Date: February 5, 2017
Tsugumi escorts Goh to meet Tatara, where he can disclose information about the missing Uchiha related to the Chronos Project.
"The Chronos Project - Resolutions with the Uchiha"
The Uchiha Clan's meeting hall, a spacious shrine with room for many to kneel on the floor on the various cloth pads available. The upraised platform at the far end of the shrine is where the Uchiha Clan Head would ordinarily sit, so that he (or she, in times past) would be looking down upon the others and they would have to look up to their leader, even when they are all seated. Whether they are seated today or not isn't known yet. Uchiha Tsugumi has requested a meeting with Uchiha Tatara, and brought Akuu Goh along with to explain the details.
Tsugumi tried to keep it all straight, but there was too much she didn't know, and she'd been quite exhausted after that battle in the woods. Even know, she squints around herself slightly, as though the lighting were dim, as she makes sure they are truly alone.
The sun is setting, bathing the Village and the shrine in hues of gold and red. The way it reflects off the rooftops of the Uchiha Village, silhouetting them, makes them appear like stones before the ocean, the waves catching the sunlight and turning the tide molten.
It's quite beautiful.
And a little bit better than a blur to the Jounin's eyes.
It had been a long, long time since Goh had entered the halls of the Uchiha meeting hall. Though his memory of his last visit is foggy given how long ago it was, he does recall that he was a Jounin enlisted within the Village walls during that time. Walking into the hall alongside Tsugumi, the tall figure glances around to note any changes that may have been made. With a lick of his lips he continues in, long strides carrying him forward.
The stunning display of colours that a Konoha sunset provides isn't wasted on the pickler, but greater things are on his mind during these times. With a glance about with his baby blues, the blonde haired figure places a hand on his hip.
"It's been a long time since I've been here." He comments idly to Tsugumi, standing just to her right. "And my first meeting with Tatara." A frown graces his expression. "I would have liked a better topic of conversation to start with, but I guess fate isn't always that kind."
Facing the opposite direction in the hall, Tatara stands with his arms folded over his chest as he looks over some of the decorations on the wall while he ponders some things over. A meeting so private it can't be held in a normal office generally indicates there are dark things at work, either dark deeds being done or dark deeds that need to be done. It may not be something any shinobi is fond of, but there are responsibilities in being a leader.
As the area is approached, the Clan Head turns to look at Tsugumi and Goh. Rather than make them walk the whole way, he would step down from the platform to meet them. That could also be a sign of humility as well, as he prefers to speak face to face rather than loom above them. "Welcome," he greets them as he approaches, offering a light bow of his head to each of them.
"Tsugumi-san," he says as he looks to her, taking note of the way she seems to be gazing at the world around her. He would ever so briefly frown before returning to a normal relaxed expression as he looks to Goh. "Nice to meet you. I am Uchiha Tatara, though I imagine you already knew that."
Tsugumi bows her head to Tatara and says, "Akuu Goh. My daughter and I ran into Goh-san during a mission, and he revealed some disturbing news regarding missing members of Kekkei Genkai Clans. He managed to save some, including Uchiha. He's an old friend, and I wanted him to be the one to tell you the details of his discovery." She gestures to Goh and steps back a bit to put her back to the wall and fold her arms. She'll keep her own counsel for now and wait until there's a reason for her to speak up.
Repeating what Goh told her would negate the purpose of bringing him here, and he might have more details than she can recall right now.
Goh tips his head in respect to the Uchiha Clan Head as he approaches, suitably impressed that he chose not to Lord over the two as the platform yonder was designed. "You imagine right, Tatara." The man comments with a smile. "I've heard of your appointment by name only, so it's good to finally meet you. I'm Akuu Goh. I was just saying to Tsugumi, I would have liked to have met you under better circumstances than this. But I guess now is as good a time as any."
With the small introduction from Tsugumi, he closes his eyes and nods a bit in gratitude for the opening. Opening his eyes slowly, he turns attention back to the Clan Head. "I guess I'll get straight to it. I recently completed an op that led me to an underground laboratory that had prisoners representing a lot of clans from all over the world. These were mostly unskilled clansmen. Children, or adults that had grown into non-shinobi roles. The Uchiha were among the clans represented."
Adjusting his stance a bit, Goh folds arms across his own chest. What follows is new information for Tsugumi, as Goh had chosen not to divulge this in front of her daughter. "A group of very uniquely skilled and strong shinobi known as the Boshoku are responsible for taking these clansmen. And with the cells harvested from their bodies, they were attempting to combine them all into one superior being. A sort of 'super' shinobi, capable of activating bloodline limits of all the clans it had represented within itself." He sort of lets that sit there for a moment, knowing that he's unloading a lot of information.
