Date: December 23, 2010
Amuro begins taking steps to prepare the members of the Tao Shih to be strong enough to serve in his place when he dies. The first to be approached is Shinji.
"Tao Shih Training Arc - A Gift Of A Curse"
It has been two and a half weeks since Datura was saved from the infection in her soul by the other members of the Tao Shih. Or most of them, at least. Tomoyo had been absent, having been requested to keep an eye on things in Kusagakure while Amuro was away on 'business'. Despite the fact that Amuro had not only split the cost of his ultimate Sealing Technique between himself and a Shadow Clone, and then found out that the strain he >did< suffer was as close to negligible as possible when he 'awoke' from Uzumaki Mito's jutsu, Amuro feels older than ever before. >That< jutsu greatly reduces the life expectancy of its user. He has used it once before, at Ankoku Cave. It is fortunate that the psychic plane that the battle against Darkside had been fought upon had negated the cost to Amuro's spirit.
Otherwise, his prediction that he would only live about half a year longer at most would be accurate. Now he has a bit more time to complete his plans — or so he hopes. There is still much to teach the Tao Shih members before they can take over from him. This was an excellent step in forming a bond between them that would not be easily broken, but they needed something more. Mune in particular would be difficult to convince to stay in the Tao Shih once Amuro died.
Others would be much simpler. Kanami would want to stay with Datura. Datura wanted the power of the Tao Shih in the first place, so being a leader would simply be playing to her interests. Tomoyo would carry on because that is the dying wish of her 'papa'. And Shinji? Shinji wants to make a difference and to belong. But what if he decides he can make more of a difference somewhere else or with someone else? What if he feels he belongs in a >different< group? There needs to be more tieing Shinji to Amuro and the Tao Shih. A tangible reward that will appeal to both his mercenary mind and his human side. Further, the reward needs to give Amuro more direct control over Shinji.
So, since they are welcome to stay here in Uzushiogakure, Amuro has a room set up to stay in. This is not where Amuro meets Shinji. Amuro meets Shinji out in the woods that cover the Land of Whirlpools surrounding Uzushiogakure. He prepared it in advance with various jutsu to detect spies and intruders, but Amuro could not deny that there might be Fuuinjutsu in place that even he might not recognize. The towering masked man stands and waits for Shinji regardless. It is afternoon, and the sun filters down through the bare branches of the trees. The clearing where Amuro stands is mostly grassy, with few places where someone could be concealed.
During the two weeks, the village of Uzushiogakure has been very accomadating to the members of the Tao-Shih. During that time Shinji had met and actually talked with Datura, it was actually pretty nice. Finally able to get to know at least one member of the group a little better. Though he knew that the rest of the group would want some time with Ryoko as well. So keeping his distance for now, Shinji has been keeping to himself for the most part. The ordeal with defeating the infection within Ryokos soul has had Shinji thinking about quite a bit.
None of his training prepared him for any of this, and he has been second guessing his usefulness to this group. Amuro though, he seen the turmoil of his background, he heard what their leader wants for them. But Shinji didn't know if he is able to help. Yeah he is skilled in kung fu, but the rest of the group are well skilled in the various ninja traditions is what he calls them and Tomoyo, Amuros daughter is very skilled in their martial arts. Shinji isn't one to let himself get down, but try to figure out what his next steps are and right now he hasn't thought of any. There is only so much he can do as a merc before he is taking out. He isn't looking at leaving the Tao Shih, they have given him an opprotunity at something different then mercenary life. He does have a purpose but for what?
When ordered to meet with Amuro, Shinji wonders if he should bring his concern to their leader. If what he says is true, Amuro will not be with them for much longer. Amuro is the man who has given him this chance. He just wishes he is able to….. the thought falls on him. He doesn't knwo nothing about the others, except for Ryoko, but knowing of her past isn't a way to base a relationship off of. Rubbing his head a little, he had a bit of time before needing to meet up with the leader.
Shinji leaves and heads to the designated meeting area, as he walks through the woods, having picked up a bamboo stick. Flipping the stick about his hands expertly, Shinji makes his way to the meeting spot, as he makes his way there. Seeing the huge man, "Amuro-sama." he says as he steps up to the mans side looking off in the direction he is.
Shinji had not been 'ordered' to meet Amuro, so much as 'notified of where Amuro would be at a specific time'. It was indicated he should join him, but it was never stated directly. Even so, the intent should be obvious. And now, here was Shinji. Amuro turns to face the ex-mercenary, and says, "What I wish to speak to you about is best not discussed here in the Land of Whirlpools. The Uzumaki are extremely skilled with Seals, and it has been a long time since the last time I was here. They may have new security measures in place. I need to relocate us. The method will be unpleasant. Do you have any objections?"
