Date: August 30, 2015
Okumo Naoya arranges a meeting with the Mizukage to discuss the meeting of his former team, team Alpha
"The fate of team Alpha"
Administration Building - Mizukage's Office [Kirigakure]
The doors to the administration center burst open.
Entering through them is Meruin, a small crowd of various shinobi and civilian officials entering the lobby on his heels. "It is not in our bones to cower in the way that they would wish it," he told to those who followed. "Though our flesh may wound, it will heal for our core is unbreakable. They vastly underestimate the influence Kirigakure holds."
He looks to the side, his pupiless, ebon eyes locking onto Naoya, the pale mists within them limitless. "Come," he commanded. The time for their meeting was only two minutes hence.
He continued, turning down the hall towards his office. "This maneuver was a vast mistake and we will capitalize on it. We will take a small cut and pay our pound of flesh but gain a territory and another story to tell of foes whose corpses we've walked over."
He paused by the briefing room, turning to address those behind him. "Be of sound mind, soldiers. There is a place for turbulent and passionate recourse, but it is not in the pre-stages. Planning requires clarity for calculation. Retain it and unleash your crushing tides when there is enemy blood to fill them with." He gestured to his right, saying, "Otsuji awaits in the briefing room to give you further information. Dismissed."
The Mizukage returned the salutes given to him by those before him, watching them file into the briefing room until Okumo Naoya came back into view. He would incline his head to the young man before turning back towards his office with the expectation that he would follow. The door soon opened and Meruin soon owned the space within once more.
"Good evening, Okumo Naoya. Welcome to the Mizukage's office."
With the Mizukage out of Administration building, Naoya chose to wait away from the main hall and closer to a wall, his eyes closed and chin slightly tucked in. The rush of sound that flowed from the doors being forced open with the sounds of marching doesn't seem to be noticed or at least does not disturb the young Okumo from his position. It wasn't until the order that Naoya reacted, opening his eyes partly and taking a step forward, though he waits for most of those following closely behind Meruin to pass him before he follows them in turn.
Tensing his jaw, the young Okumo's neck tenses for a moment before starting to relax some what with a slow exhale. Never opening his eyes fully as they walked, his head shifts faintly away from each person who spoke but from such his focus was largely on the Mizukage until the others were dismissed. Tilting his head slightly, Naoya would turn his head and follow the other's movements into the briefing room. Turning his head forward again to see Meruin acknowledge his presence again, in turn bowing his head slightly before standing up right and entering the room, though he would stay close to the door.
"It is a honor sir.." is said softly, but during the following silence Naoya's leg part slightly, firming his stance while his hands slip behind himself, his right wrist is soon wrapped around by his left hand. "I requested this time for a your approval of one of the Shinobi teams that have become tense. Team Alpha." Opening his eyes fully, bright amber eyes would focus onto Meruin's chin and his mouth, not looking directly into the black orbs of the man before him. "With Feari-sama fallen, the team organized by him is no more. I am here to request the remaining elements be permitted to reform under new guidance. 'Mine'."
Meruin strode over to his desk, standing behind it and looking over to Naoya to find him in a pseudo-parade rest stance. His gaze fell square on the boy, chin lifting slightly as he listened to his entreaty. Straight to the point about things. The Mizukage took note of a few points, fingers skimming across his desk so that the papers upon then ended up in a neat stack on the other side.
"Interesting. This is a decision you have thought out, no?"
A lightly nod is offered, confirming the question before Naoya says, "There has been. There is only one acknowledged Chuunin within the remnants of the team, and only two members that are currently focused on the task at hand." Closing his eyes for a moment, a deeper breath is taken, rather than exhaling immediately it was held for several seconds before exhaling through his nose.
Tension begins to spread within his chest, and only seemed to subtly expend from there, even to the point which his left hand's grip firms considerably. "While it is not always required from the circumstances around Kaguya Yuriko, she will unlikely be able to acquire permission for tasks which could make use of her skills with her current station. The same case will be when Maki Hayase when she returns from her extended training." Closing his eyes briefly, Naoya dips his head towards Meruin for a moment as he continues to say, "Leaving matters stagnate will do little for our effectiveness and would be a waste of our coordination should they be assigned simply to another Chuunin or a Jounin of which bonds of reliance would need to be forged before progressing."
