Date: April 21, 2011
Preparations for a complex mission being undertaken by rather not-complex minds are made.
"Return Of A Hero - Treatment Plan"
Raikage Training Area - Kumogakure
'Business as usual' does not describe the situation that Kumogakure and the Land of Lightning as a whole are going through right now. It has been weeks since the unrest initially began. With the war between the Land of Fire and Land of Water overwith, the shinobi from Kumogakure have returned home, and once all reasonable medical aid and resources had been provided, the providers also returned home. And yet, the unrest has barely subsided at all. Kumogakure has, thus far, remained mostly clear of the conflicts between the Lightning Daimyou and those associated with his rule, and the mercenaries and revolting civilians and so forth that are causing trouble all over the place. However, skirmishes between Cloud ninja and 'revolutionaries' (and their illegal weapon-equipped supporters) have been occurring more and more often. Some contracts have even been from Land of Lightning officials who need ninja escorts to protect them from attackers, assassins, and highway bandits of various kinds.
Takahashi Raiko, the Raikage, has been reluctant to pursue jobs directly connected to stopping the uprisings, but while she has delayed, deflected, or sought peaceful resolutions through discussion (or trickery), she can not outright ignore jobs offered to the Cloud Village. They need money as much as the next Hidden Village. However, simply being a victim of forces beyond the control of a single woman, or even a single Hidden Village, is not something that Raiko finds acceptable. She wants to know where the Artificial Ninjutsu weapons and devices are coming from, who is responsible for the manufacture, and further… Who is >really< behind this sudden 'revolution'. Just as Yotsuki Raiga had told his former student, the revolts were >not< dying down after the war ended. Someone was >driving this chaos and unrest forward< — someone staying behind the scenes, and orchestrating what might become a civil war, for some as-yet-unknown purpose.
Raiga has suspicions about who it may be, but little evidence. He initially suspected it might be the same one responsible for the destabilization of the Natural Energy flowing through the world. The unnatural weather patterns and unnatural disasters were all connected. Someone was responsible, though whether it was >intentional< or not is still up for debate. However, Raiga can not be sure that the effects have reached this far north yet. The Land of Lightning seems to be relatively stable in terms of Natural Energy. This does not mean that the responsible party or parties for the disturbances are not here and behind the uprisings, but it >does< mean that the chance exists that it is an entirely seperate group or individual.
Someone wll have to investigate. This mission will be dangerous and require subtlety and careful consideration. But Raiga is not exactly the most subtle of ninja and thus he is recruiting those who might be better than he at 'melding' with the masses. Hoiishime is one such person. As a healer, Hanma Hoiishime is likely to be a welcome sight to the beleaguered peoples of the Land of Lightning. He can use the trust afforded him by the people to learn what their problems and concerns are, and perhaps gain information that would be kept secret if someone else were to inquire.
Mitsuomi is intended to be 'support firepower', obviously, but he is also supposed to serve a less combat-oriented purpose. By becoming known to the people as a defender of the innocent, Mitsuomi can gain their support and wield considerable influence in regard to decision-making amongst civilians, by advising community leaders to give up armed rebellion and to present their issues to the Daimyou and his court peacefully. Mitsuomi may not be exactly the 'diplomatic' type, but then neither is Raiga. There are more ways to lead than simply through pretty words and being polite. There is also leading by example — as well as being an inspiration to others through the strength of one's spirit. Persevering where others would give up, struggling on where others would die, standing in the way of menaces that others would flee from — these are things that Mitsuomi can do.
And Raiga is counting on Hoiishime and Mitsuomi both to fulfill their roles to the best of their abilities. Even so, however, there is a large gap between thought and action. If the skills of these two are not up to the task when the time comes… They may wind up as casualties instead of saviors — martyrs instead of heroes. Raiga considered very briefly that sacrifices might need to be made. Perhaps a martyr to rally around might be just what is needed to obtain peace. But he is not willing to give up anyone else's life for that purpose, and has felt shamed by that brief, stray thought ever since.