Well he wasn't ordered, but Shinji didn't want to dissappoint Amuro. Turning to look at his leader, Shinji listens as Amuro speaks then shakes his head. "No objections here." he says and offers a slight smile. "Well this place is one I hope to visit again when time permits." he says as he looks about them for a moment making sure he wasn't followed here. Even if he isn't followed, Amuros words would strike home about the Uzumakis seals. "Ready when you are." he states.
Amuro hmmms. "Actually, I suppose it would be safer if I simply do it the normal way. I am not sure if you would survive the process I had in mind with your mind intact. I will summon you in a moment, so do not move from where you are standing." Then a pinpoint of swirling blackness forms at the center of Amuro's chest, seeming to be in front of it, on it, and >inside of it< simultaneously. It's like such petty matters as perspective are discarded. Before much can be ascertained about the nature of this point of blackness, other than that it seems to be gradually drawing in everything in the area without actually >moving< anything from where it presently is, Amuro implodes. He just collapses into that blackness, and then both he and the hole in reality vanish.
There is no trace of Amuro anywhere in the area.
A tense three minutes later, a cloud of smoke erupts around Shinji, and when the smoke clears, he is standing in a darkened room. The sudden contrast in lighting between the bright afternoon and the near-total shadowing of the current environment may leave the ex-mercenary a bit blind for a few moments. But gradually, he would become aware of a seeming soft-blue glow that provides some dim illumination of the room. There are bookshelves, some furniture, a table… Nothing especially spectacular. The glow is coming behind some heavy drapes to Shinji's left.
If the sound of labored breathing had not already caught Shinji's attention post-summoning, then it should become more evident when the one producing the breathing says in that deep voice of Amuro's, "I need a moment."
Shinji is surprised at the implosion technique that Amuro uses, and as the black hole opens up and he falls in Shinji just blinks. "What the hell." he say mouths, or he thinks he mouthed it, but his ears heard it. This ninjutsu stuff is well over his head, but Amuro seems to be able to do the impossible. He's seen ninjutsuist do some incredible feats but Amuro seems to be able to master the impossible and make it his bitch. Rubbing the back of his head, Shinji doesn't dare move from his spot, he is still a bit awed by what he has just seen, but also scared to move due to whatever Amuro is going to do to get him to where he is.
Then it happens, smoke erupts around him, a little startled, Shinji covers his eyes slightly as he seems to have been transported to a darkened room. Once his eyes adjust Shinji begin looking around and as he does he notes some bookshelves off to his side, and a soft glow of light coming from the window. He starts to move towards but stops when he hears some hard breathing, turning in Amuros direction, "YOu alright?" Shinji asks as he moves to his leaders side. "Breath through your nose and out your mouth, take deep breaths." he says trying to help.
Amuro is standing there in the darkness, but just grunts at Shinji's question, before moving over to sit down in a barely-detectable black leather reclining chair. He eases himself into it slowly, and then lets out a sigh as he relaxes gradually. "I will be fine. Be mindful of the scroll on the floor. I did not have time to move it, and it is a tripping hazard." He indicates a vaguely-seen object on the carpet nearby. As Shinji's eyes adjust to the dim lighting, Amuro takes a few moments to recover. Then he says, "The reason I wished to speak to you is that I have decided it is time to reward each member of the Tao Shih for his or her service so far. This is both due recompense as part of the agreements made with each member, and encouragement to continue each of your current efforts at their current levels of excellence."
Then he raises a hand from the arm of his chair and fumbles for something on a nearby lamp-stand. Whatever it is appears to be a stubby black rectangle of some kind, like a flattened box. It also has an antenna on the front of it. A radio, maybe? Amuro presses something on the box, and a quiet mechanical noise penetrates the other-wise quiet room. More blue-tinted light begins to spill forth into Amuro's study — and that is what it is revealed to be — as the heavy curtains are drawn aside by some automated contraption.
What is revealed to be on the other side of the curtains? Nothing much. Just the >ocean<. And further, it is a very interesting view of the ocean: the view from deep underwater. Is this room and whatever building it is part of actually at the bottom of the sea!? It appears so, as looking out the concave window that composes a decent chunk of the wall reveals fish, coral, sea weed, crustaceans, and water. Lots and lots and lots and lots of water.
"I already have a reward in mind," Amuro resumes speaking in the newly-illuminated study. "But the specifics are open to discussion."
