Date: February 8, 2014
The new Mizukage has sent word that he desired to meet with the Kazekage on the other end of their village's established treaty.
Sousa's been in his office all day. All. Day. That…makes his more seasoned staffers slightly nervous. They struggle to keep him there normally, and while he's present, he gets lots of work done…but when he remains there, of his own will, instead of using some clever dodge to sneak off to his laboratories, that means something big's going on. c.c Something important enough that he regards dealing with it personally as more vital than indulging in his research.
Of course, most everyone is aware of what that something is in this case: the newly-appointed Mizukage is scheduled to make a visit. Preparations have kept people bustling the past few days to properly receive the important dignitary. The less experienced staffers are nervous about that directly. The fact that Sousa is being so diligent too, though, even though it's to be expected…that, to the long of tooth, is confirmation that this is a crucial moment. It's the calm before the storm.
…Not that there's any reason to expect anything will go wrong, right? c.c;
Meruin has entered the building.
The Mizukage strode through the doors of the administration dome with his usual authoritative stride, each step long and smooth, ground devouring. He is garbed in his usual attire, robes of platinum silk with the insignia of Kirigakure emblazoned on his chest. His Kage's hat sits atop his head, also made of silk, the veil parted to allow his face to be seen and for him to see without trouble. The black orbs of his eyes take in the room as he moves through it towards the stairs, the mists within them a pale green.
A group of four other Kirigakure shinobi enter just behind him, their mist headbands clear on their foreheads. Already having been allies of this land for some time, the each of them appear comfortable in their bearing, but their eyes do still watch. Rove. And narrow slightly in frustration as Meruin steps past the guards and the secretary without being stopped and tells them, "You will remain below. We are allies. No need for the distrust of personal protection." And so they were left behind to watch him ascend the stairs until they took him out of sight.
The Okumo himself continued his ascent at his swift pace, apparently paying little heed to those around him. But he saw the each of them, the pupiless nature of his eyes masking their travel as he looked among the Kazekage's staff. He was a swift storm, passing through with haste and leaving an obvious wake. He knew where the man's office was. So he simply approached it, assuming that the staff would do their job and see the man informed of his presence. That the door would be open and inviting. Otherwise, he would simply look to Sousa's personal secretary, asking, "He is aware of my presence, yes?"
The door of Sousa's office opens before the secretary can make any response. "Certainly, it would be quite difficult to ignore such a crucial arrival." Sousa steps out, wearing his own formal robes for once, and offers Meruin a deep bow. "Yondaime Mizukage-sama, a great honor to make your acquaintance. I recall your performance in the World Ninja Competition, quite impressive, especially for your age at the time, and certainly no less impressive what you have recently attained. Would you care to come into my office?"
Meruin's head turns back at the sound of the Kazekage's office door opening, gaze finding the man as he entered. "So I see."
The Mizukage lowered himself in a bow to the Kazekage, though not so deep as the one offered to him. He did not put himself above the man, but his bow was one that a ruler of a nation would give to an equal. "Shodai Kazekage," completed his greeting.
"I am nearly surprised to hear that you would remember one boy at a tournament that featured the likes of Kaguya Yasushi and Uchiha Fuyu. I appreciate the recognition." He lifted his chin, "But the honor is no less mine, speaking with the man whose single will had brought together this very village we meet within." He dips his head slightly, "But yes. It is best that we enter and discuss."
Sousa rises from his bow. "To a scientist, the pebble which has not been examined before is of greater interest than the boulder whose presence is already well-known." Sousa ushers Meruin inside, then closes the door. "I suppose that's enough of the profundity and pleasantries," Sousa chuckles, indicating a couple of comfy chairs off to the side of the room. "Please have a seat, and if you care for some refreshment I have a few drinks and delicacies available. Past that, shall we get down to business? I'd like to hear in your own words what led you to become the Mizukage."