Hoiishime and Mitsuomi have been called to the Raikage's Training Area to receive special instruction and training, as well as to take part in strategy planning. It is evening, and the sun has long since vanished behind one of the many peaks of the mountains Lightning Country, even if it would have still been visible on the horizon in other lands. It is dark and cold, as it usually is in the mountains. Spring is here, however, and there is plenty of flower fragrances in the air, and it is considerably warmer than in winter.
Raiga stands in the training area, inside the administration hall, repeatedly tensing and releasing his muscles. He starts by doing all of them at once, then he chooses specific sections of his body, then he switches to specific individual muscles. Finally, he starts at his feet and causes a 'wave' of tensing to spread from his toes all the way up into his head. The tension instantly vanishes as soon as the wave passes, so only a horizontal 'line' of muscle is tensed at any given time, rather than tensing and staying tensed until they are all relaxed at once. This sort of muscle control is not the key to phenomenal cosmic power, but it is a useful method of training and maintaining strength and conditioning without having to move around a lot.
Mitsuomi arrived. His usual garbs would suffice. If he didn't change for his master then he wouldn't change for Raiga. He did have to wonder why he was called to this area. Especially by Raiga no less. In the end this village usually left him be to his training outside the village in the mountains. He strongly doubted this had anything to do with the long forgotten tournament and the fight with Kishi Mune. Though, he wouldn't mind seeing her again in all honesty.
As he began to go up the path he sighed. Thinking here and now was pointless, and to think of it thinking was never his strong suite to begin with. His muscles made better decisions, and insanity made them work when it was needed. A small amount of anxiety ran along his nerves as he thought about meeting the legend that was Raiga. While no special reverence was held…this man trained the Raikage. The believed strongest shinobi in the village.
The end of the path neared, and Mitsuomi's muscles were tense. Something in the air was making his nerves dance beneath his flesh. A small turn of his head showed, at least for now, they would remain hidden. Their call silenced. With a heavy sigh, he resigned himself, and entered to stand before Raiga.
A serious look spread across his face to hide his emotions quite well. When he was certain of his voice it came out in a deep boom. "Kumogakure's Double Impact Mitsuomi reporting!"
The thoughts of the people in regards to ninja and the like, were always either lingering upon, or completely dwelling in the negative. Very few figures in history, ninja whose power and ability only paled in comparison to their honor and dignity, were kept from being caught in that storm of distrust and fear. Women like the Raikage herself, Takahashi Raiko, and men like Yotsuki Raiga, were some how able to thwart such through deeds of honor, skill, and self sacrifice the likes most ninja never will know. It was only through the coming of a means to shave ninja out of the picture as protector and the most powerful that many villager and those of non-ninja ability now feel empowered.
Hoiishime, from many of the monks at the shrine, as well as those villagers whom he acts a spiritual guide to now have a common saying. The 'Age of Ninja', is now coming to a close. Needless to say, for a ninja who has always been caught on the fence of both sides, this could not be more disturbing to Hoii. He was both a monk, and a ninja. Non-personal, and a trusted servant to the cause of Kumogakure. He could feel the need for the villager to want to protect themselves, not just depending on ninja. His own grappling style was meant as a way to give that need. Apparently however, even he understood that the Shime Style of Grappling he had learned as a base, was not enough alone to counter Ninjutsu.
Raiga's call was answered quickly, but not without some reluctance. Hoii seemed to grasp the urgency, even preparing himself to let Raiga know of the concerns of the people, not as an informant, but as a guide to understanding. Meanwhile, as a ninja, he knew of what worth lied in the information he had to share and retrieve and how his role was quite integral in this matter. On a larger scale the concerns of the people could not be ignored. For it was for there concerns and more that the Hidden Villages were formed in some places.
