Date: August 14, 2010
The morning after Team 01's arrival in the alternate world, plans are finalized, gaps in knowledge are filled in, and Rinako dons a skin-tight bikini in order to get her friends and herself home!
"Mirror Mirror - The Plan"
Resistance Safehouse - Land of Winter
After a careful but expedient planning session, both Team Ruri and Team Sheex decide to call it a night. It has been a long day for everyone, though the desert-version Suna ninja are likely more tired than the ones who have been living in this land for eight years. There are very sparse accomodations for the 'guests', but the same is true for the ones who dwell here regularly. No beds. No fluffy pillows. Just futons (most of them either patched and old or hand-made) blankets, and some very basic pillows. They aren't as uncomfortable as sleeping on rocks or anything, but they're a far cry from the furniture that Team Ruri's members are probably used to.
All the information that Team Sheex had available and was comfortable sharing has been provided. Plans have been drawn up, including a map of the place they're travelling to. "It cost the lives of many, many people to smuggle out the floor plans for Facility Prime one piece at a time. We have those plans now, and finally a way to get in. Let's make sure that all those lives weren't lost in vain," Sheex had explained. When questioned about how 'Other-Rinako' looks, how she is usually dressed, and so forth, in order for modifications to be made to 'Real-Rinako's appearance, Other-Ruri took great satisfaction in showing Team 01 a photograph that had been taken of Other-Rinako during a party a few weeks ago.
The photograph depicted a slightly older looking Rinako, a lot more fit and toned (which is significant, because Rinako is already pretty fit and toned), and she was wearing significantly less than the Rinako that Team 01 is familiar with. She may or may not have been a bit 'better built'. That might just have been an optical illusion caused by the outfit. The Rinako in the photograph was wearing a skintight shiny black outfit that revealed more than it concealed — something like a bikini augmented by studded belts. Added to that the face was… wrong. She didn't look at all self-conscious about her attire. Her expression was reminiscent of the Sheex of Team 01's world. Cruelty laced with amusement.
Kara, and likely the rest of Team 01, had turned to stare at 'their' Rinako. Kara had then turned her attention back on the photograph and asked, "What… What's she smiling about?" Other-Ruri seemed to almost enjoy telling her. "This was taken in one of the Wind enclaves, several months ago. She's overseeing the executions of dissidents." Kara just shook her head, no longer that interested in allowing her eyes to linger on the photo with >that< information.
Other information, vital to the mission's success, had been provided. Such as who their target was. Another photograph had been provided, this one of the woman that Team 01 would have likely recognize as Councilwoman Hibari of Sunagakure. Other-Hibari was dressed in a sort of form-fitting suit of armor, that had various 'pockets' in its surface, containing glowing liquid or energy or… Something. Instead of glasses, she wore a visor with a band of red crystal going horizontally across the center. "This is the Head of the Technical Division." Other-Sheex had told them. "And she is our target."
That was the night before. Now, it is early morning, and both teams should be up and ready. Water is available via boiled snow. Food is less plentiful. A broad leaf from some plant that serves as both storage container and plate, with some beans and less than a handful of white rice. Some rabbit meat is likewise available, but it too is being divided up amongst four people and one cat, and there was only one rabbit. Not much of a breakfast, but with the way that Team Sheex is eating so voraciously, they apparently don't get a lot of food normally. This is confirmed when Other-Shemri apologizes. "My apologies, but compared to our usual fare, this is a feast. It may be rather insubtantial to you, but… These are our emergency stores. It was decided that a filling breakfast is necessary to provide the energy needed for this mission." So saying she resumes eating.
"Well… we all need a hobby." 'Real' Rinako didn't seem nearly as worried about what the clone of herself was smiling about as she was about the fact that she might have to wear something so atrocious as skin-tight anything. Her clothes were kept loose and baggy because that was the way she enjoyed them, often complaining any time something actually fit her snugly as being unable to 'breathe'. And so it is now, with the 'modifications' that are made to the dark-haired jinchuriki's usual appearance.
'How does she walk around in this without popping out!?', 'WHY is there a HOLE there!?', 'Wait, this strap goes where?', and other such exclamations of dismay and discomfort are brought out from the young woman as she is forced to change. She's never really been much for layers, but the Suna kunoichi certainly seemed more than happy to squeeze into fur-lined pants, shirt, and vest, thus covering the humiliating attire, to make herself ready for travel through the blistering cold.
