Date: September 2, 2010
"It was a dark and stormy night…" That's how this story starts. Cliche, right? Well, after the beginning, NOTHING will be as expected…
"Shadow Play - Subterfuge"
Meeting Hall - Konohagakure
It is night, or at least late evening. Clouds have been gathering throughout the day, darkening and indicating quite clearly that precipitation is incoming. And that indication turned out to be quite true. Rain pours down from the sky as though someone had slashed at the heavens with the Totsuka no Tsurugi and made the Home of the Gods itself bleed.
The streets of Konohagakure are awash with leaves and detritus. However, thanks to the environmentally-aware policies of this Village, there is precious little human trash and refuse to dirty the walk ways. Further, a highly-efficient and well-planned sewer system directly the water into the roots of various plants instead of dumping it into a local water supply, ensuring that the trees and various other flora have plenty of fuel to live and grow.
Few are outdoors at this time of night and in this weather, though those who are generally have ponchos or umbrellas to shield them. The Ninja Academy is closed by now, though janitorial staff, teachers, and any other officials who might need to come here for whatever reason likely have access, either by key or by being allowed past the security fence by someone already within. A visitor to the Academy arrives, however, who is not entirely expected. She is allowed in with minimal fuss, though there is a (very) brief discussion regarding her presence and her need to enter. The janitor at the fence is not engaged in any conversation beyond what is needed to get inside, however. Soon, Uchiha Fuyu is standing at the door that leads into the Meeting Hall.
She brought no umbrella or poncho, so her ebony hair is slicked down a bit by the downpour she has just come in from, and droplets fall from the tips of hair strands, and various other parts of her body and clothing. In her right hand there is a medium-large bag held loosely by a leather strap. Unlike her usual (or at least public) behavior and mannerisms, the thinly-veiled hostility and anger that she normally radiates is absent. Her expression is remarkably neutral, infact — almost dead of emotion. Her left arm raises, hand curled in preparation to knock on the wooden frame of the shoji (rice-paper doors) of the Meeting Hall. She waits a couple seconds, and then her hovering hand completes the motion. Knock knock.
Finger tips grasp at what glaring stranges of chakra and life force remain as it quickly dissipates into the incoporeal and is absorbed by the seal along the wall. Natsuki's face burned in to his memory as she sacrificed all that she had and more for his success, his dream and desires. He would sit up rapidly, a fist held tightly white knuckle at the thin air as he was covered in a cold sweat. He barely has time to realize where he is before the knock comes. Glancing at the door, he would roll from his make shift bed that was the meeting table and tuck the emergency blankets under the table itself. He was robed and with a bit of an extremely minute release of fire chakra, he created a bit of steam fro mhis moisture, giving the room his subtle musk as well as a look to him that appeared more freshly showered than nightmarishly provoked into moisture.
Making his way to the door, he would adjust his glare to be less… threatening. It was easily something he had mastered, and utilized for alot of things and dealing in his life. "Come in." he would state mere feet from the door way, currently unarmed and armored in any way. Perhaps his disregard for his own safety was due to groginess, self assurance, or he simply was caught off guard by such a visit. Regardless, he was behind the door awaiting his guest.
The door opens a moment later, once the voice of Rainos is heard. Fuyu slides it to the side without either urgency or hesitancy. Standing there, silhouetted against the meager luminance of the hallway from one of the few electric lights that is turned on this late at night, the current Uchiha Clan Head remains where she is for the moment and looks into the darkened room. Her left hand remains raised, resting on the frame of the sliding door. Her eyes find Rainos in the murk easily enough, if her hearing and other senses had not done the job adequately.
"You look like hell," are the first words spoken into the long, awkward silence between the two Uchiha. She then stays where she is for a moment before stepping into the room and twisting at the waist a bit so she can close the door behind her. "What are you doing in here alone in the dark? Brooding? I hear brooding in the dark makes you look like hell. Causes eyestrain too. Bad for your vision."