Hoiishime's arrival was shortly after Mitsuomi's. This was the Genin's first time at the training grounds of the Raikage. He was enthralled, but not enough to be caught unattentive. He was lucid and clear thinking, but like any kid facing something larger, Hoiishime felt himself smaller than his job. He would bow to both his sensei in the Iron Body style, and his sensei in the philosophy of Chakra, and then wave in a cheerful greeting. "I be ere', senseis'. Hanma Hoiishime, servin'."
Raiga finishes his muscle-tension exercise a few second after Hoiishime arrives, leaving them both without a response until he has concluded the task he set before himself. Some might see it as rude not to drop everything one is doing to greet and/or accomodate people one has asked to be at a certain place at a certain time, but people who are offended that easily are rarely those whom Raiga will have great concern about. He can understand their feelings, but he does not agree with them.
If he were asked why he left Mitsuomi to stand there while the tall, dark-skinned man tensed and relaxes his muscles over and over, until >after< Hoiishime entered the room, he would simply say, 'I believe in completing any task I set for myself. I do not give up. I do not make a token effort. There is no half-way. If I do not intend to complete my objective, whether successfully or in failure, I do not even begin.'
Of course, Mitsuomi might not bother to ask that question. If he does not, then clearly he does not hear about this philosophy of Raiga's. Either way, he nods his head in acknowledgement once his exercise is over with. "Welcome, both of you. It is fortunate you made it here so swiftly. We can begin the business at hand immediately." Crossing his bulky arms over his broad, scarred, and bandage-wrapped chest, Raiga explains, "A very special mission has been given me by the Raikage. It requires the utmost discretion and is >not< to be discussed with others outside of those identified as participants in the mission. It does not matter how close you are to someone. If he or she is friend, family, or the love of your life, for the safety of ourselves >and< those whom are important to us, we must >not< reveal the details of this mission. If you have a personal code, vows, or a nin-do that interferes with your ability to keep silent on this matter, then let me know now and you will be dismissed from the mission's roster."
Looking back and forth between Mitsuomi and Hoiishime, Raiga's steel-grey eyes search each for the most minute indicators of body language — he even searches the feel of their Chakra for hesitance, chaos, or lack of focus. "There will be no shame in withdrawing if it would compromise your values as human beings to engage in a mission of this secrecy. As well, there are others can be found to replace you on the roster."
Mitsuomi looked to Hoiishime for a moment as he entered. This was almost too funny. He doubted that Raiga knew that Hoiishime was his student of sorts. A master and pupil being contracted for different reasons obviously to attain the end of something secret.
Without shifting his stance Mitsuomi couldn't help but answer to the muscle flexing with a bit of his own. His muscles bulged in place as he continued to watch and listen to Raiga. It wasn't the rhythmic show of Raiga's exercise, but instead a mere demonstration in the mass of his might. After a moment he released the tension and rolled his neck slightly.
Again the deep voice emanated from his throat, "I understand, and accept. This will be done." No hesitation ran through his mind as he spoke. Though something deep in him stirred. Insanity was excited, and it was trying to rise up in him. Again, he felt his nerves dancing under flesh. Excitement could be a bad thing for him, but he would control it as long as he could.
The exercise was done, Hoiishime having waited patiently. For the monk, his own humility would not let him be judgemental of Raiga. Like any kid who admired a hero, Hoii usually just took pointers and looked on in awe. He stood now amongst two Adonis's in the ninja world. Men whose physical attributes practically defied the laws of medical science. The way these men were each built, neither one should even be standing and living. And yet, both men trained him in what ever they had known. Hoii was estatic. "Ain't da first time ya be askin' me a question like dis, Raiga-sama… I be roun' for worst ya know." A bow of agreeance and servitude was made. Maybe Hoii trusted Raiga too much. Maybe Hoii was overconfident.
One thing was certain however. Hoii knew why all was being demanded. This situation was one of dire circumstance in a way more 'social' than private. Not to many people could be trusted, and yet so many people could be effected.
