the Sand kunoichi steps out of the doorway, off to the side, and leans against the wall next to it, frowning down at her new, thick leather boots. It felt so… WEIRD to have her toes covered! Like her feet couldn't breathe, almost as if they were being smothered. After a moment, she lifts her head when her sibling walks into the room.
For the moment, other than to turn a look towards Real-Kara and Real-Shemri, raising her eyebrows as if to silently ask 'Talk about anything good?', Rinako remains silent until the one in charge of their group has spoken.
Shemri walks out into the main room with her comrades. All this dire talk has her feeling weary…though come to think of it, maybe the trek through the desert, the sudden exposure to cold, and the brief fight have something to do with it as well. -.- Shiikaa slides up beside Shemri and rubs against her ankles, transmitting what he's learned through chakra signals. Not that there's much new to it. "So then…" Shemri ventures, "…what are we to do now?"
Ruri emerges soon after Rinako, though there's a bit of a delay. When she does show up, her skin is slightly reddened, as though she had recently been agitated, or angry, or something else that would cause greater blood flow. She neither offers any explanation, nor answers any questions about it. Instead, she glances in the direction of Other-Ruri and then says, "What we do next will be highly dependent on what will get us home soonest. I don't know if your team was under the impression we were going to stick around and help you fight because of our shared appearances and names, or if you would rather we just get out of here, Sheex-san…" She almost chokes on the word 'san' being applied to Sheex's name, but continues anyway.
"…But this is not our world. Your fight is not our fight. I understand things have been tough for you all here, and that is very sad, but we have our own problems back home. Getting involved in a war or something is not high on our list of priorities." She crosses her arms under her chest, unaware of her twin doing the same thing already, and then makes sure everyone is present for this next part. If Other-Shemri is not in the room, she asks that she be called in. Once they're all here, she says, "However, I am not some cold, heartless mega-bitch. While it is not condusive to the continued survival of my team to get caught up in a battle for control of the continent, I am not going to make an absolute statement like, 'We will not help you.' If you can get us home, or if we are witness to something horrible happening, and we have the ability to stop it WITHOUT revealing our existence to your enemies, I see no reason why we can't step in quickly and discretely, do what we can, and get out. On the other hand, I am not going to go out of my way to rescue an orphanage full of orphaned puppies and kittens if doing so would jeapordize the life of myself or my team mates. Our ultimate objective here is to go home and keep anyone or anything from following us there."
She takes one more look around before focusing on Sheex. "All of that said, if you can provide us with whatever information you can about your world that might help us in our quest to depart, we can try to get out of your hair that much sooner. If you don't want to give us any more info than you already have without compensation of some kind, that is perfectly understandable, and if a reasonable price tag is attached to your story, I'll give you what I have. On the other hand, if you just don't trust us that much, we can leave right now, and find out what we can on our own. We won't come looking for you if you don't come looking for us. All of that sound good?"
Other-Shemri walks in when she is called for by Other-Sheex, she puts down Other-Shiikaa on the floor and listens to what Ruri has to say. She stays quiet throughout, seeming contemplative. Other-Sheex likewise listens, occasionally nodding to show he understands. Other-Kara stares at Ruri through half-open eyes, as though she were very sleepy. Other-Ruri seems about to protest or at least to say something a few times, but each time she just closes her mouth and stays silent. Other-Shiikaa, of course, provides nothing to the conversation beyond his presence and adorableness.
When Ruri finishes, Other-Sheex opens his mouth to speak, but Other-Ruri beats him to it. "So you're not going to commit to helping us, but you'll pretend you give a damn if we help you first? If >your< version of Rinako is the way you said she was, then she should realize it's her >duty< to make up for the real Rinako's evil acts. She has to help us take Rinako down, at the very least. With two Jinchuuriki, we'll actually have a chance at--" "Ruri," Other-Sheex interrupts. Other-Ruri pauses, the fanatical light in her eyes and the fierce dedication in her voice flicker and fade as her attention switches to the only man present. "While your opinion is valued, you are >not< our group's leader. Please refrain from speaking for the group, particularly in regards to what outsiders must or must not do. They have no duty to us, and their loyalty is quite understandably centered on their own group, and their own world."
Other-Ruri has been tensing all over, ever since Other-Sheex started correcting her, and a wild look appears in her eyes, as though she intended to charge at or strike her teacher. But an instant later, the anger and all other emotion have faded from her visage, and she simply bows slightly. "My apologies, Sheex-sensei." Other-Sheex nods, probably choosing to overlook or simply not react to Other-Ruri's momentary display of emotional instability. Then he says, "While we would have to discuss the matter as a group, I believe it is reasonable to at least provide you with some information on recent history. If any one of us chooses to divulge more in regards to our personal pasts, that is up to each of us. Speaking on what resources we might have, or other potentially sensitive information, however, will be avoided until such a time as we have confirmation that you are going to help us. If that time never comes, then I highly doubt you would need that information regardless."
