Date: November 11, 2010
After Abel's attack on Taji, both Taji and Fuyu have been on edge. Hinotori was out of the loop, but will soon be informed of what happened. Nobu has been standing vigil alongside his friend. But when Fuyu's suspicions and past experiences get the better of her, it makes for a Team 5 meeting that is rather… Tense.
"Taji Under Fire - Tension"
Visiting Villages' Quarters - Kusagakure
Konohagakure's Team 5 has been told to gather in one place and to STAY there. That place is a room in one of the new structures erected specifically for visiting ninja to stay in during the tournament. After the tournament is over, the space can be used for other things, or the building can just be taken down. It is designed to be relatively easy to erect and dismantle, and yet sturdy enough to survive a storm or an earthquake without danger to those who dwell within. It is akin to a series of interlocking puzzle pieces, except that each of the puzzle pieces, whether they be walls, floor, or ceiling, has at least four 'latches' that allow them to attach firmly to another piece above, below, and alongside. There is no way to undo the latches by accident. Not the way they are designed.
Further, there are no windows in the rooms, with air pumped throughout the building. That means every room is as secure as can really be without paranoid security measures and the use of Ninjutsu. This was not good enough for Uchiha Fuyu. So once Hinotori, Taji, and Nobu were all isolated in an empty room in the visitors quarters, she then implemented paranoid security measures and used Ninjutsu to make things even MORE secure. Fuuinjutsu are scattered around the building unobstrusively. Every hallway on every floor has at least a dozen Seals in place that act similarly to security cameras, and a dozen or two more that can take down multiple grown men with a mix of sleeping gas, Chakra Draining, and paralyzing electrical fields, among other things. Fuyu would LIKE for even MORE nasty traps to be available, but this is not her Village, and she had to fight tooth and nail just to get permission to implement what she already has. Further, nothing can be lethal or invasive of privacy for the other visitors and tournament participants. The only reason Fuyu was allowed to do anything was the fact she claimed she was trying to prevent death and injury, not cause it. To that end, however, that meant non-lethal measures only.
Still, there was more to being secure than traps and jutsu. Every night for the past two nights, Team 5 has been relocated to a different room. One during the day, a different one at night, and then another different one the next day, etcetera. Sometimes they are even moved more than once per day, and last night they were moved three times in the middle of the night. The reasons they were moved turned out to be false alarms, but chances are that no one slept well with all the relocating.
Why are Hinotori and Nobu being included in all this? Well, technically they are allowed to roam about at will. But if Taji is to go ANYWHERE outside of his room-of-the-moment then at LEAST one of the other two is expected to be with him. No exceptions. Thus, in order to keep Taji from going stir-crazy, it is best if at least one of his team mates is on-hand during the day. The other is free to be anywhere within Kusagakure.
So, with all of this background information in mind, an impartial observer with such knowledge might wonder why Taji is out in Kusagakure without any escort in sight, at night, and no protection beyond a ninja tool pouch on a belt and a kunai at his side. Taji wanders alone through all the darkest, creepiest, most dangerous parts of the Grass Village. Rain pounds the gravel streets. Abandoned buildings loom like the husks of the heads of giants, broken windows appearing to be eyes, rotten wooden doors appearing to be deformed lips, and odd moans of decayed timbers giving the impression that perhaps these giant-skulls are not quite so dead as all that. Empty streets, drenched in mud so red it looks like blood, yield no answers as to why Taji walks them. He stops in the middle of one such street, looks around quickly and then ducks into a dark and atrocious smelling alleyway. He creeps along its length, but receives no threats, is ambushed by no one and nothing except foul scents of compost and the buzzing of some flying insects.
