Date: October 19, 2013
Kuoroke witnesses the detection of the spy parasite in a merchant…
"The Silk Conflict - Parasite Control/Konoha Security"
Right outside Konoha's main gates
Around noon. Kuoroke has spent most of the morning -since the very early hours- outside of Konohagakure somewhere, away from prying eyes, training. Even a pencil-pusher, even visiting a foreign village, needs to stay in shape, after all. He returns alone, hands folded behind his back, head slightly lowered, and eyes moving back and forth behind his glasses, regular like a pendulum, taking in his surroundings for changes since he left the village. He walks at a calm, leisurely pace, like someone just out for a stroll.
These days the security around Konoha seems to have been strengthened. Instead of two guards conducting processing, there are now four. It's been a little time since the chuunin exams, so this seems a little odd, but not outside the normal scopes of a hidden village. At least things seem to be progressing at a decent clip, if not as fast as one would expect for having so many guards.
A small merchant train is in line in front of Kuoroke, consisting mainly of a small family of merchants known to travel between Suna and Konoha. "I tell you, it's getting dangerous to be a merchant nowadays," one of the three older men says. "Not only do we have to contend with Suna becoming more and more anal about their regulations, and whatever is happening on the northern end of our route, but these mysterious disappearances and reappearances are making it almost not worth the effort." The man frowns and then looks at the youngest man and asks, "You still don't know what happened? Are you sure?"
The younger man who was asked that question shakes his head. "All I know is that one moment I was surrounded by these weird cloaked figures who kept asking me the oddest qestions, and the next I woke up in the woods. I made my way back as quickly as possible, but everything seemed okay. I mean I was a little sore, but otherwise fine…"
The older man turns toward Kuoroke and tilts his head. "And you are you?" he challenges even as the younger man looks very much confused. "You're obviously a shinobi from Suna, but what kind of power do you have to protect us from all these occurrences, and why haven't you?" Yes, the old man is slightly embittered, and is looking for someone to blame.
The younger man turns and shakes his head toward the elder and says, "It's okay Jiro-sama, I'll answer… though I'm not sure what he means by attacked… I mean, I never saw them /do/ anything. It's as if one moment I was talking to this group of people asking me what we traded in and where we were headed, and the next moment I must have fainted. I think I must have hit my head or something, because I woke up sore and with a slight headache. Only thing was, several hours had passed, and my family had already made it through the Fire/Wind checkpoints on the Konoha side. Fortunately they waited for me to catch up. The Fire soldiers asked me a few questions, then let me go…"
"I am a member of Sunagakure's Council, sir." Kuoroke answers. "But the fact that I am a Sunagakure shinobi is sufficient for me to be concerned for your safety - you can usually report irregularities, of any magnitude, to the nearest Suna shinobi and expect a concerned listener. And the village has not yet been able to respond fully for two reasons. Firstly, this is a problem that is greatly underreported." He makes a wild guess that these people haven't made a report to his office, without explicitly saying so. "Secondly, what reports we -have- received, in line with what I'm hearing here, describe this as mostly harmless. Still, despite the fact that many of the victims don't seem to consider the situation severe, I assure you were are investigating it to the best of our ability - like I am doing now." He turns to the younger man. "Thank you, sir, but as I said we'd like to ensure your safety and we have an obligation to ensure your trade runs smoothly. So, if you could tell me when and where this… fainting fit took place?"
"So you're one of the busybodies making us jump through all those hoops just to continue our trade?" Jiro starts out, obviously not a big fan to the changes.
But before he can get a good head of steam the younger man cuts him off. "Jiro-sama, please!" The elderly man quiets down, which then allows the younger man to answer Kuoroke's questions. "I was in the neutral zone between the Lands of Fire and Wind, about half way between the two check points, about four days ago. We had stopped for a moment for a rest, and I was in charge of checking out this group of strangers we saw walking toward us from the north. I approached them, and since they seemed to have nothing on them at all as far as wares go, I was cautious, but they seemed friendly enough, if not just a little odd-looking…"
Before he can say much more though, one of the guards performing the security checks walks up. "Nishimi Retsu?" the guard asks as he glances down at a clipboard for a moment. Beside him is a another man, this one seeming to be dressed in the attire of the Hyuuga clan.
The young man who Kuoroke was talking to looks behind him and answers, "Yes?"
The guard nods to the Hyuuga, then says, "We have a report from the Fire Army of a strange feinting spell you had during your travel here. In the interests of public safety, we would like to give you a free examination to ensure that you didn't catch anything. If you wouldn't mind, would you accompany Hyuuga Yuuko to the waiting room?"