"Appearances are only important for those that cannot see beyond them." Rainos would reply as he allowed Fuyu in. He held himself as if he were a bit tired, which isn't too surprising. "Only a fool believes a picture defines a person." Inhaling a bit deeply, he would glance over towards the table for a moment. "I was not brooding, and the darkness as you should well know has no effect on my vision." Regardless of night vision not being part of the Sharingan, eyes that pierce the darkness was often the last thing an enemy would see. He would look at her with a slight expedience, mostly to see if she was armed. "Your mood is… less flamboyant this time around. I almost miss seeing your fire, but i know it is there somewhere. Atleast, i hope so. It would be a shame if all of that stoking of your flame caused you to snuff out in the end. Which brings me to… why are you here?" Having checked her out, she appeared to be clean, but a kunoichi was most deadly when she appeared the least prepared.
Fuyu stays by the door and listens to Rain's words. Her own Sharingan is not active, but she can still make out the fact that he has given her the once-over in terms of checking for weapons and such. She DOES still have that bag in her right hand, but there are no sounds of jingling metal or anything coming from within. SOMETHING is clinking around in there, but it does not sound like any conventional weapon that Rainos would be familiar with — even with his perhaps extensive experience with various kinds of weapons.
"Trying to sound wise and philosophical again, huh? Just so you know, that sort of thing only impresses the ignorant masses. The rest of us sort of tune it out. I'm not trying to sound flippant either. But like you just said… Appearances aren't everything. And whatever appearance you provide to THEM…" She jerks the thumb of her left hand over her shoulder to indicate Konohagakure in general, or perhaps the world in its entirety. "…Does not need to be provided to ME in private."
She hmms and considers how to respond to the rest of what Rain said. "And on that same subject, my mood the last time we spoke was an appearance. Nothing more. The reason I am here is simple: we need to talk. Specifically, we need to talk about my future, your future, and the future of the Uchiha." She then holds up the bag in her right hand. "And I've brought something along to make sure you WILL talk."
Rainos looked Fuyu dead in the eye as she spoke of getting to the point, and making sure he talked. There was no chance that she had the one thing that would cause him to be still outside of his own will. He knew where and what that was, and she was likely uteerly without an idea, as the rest of the world was for the time being. "Oh? The Uchiha, yourself, and I?" He would ask slowly as he'd pull out a chair and gesture towards it before taking one for himself and sitting facing the other chair. "It seems that you have all of the cards, it is time to deal them."
Fuyu shrugs and walks casually over to the table, sitting in the indicated chair without any sign of the tension and preparedness for combat/trouble that she has displayed before. Then again, Rainos never really knew to what degree Fuyu was paranoid about things in the first place. Perhaps, as she claimed, she was merely putting on an act in the presence of others. And she HAS been in the presence of others every time the two of them have met so far. But now that they are alone?
The dark-haired woman sets the bag down on the floor next to her, then opens it, before reaching inside and rooting around with one hand. If she plans to launch an attack or draw forth a weapon of some kind, the next few seconds would be the likely time to do it. And yet when she withdraws her hand from the satchel, it is not holding a weapon, but instead something long, sleek, and narrow towards its top. It's a bottle… But of what?
Fuyu places the bottle on the table, and then says, "I've been saving this for a special occasion… Ever since I took it from some goons trying to smuggle weapons to a Clan we were fighting during the Wars. I guess one of these 'merchants' had somehow gotten into possession of this either by stealing it or buying it from someone else that stole it." She then takes the bottle in both hands and tilts it carefully so that Rainos can see the lid. Stamped on it is a symbol he may or may not be familiar with — the crest of the Shirayuki clan. There are various small Seals in a circle around the crest. She then aims it away from both herself and Rainos, and begins to apply a very small amount of Chakra to the lid. The Seals on the lid activate and vanish, and abruptly a layer of frost forms on the outside of the bottle. The lid comes off and falls to the floor, clattering and rolling around until it comes to a stop.
Fuyu starts cursing in a most unlady-like fashion and quickly sets the bottle down on the table and then starts rubbing her hands on the sleeveless black shirt she wears, and the partial mesh/mail woven into the fabric over her chest. "Didn't know it was going to be that cold…" she mutters.