Eventually, a full evening of wandering around in the dark, alone… Taji returns to the visitors' building. He reaches the room where Team 5 is staying for the moment, and is allowed in by the guards with no more than a nod. Once Taji is inside and the door closes behind him, one guard asks, "Nothing, huh?" Taji shakes his head before looking around the room until he spots Taji. Wait, TWO Taji? A cloud of smoke erupts from the one that just arrived, revealing a middle-aged man with a thin moustache and goatee, dressed in Konohagakure uniform. "Nothing. There were plenty of opportunities to attack too… Are we sure that Fuyu-sama is on the right track with all this? Maybe the assassin or assassins moved on? Maybe they were never there to begin with? Maybe—" "Or MAYBE they knew you weren't the real thing," Fuyu says from where she is standing about three feet away. The previously-henged ninja leaps into the air and yells, "JESUS, MOHAMMED, KAMI, AND BUDDHA!" before he even hits the ground again. "Where did you come from!?" Fuyu sighs and rolls her eyes. "I thought you were an espionage specialist. And yet you left your ninja tools and weapons visible despite the fact that HE does not CARRY weapons?" Fuyu points in Taji's direction. "Err…" the man offers. "Add to that you did not detect me until I announced myself and I really have to wonder about your qualifications." "Umm…" the man adds. "Get out of here and go arrange the next room for transfer," she snaps out. Then she looks towards Nobu and Taji as though expecting to see them doing something they shouldn't be.
Taji has been on edge, more than normal, and he always had a bit of a paranoid shifty side, well, kind of. He openly admitted in the past his clan was wiped out and he was the sole survivor, and he has spoken of fears of whoever did it coming after him again, and now he seems to think this is definately the case. He peers over a rather large scroll and peeks at Fuyu. The scroll is one of many he seems to have produced from almost no where and he's been studying double time lately. The scrolls appear to be in code, if anyone has tried to read them over his shoulder, or some kind of strange script that isn't something one could read with a glance.
Taji shakes his head, as he hears the complaints, "Yeah… I would never have weapons out in the open. I never use them, well, rarely…" He mutters as he sighs, "Hey, Fuyu-sama? Any news at all? I mean, don't suppose you had anyone look through Abel-san's quarters? See if there was evidence of a bribe, scroll of instructions or anything?" He asks then glances over at Nobu. "This sucks, big tournament going on and I can't even go watch it without fear of someone trying to stab me in the stands." He mutters this bit, not that he had really been enjoying the fights that much to begin with but being cooped up so much has made Taji a bit grumpy.
"Maybe I should just change disguises and… names or something again…. and then it would take them another year or two to find me?" Taji suggests as he runs a hand through his hair then starts to roll up his scroll, putting it away with the other scrolls one by one. The scrolls are put inside another scroll with scroll mastery it seems.
For his part, Nobu isn't doing much of anything. Since learning that the team was going to have a meeting, he's simply stayed in this area, not seeming to need much to occupy him. Whatever he things he can be accused of, it would seem that impatience isn't one of them. Right now, he's just standing off to one side of the room with his hands clasped behind his back, watching the impostor Taji get a dressing down from Fuyu with a disinterested gaze. If the lack of sleep has affected him, it's not obvious. But then, he always looks as if he's half-asleep anyway. Even he has to blink at the look Fuyu gives him and Taji, however. It's unnerving. He glances to Taji as the boy speaks, but says nothing for now. Fuyu doesn't appear to be in the mood to tolerate chatter, and he's not going to test that hypothesis.
Having been watching the fights at the stadium, Hinotori was making his way back to the visiting area where he and the rest of Team 5 were staying. He has gotten word that there was a team meeting going to be held and he needed to be there as soon as the last fight finished. Hinotori is pretty prompt when it comes to meetings, especially wiht being with some of the groups he's with, he couldn't afford not to follow direct orders. Hands in his pockets, he makes his way back and knocks on the door that the team was staying in. He then opens it, having already scanned the hallways and stairs. Hinotori walks into the room and looks around with a pleasent smile. "Hello everyone." he says in an upbeat voice.
The ninja that is scolded by Fuyu is on his way out when Hinotori is on his way in, but the guards check the Chuunin over, even with the fact he can be identified by those in the room. "Close the door!" Fuyu hisses. The door is slammed shut quickly by the remaining Konoha ninja standing just inside. Once Hinotori is 'processed' and deemed 'secure', THEN he is permitted to enter the room. When THAT happens, Fuyu just eyes Hinotori and his 'upbeat' tone and 'smile'. She is suspicious of everyone. But she is extra suspicious of people who claim to be 'happy'. Still, no one has done anything wrong yet, so she gives a jerk of her head while looking at the last guard in the room. He nods and exits.