At Sousa's spoken proverb, Meruin simply allows himself a hint of a smile, the suggestion of it settling around his lips. Coming from the Okumo clan and dealing heavily with the Nesters, he knew precisely of what the man said, had noticed the habit in himself and actively accommodated for it.
Inside, he makes his way towards one of the offered seats with his gliding gait. "My thanks. If I ever feel the need, I shall partake." He lowered himself in one of the comfortable chairs then, his posture perfect despite the ability to sink into its cushions.
But it was time to settle business.
"The reason I became Mizukage is simple," spoke the Okumo in reply, gaze unblinking on the Kazekage. "I desire to make Kirigakure better. Great, as a matter of fact. I have seen leader after lead step up and find themselves unfit for the job they have taken on. It had reached a point where I could see great harm would soon have settled on the village, one that would take many years to see mended. I could not allow that. I could not allow any further inadequacies. It was simply time to perform the job other's could not seem to." If you wanted a job done right…
"And yourself? What drove you to create this, truly?"
"Resources, primarily," Sousa replies, settling into the other seat. "I can accomplish so much more in my studies with a large pool of materials and workers available, even with administrative duties taking up a portion of my time. Also, there were various clans which seemed dead-set on having my expertise available to them. Uniting them seemed like the most efficacious solution." Yup, Sousa's got some rather sterile motivations and he doesn't mind sharing them. X) "So then, if Kirigakure's direction up until now is unsatisfactory to you, what direction do you intend to take it in?"
Meruin nods his head, the action speaking of Sousa's sensibility behind his motivations. "Considering your appreciation of having more assets in your direction, I believe you'll be pleased to hear that I intend to take Kirigakure down a path of overall improvement. Economically, socially, militarily, and thus influentially. We will improve trade, make the land an inviting place for people of innovation to gather and for the best of shinobi to train. My focus will be as much on growth in scientific realms as it will be on the shinobi corp."
His chin lifts a little, head canting. "The relationship between our villages will be high on my priority list. As you know, every willing relationship is based off of mutual gain. My desire here is to increase the gain the both of our villages receive from our already established alliance. Up until this point, I feel that our alliance has been underutilized with the exception of wartime. Even now, when the both of our countries are under duress, we remain separate entities, sharing little and aiding little. You agree that this is a resource that has currently untapped potential, do you not?"
"That's pleasing to hear," Sousa remarks. "So many would-be leaders focus upon increasing the influence or wealth or power of that which they lead as an end unto itself. Naturally some actually beneficial effects do tend to rise out of these ambitions, but they generally aren't due directly to the leader's intentions, particularly once they achieve a glut of the attributes they strove for and blindly continue to amass them." Sousa reaches aside for a teacup and a small kettle. "With that said, yes, I suppose both of our countries could benefit from stronger ties. Of course, being that the stated purpose of our organizations is primarily military, there is some degree of difficulty in exerting influence outside of wartime. Did you have anything specific in mind?"
Meruin nods his head, "I do."
His long platinum hair smoothly slides out from behind him, settling over his shoulder as it begins to work itself into a pleated braid as though guided by invisible hands. "Not only can we aid one another during war, but we can aid one another before it, in preparation of it." Peace time. Simply a prelude to war.
The Okumo lifts a finger, the gesture sharp and precise, "First. The two of us as villages have clear strengths. We can share these with one another for the betterment of the both of us. Your focus on information has led Sunagakure to a renowned ability for intelligence collection. Kirigakure has a renowned ability for producing excellent warriors. Enhanced foresight and brute military might will allow us to crush much of the opposition that could limit our projects."
He raised another finger, "Second, it would be beneficial to the both of our economies to further improve trade between us. Reduction on taxes of sales made between our two countries and such things. Especially with the importance of something we have an abundance of that your land lacks. Water. No taxes and reduced prices of 70% will lower the cost to essentially the payment of importing the goods, greatly easing the burden your people have on providing water for all at little expense or effort."