Rainos, likely for one of the first times in his life, is actually surprised. A brow quirks at the offer of the spirits, imported as they were. "I had only heard of the water being sealed in such a way… i never imagined that they would do so for more luxurious situations." He smiled a bit at the opening, the spillage, and the cursing that followed as he stood up and grabbed a towel that was on the other side of the room, tossing it her way. "It may get sticky if you don't dry properly." he'd note. Still, Rainos was not one to let his guard down for anyone to his strength or his fault. Women had their ways, and he'd not underestimate a woman in his "bed chambers". "So.. this is your trump card. I suppose i can spare you a few words if that is indeed your persuasion. However, while i know what it is you want to do, i do not know what it is you want." Rainos would state just as he sat down once more. Leaning over, he would pull at a drawer in the table, likely she would know of it being used to store pertanent documents during am eeting as to keep the table uncluttered, however, it apepared as if glasses were kept in it during Rainos' occupation. Seems he saw little need for the space for anything business related. Placing the glases atop the table, he'd wait for her to regain her composure. "It has been a long time since i have sat with an Uchiha that did not disguard the name due to the recent past. It is sort of nostalgic."
The 'spillage' was actually just the moisture that had been forcibly condensed and then frozen onto the outside of the bottle, but it melted readily enough, thus the illusion of having spilled something. When the towel is offered, she uses it to hold the bottle with the cloth wrapped around one hand, while she uses her other hand to force the cork out of the bottle. With a loud POP it goes flying.
Cold mist pours out of the now-open bottle, somewhat similar to dry-ice. "Yes… Well, this isn't all I brought, but this was my 'enticement'." Fuyu then reaches down and retrieves two glasses from the sathel, and places them on the table as well. Pouring the alcoholic beverage into the glasses reveals the startling fact that whatever wine or other drink this is, it is >bright blue<. Those crazy Shirayuki!
"Blueberry wine or something like that. Not really sure. I at least know it isn't poisonous. There was a second bottle that was broken open during the capture, and its contents were tested. Nothing toxic at all. But even so…" She withdraws two more things from her bag. A small, flat, metal box and also a file folder with papers in it. The folder is set on the table, but she opens the box immediately and withdraws its contents — two brown pills of some kind. Soldier pills?
She plops one pill in each glass, and they fizzle a bit but don't dissolve. "That will neutralize anything potentially harmful — or at least harmful beyond the standard side-effects of alchohol."
Regardless of the possible danger that it may present, as there is such a thing as doubel crossing, Rainos had specialize medical shinobi within Konoha, and he was certain Fuyu was aware of that at the very least. Given that any problems would be at the very least repeatable to some degree to them, unless it was instantly lethal, he would be fine. "A strange liquid indeed." he would raise his offered glass for a small clinging toast before settling back in his seat once more, awaiting her answer to his questions.
The woman picks up her own glass, as cold air visibly rises from the blue wine, and looks at it — but not at Rainos. She thinks about her answer for awhile. "What I want…" She then shakes her head, and sips from the glass. If it's poisoned, then she has just poisoned herself. If it wasn't poisoned, and that pill was supposed to do something, the same thing will happen to her. Since she seems not to be concerned as she finishes drinking some of it and licking her lips to clean the blue liquid from them, it is highly unlikely that it is dangerous.
"…I want to ensure the Uchiha remain." That seems a bit vague of an answer, and probably will require some explanation. And such is apparently forthcoming shortly. She focuses finally on Rainos. "Many Clans vanished during the Wars. I helped wiped out more than one. Now, the Wars are over… But the fear of our own Clan being erased, that I never even experienced during War, is strong. As you probably know already, Madara-sensei believed that the Senju would oppress the Uchiha, and perhaps even remove us from existence… And history itself. I believe as he did. But I have my own methods of ensuring such a fate does not come about. The Uchiha are strong, but to try to remain the only Clan in existence would be to attempt something very, VERY foolish. It would make certain we died. We should work with the surviving Clans — the ones that were strong enough or worthy enough to not be obliterated. Building a place we can live in peace, and grow in strength, WITHOUT giving up our ability to wage war, or our willingness to succeed at any task put before us… That seems like a worthy goal to me."