Other-Sheex then takes a moment to catch his breath. When he resumes speaking again, he is looking at the floor. "I do not wish to tell my own history. That is a long story, and most of it does not pertain to the present situation. I can provide the general overview, however." Before he can actually give this overview, Other-Ruri steps in. "Actually, I'd like to start this. It all started with Rinako and me anyway." Other-Sheex pauses and then nods hesitantly. Other-Ruri walks over and takes a seat against a wall, across from Pharaoh. She stares blankly at the mummy for a few seconds, and then begins.
"My relationship with my--With Rinako was always a bit rough. We loved each other -- or so I thought at the time -- but growing up during the Clan Wars, and being seperated from her so that I could be trained in how to use the Lord of Water's powers, I guess a rift grew between us. I didn't notice immediately. When we were together regularly again, around the age of 12, she was a bit different than she had been when she was younger. While I had been charged with mastering the Three-Tails's power, she had been free to choose her own path. She didn't have a choice about whether to train at all, since every combat-capable individual was needed. Even children."
Rubbing a hand over her forehead, and up into her hair, Other-Ruri takes a moment, and then says, "Whatever she'd been doing, she was very confident. She was confident in herself, and in her power. The fact I housed the Three-Tails had been revealed to her a few years before, and that's when she really kicked up her training. We didn't see each other for months. But like I said, at twelve-years old we were together regularly. She was definitely stronger. I've always sucked at Genjutsu, and had to work hard to pick up Taijutsu, but though she wasn't too great at Genjutsu either, she has mastered Taijutsu and Ninjutsu way beyond what I had. Sure, I had a Bijuu inside me, but unless I let him loose to do as he pleases, she was going to dominate me in any kind of fight. That was just a fact of life. At one point or another, she'd picked up how to use the 'Eight Gates', a technique from Konohagakure. She didn't use it regularly, but then she didn't need to. She was just… Better than me. That fuelled my own desire to improve. To show I could be just as good."
Turning her brown eyes up to the dirt ceiling of the warm, underground safehouse, Other-Ruri says, "I guess I'm rambling, so I'll cut to the chase. Shortly before our thirteenth birthdays, the weather started to change. Continent-wide, the climate was shifting towards lower temperatures. Dead Winter had begun, though we didn't know it back then. It hadn't quite reached our country yet, so it was just seen as some foreign problem that would resolve itself eventually. A couple years later, I'd just turned fourteen recently -- both of us had -- and Sunagakure was in the process of being established. The Clan Wars were more or less over, and the borders of the Land of Wind were stabilizing."
Other-Ruri sighs and closes her eyes. "Kara-chan had been sent away on some mission or other, I hadn't met Shemri-san yet, and our team hadn't been officially made yet, so Sheex-sensei was just my teacher, not the team leader. I was out in the desert with Rinako one day… Just normal training and patrol. Nothing special. Next thing I know, the sky goes dark in the middle of the day. The temperature dropped thirty degrees in half that many minutes. There had been similar reports from other countries, but no one knew what they meant. Sheex-sensei started to lead us back to Sunagakure to find out what was going on. Then a huge dome of black fire appeared over the entire Village. We could see it from miles away.--Actually, it was a sphere, not a dome. People tried to enter the Village underground, and they found out it covered that route too. Sheex-sensei told us to stay where we were, and he would investigate himself."
Other-Ruri sits silently for a number of seconds, letting the tension build. Then she opens her eyes and turns to look at her younger counterpart. "The moment Sheex-sensei was out of sight and earshot, Rinako tried to leave. I didn't know where she was going, and she wouldn't answer me. I chased her until she finally got tired of me following, and stopped. Then she attacked me. I was completely blind-sided. By the time I could muster some kind of defense, I was already in bad shape. She took the time to explain to me what was going on. She told me that she had made an agreement with someone… Some guy named 'Misu Yane'. He had 'real power', she claimed, and was going to share that power with her in exchange for her loyalty. She said she needed the power to punish the ninja world we lived in, because it had caused too much suffering and too much death for no good reason. A lot of back and forth went on between us. We fought a lot too. I managed to draw out the Three-Tails's powers and gain my First Tail. She opened her Chakra Gates up to the fifth one. 'Gate of Limit' or whatever. In the end, she trashed me utterly and left me for dead. I don't know why I didn't die. I think maybe it was the enhanced healing of the Bijuu inside me that kept me going. Or maybe it was my hate."