Allowing his eyes to adjust to the darkness, Shinji focuses on the sound of Amuros voice as he speaks. As he settles into the leather chair and presses a button on a small box. Shinji looks to the weakend man, but he never saw Amuro as weak and figures with all the chakra he's used to teleport, it must've weaken him. TUrning around as the mechanical noise hums, Shinji turns around and sees the water!? Being mindful of the scroll on the floor, he walks over to the windo and looks through the window. There was no words to describe what he is seeing right now. The water is so clear, a smile creeps up on his face as he just stare into the ocean depths.
"I like it." he says as he turns around to look back at Amuro, "You don't have to reward me Amuro-sama. You gave me a new purpose, instead of the soon to be destructive one I was starting to head down." he says as he looks to the man. Shinji didn't know why Amuro felt that he needed to award him, "As for working with the others, I will be here for them. That you don't have to worry, though right now I know I must get back into training, but you've done enough for me already." he says.
Amuro listens to what Shinji has to say. His breathing seems to be under control again now, and it would appear he is no longer any more tired than he was before he performed his teleportation trick. Finally, however, he says, "No. You do not seem to grasp the significance of the situation we find ourselves in. I am dying. I should have died a long time ago, but I have extended my lifespan several times through various means. The use of that jutsu I attempted inside of Datura's mind… The 'Sum Of All Mankind Seal' takes a heavy toll for its use. Thanks to it only being a mental projection of the technique, rather than the real thing, I did not suffer the consequences of its use when we emerged from Datura's 'mental space'."
Sighing, Amuro looks at the radio control in his hand, even though it has never been made clear how he can see through that mask when there are no eyeholes. "But I have used it once before, at the place where Datura was originally infected — Ankoku Cave. It is where Darkside originated. However, what we faced was just the tiniest fragment of the entity I sealed away. The whole thing is a lot worse than that measly thing that almost took Datura from us. It was killing the forest around the cave just by >existing<. It had to be put somewhere safe."
Amuro lowers the remote, and though he does not turn his head, the impression is given he is looking at Shinji anyway. "If I had not used that jutsu, I imagine I would probably live for another two or three decades. My estimate of my remaining time, however, was based upon the assumption that the use of the Fuuinjutsu inside of Datura's mindscape would carry over to the physical world. It did not. So I have a bit more time remaining to me, and I plan to make the best use of it. That means preparing all five of you for the eventual task I am charging you with: to replace me as the sole leader of the Tao Shih, and to work in unison to achieve both my ends and your own. In most cases, my goals and yours are the same. But I have had more than a century of planning and experience that give me insight into how the future will unfold if certain actions are not taken. That means that, at least in part, I need you and the others to trust me."
"However, it also means something else." Amuro points the remote aross the room and clicks a button. A television turns on, and it is not a cheap television at all. It is also less like a television and more like an HD plasma-display wider than Shinji is tall. At first, only the barely-noticeable glow from the screen being activated indicates it is on, as it is displaying a black background. Then the image of the Tao Shih, the kanji for 'Immortal', appears in the center of the screen in bright red. Amuro says, "At this point in time, not a single one of the Tao Shih is prepared to replace me in whole or in part. You just do not have the skills, the experience, or the power necessary. So your 'reward' is not just a reward, but a means of ensuring you are able to continue along your new path. I am going to train all of you, for certain, but given my limited time, we may have to speed up the process slightly with some 'artificial augmentation'."
Amuro does not press another button, but the screen changes from the black background with red kanji to a glowing cyan 'grid', with numerous black squares between the grid lines. Gradually, the squares fill up with images and designs. Some are kanji, some are katakana, some are pictographs of animals or weapons or other things, and some are just other emblems and Seals of some kind. "We are going to narrow down what sort of augmentation you will receive now."
Turning to look at Amuro, Shinji stands there, his eyes focused on Amuro as he speaks. One thing about Shinji is that he is a good listener and a person who understands whats going on around him. Hearing that Amuro really is dying, he didn't think the man is dying but now as he listens to his words, hearing the inflection in his voice, Shinji now truly belive Amuro in this fact. As he goes on to explain the, "Sum of all Mankind Seal." Shinji just shakes his head little. A jutsu that put so much strain on the body and for this one to litterally putting him out so much as to give him a quicker time table before seeing Kami unnerved the light skinned man.