The door is closed quickly this time, and then locked. Fuyu locks it from the inside too, with an additional series of locks she has had brought to fasten onto the door frame beyond what was initially meant to be there. Then she turns to Team 5. "Yes, Taji, we've done all of that. If there instructions, likely they had a Seal on them to destroy the paper they were written on after being read, or perhaps if a counter Seal was not applied within a certain timeframe. That means when Abel didn't return, maybe the message destroyed itself. Assuming there ever was such a message. No funds beyond normal for a Genin that could be found. But that doesn't mean anything. I haven't ruled out the possibility that Abel is just an idiot, but he would have to be an incredible idiot to not only accept a bribe but then leave it lying around in his room. If he was paid, the funds would likely be somewhere far away from Kusagakure… Someone secure that he could access later on, possibly while on the run."
As little sleep as Taji and Nobu and Hinotori may have been getting, Fuyu seems to be even more agitated and grumpy than all of them combined. More tired too. Dark rings are under her eyes that aren't usually there. She moves quickly, pacing an awful lot, sometimes seems to be mouthing words silently while she thinks and reasons things out internally, and has an even shorter temper than usual.
She threw an overhead projector at one of the ninja on this assignment for the high crime of 'talking'. To be fair, he had not raised his hand first before making his comment during the briefing. Finally, she whips around and looks towards Taji. "So, there is an 'entire Village out to get you', it seems. At least if we are to believe the words of your dear friend Abel." She then snaps her head up and looks around quickly. "What? Who's there? Who is talking!?" Talking? What? She stomps over to the lefthand wall and presses her ear to it. Several seconds go by of the raven-haired woman doing nothing but listening at the wall. If anyone says anything or asks what she's doing or what she heard, she will shush that person quickly and viciously, making 'cutting' motions across her throat with one hand, to indicate to shut up.
Finally, she moves away from the wall slowly, and looks at the blank, grey surface angrily as though she suspected it of being something else, perhaps something loathesome and/or dangerous in disguise, but could not figure out what precisely it really was. "Where was I?" she asks cautiously.
"Oh, yes. Abel. He should be able to be questioned by tommorow morning or afternoon, apparently. The doctors insisted he have some more rest, but I don't want to give him the chance to regain his strength. That aside… Taji. What precisely is it about your Clan that is so damn special that people would still be hunting you down to this day? Do you have some nasty special ability, like the Disease Maker Clan? Do you have a legendary power that can be removed and implanted in someone else? Are you a Jinchuuriki?" She moves towards Taji a bit faster with each question, finally stopping in front of him and crouching slowly until she is at or near eye-level with him.
"I need to know what you are so I can identify our enemies and their motives. It would be better if you told me." She turns her head briefly to look towards Hinotori, off behind her, one hand reaching slowly to be placed on a kunai that she does not have. Her own orders made it clear that weapons were not permitted to be carried in here. They were all kept by the door. She snorts and turns her focus on Taji again. Nobu's silence is taken for what it is.
Taji slowly cringes back, as Fuyu in this derranged state is not something that is comforting to him. He stammers, "Well, I don't /know/ what secrets there are." he admits, "I was still pretty much a begining student when we were attacked. I never got to know the deep secrets. So for all I know there is some deep hidden jutsu." He says, a little nervously, "As for… look… I don't know the motives, I mean, I know what some of them could be in general terms but it doesn't mean I know what motives these enemies could have. Besides, maybe Abel got mind controlled and they he might not even remember attacking me when he wakes up." Taji tries to change the topic a tad, "But I am pretty dang sure I'm not a Jinchuuriki. That'd be pretty obvious by now I think, wouldn't it?
Taji is clearly unhappy, "Look, I got the ancient scrolls as I escaped. I have the whole lore of my teachers, but… it's set up so that I can only unlock one thing after I learn the one before it. I can't skip to the end, see? I can't unlock the last scrolls or even tell you how many scrolls there are in total. I've been going over the ones I have unlocked but nothing is in them that makes it clear. So… maybe there is some ancient hidden secret, but I don't know what it is yet, if there is one." Taji is practically shaking now, "As for a whole village, I don't know, I thought it was at most a mercenary band or maybe a clan that attacked, not a whole village, so I don't know what Abel was talking about in the first place. I never expected to be attacked like that out of the blue by a ninja from Konoha, in disguise."