Her eyes flick once towards Rinako, and then to the fireplace. "By the time I recovered enough to move, it was less than 30 degrees in the desert. Sheex-sensei found me, and carried me to a fort where the ninja that had been outside of Sunagakure when the dome appeared could watch the Village. I told him what happened. He had no answers for me. The next day, the dome vanished. It was a little after six when the first reports started coming in. The dome had disappeared about half an hour earlier. Sunagakure looked like a warzone. Shattered buildings, fires everywhere, bodies …" Other-Ruri's cold voice shakes then trails off momentarily. She waves off Other-Sheex's hand as he reaches out to her, and then resumes.
"Emergency services, ninja from outlying bases, mobilized Konohagakure troops, news reporters from all over, and panic-stricken relatives poured in. Do you know how many survivors they found?" She waits for responses.
The elder of the twin Rurohashi girls raises an eyebrow at her sibling's offer and/or speech to the opposing, or at least other, group. After a moment, she looks away, towards the hated Sheex-face, the leader of these other-them, and maybe still other resistance cells out there, awaiting his reply with a mild glower.
When the story starts, her dark eyes turn and focus on the Other-Ruri. She remains silent throughout the tale, though her brows furrow at the mention of the fight, the betrayal, and the fate of the Village Hidden in the Sand. She wants to interrupt, to deny what was said, it's plain to see by the expression on her face. But ultimately, she remains silent until the end. That other woman, that other Rinako, it wasn't her. Betraying the Land of Wind was unthinkable, incomprehensible to the young jinchuriki. Not even in her wildest dreams (okay, MAYBE her wildest bijuu-induced ones) could she see herself contributing to the destruction of her new homeland, which kept the horrors of the Clan Wars at bay. Her reply is direct, if glib.
"I'm guessing 'none'. Sorry for the interruption, but is this 'Misu Yane' person the one who became King Dead Guy? Guys, if he can control the weather, maybe he's the one causing these strange lights in the sky. It's kind of flimsy connection, but… would it be that hard to believe someone with the jutsu to turn the world back to the Ice Age could manipulate lights in the sky? Maybe something he did tore the fabric of… of… I don't know, reality!"
Shemri folds her arms and tilts her head back slightly, pondering. She still doesn't fully understand the alternate worlds theory, but Ruri-san said something about splitting off at some point in the past, right? What could that splitting point have been, Shemri wonders? Well, if Ruri-san is the jinchuuriki here, it must've been sometime before the Rurohashi twins were born, right? Could be even further back, though probably not /too/ far. Their team still wound up together, so the differences can't have been all that sweeping. From the sound of things earlier, Other-Shemri recognizes the names of Fukanzen and Megumi-chan and understands their significance, so that much probably wasn't greatly changed in this world.
At Other-Ruri's query and Rinako's quick response, Shemri shifts her jaw. Yeah, that was gonna be her guess too…though she didn't know how to say it. Probably not the way Rinako did. "I cannot begin to imagine how that must have felt," Shemri murmurs.
Ruri refrains from saying what Other-Sheex said mostly because he is the leader of this other group, not her. Still, Other-Ruri accusing Rinako of being responsible for her alternate self's actions… Well, she already said her piece on that. Still, she remains silent and listens to the story as it unfolds. She tries not to show it on her face, but she can understand most of what has been described -- on the emotional level, that is. She understands Other-Ruri's desire to prove herself, and to a degree, she even understands Other-Rinako's attempt to show up her younger sister. She understands it because, at one point, she felt the same way. No words leave her lips, however.
She simply sits and waits.
Other-Ruri glares at Rinako, her hate-filled look saying it all. She resumes, as though she hadn't been interrupted, in the same cold monotone, confirming Rinako's guess. "None." Before anyone can react to that confirmation, she goes on. "There were no miraculous rescues, no survivors trapped under the rubble, there was no one living left. Everyone in Sunagakure had died one way or another. At the time they were just reporting heavy casualties. We kept waiting for word. They couldn't all be dead."
"But they were." The previously stone-cold Other-Kara actually reaches one hand up to wipe her eyes, but manages to avoid weeping. Other-Ruri's eyes glisten but she doesn't cry. "Everyone we knew was gone. Wiped away in the space of hours. I couldn't believe it. It was just too big. Something over three-hundred thousand people were dead. It wasn't possible! It was madness! But it was real, it had happened. Three-hundred thousand people dead. I couldn't imagine anything that terrible. This was the end of the world. It couldn't get worse."