"Needless to say, I tore the lab down. I killed eight of the Boshoku members. Four managed to escape. All of the prisoners have been rescued and are en route back to their homes. The half-formed 'super' shinobi was obliterated."
Pause. "Any questions so far?"
"I believe I've heard the name before," Tatara says, pondering a bit as he glances between them. It is perhaps a bit strange that the youngest among this group is the Clan Head, but it seems to be more out of a sense of duty to him than superiority like in some that held the position in the past.
He shrugs at the man's next comment, saying, "Shinobihood does not always allow such luxuries as meeting only for social purposes." He glances briefly toward Tsugumi again as she speaks, nodding to her before he turns his attention back to Goh to listen to his tale.
There aren't many things that can make Tatara show emotions such as anger, but, as the Akuu tells his tale, the fact that members of his clan and others have been tortured and exploited in such ways causes quite a bit of anger to show on his face.
… and yet he collects himself and lets out a sigh. "… Even with this destruction, being that there are more of them, there is a possibility that the one you found wasn't the only lab in existence, which means there could be another prototype… No questions. Go ahead."
Tsugumi speaks up briefly, adding on, "I had considered the possibility they might have been connected to the group we were previously calling 'The Bombers', due to their Toujitakumi membership. They had ninja of multiple clans and countries affiliated with them in the end, and an interest in acquiring Kekkei Genkai. My co-captain even led a mission in which one of them tried to take my daughter's eyes." Tsugumi's eyes narrow slightly, all the anger she shows, but her words come out cold rather than hot. "She almost died, and because of the collaborator they had, Moroi, my husband…"
Tsugumi's anger fades as she looks down at the floor. She collects herself, then says, "This is only a hypothesis of mine right now. Goh-kun seems to know more about them than I do. But I have to wonder if they might not have been using the 'Bombers' to gather information and identify potential candidates for abduction, the same way the Bombers were using Moroi. I'd like to work with Goh whether there's evidence of that or not. But it might be a good idea to see if any other strange organizations have cropped up in other countries, who might be getting used as a diversion for this Boshoku to abduct people without being noticed."
She then goes quiet again and lets Goh resume his tale. The talk of a 'super shinobi' is as chilling as it is ridiculous. The idea that being a ninja could be genetic, instead of just the traits that make being a shinobi useful, is the part she thinks is a silly philosophy. But the idea that someone could make someone or something that knows nothing BUT being shinobi, a new life form that is the embodiment of that same philosophy and can use abilities from many Clans? That's the part that scares her.
Shinobi are already treated as human weapons. The world does not need a literal version of such.
"Exactly." Goh echoes Tatara's final comments with a nod of approval. "The way I see it, there are a few things that could happen from this point. The remaining members of this group dissolve and disappear into the wilderness. De-spirited and void of morale. Or, yes, they rest, recover, recruit and try something crazy like this again." His fingers tap his shoulders through folded arms.
"I'm going to be pulling a few strings and trying to track these guys down to try and eliminate them all once and for all. But there is absolutely no harm in keeping an extra set of eyes open. Ideally, I think the fewer people know about this the better. Like I told Tsugumi, if this becomes public knowledge, people are going to immediately slip back into their old ways. Clans will blame each other. Possibly even other Villages. All the work that's been done to stabilise peace would come crashing down." He waves a hand a bit, more so to just calm himself down.
"Every clan in every Village has been fooled. No-one knew anyone was missing. I suspect an extremely high level clone technique has been used, substituted into the place of the missing person…or perhaps the family of the missing shinobi have been placed under a genjutsu, thinking that everything is fine. I don't know. It will be interesting to find out, though."
With that, his arms drop from his chest. "I'm going to inform the Hokage of this too, obviously. But since the Uchiha clan is quite… uh, seperate from the Village, I figured you should know about your own clansmen from me first."
Clearing his throat, he exhales. "That's it." Pursing his lips, he rolls his head around to stretch his neck as the female Uchiha talks. "I'm not familiar with the Bombers. Those events happened during my time away, but I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that two rogue organisations could work together. Especially if there are mutual benefits gained." He shrugs.
Tatara glances between Tsugumi and Goh as they speak, taking in the information and theories they provide intently. He frowns slightly at the mention of the Uchiha being separate from the rest of the village but nods. "As unfortunate as that is, it is a condition I am working to rectify."
"It is wise to share this with as few people as possible, I agree. As wide-reaching as some underground organizations can be, there is every possibility that one with access to such powerful jutsu could have its claws in the others through informants, transactions, and such… And it's just as possible that moles exist within the Hidden Villages to make these kidnappings go smoothly and keep it so they are never the wiser. Some or most of these organizations could even be unaware they are being used in such a manner."