"I hate myself already," the jinchuriki mutters dismally under her breath as she downs her morning meal. Even after it had been inhaled in the mere matter of moments, her stomach still manages to let out a plaintive growl. For a girl who usually ate like a horse, she was in dire straits with such meager fare, and could only hope her stomach wouldn't let out another whine of protest at the wrong time. Rinako leans towards first Real-Shemri, then Fake-Shemri, and then Real-Kara, each time pointing towards whatever uneaten portion they have left with a pitiful, begging grin and an all-too-friendly, "Uhhhh… you gonna eat that?"
After trying to hit up everyone in reach that she thinks just might give her a bite, it's back to studying, with the photograph of her other-self in one hand, and a mirror in the other, trying to guage any alterations she might have to henge her features with.
Shemri had found the photograph of Other-Rinako pretty weird. e.e She goes around dressed like /that/ in /this/ climate? And /why/? Who is she trying to impress? :P Shemri almost made Rinako promise she'd never go for a style like that back home, but the look on Rinako's face assured her it wouldn't be an issue.
For the circumstances, Shemri managed to rest fairly well. True there are much better accomodations at home, but both ninja and hunters are accustomed to roughing it while out in the field, and a futon beats a sleeping bag anytime. What was more uncomfortable were the many thoughts the bizarre circumstances generate in a mind trying to achieve the quiet necessary for sleep. Fortunately (in this case, anyway), Shemri's never been much of a thinker, and eventually she managed to drift off. Having a warm furball breathing steadily at her side probably helped too.
And now, almost too soon, it's time to go. Not that Shemri's enjoying her stay or anything, but at least this little place feels sort of safe. It feels like someplace where adjusting to this strange new world would be bearable. Tough luck, there's no time to adjust. It's sink or swim. And speaking of which…Shemri grudgingly gives Rinako a tiny amount of her portion. e.e She's more confident in her own ability to withstand hunger than Rinako's, and Rinako's part in this operation is the most vital. If she's lucky, maybe Shemri and Shiikaa will manage to scare up something along the way…although if that were an option, Other-Shemri probably would've managed it already.
Ruri had stared at the picture too. She had seen her sister in less than that, obviously. But it wasn't the clothing that was making her stare. It was the fact that she knew that HER sister wouldn't dress like that. Rinako had no interest in having a bunch of random goons staring at her body. This 'Other-Rinako' seemed to have a different opinion. The climate probably wasn't important to the doppleganger either, if she was that deranged. Ruri could think of only one possible reason for all of this bizarre behavior… But that was based on the limited information she had available. She wanted to make SURE she was right.
Having had more than one reason to be tired and despite the unfamiliar environment, Ruri fell asleep pretty quickly. She wanted to remain vigilant and wary of ambushes and what-have-you. But she couldn't seem to muster the energy to be paranoid. She slept, she dreamed, and her dreams were nightmares. Something about Sheex sitting in a throne and laughing as Ruri ran around a royal court or something, being chased by the Ghoul of the Desert. There were guards and others everywhere, but no matter how Ruri begged, pleaded, yelled, shook people, or anything else, they all remained stone-faced, unblinking, oblivious to the threat. Somehow, when Ruri awoke in the morning, she did not feel exhausted from the nightmares, but instead somewhat refreshed by the sleep. Unpleasant dreams, but her body had rested at least.
Ruri eats her breakfast quietly and quickly, making no comment on the sparse nature of the meal. Rinako knows better than to try to mooch food off her sister, apparently, so Ruri is done pretty quickly, with no arguing over being 'selfish' or whatever. When everyone is done eating, she says, "Are we ready to go? And how are we going to arrive at this… What was it called?" She turns her attention on Other-Sheex. "'The Factory' or something, right? I'm guessing it's a bit far away to just walk there. And there's probably guards and patrols all over the place. So how do we reach the place?"
Once everyone has finished eating — something that takes a very short time, given both the portions served and the hunger of those consuming the meal — Other-Sheex answers Ruri. "Hai. We can leave immediately. And no, 'The Facility' is far to the east, in the Land of Fire. Travelling on foot is not only dangerous, but essentially impossible. There are far too many soldiers wandering the roads and country-side. Transportation will be via means that were previously unavailable to us… Do you any of you know of the Summoning Technique? It is a form of Ninjutsu that allows one being to instantly transport or 'summon' another being to the former's location. High Researcher Hibari has created devices that allow large numbers of troops, workers, supply wagons, and so forth, to be Summoned to any other location with a 'receiving' device ready and functional. Such 'teleportation pads' are located in most major bases held by the Dead King's minions, and in all four homes for the Dark Triad and the Dead King himself."