"I didn't think you were lying, but my knowledge in the ways of ninjutsu and genjutsu is still expanding. I didn't know that it put so much of a drain on you like this." he states. Though feeling he spoke out of turn, Shinji quiets himself. Shinji isn't sure what the man looks like under the mask, but as he Amuro looks in his direction he feels that he is really looking at him. At least he knew that the two were really facing one another and to his guess looking to one anothers eyes. Respect is a big thing for Shinji, something taht he feels is lost in the ninja world. When Amuro explains how Datura was infected, Shinji sighs a little. "There are mysteries in the world that I'm just starting even learn about. I sometimes feel that there is some things I just don't understand and feel a bit stupid when I don't understand." THough when Amuro presses the button on his remote and the Tao-Shih symbol comes up, Shinji shuts up again. WHen training is offered, he smiles a bit. As the grid then shows, Shinji looks to Amuro, "So how is this going to happen?" he asks. "I know training is going to take a lot of time and if we plan to go underground then does this place…." he stops when Amuro begins going through the pictographs. Nodding his head, "So I'm not a ninjutsuist, I'm purely martial arts. Granted I see a lot of my focus is always to guard teh others and if possible take out those who use ninjutsu first while the others cover me." he states.
As Shinji comments to Amuro about his specialties — as though they were not already known to his benefactor — the images on the screen change in real-time. The screen cuts itself in half as the pictures begin rapidly vanishing as soon as Shinji says 'not a Ninjutsuist'. When he continues on to say, 'purely martial arts', the screen that had expanded again to show the remaining images shrinks again by losing a large number of its remaining images. 'My focus is to guard the others' makes dozens more images blink out. The screen expands again. There are only eight images left. The last words out of Shinji's mouth, 'take out those who use Ninjutsu' reduces the images to two. One is the image of a cloud-like symbol with the kanji for 'metal' in the center of it. The other is the image of a shuriken with twelve points.
"Do you use weapons mostly or unarmed combat?" Amuro asks suddenly.
Watching as he speaks, Shinji sees the images leaving the screen, he hasn't seen technology like this before and is quite taken aback at what he is looking at. Though when the last image of the shuriken shows on the screen. He looks at the shuriken and then to Amuro when asked about weapons, "I'm trained in the use of shurikens, kunais, and staff, as well as sectioned staffs." he states. "So only a limited number of weapons, but I do prefer mostly unarmed combat." he says. THough that bamboo stick that is about 6ft still rests in his hand as he stands there. Only now remembering that he had it, Shinji chuckles a little bit as he looks at the stick. "Forgot I had this with me." he says as he looks to Amuro. The bamboo stick in his hand is about the size of an actual waxwood staff, which Amuro may have seen him use to a quite devastating use some time ago. The stick looks to accentuate his affinty for possible use. Letting out a sigh, "My familys kung fu style used many southern style weapons. Primarily due to the style of kung fu we use originated and is trained only in it's original form."
Pausing for a moment, he turns to look at Amuro, "The staff, straight sword or dual edged sword, along with the dao among other southern style weapons can be used with our style. My mother and father both were deadly accurate with the staff which is why I took up after them. I have to say it feels a bit more relaxed that I have this but I know I will cast it away until I find the right staff to say I'm a staff user." he tells Amuro honestly.
The shuriken image blinks out and the cloud takes up the top half of the screen as it expands. Below it, various lists of information on the image are provided. Some words might jump out at Shinji. 'Juinjutsu', 'Cloud of Bronze Seal', 'Two-Stage Advancement', 'Ultimate Shield', and then a graph in the bottom right regarding Chakra levels. A warning in red text at the bottom of the screen states this Seal can potentially be lethal if it is not applied under controlled medical conditions.
"Your preference is for unarmed combat. Therefore, that is what we will focus on for the moment. You can pursue weapon skills at your leisure. What I am going to give you is a Juinjutsu — a 'Cursed Seal'. This specific one is known as the 'Cloud of Bronze Seal'. It can greatly enhance your strength and durability — to the point that Taijutsu against you will be nearly useless, and Ninjutsu will barely make a mark on your body that cannot heal itself in a matter of moments. It is important to understand that while Cursed Seals — Juinjutsu — are ordinarily used to exert control over an individual by the one who places the Seal, I have no intention of controlling you with the Cloud of Bronze. It is more similar to a Kinjutsu than a true Juinjutsu, because it is dangerous to place on a recipient. However, with the help of Mune I believe you will not only survive the initial placement but be able to thrive and grow strong in its use."
Then the screen changes to show four bar-graphs. One is Shinji's Chakra level and combat capabilities as they are currently recorded. The next is the expected Chakra level and combat capabilities once he is able to use 'Cloud of Bronze Lv. 1'. The increase may be very interesting. It looks like his Chakra and durability will both go so high they go off the chart entirely, and something labelled 'Strength' will do the same.