Kuoroke's changes were -intended- to be unpopular and push people towards the alternative, so he's not disappointed, although he appears to be apologetic. "I apologize, we're currently going through some necessary transitions. It can't be-" He leans forward to the man slightly, and lowers his voice. "Listen, that's the official version. I really shouldn't be telling you this because her friends in our offices aren't exactly… following the prescribed routes, but there's a woman, one of your fellow merchants, who can make those hoops go away. Her fees are rather low, too." He raises his voice again, and continues, as if nothing just happened. He turns back to Nishimi Retsu. "That's good to know, and- oh. I just wait until they're done poking you, then." He offers. "I'd like to hear the full story, I have some time free, and while I'm here I'd like to hear your complaints and proposal in detail so I can see what we can do about them. Alright?"
Retsu nods and says… "Uh… sure…" to Kuoroke before turning toward the Konoha guard. "Yes, of course." He had apparently been warned this might happen when he left the checkpoint, and walked off calmly to a shed just outside the walls of Konohagakure. The Hyuuga enters behind him, and it is only then that Kuoroke can spot the symbol of Konoha's medic corp on his back. The door shuts, and then flashes as seals activate.
In the meantime, the old man listens to what Kuoroke has to say and nods. "It's about time," he grouses quietly. When Kuoroke leans back he says, "Necessary my aching back. It's just more paper you guys put in our way…" A moment later the door opens and the Hyuuga calls for a stretcher. "Get him to the hospital, I'll treat him there…"
"Well, look at it from this side - any paper you fill out then has to be processed by three people. So every paper pushed 'your way' adds work for us. It's really not in our interest to add paperwork, but we have things to comply with, ourselves." As the Hyuuga appears with the young merchant, he gives a concerned smile. "Hm, that sound serious. I'll find out what's wrong." He approaches the shinobi, and with an expression of utmost concern, asks, "I'm sorry, what's wrong with him?"
The Hyuuga looks at Kuoroke for a moment and then says, "He's caught an acute disease, an extremely potent one we've only just discovered. He should be okay, as we have a treatment for it that appears to be completely effective, but we really can't let him be in contact with anyone else until we're sure he'll be okay." The Hyuuga then looks over the family and Kuoroke before asking, "Is that his family? I think we should check them out just in case… and I must ask, have you touched him in any way? Or let him breath on you other than standard conversation at arm's length?"
"That's worrying." Kuoroke considers the options - he can't convincingly fake a disease, he knows he hasn't touched it, but he doesn't know how invasive the procedure is. "I believe they are, yes." He frowns slightly, thinking, and makes a choice. "I don't think I have, no, but I have been talking to him. Just to be on the safe side: are there any symptoms I should look out for in the near future? Anything I should be worried about?" He looks after the young merchant. "And is -he- going to be alright?"
The Hyuuga looks over to the group of merchants, then toward the guards. "Move them to the side and tell them I'll explain what's going on in a minute." The guards start doing so, politely, as the Hyuuga turns his attention back toward Kuoroke. "Yes, we caught it early enough that he'll be just fine. The treatment we have is a little taxing, but the patients have made full recoveries with no lasting side effects. What we know at the moment is that it has a dormant stage where after the initial headache, soreness, and initial loss of onconsciousness it seems to disappear. Most victims don't even know they have it, until some time later when they start showing signs of unexplained fatigue. By then it becomes a bit harder to treat, though we haven't lost a patient yet." The group of merchants begrudgingly move to the side per the guards' orders, making the way clear for Kuoroke to check through security.
Kuoroke nods. "That's good to know, thank you. A real reassurance. I'll let you know if I notice any of these symptoms. Any idea when he'll be back on his feet?" He glances back at the family. "I don't think they can miss him for very long…" Kuoroke moves to get through security, but on the other side stops and waits, waiting for the merchant and his family, or at least those members that are allowed to pass through.
The Hyuuga medic looks in the general direction of Konoha's hospital and then says, "About a week, maybe two, though he'll likely be ready to receive visitors in about half that. If you'll excuse me though, I have some patients I need to look at." The medic-nin then turns and heads back to the family and begins conversing with them just as Kuoroke is let through the gate.
It's about an hour later that the majority of the members of the caravan are let through. "Well Jiro-sama, at least Retsu won't be alone, his fiance will be able to keep him company…"
The old man nods and mutters something before saying, "Just wish they'd be a little more gentle with their testing. I can understand wanting to be sure we didn't catch anything, but whatever it was they used made my head feel funny."
Kuoroke passes through the gate, and turns around, watching closely, trying to determine what's going on. "Hm, another one?" he says, full of apparent concern. "The medics assured me they'd be fine. I guess we'll meet and discuss these things later. Although, I'd like to stress that you should visit me when you have the time to ensure this doesn't happen any more. In the meantime, is there anything I can do for any of you?"
The younger man talking to Jiro shakes his head as he interposes himself into the conversation. "We'll be fine, after a bit of rest. Just, whatever they used to check us out is not like anything we've seen before, and we're all a bit tired. I think we should go get some rest, and we'll talk about what happened later, okay?" The others are leading the old man away as the younger man talks. "We'll be fine, thank you. Just need a bit of rest…"