Taji stands up and starts to pace, well, walk, mostly away from Fuyu but still facing her so it amounts to backing up a bit, "Maybe you need a bit of rest, cause…. you're making me even more worried. I know it is disturbing to think that one of your clan betrayed me, but I don't know how anyone would even have found me. I thought I covered my tracks well." He points out, "I even didn't take part in the ninja contests because I didn't want to risk my jutsu being seen by a lot of people."
Nobu takes all of this in stride. He's met Abel before and he knows that he can be brash, arrogant, and far, far too eager to prove himself. He hadn't considered the possiblity when Taji first told him of the attack, but it certainly seems reasonable. Could all this work and worry be caused by nothing more than a foolish genin a little too desparate for a spar?
He frowns a bit as Fuyu begins listening at the wall. He's pretty sure he can't hear anything, but turns his head a little and strains his ear just in case. But it seems there's nothing there.
He's tempted to ask Fuyu if she's feeling all right, but he has a feeling that won't help anything. He's just going to have to do the best he can without talking, for the time being. Out of loyalty to Taji, he looks away when Fuyu starts asking about the clan, knowing that he might end up hearing some of Taji's best guarded secrets. He won't be able to avoid hearing whatever information comes out, but at least he can feel as though he's doing /something/ this way.
After being checked and let in, Hinotori moves to one of the walls and leans against it. He is able to see everyone within the room and hear Fuyu clearly. As she starts to question Taji, Hinotori listens. He hadn't known about the attack, but when Abel's name is mentioned he sighs. 'What the hell that idiot do now?' he wonders to himself. Keeping his eyes on his team. He quirks a brow at Fuyu when she starts listening to the walls, she is tired, but whatever is going on has gotten her riled up.
As she asks Taji whats going on and what he is, he notice her looking at him. His eyes narrowed, then he smirks at her. He forgot he's one of the Uchiha who actually smiles and tends to be upbeat. He doesn't say anything to her, but now to see her looking at him like this made him uneasy and that smirk he just gave her probably didn't help. But still just because things seem grim doesn't mean he can't be in a good mood for a change.
Looking to Taji, Hinotori doesn't speak again, still just taking in all the information that is being given, the Uchiha Chuunin crosses his arms over his chest. This is crazy, Abel needing to be questioned. What clan is Taji from that was exterminated? There was a ton of questions that could be asked and one that was hinted at was answered by Taji. Possible genjutsu on Abel to get him to engage Taji? Abel isn't bright at all, nor is he competet. Hinotori waits to hear more.
Fuyu shakes her head as she rises to her feet and takes her eyes off of Taji for a moment. They might have been expecting an outburst. They might have been expecting more odd behavior. But instead, the Uchiha Clan Head just sighs and rubs her face with both hands. "You're right. I do need some rest. I'm losing my focus and my patience far more than I should be, and I'm taking out the stress caused by one person's actions on those who don't deserve it. It's just… I was security for the Uchiha Clan during the Clan Wars. I kept Madara-sensei himself safe to the best of my abilities. I rarely slept for more than an hour, and the rest of the time I was running off of stimulants. Anything and everything could be and likely was a trick or a trap. No one could be trusted. We couldn't even trust the food testers we employed to make sure no meals we received were poisoned. Some of those food testers might have been willing to die in order to get rid of our most powerful warrior, after all… They might be able to fake not showing symptoms, or not noticing a bad taste. And that was just for EATING. All of it made me paranoid. And more than half the time with good reason. Once, we found some hotsprings and some Uchiha soldiers decided to take a bath and relax a bit since no enemies were reported to be in the area."