Lifting his head again, his eyes would fix back to where they once were, onto Meruin's chin though they were now unblinking. "Only a few seasons of time will be needed for either of them to become acknowledged as beyond their current station and responsibilities. After that, them team would of served its purpose in the end."
Meruin dips his head in a small nod, acknowledging the Okumo's words. "All that you speak makes its sense," he said in agreement. The Mizukage descends into his seat, long platinum hair lifting from his shoulders to begin braiding itself of its own volition. He opened his mouth to speak but paused a moment.
A swift motion towards the open window sent a long ebon needle streaking outwards, trailed by a thin rope of webbing. It pierced through the breast of a small bird as it came into view, just before it landed on the sill. A jerk pulled it into his head and an easy motion broke its neck.
"Now tell me what you've thought of the other side," he said, placing the dead bird on the corner of his desk. "The difficulties you might face and the troubles this might cause."
Furling his brow faintly at the faint rustle outside the window, and the sudden appearance of the small corpse on Meruin's desk, Naoya doesn't look away but it does make him pause. "Tension.. Rebellion.." Each of the two words that he said were followed by a pause and a light shake of his head. "Tension from the rise is station from one that was once seen as an equal.. Rebellion in questioning why they are not the lead guiding but are left to only follow."
Without thinking, Naoya's stomach and lower chest tenses and flexes, forcing his stance to shift slightly, rebalancing himself from the phantom pains within. "There will be a time of chaos and questioning.. less so if another is place in such a role heavy handed. I am used to the flares of emotion and the possible anger which would flow afterwards." Tensing his right hand, audible pops could be heard as his finger joints were forced back into alignment. "Nothing terminal will result. Tension will ease in time. Rebellions will quiet to a weak brooding before being snuffed out utterly."
"Tension… and rebellion."
Meruin's lips formed around those words deliberately, as though he were curious of the way they tasted. "Tell me something, Okumo Naoya."
A dark streak fell in front of the man's face, landing on his desk. A spider, swiftly followed by more that fell from the ceiling and made their way onto the motionless corpse to take their meal.
"There is no great work accomplished without a vision of some sort. Few meaningful things can come from one man without the direction it imparts. So tell me of your vision. Your goals. Speak to me of your 'why.'"
When the troop of spider begin to descend and engulf the offered bird, Naoya's amber eyes shifted subtly. While remaining largely focused, their tone changed from amber to a dark golden tone. "A vision.. a goal.." Closing his eyes, a light smirk began to tug at the corner of his lips despite his efforts to keep a muted expression.
"Progress" is said firmly while opening his eyes. Looking forward, Naoya's gaze settles into a distant stare as the idea take him a moment to shift into intelligent words. "Standing still leads to stagnation, moving forward alone leads to complacency and limited views. This 'group' causes one another to bleed, to be tested, to prove not only their ideal is possible, but correct even when pressured. Outsiders would only slow progress.. or halt it."
Slipping his right hand from behind his back, he turns his palm upwards, hovering near at chest height. "Progress is accelerated when it is resisted by a force of equal prowess.. you will note, it I'm not speaking of my progress alone, but also of you one time student, Kaguya Yuriko. It is harder to map for Hay-ch.." A low growl bubbles in the back of his throat, silencing himself mid word, though he soon continues, "Maki Hayase. Once each has been refined, their progressed continued to a point where staying closely by one another is efficient, I will not request the team continue to be recognized."
Deliberate yet eased, Meruin's now braided hair lowered itself onto his shoulder and over his chest in the same way his gaze returned to Naoya's.
"It is not enough," he declared.
"A true vision, a truly driving cause must be clear. Yours sounds full of energy but empty of substance, of form. So I will help you give it definition.
"As things stand, I am not inclined to make you the leader of this team. The plan thus far had been to officially dissolve it with one of you having moved on to greater rank. But I see the potential merit in your words and in your desire. I will not cull your purpose. I will test it.
