Path of Hope - Collision


Mushi, Sanshouuo (as Senju Tobiramako and Hiro)

Date: February 23, 2011


Mushi and Tobiramako escape the Space-Time Prison only to find themselves in Konohagakure… More than a month in the future.

"Path of Hope - Collision"

Vine Street - Konohagakure

Mushi had put a great deal of force into running at that barrier. She was expecting a resistance from the front, so she was braced, with her arms slightly up. What she hadn't expected was a blow from behind. She skids to a halt as she sees Tobirama…no, two of them, lying on the ground. It had worked. But what was more shocking was that they were telling the truth. They were two people. She reaches up to rub her eyes as if to dislodge this hallucination. But before her hands come up something hurls against her with such force that she's knocked and bounces artlessly across the ground, before skidding. It leaves a sizable trench. Her head is ringing as she struggles to her feet and looks--at herself.
"What--the---" She hadn't remembered making a replacement. She feels upwards, and winces as she touches her back. That pain is real. "Who are you?" she asks the look-alike uncertainly. She stares around. Something seems to be happening to the barrier. "What's going on?"

Tobiramako is too busy fighting to keep them from being crushed out of existence or smeared across the space between two different worlds, so she cannot be bothered to answer Mushi's inquiry. Instead Tobirama answers the question about what is going on.
"We are >leaving<!" he says very succinctly. He'd probably be a bit more eloquent under other circumstances. He runs up to the second Mushi who is just getting up onto her hands and knees and starting to stare at the first Mushi. Then he grabs her by one arm and >throws< her out of the prison through the gaping hole in the air. He then leaps through himself. Saying farewell to an alternate self seems to not be on his agenda. Tobiramako, meanwhile, is >stabbing her mind into space-time itself< and telling it to >wait a second<. "Get… Out!" she manages to say in a strained voice. Sweat rolls down her face. Her Chakra is pretty high for a non-Jinchuuriki, but it's dwindling fast. "…See you… Soon!" she grunts as she grits her teeth and closes her eyes tight. The ground is shaking violently without moving. The air is becoming frozen in time so that it cannot be breathed, while at the same time screaming around the prison at high speed. The sky is bending down to touch the earth, and the setting sun suddenly just… Goes dark. Darkness shrouds the prison, except for the lights and colors within the tear in the barrier.
Tobiramako is seemingly waiting for Mushi to leave the prison before she leaves herself. If Mushi refuses, she may wind up trapping them both here!

Mushi's head is still ringing with the bizareness of the situation, and most of all why she is here. She shoves those thoughts to the back of her mind and looks around once more. There's so much here that she's never seen in her entire experience as a shinobi. She bites her lip a little and would gather herself then. She'll try to find out answers later. For now, she has to get out of this technique. She would follow after Tobiramako and get outside of the prison as quickly as possible, releasing her chakra as she does so. For now, it seems she wouldn't need it anymore.

The universe is flying around madly about Mushi as she dives through the tear in reality. If Tobiramako is with her, that is unclear right now. But when she suddenly appears on stable, solid ground, >then< it is clear that Tobiramako is at her side. It is daytime, not sunset. Maybe late afternoon or early evening at the latest. There is no grass on the ground… But there are various patches alongside the street. Yes, the street. They are not in a field or in the Land of Wind anymore. They're standing right in the middle of Vine Street, in Konohagakure.
Tobiramako looks around in confusion for a moment. She is breathing heavily and is still sweating from her recent exertion. It must have taken a lot of energy to save the two of them. People all around walk up and down the streets casually, not seeming to notice the two that have appeared in their midst--No. No, that's not right. They notice Tobiramako and they greet her with bows and respectful words. Further, they call her… 'Nidaime Hokage' or just 'Hokage-sama'. Tobiramako frowns but returns the greetings, playing along for now.
When she gets a moment, she tries to gently pull Mushi aside so they can speak privately. If successful, she glances around once and then says quietly, "I introduced myself. I'm sorry if I didn't catch your name before… But who are you? There is something wrong here. The people keep calling me 'Second Hokage'! My sister is still in charge. Are we in a--" then she notices a newspaper stand nearby. It's just a Konohagakure-based paper. She walks over to the stand and picks up a paper. She stares at the headline in confusion, forgetting she was speaking to Mushi. Then she turns back to her new acquaintance and holds the paper so Mushi can see. It seems that Tobiramako is pointing out the disturbing headline. 'New Hokage Appointed Following Training Accident'.