Other-Sheex starts rooting around in a tool pouch, as he continues. "Generally, only those with proper authorization can make use of the pads. No one present has that authorization." Then he withdraws a kunai and a glass vial and offers the blade handle-first to Rinako. "Except for you, Rinako-san. Would you mind cutting yourself please? Not too deep. We only need a little blood."
Kara has is busy fussing over Pharaoh after finishing eating, trying to make sure he is protected against any side-effects of cold weather there might be. That means checking various weapons and tools, replacing things with spare parts she has stored in scrolls if necessary, and so on. If something freezes solid in a highly lethal situation, it could spell disaster. At Other-Sheex's question for Rinako, she glances over her shoulder briefly, before focusing back on her Puppet. Seems she's not that concerned!
Sighing once the food runs out, though she at least has the manners to thank Shemri for the tiny bit shared, Rinako stifles a yawn. Just like the heat, extreme cold tended to make her drowsy, as if she were some sort of cold-blooded amphibious reptile rather than a warm-blooded mammal. She's at least awake enough to hear the parts about transportation jutsu that certainly sounded extremely useful. But at the request, one eyebrow archs as her lips turn down into a frown.
"Oh sure, first I break my finger, now I get to cut myself. What is it about me that makes people think I enjoy hurting myself?"
By morning the jinchuriki's finger had been more or less repaired by the natural healing of her bijuu, but she still didn't seem to be ecstatic as she takes the throwing knife in one hand, and the small vial in the other. She passes the sharp edge of the blade across the tip of her index finger, opening a small line of bright red about an inch long before holding her wounded finger over the glass vial, squeezing it with her thumb to prompt more of the red liquid to dribble out. Her body's natural coagulants soon stem the flow, prompting her to hold up the vial, as if checking the volume of it's contents, and then turning both it and the knife back over to the Sheex look-a-like.
"These things aren't alarmed, are they? They're not designed to turn us inside-out if the wrong blood is used? I don't want to be transported into the middle of a prison cell due to some miniscule difference in my doppleganger's blood."
Shemri raises an eyebrow. "We have heard of summoning, but I do not believe we have…/machines/ for doing it in our world. I wonder if they shall be invented soon after we return?" Assuming they /do/ find a way back, of course, but Shemri's optimistic like that…in a 'We need to do this, so we shall' sort of way. Shemri folds her arms. "So, the Hibari-sama of this world has joined the enemy as well?"
Ruri listens to the explanation, nodding to confirm she has heard of Summoning. Would be hard not to have when the Sheex of THEIR world had performed one! Add to that Ruri's thorough self-education, and she at least knows SOMETHING about it, even if she can't perform it herself. As Sheex mentions devices that can Summon… That makes her frown. She wants to interrupt, but stays quiet until after the explanation is done. Rinako cutting her finger for blood makes her twitch a bit, disliking this business, but it's necessary.
Finally, she can stay quiet no longer. "Summoning doesn't work that way," she states suddenly, almost cutting off the end of Shemri's question. She waits a couple seconds for some protest or repudiation of her statement, but if none if forthcoming within that time frame, she says further, "The Summoning Technique requires Chakra to perform. Further, there must be intelligent direction of that Chakra. If it was just some kind of really advanced machine, it wouldn't need a blood sample, would it? And yet you just got a blood sample. So how does this 'device' use the Summoning Technique?"
This isn't really the best time to be questioning Other-Sheex, especially not in front of his subordinates, but she has a VERY hard time trusting him, even when she is aware intellectually that he is not the same person she fought and destroyed back home. She knows that 'Real-Sheex' had wanted the power of the Three-Tails for himself. Would a blood sample be sufficient for him to manipulate some gain for himself out of Ruri's sister? She keeps the suspicion out of her voice and off her face, however. "I am very curious, you see." She ignores the issue of Hibari. Ruri never trusted her in the first place, so it's no big surprise she sided with the 'winner'.
Other-Sheex answers Rinako first. "There are definitely alarms. There are also traps, guards, and self-destructing devices for every teleportation pad. There are about ten seconds for an unidentified arrival to provide identification via a machine set in a metal pole on the edge of the platform. After that, not only are alarms sounded and guards notified immediately, but a variety of bad things happen to the intruder, ranging from kunai grenade bombardment, electrocution, neuro-toxic gasses, and incineration, to simply 'sending' the intruder into the side of a mountain."