Raiga nods and lets out a low grunt of approval. "Very well, then. Our mission is to ferret out those causing dissent amongst the civilian populations of the Land of Lightning, to find the source of the Artificial Ninjutsu weapons that these 'mercenaries' are equipped with, to end the threat of a civil war or uprising within our country, and most importantly of all… We should be trying to resolve the problems and concerns of our nation's people that allowed someone to manipulate them to begin with. Concerns and fears about one's government are one thing… But leaping into an armed rebellion as quickly as they did is not something that would have happened if they did not already have severe issues with the state of things. Someone preyed upon their fears, doubts, and frustrations, but if those issues did not exist to begin with, there would have been nothing to manipulate."
Raiga looks towards the shrine at one end of the room. "We need to do more than simply quell the chaos and those attempting to profit from said chaos. We must seek the instigators — the ones >truly< responsible for the suffering of the common man and woman." Raiga glances back to the two ninja he called here, and thinks that giving an analogy might be wise — at least for Mitsuomi, even if Hoiishime understands. "In essence, while we cure the venom that flows through the veins of the giant that is the Lightning Country, and while we seek out the serpent that introduced the venom into our lives, we must also find the fiend who is breeding snakes in a land that should have none!" Raiga uncrosses his arms. "Do you both understand? The root of the problem is deeper than what we are seeing now. We will likely have to >dig< for the answers we seek, and there is a good possibility that we may not >like< what we find buried in the deep, dark, dust and rot of the past."
Mitsuomi may not be the intellectual type, but the analogy helped. He gathered Hoiishime would be the snake handler to get a hold of the smaller serpents and silence their bite. He would be used to get past the army of serpents guarding the breeder, and then Raiga would destroy the breeder and the pits where these snakes grew. It sounded and seemed simple enough. Then again, snakes were easier than people.
With a slight downcast glance to Hoiishime, he almost contemplated a question, but instead stifled it. He didn't need to know how it was going to happen. All he needed to know was that in the end he would be needed.
"Raiga…this is going to be difficult. The fight at the end of this path is enough to give issue. To calm and quell the strife that has befallen the people is near impossible. In the end, if you kill enough of its young any mother will rise to seek retribution for its children. Wound it, and it will retreat to the safety of its roost. Perhaps that would be a more direct method to our issue. Take out the mercenaries and see where they flee to so that we may find the boss, and then destroy him?"
"Hai!", was said with a nod, with as much vigor as Hoiishime could muster. He wondered meanwhile, what this all meant to Mitsuomi. Surely, he knew how much his sensei was one not to speak in terms of solving a situation. Mitsuomi would more likely try to beat the answer out of everyone, including the civilians who were relatively innocent in the scheme of things. The analogy helped Hoii as well. At least he would not be explaining to Mitsuomi over and over again. That eliminated alot of potential work. But Raiga was not done yet. Hoiishime had alot of question that had remain unanswered through out all of the rumors he heard, as well as all the conflicts the villagers seemed to have with the village as a whole.
Mitsuomi's words spoke volumes. Hoii had understood it be only because he was having to deal with the villagers on a closer basis than either one of the villagers. Surely Raiga was compassionate towards the needs of the people, Hoii hoped, but what exactly were the ninja of the Cloud dealing with in this situation? "I be agreein' wit Mitsuomi-chou-sensei, but ere' be da ting… Just who be da mother in dis all? I tink it be a multi-sided angle we gon' need to dis' approach, and for dat, we need to know all the sides of dis situation."
"Sure… I be well capable of knowin' and seein' to da needs of the people, but, what we be knowin' da Artificial Ninjutsu Weaponry dat be usable against da threat? Do it be even usin' of Chakra? Do dey be havin' types? I don' be meanin' to seem dumb on da matter at hand… Its just alot until now dat even I don' be knowin' and dat I be feelin' might help get us to da mother of dis' all."
