Date: Npvember 12, 2013
A few years have passed since the first part of Ryoji's attempt to enter under Sunagakure's official employement as a soldier of the Great Hidden Village within the Land of Wind. As luck would have it, Sunagakure was forgiving. And while another physical evaluation may be in order for the future, at the time being he was summoned for a Psyche Evaluation first.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Recruitment & Evaluation Pt. 2"
Kazekage Administration Dome [Sunagakure]
The opening of the Kazekage Administration Dome leads up a flight of stairs, into the lobby of the expansive building. Looking upwards, the entire building is open to the sky. Each floor is a ring, built with a hole in the center to allow a view both upwards and downwards. It is a very impressive sight, with many people visible moving around the upper levels, and stopping to chat around the railings.
The lobby has a tiled floor, with a intricate concentric circular pattern, and the walls themselves have been actually painted, and have designs etched into the hardened sand. The only piece of furniture on the first floor is a desk, and directly behind that, a stair case moving up to the next level. On either side of the desk are Male guards, their faces covered, and a make secretary is seated behind the desk, ready to take any questions or arrange appointments.
No one proceeds to the upper levels without the secretary approving them, and in most cases the armed guards also check them out to make sure they are carrying no weapons. However, there are a few people who can walk back and forth easily without the guards checking them, although all of them must first speak with the secretary.
Ryoji has made his interest in becoming a member of the village known, and Kuoroke has decided he'd like to talk to the applicant. For this reason, he has invited -at least, that's what the paperwork says, though 'summoned' is the more accurate term- to one of the meeting rooms in the Dome. The meeting is scheduled early in the morning. The room is not particularly large, but still big enough to house a dozen of people around a long, elliptical table. Kuoroke, of course, sits at the head, furthest from the door, as he waits, a stack of paper to his one hand, writing utensils to the other, and a few folders further away. He is reading one of these folders as he waits for Ryoji to arrive.
Ryoji was summoned or so the flimsy piece of paper delivered to him had implied. It took a great deal of restraint to hold a straight face in front of the messenger long enough for him to lead. Many a pets were startled following that moment. After that the red-headed wanderer actually did his level best to get prepared before the meeting time, though the temptation to just burn the note and go about his day kept gnawing at him throughout his preparation time.
"Oh-ayo~ This is it, yus?" He asks after just short of bursting into the meeting room. If… When an answer is given to confirm his question, the Iga pokes his head back out to enthusiastically wave back at the reception lady (man?) before entering the room. Without his cane (for he figured they mess with it) or sensory organs fully active, the Iga's trek to his seating arrangement is a slow going affair. He had to make sure he didn't bump into the table or meander the wrong way by accident after all. A satisfied sigh later signifies the Iga readiness to begin.
"Yes, welcome…" As he sees Ryoji look for a seat, he offers some help in the way of spoken instructions. When he's finally seated, Kuoroke opens with, "Welcome. I apologize for the early hour, but I have a rather full schedule. I hope I didn't pull you away from anything important. Now, I understand you're interested in joining the ranks of Sunagakure and I have some questions for you before this goes into effect. Hm. First, a practical one - I understand you're visually impaired. There may be some paperwork in need of signing, or perhaps written materials I'd like to ask your opinion on… any suggestions on how to approach this issue?"
The easygoing air about the Iga quickly begins to drain away as Kurouke spoke. Clinical, straight-forward, professional. There's no way to complete hide the slight downward curl of his lips in response to the Kuroki's behavior. He tries, nevertheless, by way of propping his elbows on top of the table and interlacing his fingers together, palm down like his thumbs, and hands held closely in front of his lips. Kuoroke may note that his eyes too conveyed suspicion and unerringly were devoted directly towards his own if or whenever he looks up from his papers.
"Suggestions? Hmm.. now that's a funny word." He mused aloud. "But, no, merely pass along the materials that require signing or reading to me, if that is alright. 'Impaired' though I am, I would not be requesting joining the ranks of Sunagakure without having developing a personal method to handle such matters in… normal, settings. Like this one." He says evenly, smiling with his whole face. The whole effect makes him appear almost like a Kitsune.