A third finger is raised, his hand falling afterwards, "Moreover, the training of our troops. I am proposing a mandatory month of academy student training spent within each other's villages. Exchange students. This will not only strengthen the bond between our nations, but provide our shinobi with greater insights and abilities than they would have simply training at home. And I would specifically request for Councilman Kuroki Kuoroke to be the one to create the curriculum for the Kirigakure exchange students. I trust his judgement.
"In that same vein, I will be reaching out towards you to recognize opportunities to perform joint-village missions for greater efficiency and performance." And with all of that said, he is simply silent, awaiting for Sousa to fill the space with his own thoughts whenever appropriate.
Sousa chuckles faintly. "Ah yes, crush the opposition. Well, I'm certain we'll do a fair amount of crushing as opportunities arise, although I think you'll find Sunagakure is more fond of indirect solutions to such problems. Still, that's what a military alliance is for, isn't it? You won't be left lacking for intelligence support when the need arises." Sousa pours water into the teacup. "As for water, yes, certainly we could use more of that. Any favor you could curry with your Daimyo on our behalf to improve trade would be appreciated." Sousa puts the kettle back and swirls the liquid in his cup slowly. "Your final suggestion is the most intriguing. I imagine you've already realized that you are inviting into your base of operations ninja who emphasize espionage, however green…and your choice of Councilman to oversee these matters, while you are correct to trust his judgments, is a man particularly bent toward taking every advantage possible." X) Sousa sips his tea. "I suppose that could be taken as an indicator of how much you value our cooperation. I will certainly put your proposal before the Council for firm consideration."
Meruin simply inclines his head, the motion a slow and nuanced one, somehow showing acknowledgement and agreement of all matters, with an emphasis on the notion that he knew just what it was that he had just asked for. "Very good, then," he said to the man. "I look forward to hearing just what they have to say."
The differences between the two in their leading styles were very easily clear in this moment. Kokoroe Sousa was very much a collaborative worker in regards to his village, seeking advice and input before he makes his decisions where as Meruin trusted more on his own judgement, looking for advice far less often.
"There is one final matter I'd like to inform you of."
Hmm, sort of, yes. Sousa doesn't presume to know everything, in fact existence would probably be pretty boring once he doesif he did…the advice of others, particularly in regard to areas Sousa hasn't found time to study in-depth, can be useful. But actually, a large part of the reason he gives as much leeway to the rest of the Suna administration as much as he does is because he doesn't want them to get used to leaving all the problems to him. X) He's generally the smartest guy around and knows it, and he doesn't hesitate to override others when he deems it worthwhile. Sousa takes another sip of tea before setting his cup aside. "I'm all ears, Mizukage-sama."
"It is the matter of Konohagakure," spoke the Mizukage, calm gaze on the other man. "Very simply put, I will not currently be treating with them and I do not expect there to ever come a time when it shall be so. For all respects and purposes, they are an enemy, some of their displayed ideals counter to what I consider prudent to continued survival and prosperity. Simply be aware that conducting deals with my enemy will put our alliance into extreme jeopardy. I would not expect it to survive the event."
Sousa smiles faintly. "I see. Well then, that shall certainly be factored into our strategic considerations." Sousa rises from his chair. "I've arranged for a number of diversions for yourself and your consorts, Mizukage-sama. Everything from the culinary and theatrical to the educational and informative, to be partaken of or not as you see fit. Of course your sleeping arrangements have been taken care of as well. You may remain here as our guest for as long as you please, although I quite understand you probably have urgent matters to attend to back in your own village."
Meruin lifts himself from his chair as well, rising to his feet in a single supple motion. "Kind of you to see to our arrangements for us," he said as he began towards the door, seeing a natural close for what it was. "We will be staying within your village for the next two days, barring the unforeseen, before we return home to continue seeing to the growth of Kirigakure. During this time, I do expect to advantage of your hospitality. I will return to say my farewells before I depart in case we do not see each other again between now and then."