Raiga listens to Mitsuomi's suggestion, and then Hoiishime's questions. Hrmming, he says, "That is a good plan, but I believe that you still do not fully understand the situation… The 'venom' is more than just individuals, but the present situation as a whole. The conflict, the rebellion, the protests… >And< the mercenaries and their weapons. The 'serpent', in this case, would be the 'boss' who is directing all of this. The 'mother serpent', as you called her — or it, has likely been here for far longer than simply the duration of this recent series of unfortunate events. The mother serpent may be an individual, or a group thereof, or simply painful memories of the past… A history of bloodshed and hatred that did not end when the Clan Wars themselves did."
Raiga closes his eyes. "There may be corrupt government officials who have been making the people suffer with unjust laws and unfair treatment… There may be friends and family who fought and died for the freedom and lives of those who live in our country in the present and yet whom were never honored properly… There may be financial burdens being placed upon those who can not afford such… There are likely many, many factors that have contributed to the people being as full of bitterness and resentment, towards not only ninja but also the Daimyou and his court, as they are right now. This will not be a quick or easy process. But healing is harder than wounding."
Opening his eyes, a serious look comes over Raiga's face. "I will not ask that you seek out the ultimate source of the problems our country is facing. We need your help only for the current situation and finding the serpent in our midst. The one who is trying to foster war and conflict is the serpent. But I will not rest until I have done all that I possibly can to free our people from the shackles of suffering that they endure. It may be as simple as removing a corrupt official from the Daimyou's court… Or an even higher authority, for that matter." He does not elaborate on what 'higher authority' he is referring to, though it is clear that the Daimyou is the only one he could be talking about. "Or it could be a long, slow process of rebuilding the faith of our people in ninja and those who have been entrusted with their protection. I would appreciate any aid that can be offered in that regard, but again, I will not ask it of you. We all have our own roads to walk. Some will lead us on a path of mercy and compassion, and other paths may lead to a variety of destinations unique to each individual. Dreams, desires, duties… These and more can be the end of our journey. It is not for me or anyone else to dictate who will walk my road with me."
Mitsuomi looked to Raiga. Obviously, he wasn't grasping the finer straws of this matter, but the gist stuck in his rock hard head. He shifted a half step as he looked to Raiga. With the forward posturing his frame rose to attention, and his muscles rose to a greater height than before. Hoiishime, may know the cause of this as faint movements could be seen under Mitsuomi's skin. The insanity was still in check, but barely.
"I, Mitsuomi, disciple of the Iron Body, willassist as I can. I told you I would accept this mission, and due to the teaching which I adhere to…I can not and will not back down. This body will hold until the end even if it must be swallowed whole by the serpent. This is what I must do. I hope you understand what this means Raiga…You are setting forth with an indestructible shield to your right."
The deepness in his voice had an undertone to it. It could be any number of emotions that dwelled under that deep voice. Excitement, fear, uncertainty, determination, or any mixture there of. Even Mitsuomi wasn't certain.
With all that was said, Hoiishime took it all as was. Despite his nervousness at it all, the boy yet still had the patience of a monk, to listen to leadership and trust that in the end, good would prevail. The speech by Raiga definitely helped that out. He understood that in the end, there were going to be much larger concerns in this situation, but still there were guidelines that had to be followed, targets to be sought out and then a method to end the madness. Hoii stood along side Mitsuomi, as the strong man declared himself ready to meet the task honestly, with what he had. Hoiishime, had a different way of accepting this all.
"In da last few weeks, I be havin' to grow pass me own limitations, and get stronger for every task at hand, Raiga sama… I don' be havin' the physical strength of you and Mitsuomi-sensei. I tink me heart be as big though… and me Will of Lightning be just as swift… I do promise wit all me compassion, all me understanding, and wit much of me obediance, dat I, Hanma Hoiishime, Medical Ninja of Kumogakure, Monk of da Jinrai Shrine, student of the Shime Style Grappling, and third in line in the Iron Body style, will rise to da occasion at hand!!"