The interviewer jots down some notes - notes which, while true, aren't at all connected to the conclusions he's drawing in his head. For instance, now he notes that there will be no problem with the Iga's paperwork because of medical reasons while mentally he remarks how his guest ignored his apologies. Probably a good sign. Or how he avoided being specific in that last question, something the councilman isn't particularly fond of. Kuoroke raises his eyebrows at that promise. "Could you elaborate what these methods are, please?"
Ryoji had anticipated as much but he still gave a false surprised look when asked the question. "Hmm… How best to go about that..?" He asked of himself, eyes closed and brows knitted as if to better increase his concentration. In part the act does become real. If Sunagakure had really done their homework then they would already know the answer their question, or at least in part. Without an exact accounting of what they knew however, the Iga chose to remain playing the fox, or cat depending on how perceives such things. "Touch. No matter how 'flat' something appears to be there are these subtle ridges. Now, while most with my 'affliction' tend to require more pronounced details in order to discern one thing from another. My senses are rather… sensitive."
He smirks. "In fact, if I were to touch your face and went across it once, not only would I be able to discern your herritage, but by taste, I could even break down your habits. Certain tics. Etc.. etc…" His smirk falls away into a crooked smile. "Granted, my accuracy in such sharp details is still wanton. Odds of seventy percent if I'm lucky. Fifty-five in regards to those whose previous life style is more foreign to me."
"I see." Kuoroke answers. "Good to know, that'll make matters considerably easier. Now, I think that's the end of the practical part, so we can get down to business. Let's see…" He shuffles some papers, looking for a form. "Here we go. The first question is rather obvious - why do you desire to join Sunagakure? And, to deepen that out, what do you expect from your duties while in the service of Sunagakure?"
Ryoji lofted a brow at the "I see." part but refrained from saying anything more. He just appeared simply curious if anything and was even willing to let his guard 'slip' by lowering his hands to chest level. "….." Plenty of answers floated about in the Iga's skull, and yet not one wanted to jumped to the forefront; thus, forcing him to force it. Sorta. "Experience and greater stability. Though mainly the former… Honestly Kuoroke-kun, I cannot answer your question in a satisfactory manner. I could try to define it for you and perhaps in that mind of yours you would work out a pattern of your own. However, it would be flawed and wouldn't cover enough." Ryoji cants his head to the side and offered a weak smile. "No offense intended, sir."
Another question not answered. This does not speak well for Ryoji. Kuoroke nods, his pen raised over the paper briefly before looking at Ryoji again. He doesn't start writing. "I'd like you to try to describe it. At the very least we'll need to know if your expectations and your intentions are in line with what reality will offer."
For the first real time since he has entered the room, Ryoji averts his gaze from the Kuroki and focuses it upon the wall across from him. "Stability. It's not something I could offer before, but it is this one hope to give someday." He says simply. "Experience…. Enslaved I was during my youth… To survive and thrive my dream was thus; if there not be pleasure offered in the obvious, perceive all experiences as so. Needless to say, it worked and I have never regreted it, though it, is ingrained at this poin." A soft chuckle escapes Ryoji's lips before his gaze wanders back to Kuoroke. "Life of a true shinobi will provide an ongoing series of new experiences. Even if most of your own would call the day-to-day dull… Satiated, Kuroke-kun?"
"I hear no mention of Sunagakure specifically in that." Kuoroke answers, jotting down 'reason: new experiences' and then looking up again. "Is there any reason you've elected to join Sunagakure, and not some other village?"
"Blood." He states as if the answer is obvious. "As much as I would have loved to experience more foreign perspectives on this matter. The call of this land to my blood supersedes that." He adds. Then started to run his hands through his hair, digging into the the scalp even. "It is in part for that reason why I did not mention Sunagakure in the first because it sounds… weird, to most. Too abstract. Even for the patriotic save those who claim it falsely."
"Right. Speaking of your relatives." Kuoroke apparently considers the answer sufficient for now, and segues into the next question. This one is oddly specific. "Have you met one Iga Sachiko or an Iga Akirasawa?"