She turns her head to drink some more of the chilled wine again, and then says, "Of course, the problem is that we are not being permitted to achieve that future. The Senju DO rule over us for the moment. That needs to change. But tearing them down with violence is not the right way to do it — as much as it pains me to admit that. Likewise, however, waiting for the people to peacefully come to the conclusion they are being mislead is equally wrong. So I will show the people the truth by exposing the Senju and their conspiracies… Which means subtlety, infiltration, and patience. I can't simply stand up and declare the Senju traitors and tyrants. Not unless I want to wind up like… Madara-sensei."
"When people consider those that are not a part of something they understand, or that is as large as what they offered. When those people are refused, they consider the others outcasts or rogues. They do this, because it is easier to call them something else, then to understand that they chose a different but equal path. When i left with Madara, i knew exactly what that would make me to my clan and to anyone who knew of my existence in this village. However, I also knew that not everything can be done from the inside. War is not the answer, but conflict is. Finger pointing is not the answer, but exposure is. BLame wil lbe placed some where no matter if there is reason to place it or not. What will make the Uchiha weak, and the Senju strong, is complacency. What will ensure the demise of the Uchiha, and the contuniuance of the Senju, is this village." Drinking slowly from the glass, he would lean forward slightly. "Unlike most… our power is directly linked to how much we endure and suffer through. Our greatest strength, is the easiest one for others to control if WE choose to allow it. Do you know what i spoke to Kirin about before he decided… assuming he made the decision at all, to abandon Konoha? I told him… to send the Uchiha after me, where i would make them stronger in meaningful defeat than they would ever become in insignificant victory. He did not follow my instructions however." Rainos explained.
"I am not here to break this village. I am here to test it, and to retrieve what is mine. The test has been failed, and the future of this village is… dismal. I hope that the Uchiha do not sink with this Will of Fire that is so proudly spoken of but rarely acted upon. I am not here to destroy the Senju, or even to save the Uchiha. I cannot save them, they must save themselves. I can however… assist their survival." Rainos' eyes would travel down to the documents for a moment as he sipped more. "As i told you before… it is not within your power to choose. Your position… and what it would do to the security and trust of all uchiha in Konoha is at stake based on your decision, thus you do not have one but silence and obedience. I understand your plighty…Uchiha Fuyu… i know where you would be if you felt you had a choice."
Fuyu thinks over what Rain says carefully and at length. She does not interrupt, though she does occasionally nod to show she is both listening and agreeing. Eventually, after having drained her glass, except for that brown pill at the bottom, she puts it down on the table. Her hand movements seem to be a bit less accurate and steady than usual, but she otherwise is not terrible impaired-looking. "Hm. A bit stronger than I expected…" she mutters. Shaking her head, as though to clear it, she looks back to Rainos and says, "That is all correct. If I had a different option than to pretend to be the loyal servant of the Senju… Well, I would certainly take it. But at present, even if the Uchiha understood the enormity of the fate they are consigning themselves to by permitting Hashiramako to be the Hokage, they are being held hostage. Too many unarmed and untrained Clan members are living here. Too many agents of the Senju watch our every move to make sure we do not come or go or eat or sleep or BREATHE without permission…"
She grinds her teeth a bit, but turns her tone back to calm by breathing deeply for a moment. "To remove innocent lives from the grasp of the tyrants, and to place the reigns of fate back in the hands of the people — and the Uchiha specifically — there will need to be changes. Exposing the Senju and then replacing them is not sufficient. There will need to be something else… Some major upheavel that will lead to the people coming to the UCHIHA for guidance, not simply tolerating us, or seeing us as equals. They must WILLINGLY accept us as the only ones with the vision to lead ALL of us to a better future. The Village itself is not what I value. The establishment and the status quo are not my desire to sustain. But I will admit that, at some point in the future… The dream of our great ancestor who is spoken of in legend… The Uchiha Ancestor that knew that power was the true road to peace… I want that dream to become reality. Peace without weakness. Peace without complacency. There is no such thing as an 'easy peace', just as there is no such thing as 'free justice'."
Fuyu stands up from her chair, only slightly unsteadily. Her exceptional balance as a kunoichi permits her to remain standing, even though Rainos — who has probably had less of his blue wine than Fuyu herself — MAY be finding his own thoughts sluggish, his own physical movements increasingly clumsy, as though there were a delay between when he wishes his body to do something and when it actually does so. "Peace and justice are not intrinsic to the universe. They are something for which one must constantly strive." Then she actually SMILES and says, "That is not particularly fair, but then fairness is not intrinsic to the universe either."