Other-Ruri shakes her head. "I was a fool. It had barely begun."
Other-Sheex hesitates, making sure that Other-Ruri is done speaking for now, and then answers, "From what we know, yes, he is the one who would become the Dead King. As for tearing the fabric of reality… That is possible. Either through his lieutenants, or his own power, he has captured most of the nine Jinchuuriki. Information is sparse, but from what we know, he has at least six. Rumors indicate that he may also have the Nine-Tails in his possession, which would leave only two more Jinchuuriki free. We have no idea where the Eight-Tails is. It is possible that the Dead King is tapping the power of the various Bijuu. If he is, then it almost seems reasonable that he could do something like what you have described. For what purpose, I would not know. But his 'generals' in the Dark Triad all have various capabilities that the Dead King uses to his greatest benefit. The head of the Technical Division has engineered many wicked devices, weapons, and Jutsu for the use of the Land of Winter. That one of them could alter the fabric of reality…"
He shakes his head. "It would have sounded ridiculous yesterday. But now, sitting here with you all, it seems not so far-fetched." Other-Shemri speaks up, looking at her younger self. "My husband and my daughter were not in Sunagakure when the dome appeared. They had been in the Land of Fire, with Fukanzen seeking out medical aid for Megumi-chan. She had fallen into a coma and would not awaken. No one in Sunagakure could do anything, and there was a rumor that someone in Konohagakure was experienced in such matters. I have seen neither of them in four years, and the last letter I received indicated that Fukanzen was taking Megumi-chan to the Land of Water, due to it being outside of Dead Winter's radius. That was six months ago."
Other-Ruri's hate-filled stare receives only a dull-eyed look of response, nearly emotionless from the elder Rurohashi. Nearly. The one emotion actually showing in the brunette's eyes is probably the one the alien woman wanted to see the least: pity. The gaze is finally broken as the lone male in the room responds to her question, causing brown eyes to snap back onto him.
"Okay," Rinako clears her throat mildly as she unfolds her arms and pushes away from the wall. "So if what you're saying is true, then our best bet might just be to get a little face time with this Tech Division person. If there was some strange new jutsu that's been developed, or is in developement, that'd be the person most likely to at least know something about it. Even if they're not behind it, they'd probably know who was. You don't establish a authoritarian state without controlling the flow of information at the highest levels, right?"
The dark-haired jinchuriki looks to her sibling, her REAL sibling, "What'cha think? Maybe if we pool our resources with them, we can get at least a piece of the information we need, and they can get their claws on a hated enemy. A little snatch-and-grab operation and we just might be on our way home. Or, at worst, we're right back where we started and these guys owe us one."
Shemri exhales softly. Well, at least the Fukanzen and Megumi-chan of this world are still alive, as far as anybody here knows. "Then there is yet hope," Shemri responds to her other self. "Do not let go of that." Not that she really needs to be told that, probably. e.ea And…yeah, that's about all Shemri can say right now. Time to let the brainy people talk.
Ruri considers all this information. Her sister's suggestion makes sense, and she was considering something similar. Looking towards Rinako, she says, "That is an option that we might want to try, yes. First I'd want to know exactly where our target is, what kind of defenses he or she has set up, what the general brand of Jutsu his or her minions use are, and any special capabilities the target himself or herself might possess. Also, if we're going after this jerk, we'll need a secure approach. That means knowing the layout of our destination, and so on."
She closes her eyes and thinks. "Rinako can probably get us closer than anyone else. The rest of us will probably have to be disguised, and we'll need to adjust Rinako's appearance a bit too. Anyone know what kind of clothing this Other-Rinako wears usually?" Though she is tired for a variety of reasons, Ruri tries to keep her mind going at full throttle in order to plan this out correctly. She's not going to just charge in half-cocked, trusting to luck and the fact that they are the 'good guys' to carry the day.
As much as she loathes the idea of agitating the villains when they are in charge, Ruri has to admit that any chance she can get to hurt this 'Dead King' for what he has done is more than welcome. Maybe this isn't her world. That doesn't mean she's going to throw her hands up and cry, 'Oh well'. Whoever this bastard is, she suspects that it is HIM who is responsible for this world's Rinako turning traitor. She doesn't know how, or why, but she thinks that something other than a simple difference in choices caused Other-Rinako to abandon everything and everyone she loved for 'power'. Infact, it is highly like that--No. Best not to assume. They'll probably find out eventually.
And with that, the planning began. Team 01 and Team… Something else, are going to collaborate, and then go kidnap one of the three lieutenants of the Dead King. If they're lucky. If not, well, they certainly aren't the first to die, and they certainly won't be the last…