Tsugumi continues to listen, but she's simultaneously thinking about several other matters, trying to come up with a plan of action, considering if she has any contacts in other villages who might be of use, and so on. But one particular course of action stands out to her. "While I still want to work with Goh, and give heed to his intel-gathering efforts, there's an information source that might prove useful to us in determining if the Bombers were connected to Boshoku in any way. If we can track them backwards, finding out who was involved with whom, when, and where, we might be able to narrow down some suspects or hide-out locations."
Tsugumi continues to look down at the floor. "I'm sure he's already been interrogated thoroughly, but I wasn't privy to the results of such. I need permission to interrogate him personally." She looks towards Tatara very calmly, but also very hollowly. "I'd also like permission to use any methods deemed necessary to get answers."
"I have very little doubt that Villages have 'eyes' in other Villages. Just to keep a tab on what's going on. That's normal. But to think it could happen from a rogue group. It's just… I dunno. It feels like a lot of effort has gone into the formation. Each member has specific skills designed for a specific task to help the end goal." Goh wrinkles his nose in thought again.
As hands go back to his hips, attention goes to Tsugumi as she speaks. His eyes narrow just a smidgen at the mention of interrogation. Particularly the 'any means necessary' part. Yet he says nothing. He will leave that part to the actual professionals.
Bowing his head to Tatara, and then to Tsugumi, he takes a step away. "Like I mentioned, I need to inform the Hokage of what has happened. It was good meeting you, Tatara. If you have any more questions, just come and find me. Thanks for setting this up, Tsugumi. I should be in the Village for another few days if you want to catch up for anything." A pat is given to the females shoulder as he moves to make his leave, stepping out of the hall and into the evening that has recently dawned.
Listening to the other two speak, Tatara would continue to glance between them. When Tsugumi makes her request, however, his eyes lock onto hers rather intensely but briefly before he looks back to Goh. "Understood. Thank you for coming, Goh-san. It has been a pleasure."
Once he is certain the pickler is gone, the Clan Head looks back to Tsugumi and studies her for a moment. "… Are you certain?" he asks simply enough, giving a long pause before he continues. "I realize it needs to be done, but this goes well beyond concern for the safety of the village and the clan. Desire for revenge can cause one to do things they think they won't. Despite our cold reputation, our clan is a passionate one, which is a lot of the reason we seem so cold at times because we pour our hearts into all that we do and love. It can also lead us down a path so dark few would ever tread when those things fail or are taken from us, as we've seen with Madara and those like him. Most do not venture back into the light until it is too late because every path they think might redeem them by trying to bend the world to their will only leads them further into darkness."
Another pause is given for his words to sink in before says, "It will take me some time to make the arrangements. I really want you to weigh this decision whether you or another should carry out this task. I will honor your request either way, but please take your time to consider what I've said."
Tsugumi nods to Goh, offers him a smile to try to soothe him, perhaps having noticed his slight reaction to her words. "We'll have that ramen sometime. Remember, you promised we'd eat together." Only once Goh is gone, does Tatara speak on the matter she brought up. She listens to him, looking down at the floor once more. At the end of his speech, she says, "I'm aware of all of that, Tatara-san. There is reason why I did not attempt to involve myself in his interrogation before now. But it has to be me." She turns and looks the Clan Head in the eye.
Her gaze is sure, and clear, even if her vision is not. "There is no one else in this entire Village who can do it. If you'd like to be there when I do it, or have someone else there as an observer, feel free. But I recommend they be someone trustworthy. Someone who can report only on conduct and results, and nothing else. Because we've already had our best interrogators working on him. If there's anything else left to gain from him, it's buried so deep that no normal methods can dig it up."
Tsugumi takes in a deep breath and lets it out. "I've seen where that path leads. It's why I worry about my daughter potentially going down it. Vengeance will achieve nothing." She shakes her head. "No, I'll keep my personal feelings separate. This is about making sure no more innocent bystanders get taken out from under our noses. No more of our Clan, or any other. We have to stop them quickly."
Tatara's eyes remain directly on Tsugumi as she speaks. He studies every expression and every word she speaks, judging her resolve for himself as she does do. While he would empathize even if she did desire vengeance, he must remain objective and level-headed.
Once she has spoken her peace, a long pause is given for thought before he finally nods. "I am satisfied with your answer. The arrangements will be made, and you will have my support in this endeavor. May it find a quick resolution that we may bring swift justice upon those who seek to harm our comrades and our kin for their own purposes."