She pauses for a long time, then says, "The hotsprings were a Genjutsu that were covering up pools of acid. I can still remember to this day the screams of the men and women who were so stupid as to just jump into some hotsprings without authorization or security measures in place. I can still remember how they looked as they came staggering and limping out of the pools… In some cases dragging themselves across the ground, because their legs had been melted off… Their faces, their bodies, the skin was running like hot wax. And they—" she cuts herself off and closes her eyes.
After a few seconds she takes a deep breath and opens her eyes, seeming to have regained her composure. "I still see them in my dreams. And I think, 'If I had been present instead of questioning our blacksmith about some missing shuriken, I could have spotted the Genjutsuist and warned my comrades.' The Clan Wars were a bad time. Playing security was a bad job. And now I'm back in the same situation again."
Fuyu raises her eyes to Taji with a weak smile on her lips. "Once again I'm trying to predict what an unknown enemy might be planning, when he or she or they could strike at any time, by any means. I don't like it, but that's the kind of mindset I've been put into. It's just like back then. But this time… I'm not going to let anyone important to me die because I made a stupid mistake. So just try to work with me, please."
She then sighs shudderingly, and looks towards Nobu. "Thank you for protecting Taji. He needs real friends right now. Just being an Uchiha is not a qualification for trust in my eyes, as it once was." With that comment she looks towards Hinotori, but there is no suspicion in her expression, just fatigue. "I'll let the others fill you in on the details, Hinotori. I'm going to cancel the room change for tonight, since all three of you are here. Get some sleep. Hopefully this will all become clear tommorow…" She then heads towards the door, unlocking all the various locks, and starting to head out into the hall.
Taji listens to all of Fuyu's story but looks grateful that there was no outburst directed at him at least. He nods to Fuyu, "Try to get some sleep, Fuyu-sama." He offers then once she finally goes after giving permission to stay in the same room for a change, he collapses into a seat, "This is insane… if this was just Abel being an idiot… I am so going to cut off a finger of his or something so he remebers to not be so stupid in the future…." Taji mutters, loudly enough to be heard. "And guys, thanks, I'm sorry to be such a pain. I know my past is… well, I know I don't like to talk about it and thanks for honoring that. I try to keep it quite to protect you guys too. The less that's said the less that can leak. The less that can leak the less likely people are going to come for me… for us." He shakes his head, "Still, I'm sorry to put you all through this. Maybe things will be better after tomorrow. Here's hoping at least." He says as he slumps down into his chair a bit more. "Acid pools…" He shivers at the thought, and the story which will likely stick with him for a while.
Silent as ever, Nobu listens to Fuyu's story, looking back to her now that Taji's past is no longer being discussed. He doesn't comment on the story, but he seems to be internalizing it in some way or another. He nods a little when Fuyu speaks to him directly. "There is no need to thank me, Fuyu-sama. I'm only doing what I think is best. And I knew some of the details of the situation before this meeting. I spoke to Taji-san a few days ago." He gives her a bow as she leaves the room.
"I understand that, Taji-san," he says, nodding a little to Taji, "But we're on this team together. I expect we would be doing the same thing if we suspected that someone was going to attack me or Hinotori-san." He's still standing, but seems to have relaxed somewhat now that the meeting is over.
Hinotori stood there listening, the Clan Wars wasn't one of his favorite times. The Uchiha clan was bigger then it was now, he's lost quite a few friends during that time and family members. Fuyus past was a bit different from his, but same none the less. The smile he did have was gone, and he looks down to the floor as Fuyu continues with her story. Once she finishes, he looks to Taji and Nobu. He didn't know a whole lot about them and thats something Hinotori knew he had to change.
When Fuyu looks to him again and speaks he nods his head. "They can fill me in, in the morning. We all are very tired and Fuyu-sama you need the rest more then any of us." he says to her. "I will get breakfast in the morning and we can all talk during then." he says. A yawn escapes the chuunin, "Anyways, I call dibs on this wall." he says as he slumps onto the ground.
Looking over to Taji and Nobu, "We are all on the same team and apart of the same village. Like I told those I was partnered with during the Clan Wars, and the few teams I was on in the past. Your life is my life, you will be protected no matter the risk." he then looks to Fuyu, "Your life is my life, you will always be protected." he says before she leaves. He then lowers his head and falls asleep.