So the truth finally came out. Clever Kuroki. Feeling spiteful, Ryoji's answer to Kuoroke's question is rather simple and straight-forward: "Yes, to both." If the Kuroki was going to pick at him, then naturally the Iga was gonna play his favorite game as well. Even if that meant ruining any chances of being accepted into Sunagakure's ranks. Granted, there /are/ other options. Not very viable ones, but still, options available to him.
GAME: Save complete.
Kuoroke is actually surprised by the answer, and a tiny bit of that bleeds through in his response. "Really? That's quite fortunate, perhaps a basis for your integration in the village. Could you share when and how you met them, and perhaps share your relationship to them?" He pauses briefly. "Perhaps your personal opinion, as well?"
Ryoji hadn't expected the surprise but he manages to take it in stride and keep his own feelings from shining through in his visage. "Doubtful," He admits with a nonchalant shrug. "Family though we be, close we are not. Connection? Closest being cousin Shun-kohai, sibling of Sachi-chan… As for the other well, I cannot honestly recall to clearly." For once the plain truth that admission. His detachment from the activities with the clan beyond what they give away is something he prided himself. Now, it'll be trouble perhaps. "Hmm… In passing when the bran—*winces*… in passing… before the formation of the villages. Iga Akirasawa." He says as he rubbed at his forehead.
"The other I met little over a few months ago. Nice enough girl, though our perspectives on the matter are vastly different… are they not?"
"I don't believe I've received a report - I'll have to ask her. A favorable report would do you well." Kuoroke answers. He looks over Ryoji for a while. "Hmmm, let's see. Ah, yes. If I were to discover that you were deceiving me, for any reason, in this interview… what would you say the appropriate action -perhaps, punishment- would be? Please, be elaborate, I would like to know your reasons as well as your conclusions."
Ryoji sighs tiredly. "That largely depends on the nature of the deception and topic at hand." He states flatly with a roll of his eyes. "Hmm… Thus far your questions haven't involved particular sensitive information beyond a couple of names. Neither of which shouldn't be that much of a hot topic… though, again, Aki's connection to me maybe an odd one." He levels his eyes back on Kuoroke, still bored looking. "Odd as unaware, with me being the unaware… Punishments though.. ho-hum." He says, stroking his chin curiously. "Disqualified for starters, barred for at least year, and monitored for six months. Why? A shinobi of that nature cannot be trusted, well, more so than those who have proven their loyality or are too young to have developed it yet."
With that out of the way, Ryoji takes a solid breath to refocus. "Barred with a timer? Obvious again. If I have ulterior motives and prove determined to see them through, the time limit would provide your intelligence officers an… opportunity to study me while I wait. No, not wait. But monitor my actions and attempts at 'greasing the wheels' for the future."
He snorts. "Lastly, Mon… oh, ah. Already explain that." There's more just waiting at the tip of his tongue, but being the smart young man that he is, Ryoji refrains from digging a hole. Deeper, hole.
"I see. Next question." Kuoroke pulls a piece of paper out of the stack, together with a brush and some ink. He shifts all of this in his direction. "While answering this question, please draw a picture of yourself… in any context you like. In the meantime, I wonder how highly you value that loyalty you mentioned: what would you think an appropriate way to handle a missing-nin is?"
Temptation again knocks on Ryoji's door. Thankfully, he manages to resist answering. This time, in anycase. "… As you wish," He says carefully as he took hold of what's offered. Incidentally, the paper is brushed back into the ink well and brush before he gathers those items as well. "Hmm…" Brush is ignored in favor of finger tips, wet all five on one hand, paper shuffled so that it's even in front of him, and then finally the first strokes are set into motion. "Variant. Something you well know… Mercy, preferable. Reasons discerned if possible to avoid future issues… hopefully." His fingers practically glide across the page, forming surprisingly smoothly drawn profile. Small though. Pinky and index mainly worked on it before he switched to what is presumably a full body picture.
"Colorful… Wasteful. Make use of'em in the end. Not just as an example. Too simple, barbaric… wasteful." Fingers are wetted once more before he presses on again. Compared to the profile pick that even had some shading included, the full body appears rough around the edges. Still, the Image gradually becomes clear with time. It's Ryoji at rest on some sort of wall.