"I disagree, with your last point." Rainos would stand without hinderance, not because he was unfazed by the alchohol, but because his sturdiness did not rely on the present, but the future. "Fairness is intrinsic to the universe, but the universe is unbiased when delivering what is truly fair. Humanity is the one that nit picks as to what they believe is fair and what they do not believe is fair." Rainos would swig the rest of his wine down his throat and remain still. His balance now mostly remaining due to lack of movement, or slow and pronoucned movements. "I had thought that i may have to display my point much more physically than i have, Fuyu. It is good to know that even if we end up disagreeing as to the how, we have the same thoughts as to what and why." Placing the glass back down, he would state, "You have not smiled once since Madara left, have you?" Perhaps it was the wine talking, but he did ask a some what personal question of the usually hard and heated woman. "Power… is our curse. I bare it fully. Madara was your master, but he was also the shadow that i chased in silence. I no longer chase shadows, i cast them."
Fuyu nods. "Perhaps that is true." The mention of smiling and Madara's departure, causes the smile to fade from her lips slowly. "No, I have not. Nor did I intend to until he returned… And I did not intend for him to return until I had accomplished something worthy of his respect. While I may have failed in the first case, I will not in the latter. While there is much work to do still…" She takes a couple of steps closer to Rainos, eyes locked on his, and then says quietly. "I feel that you may be one of the few people that I can dare to hope will bring about the 'Enduring Peace.' The Enduring Peace is what I call a future peace that is paid for by actually TRYING and BLEEDING, instead of sitting idle while others fight in one's stead… That will hopefully come about some day."
She looks over to the file folder on the table, and lifts her voice back to normal conversational level. "In that file there is information on a mission that sent a team of Konohagakure ninja to the northern reaches of the Land of Fire… To a place called 'Ankoku Cave'. It is a cave that leads into a subterranean network of tunnels, and eventually to the Valley of the End — the latter is a place renowned for its beauty and the power of its waterfall."
Moving back a few steps, Fuyu leans over the table and closes her eyes for a moment, thanks to her vision becoming blurry. Resting with both palms on the wooden surface, her shirt hanging in such a way that it is possible to see more than is perhaps decent through the armhole facing Rain, Fuyu seems to regain her senses and balance. Her eyes open again, and she stares down at the file folder, which has 'Classified' stamped on it and all kinds of various codes for storage and who-knows-what-else. "Ankoku Cave itself is… A disturbing place as best. It has always been that, but apparently in recent times it has become worse. The forest around it is dying from some unidentified contagion. A previous team going inside discovered there is some sort of… BEAST of some kind living in there. One made of pure Chakra. I think it might be a Tailed Beast, but I'm not sure. They managed to avoid actually meeting up with it, but it was a near thing."
She picks up the folder and stands up straight, before holding it out to Rainos, so he can see for himself the testimony, the notes from the squad leader, additional orders and information from the Hokage herself, and more papers that were added afterwards from… A second team's mission to the same place? "Then a second team was sent to investigate the cave itself, since that was not the mission of the first squad. They didn't even get past the first area of Ankoku before they had to withdraw. The emanations of this Beast had gotten stronger and more terrible. It was described by one member of the team as 'having nightmares while awake'. Akimichi Noab lead that squad, and it is likely that if he had not motivated the team to depart, they may have simply sat there and waited to be killed."
Fuyu turns to face Rainos again. "One last point of interest, to save you the reading, though you may want to do so for the details regardless… There was apparently some other individual or group that had gone into Ankoku Cave AHEAD of Noab's team. And from the sounds of things… They were fighting the Beast. No one has yet been sent to check up on the place and see what the results are. I just thought you should know… Because a place that steeped in pure evil… In MALICE…"
She closes her eyes again and speaks quietly once more. "…May POTENTIALLY be the current lair of the Nine-Tails."