Mushi has expected to show up in the exact same field when they left the barrier. She had even expected it to be the exact same time, as if nothing had changed. The first thing she does is squint in disbelief at the sky. Time really had passed. She just stares at the sky, before quickly turning her attention to her companion. "Are you okay?" she asks. "I think that-" A second after speaking she catches sight of the area around her. She had assumed so much she was on the open plains that she hadn't registered it.
For a long time she stares around at the street. This isn't the plains or even the Land of Wind. The temperature change is unreal. And she's been here before. She knows those headbands. "K-Konoha," she says. Her heart is thumping against her chest. "This really was a space time barrier." There couldn't really be any other explanation. But it was more than that. They had teleported to another area. She runs her hand through her hair and shakes her head. She knows she was in the Land of Wind a second ago.
She looks to Tobiramako. "Can you explain this?" she asks. "Where are we?" It's now that she sees the people greeting her not with astonishment, but familiarity. And calling her Hokage. "…Hokage-sama," she adds. She follows Tobiramako's indication and goes over to the sign. "What is happening here?" she asks. She swallows. "Are we in a different dimension? Is this a dream?" And then: "And why am I here? Why is this happening to -us-?"

Tobiramako shakes her head. She taps her finger at the top of the paper. >Above< the headline. The date… "'April, 2nd'. It was February 18th last I knew. I don't think this is a different dimension >or< a dream. I think… This is the >future<." Tobiramako reads the paper for a few moments more, frantically going over the words, looking for a >clue< of some kind. "It says here that nee-chan is in the hospital. Some kind of 'training accident' that has left her paralyzed… We should head there. You said you can heal, correct? Maybe you can--"
Then the ground begins to shake. The sky goes dark. Tobiramako turns quickly, with the reflexes of a trained warrior. Mushi, on the other hand, was already facing that direction. The immense rumbling noise drowns out everything else. Even the screams of those right nearby are barely audible. Then a bright flash of light appears on the horizon, right around where the Hokage's Tower stands.
The light is not a 'flash' after all. It's a continuous, growing, eye-searing, painful wave of brilliance as all around, everything is lit with bright white and deep red. Then a wave of fire begins to roil outwards from the tower at super-sonic speeds. There's no time to dodge. No time to block. No time to do anything. This explosion is immense beyond anything that anyone in the Village has ever seen.
They're going to die.
Unnoticed by either woman, a third individual appeared inbetween them while they were distracted. He places a hand on the shoulder of each. By the time the wave of destruction reaches their positions, the world has seemed to fade away and be replaced with… A field in the Land of Wind. The same one Mushi was in before. Standing at Mushi's side, with one hand on her shoulder, is a man in traditional Japanese clothing, with eyeglasses. He has a bit of a round face and body, but he is not fat. His expression is a mix of shock and fear. He turns his head towards Mushi. She may realize now that Tobiramako is not with them. It's just her and this man. He asks hesitantly, "…Friend of Goh-san?"

It would not be a surprise if Mushi's gaze burnt two holes in the sign. It must have been a grievous training accident to hospitalize Hashiramako. Or to be more specific, no training could possibly harm Hashi…could it? It'd take something more like an attack on her life to hospitalize her. From behind. And with many shinobi. She shakes her head. No, she shouldn't think like that. She knows more than anyone that even the most powerful could be hurt on a mischance. And she's already on the same line of thought as Tobiramako before she even says the words. She nods in reply, but before anything else the ground is shaking beneath her.
"Not again!" she says, as people begin screaming. She looks at the bright light forming. Is that the source of this disaster? She would have turned to ask Tobi, but it's too late. They're done for.
Until they're not. Mushi feels the hand on her shoulder, and by the time she turns to face him, they're back on the plains. She'd take a step back from him. She looks around, and for the first time she notices Tobirama isn't with them. She /definitely/ notices that Tobiramako isn't with them. "Where are the Tobis?" she asks. "And who are you? And--huh? Goh-kun! Is this his fault?" Is she the victim of a man involved with the Stone? Or perhaps an unsatisfied customer? "What do you know about him?"