"There's no value to be placed. Too many variants. Only loyalty with value to me is-…" He stopped at his chest, a black splotch over where his heart should be. "….. The heart should be followed. Acceptance of the consequences as well. Betrayal of what you serve should be punished in kind but… only if there's no further use of you… If possible."
Kuoroke nods. "A good view. I'll keep this in mind." Kuoroke considered the answer for a while. "Let's talk about your morals, then. Your barriers, so to speak. Is there any sort of mission, or situation in a mission, where you see yourself as refusing an order or an assignment on moral grounds? ANy situation where you'd question your superior's authority?"
The finishing touches is all that remains. The finite details that even professional artist might miss without plenty fo experience to back it up. Ryoji's is hard pressed not to snort when morals are mentioned. Truly a laughable word. "More variants. Always opportunities for that." He states softly more to himself than anyone else. "Sound in heart and mind at the bare minimum. If not, an order that is supposed to make 'logical' sense, such as the decimation of a village with the most rudimentary of combative abilities and plenty of non-combatants strewn about… hmm… ignored than, such orders. Timing however must be assessed as well. Impossible, to say." He groans before leveling his eyes on Kuoroke as fingers went through the final steps of their dance.
"If my blood must be burned, then the reason must be more then just sound at the surface. That's, all."
At Ryoji's final words, Kuoroke tilts his head to the side slightly. "If your… blood must be burned? An interesting expression. Could you elaborate on what you mean by it, pleas?"
"Blood." The final touch is set in place, completing the image in all its glory. Somewhere along the way his mind got away with him, because the main portrait was complete with a sunset, a wall, and dunes in the distant. All of it to Kuoroke might seem odly familiar…
"Is life. Perception of that in turn leads it being scene as something that can be corrupted. If its burn it will be destroyed normally. But since it is typically within, the fire can only come from within. A spark from the soul being sundered by an act most vile being commited… Blood must be burned, in short." He says simply. Then turned his gaze gradually back to the painting. "Murder is murder, thievery is thievery, torture is torture. Vile to bad and vile again. They cannot be escaped, but they should never be delivered freely. Viler they become… *headshakes*.. Anymore up your sleeves Kuoro-kun?"
"'Murder is murder'? Really?" Kuoroke wonders. "An interesting statement for a prospective soldier. I'm interested: where do you draw the line between murder, which as I understand is not acceptable to you, and killing someone in the course of battle, and, by extension, war? What is the deciding difference?"
Ryoji grins. "Your misinterpreting my words.. at least from my perspective." A simple non-commital shrug is offered. Followed by narrowed eyes and gaze being focused on the painting once more. "None. Murder is murder. However, as a 'soldier' you have to accept that *snickers*.. sorry, responsibility and consequences. My only stipulation is to avoid doing it blindly if possible. More trouble tends to follow along after in the end."
"You're not making them easy to interpret…" Kuoroke answers. "If I understand you correctly, you're saying you want to be informed of the reasons and decisions behind the orders you're given?" He raises his eyebrows. "What was so amusing? Could you share the reason of your laughter?"
Ryoji gave Kuoroke a deadpan look in response to the answer. Things would be so much easier if they could do some type of mind meld mumbo jumbo. Sadly, one of them might not come out so alright after. "Hai, if possible. But again, variants. Time, placement, predicaments. Troublesome things that would interfere with such transfers…. as for the laughter, well, from my recollection of certain observations. Most do not regard it as their responsibility as a shinobi, and this is regardless of age, until the moment in which they have to take down a former friend or… someone they befriended in order to gain vital information." He explains.
Kuoroke nods. "That will have to suffice, for now." He says. "Next question, then: I've taken a look at your biography but it's hardly comparable to the personal touch. Outside -and, I suppose, inside- Sunagakure, who do you consider valuable to yourself? Who do you have a meaningful relationship to, and why?"