Meruin's hand slides forward, settling over the spider-swarmed corpse, briefly hiding it from view. "To be a leader," he began, looking back to Naoya, "Is not to own a rank or title." When he lifted his hand again, bird and brood had both vanished. "Leadership is in your actions. In your history. In your relationships. You do not need the title you seek to accomplish your vision. You simply need the ability to make people desire to follow you where you will tread.
"So find it." Meruin's gaze is still direct, mists gaining subtle purple hues. "I will grant you the position you desire once you show me the leadership it calls for. And you may do so by fulfilling part of your vision. Kaguya Yuriko has an amazing battle prowess, but she has shown me little else. Guide her to your progress. Give her the drive and vision to impress me enough to grant her the rank of Chuunin. And once it is done, I will make you the leader of a team with her as your second until such a time that her progress and desire are great enough that she will form her own.
"Are we in understanding?"
With the silence after his last words, Naoya stood still, his hand slipping behind himself and into the grasp of his left hand once again. The first words that loose from Meruin's lips spark a subtle and brief twitch of his right eye, but little else. The mention of 'help' causes the young Okumo to begin easing, settling more as tension partially fades until the mention of a 'test'.
With the motion of Meruin's hand, Naoya's eyes do not drift away, but they harden and darken from the amber tone they had taken on for that of a dark gold once again. Along the collar of his over coat, a single spider begins to come into sight, carefully attempting to watch the shifting hand along the desk for its host. At the disappearance of the corpse, along with the swarm in such a short time sparks the spider to retreat back within the safety of the layers of clothing before then into its host.
Leaning forward slightly, Naoya bows subtly towards Meruin before lowering his head and closing his eyes to the man. "This one understand, this one also thanks you for this opportunity. It will not be wasted or treated lightly." As he began to stand upright again, Naoya's eyes open though they remained a dark golden tone. "There is must potential within her, and many sides few have seen. She will display her true talents with time."
Meruin smoothly inclines his head in response to the thanks. "I have no doubts that she will." His chin lifts slightly. "Nor any doubts that you will do the same. The fact that you are no longer avoiding me so thoroughly speaks that you may be well along your path."
The Mizukage blinks here, noticeable only for the fact that he hasn't yet done so in Naoya's sight. "Make the most of this opportunity, Okumo. It has more implications than you know.
"And for advice? I offer only two pieces, unasked for. The first? Give great thought to the order of things. Many times, it is the process that is important, even over the content. In your offer, to receive the title that they may come to find leadership in you, you showed me that you had the process backwards. Seeing things as they are — or /should/ be — will unlock many things for you.
"Second. Hone that purpose of yours until you can see it as clearly as you see me before you. If it does not resemble reality, how can you expect to bring it to existence? How can you expect others to understand enough to feel what you feel? It is my hope that by the time I deliver judgement on this task, you will share with me your triumphs and give me a better destiny than 'to get better.'"
And with this, a silence settled about the Mizukage that said he had finished speaking on the matter. The slightest tilt of the head and narrowing of the eyes silently asked the Okumo across from him, 'Is there anything else you wished to address?'
Blinking slowly once, Naoya's eyes remain lidded at first after the first piece of 'advice' was given, the next time the young Okumo blinks, his eyes remain closed and his chin tucks in as he bows his head faintly towards Meruin. Acknowledging it, though also seeming to regret the words at the moment. At the mention of 'Second' he lifts his chin and opens his eyes, revealing his bright amber eyes now focused rather than slightly distant.
'Was I really that scattered..?' is softly murmured, though the question didn't linger with him, as he soon nods once again. After the pause, Naoya shakes his head slowly from side to side. "Other ideals I hold require time to ferment before they can be spoken of." Bringing his hand from behind his back, he lifts his right hand up to the left side of his chest in a partially closed fist. "I will return before you in several seasons time with the answers that I require. Thank you Mizukage."
Meruin's reply is another dipping of the head, small but full of an air of understanding and acceptance. This day's meeting is finished, enough for now. And for later, there would be more. He would be ready to hear when the time came for those words to be spoken.
The Mizukage's hand lifted to his own chest, fist pressing against the silk over his heart in returned salute to the shinobi across his desk. There was farewell in the gesture.
"Stand in strength, Okumo Naoya."