The man pulls his hand away quickly when Mushi steps back. He lowers his arms to his sides and bows to her. "Tobiramako-sensei has returned home. I tried to bring her here, but I could not. This is not where she was before she was… Displaced." He straightens up and says, "My name is Hiro. I am the master of time and space!" He seems very proud of this. Though his smile slips away when he remembers that ghastly explosion. "Iie, <No,> friend of Goh-san. He needs your help. >We< need your help. Goh asked for you to be brought to the Salamander Caves. However, I could not find you anywhere! …Or any>when<. I tried to find Shishou to see if she could help me find you! …And I could not find her either. But now I found you both!" He smiles happily.
The fear caused by the brush with death seems to have worn off for the moment. Then he clears his throat and bows again. "Friend-of-Goh-san, we should return to Hitokage-hora at once! Goh-san and Sanshouuo-sama, the Great Elder of the Salamanders, are waiting for our return." He holds out his hand, offering it for Mushi to take. He does not attempt to move closer, though.

Mushi listens to Hiro as calmly as possible. It seems that the chaos has stopped for now, but she's still waiting for time to distort itself once more. She takes the time he's speaking to catch her breath. But an idea has caught on. "Sometime I'm going to have to learn how to do this space time stuff," she mutters, "or at least counter it. This is hopeless." Unknowingly, she'd thought she'd become a fairly competent shinobi in any situation. But in this one she was about as useful as a rag doll.
"Goh-kun needs my help?" Mushi says. She'd been planning not to trust this third stranger, and just leave once the barrier was in place. But Hiro seemed to know not only about Goh, but some about his salamanders. And if Goh needed help of some sort, how could she just stand there? She gathers her chakra just in case. Then she reaches out and takes his hand.

Hiro smiles brightly and accepts Mushi's hand lightly. Then he closes his eyes tightly, concentrating so hard his cheeks wobble. Then the two vanish instantly. No puff of smoke, just an odd noise and they reappear in some large stone hallway. It appears to be lined with many paintings on the walls. The air is warm, but not intolerable. Hiro says, "Welcome to the Salamander Caves, Friend-of-Goh-san! This is the Gallery, where Sanshouuo-sama keeps his collection of special art! This way to Goh-san!" He starts to walk off, having already let go of Mushi's hand.
Then some of the paintings may catch Mushi's eye. One of them… One of them depicts >Mushi herself<! Mushi, shrouded in the Chakra of her Bijuu, being smashed into from behind by an identical Mushi, including the Bijuu Chakra, that >appears< to be attacking her. The background is a familiar field, and the sunset is visible in the distance. Of course, Mushi would know that the second Mushi depicted was >not< actually attacking her, but someone else who saw it would not know that.
There are many more paintings like this one. They show people and places in vivid detail -- and some of them even show people Mushi >knows<. As Hiro keeps walking, he leads the way to a large room where Goh, a large, grey-and-black salamander, and an immense set of >toes< that look like they belong to a dragon can be seen waiting for the two of them. If Mushi looks up, she would see the toes >do< belong to a dragon. A very, very, very big one.
Smoke envelops Hiro and dissipates, returning him to his true form of a red-and-black salamander about as big as a dog! "We have returned, Sanshouuo-sama! Oto-san!" Hiro calls out. Amongst all the other distractions is one that may grip Mushi with fear. A painting larger than the rest, on the rear wall, beyond Goh, 'oto-san', the Great Elder, and Hiro.
It is simply a painting of the view of Konohagakure from a distance… While a pillar of fire rises from the middle of it, destroying the entire Village.

Mushi appears in the caves. She had thought she was getting used to appearing in an entirely different place, but it seems not. She blows out a breath and exhales to calm herself. They're warm. "So this is where summons go," she says, glancing with interest at the pictures on the wall. She'd then turn to Hiro and blink at his transformation. "You're a liz--salamander," she says, quite astutely. She stands there to wrap that idea around her brain, before shaking her head. She would head down there to have a closer look at the pictures. "What!?" she yelps, not with real fear, but bewilderment as she sees herself within the pictures. She would peer closely at them, to see if it might be someone who resembles herself, but nope. That is definitely her. She even has her bijuu cloak around her. Mushi would go over to examine the pictures for a little.
As Mushi goes down the tunnel, she would ask the salamander, "Excuse me, but what do those pictures mean? I think the last one is…well, that's impossible. But do they foretell the future?" After the incidents that had happened in the past hour, there are quite a few things that she's willing to believe that she wouldn't believe before. But when she sees Goh she doesn't wait for an answer. "Goh-kun!" she says joyously, and would sprint towards him. But she stops short. She's not sure whether she wants to wrap him in her arms, or just stomp on his foot and demand to know what had happened recently. "You needed me?" she simply asks.

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