Tension leaves Ryoji's shoulders when Kuoroke nods. It seems so far things were progressing as could be expected. More still remained however, so as soon as he felt the briefest signs of Kuoroke continue on, the Iga steels himself for it. His reaction is subtle but still there: The young man was taken aback by the question. "Iga, Atsuko. O-baa-cha… sama, as most regard her even outside of the clan. She raised me most of my life." He explains evenly, fingers entangled together as his hands rest on the table. "Within Sunagakure it would be her… and technically Watanabe Itami, though chances are you wouldn't regard our interactions as meaningful beyond distractions from the world at large at times. At least, that's how I've always perceived things." He grins weakly.
"Outside of Sunagakure there's only two. My cousin Shun who retired from active duty a few years back, as I'm sure your no doubt aware…. And Fujiwara Ei.." Ryoji weak grin transforms into a melancholy smile that has him staring off into space. A brief chuckle escapes his lips before he says, "My translator as my darling Shun has said at one point. And while I do agree to that to some extent. Ei remains only one thing to me… The love of my life."
Kuoroke listens, nodding and jotting down a few more meaningless notes. As soon as Ryoji's done speaking, he looks up and asks a question. He throws it out quickly, casually, like asking if he'd like some sugar in his coffee: "What if you were to meet her on the field of battle?"
The melancholy look in the young man's eyes quickly fade in the wake of the question. He knew what Kuoroke was digging at. Which in itself brought a brief flicker of disappointment in the Iga's eyes. Then admiration once he realized that it was similiar to what he would say as well. In the end, he chose to play ignorant in a way by asking, "In what context Kuroki? Friend or Foe?"
Kuoroke keeps his eyes on Ryoji's face while the latter works on an answer. When it finally comes, Kuoroke's answers is a single-word one, spoken with his eyebrows raised in surprise. "Either?"
"I see." Ryoji states plainly enough. A moment to focus is taken. After which time the Iga smiles broadly and says, "Friend. I cannot say I would welcome it, for who would want a love one to face the field of conflict. Then again, there are those nutters out there who enjoy nothing more than to spell blood alongside the very same companion they are deeply in love with. Resume, even I have been infatuated with a similar notion." He does not lie and in fact had tried to intensify Ei's training at one point just to satisfy said condition. That idea did not last long. Most definitively not in the wake of their rocky relationship.
"Enemy?…. I would ensure she is no longer a threat. Permanently if absolutely necessary. Though… at which point I will not be able to trust myself further. Perhaps I'll break splendidly. That would be.. interesting, to say the least. An experience I'd rather put off though of course."
Kuoroke nods, and moves on to the next question after a brief pause. "You mentioned knowing my colleague, Itami. What is your personal opinion of her?"
Ryoji raises a brow because he had been honestly expecting more. At least more scribbling or what have. Maybe Kuoroke had caught on to his sensitivity to sound too? Likely, but not a likely reason to stop now. In anycase, such thoughts are put on the back burner once the next question is launched. He smiles at the Kuroki with a big, broad, and very fox-like smile. "Ah Itami-chan. A lovely woman at that. If my heart had not belong to another I would've certianly pursued her more…. Fair, playful, loyal, kind to a point, tougher than nails, hard to read at times, beautiful, senious, smart, primal… In short, my opinion of her is that she is quite interesting. More or less if she'd allow me a taste of her too." His smile turns into a sly grin.
Kuoroke continues jotting down some stuff while Ryoji speaks - Ei's name, and some notes on how it's a good idea to keep them apart in combat situations. His opinion of Itami is reduced to 'highly positive on a personal level'. "Ah, glad to hear that." He says. "I suppose you won't be turning to me if you need the attention of the Council. I don't blame you…" a brief smile sounds in his voice. "I believe I'm out of questions for now… I'll present my findings to the Council and we'll see about advancing your dossier."
Ryoji grinned at Kuoroke's presumption about the future and just narrowly managed to hold his tongue on it. While the Kuroki wasn't all that far off in that regard, the Iga did had for the one before him. Most of which were of the surly or maddening variety. "Over so soon huh? Well, ah well." He rises calmly and pushes his seat back in. Then in an almost mocking manner, Ryoji bows fully at the waist before rising, beaming at Kuroki. "May the tides be in our favor." And on that mysterious note, Ryoji vacates the premises in much more swiftly manner then before.
Perhaps the red-head wanderer is more adaptable than he let's on. Just maybe.