Rainos listened, and he watched her, form and all, very closely. She moved more languidly, he watched with a much slower eye. A different place, subject, and time and this situation would have appeared and likely have been entirely different. Blinking slightly, Rainos would understand the majority of it, though it begin to fog. "The one that got away?" he would say curiously, moving to lean on the table as well. "It sounds to me as if you want to see if i can do something with this information… but i am not sure how this will help you at all." Moving his glance up to stare at her, he would know something was wrong by this point, but he wouldn't say anything. His concentration remained on either her stalling tactic, or her purpose. "Regardless of what is inside, it is a power worth understanding by those who can." he would proclaim to her easily.
Fuyu nods, though performing such a head motion seems to pain or dizzy her. Closing her eyes again, she opens them after a few deep breaths, seeming to steady herself. Then she says, "I will assume that Madara-sensei informed you of the Sharingan's true purpose. With that assumption in place, I will skip restating it. If what lies in that cave is what I believe it might be, then aside from Madara-sensei himself, you are the most qualified member of our Clan to seize control of it. And if it is something else…? Well, threat or prize, it will have to be understood and… Dealt with… As you say." Her words, though they remain unslurred, seem to be coming with more difficulty. More pauses interspaced within her sentences. A little bit more trouble completing a given line of thought.
Yes, something is wrong. But does Fuyu realize it? Were her 'antidote' pills ineffective? Or is the alchohol just THAT powerful and perhaps strange in nature that it is having an unpredictable effect? There is not necessarily any PAIN per se… Just grogginess and numbness and slow physical responses. She says outloud, "Whatever kind of wine this is, I wish I had known how… Strong it was… Beforehand. Would have had… Less of it. …Hope that Seal didn't… Introduce… Strange Chakra into it…"
She shakes her head and says, "At any rate, yes. The… Reason I am telling you… Is because you will soon be… Leaving Konohagakure. You said so yourself. This place has failed… The test you… Put before it." Licking her lips as though they were dry, she offers, "You do not wish to 'rule' this… Stagnating pit of… Complacency… So you will be leaving. One way… Or another."
Her eyes keep trying to close of their own accord, it seems. But then she snaps them open, looking clear and alert. "As I said… I believe you may be one of those that can bring about the Enduring Peace. And while I will not rely on you to do so, I will give you the opportunity regardless. If you succeed, it will be one more brick in the foundation of a new empire…"
She then turns and walks away, slowly, with measured foot placement. She may be functioning more or less normally again in terms of speech, but clearly this wine is still affecting her. Though perhaps not quite as STRONGLY as it does Rainos… "The Uchiha Empire." She says without turning around as she walks up to the Meeting Hall door.
She then turns her head to look over her shoulder at the so-called 'rogue' Uchiha. Her Sharingan is active. And unlike the last time that Rainos saw it, there are two tomoe in each iris, not just one. "…Please accept my apologies for this, Rainos. It is necessary to appear loyal to the Senju, and ingratiate myself to them, so that I will be in a better position to tear them down. You will be on the outside soon enough, and then you will be in a position to provide the 'challenge' that is needed to drive the wedge deeper between the Senju and this Village."
Then she knocks on the door wooden frame of the door twice with her knuckles, and then — after a pause — once more. The door slides open after the quiet padding of tabi-clad feet can be heard in the hall outside. Several Uchiha push into the room as Fuyu moves aside. "Restrain him as we practiced, and then place him in 'S' Confinement. If you harm him at all, it had best NOT be permanent."
Rainos was almost doubled over against the table by now, listening with little more than his open ear on the side facing her. As she explains the situation… both of them, Rainos didn't seem to move much, but he did manage to say hushed words to her before she would move to knock on the door. "Beware, Nuraku. I will not leave without what belongs to me." Raising up sharply, he would force a tiger seal, which normalyl wouldn't even be required, before exhaling a wide stream of fire towards those uchiha who come in after him. It was slow and pronounced, and it was not difficulty to dodge even with the added potency from the alcohol as long as they were prepared. It seemed that was about all of the fight he had however as he dropped to his hands and knees just after. "Foolish woman… Konoha cannot hold… me." Rainos actively used his remaining conciousness to restrain his seal from activating and thus not alerting some of his more stalwart compatriots just yet. Escape was possible, but it was not what he required. Still… he had to deal with Nuraku… and he had to hope they did not deal with him first.