The next graph is 'Cloud of Bronze Adaptation Complete'. It shows the bars for 'Combat Skill' and 'Swiftness' going to maximum as well, but shows a >decrease< in 'Ninja Skill'. The final graph is the most dramatic of the four. 'Cloud of Bronze Lv. 2' indicates that Shinji's Strength, Chakra level, and Durability will all be so high they touch the top of the screen, while 'Combat Skill' is off the chart now too. Swiftness is not enhanced further, but it looks like he wouldn't really need enhanced speed if he's off the charts in those other four areas.
"This is a two-stage advancement Seal. That means your body and your control over the Cloud of Bronze willl evolve over time as you gain greater control. You will adapt to the Seal and its poisonous effects, and it will stop being poisonous. Instead, it will strengthen you. But you have to start somewhere — at level one."
Shinji turns back to the screen as Amuro stated that they would focus on his unarmed combat. Shinji didn't mind it, his true mastery is unarmed combat and now as Amuro continues on with his presentation. As the topic of the Juinjutsu came on screen, he is able to catch some of the words that come on screen others, no. "Cloud of Bronze?" then it's meaning is showed. He doesn't say anything, but when Amuro began telling him what this meant for him, Shinji looked to the man, eyes slowly narrowing for a moment. It is impressive that his skills could go up, but…. His thoughts stop. When Amuro states that the cursed seal isn't something that he wanted to use to control Shinji but to strengthen him.
Shinji is still a bit skeptical, even with the impressive so call results which would happen if he got the seal. Crossing his arms and looking at the screen then looking to Amuro thinking. Shinji has always been proud of his abilities, he didn't really think he needed this seal that Amuro wanted to give him. But for Amuro to grant this to him….As Amuro explains the procedure, Shinji just keeps quiet, his mind racing, did he really want to go through with this? He didn't want to but if its to help maybe he should. "How long will this procedure take and when?" he asks. As for the poisonious effects, his body is always in good shape, hell he takes good care of himself. "Why are you offering this to me?"
Amuro clicks off the screen with the remote in his hand and then sets the device down next to him on the lamp stand. "If we do it slowly, it could take as long as a month to acclimate your body to the Seal. That would be if we wanted to do it with literally zero risk of harm or death for you. Mune is good enough to ensure a 100% success rate. We could do it faster, in about a week. You still would not be at risk of death unless something unforeseen happened… Such as having to stop half-way through, or Mune being rendered unconscious for a prolonged period of time, or so forth, but it would be painful. It can also be accomplished in about one or two days, if we needed to rush it for emergency reasons. In order to ensure your survival you would be given a special pill that would temporarily 'kill' your body, essentially putting you in a state of suspended animation. You would not truly be dead, but none of your vital organs would be functioning. It would require being sealed in a container that would keep you from passing on while your body continued to adjust to the Seal. Then, when the acclimation was complete, the Seal would automatically deactivate itself, returning you to life far stronger than you were before."
Amuro turns his head towards Shinji and says, "Finally… There is one other way. Which is to simply place the Seal upon you and let your body try to survive without aid. If you lived through it, it would take an hour or two at most. But nine out of ten recipients of the Cloud of Bronze Seal who do not receive medical aid or some sort of safety measures will simply die."
He folds his hands together and says, "It would allow you to become stronger faster because you would not need to rest and recover as often or for as long a period of time. I could train you more thoroughly and roughly, because the danger of permanent harm would be negated. You would simply be too tough and heal too fast for a broken arm or skull fractures or whatever else might happen to even slow you down. However… If you do not wish to be augmented in this way, I can train you more slowly. It will cut into the time I have left available in my life, but it can be done."
As the screen winks out, Shinji listens to Amuro as he speaks about the process of the seal. Thinking a lot about this, Shinji liked what he was hearing, being able to heal and take damage is always a good thing, but he's used to dodging in and out of the way from his opponents. Which means with this seal he is able to dodge and take hits as they come. "Well how about we do what is needed. I will let you decide, we don't need to rush this too much." he says as he looks to Amuro. "I don't want to cut into the time you have left and if your going to be personally training me, I want to make good use of the skills you will be imparting on me." Shinji takes a breath, "You've helped me and gave me a direction and a cause. I'm not going to let you down." he bows his head.
"So when do we start?" he asks as he seems resolute in his decision, earlier he may have seemed a bit hesitant, but now thats changed. He is now apart of something bigger then he is, or any merc company in existance. "None of you will have to worry, I will continue my role and also will do more in the upcoming future."