Other-Ruri looks up from where she is packing weapons and things onto her person in every place imaginable, and smiles nastily. "Materializing inside of solid stone is lethal, by the way," she offers, and then returns her attention to getting ready. Other-Kara has remained silent for most of this, but she now speaks up at Shemri's question, ignoring Ruri's outburst at the end. "It is possible. Tenjin is a genius. She has mastered not only Medical Ninjutsu, but also Sensor Ninjutsu, Herbalism, Pharmacology, and Engineering. She can produce enhancement drugs, truth serums and poisons just as easily as healing salves that grant normal people regeneration on par with a Jinchuuriki temporarily, mind control chemicals that break a subject's will faster and more efficiently than any Genjutsu thanks to altering the actual functions of the brain on the biological level, and all sorts of other nasty things." Other-Kara is watching Team 01 calmly, but carefully. Familiar faces or not, she isn't going to let anyone stab her in the back.
She coldly continues, "She also invented the teleportation pads we will be using, and the weapons and defenses the guards will be using, and who knows what else. She also has essentially no morals or ethics at all. She grafted a pregnant woman's lower body onto a normal man's torso once, just to see if it was true that men can't survive the pain of childbirth." Other-Ruri pipes up again as she rises from her crouch. "It was true!" she provides, sounding like a mix of cheerful and annoyed. "Can we get going now, please?"
Other-Sheex waited until Other-Kara had explained before answering Ruri. "These teleportation devices use Chakra as well. They have living beings tied into their construction. The intelligent direction is provided remotely. The brains of the 'components' are empty of all thought, memory, or anything else, and so are used as 'storage' for the information necessary to direct or receive a teleportation. Coordinates, and other variables for destinations and arrival points are 'burned' into the brains, and then when someone wishes to travel, he or she simply uses the machine I mentioned before. A 'control panel' set in a metal pole, alongside the teleportation pad. The machine manipulates the numbers that the brain is currently focusing on, and then Chakra is artificially stimulated in the enslaved bodies."
He shakes his head, seemingly just as disturbed by admitting this information as everyone else likely is in hearing it. Finally, he says, "Rianko-san, you are to arrive first, preferably with at least two of us at your sides. If it was >just< you, then you would not even be questioned. The machine would recognize you automatically. But with unidentified passengers, just touching the machine with a hand will be necessary to shut down the security system. While we don't have the schematics or technical specifications, we have learned through resistance members that the machine checks the user's DNA, Chakra, soul, and Chakra stability. The stability part is to ensure the subject is not under the influence of a Genjutsu, drug, or similar. You are genetically identical to Rina—the Princess, your personal Chakra is the same — though perhaps more potent — and presumably so is your soul. You will not be influenced by any Genjutsu or drugs, so that is not a concern either. The blood sample is simply a precaution. If we are unable to escape readily with the information your Team needs…"
He doesn't mention anything about taking Hibari with them.
"…Then a strategic retreat may be in order. Meaning that someone will have to send the survivors of our two Teams somewhere safe to regroup, and your blood will be the key to transporting those survivors away from The Facility. It will be rather exhausting, but it will be better than allowing us all to be captured." Other-Ruri eyes her younger counter part, and has been for awhile now. Walking across the room, she leans down in front of Ruri and smiles in a friendly manner, as she whispers very quietly, "Don't question Sheex-sensei again." She squints her eyes and smiles wider. "He knows better than you. He could have left you to die. If you disrespect him with your suspicious words, I will kill you." Then she straightens up and walks away, towards the stairwell leading up to the entrance/exit of this underground habitation.
"Always knew men weren't up to snuff." The dark-haired jinchuriki frowns as she folds her arms across her chest, nodding her head briefly to indicate that she understood what she was to do. "Touch the machine, got it. Let's just hope it's not smart enough to realize I have something else inside me that shouldn't be there."
Rinako eyes the other-sister as she moves to talk quietly to her real-sister, but thankfully for group cohesion, she doesn't hear the words passed between them. Instead, she's busy rubbing at the back of her neck and scowling down at the piece of floor between her feet. "Why am I always the guinea pig who has to see if things work? Tch… being a ninja sucks." After muttering to herself, her brown eyes snap back up towards Sheex, and she waves a hand in an expansive gesture around herself, one which was meant to include the rest of the group. "So which two are coming with me? And how are the rest of you going to get there if I'm the only one who can activate this thing with any reasonable chance of it not being a suicide trip?"
A moment's hesitation, and then she opens her mouth, shuts it as she glances towards Real-Ruri, then back to Sheex. "I, or rather the 'Princess', doesn't have someone with relations that we might run into, right? I'm not going to suddenly run smack into some gal who's supposed to be my BFF, or some… guy or something who's supposed to be my lover." A moment's thought reveals a possible silver lining in that train of thought. "And just how bitchy do I get to be to the people around me?"
Shemri makes an almost nauseated face when the functioning of the teleportation machines is explained. She doesn't understand the complexities of it, but she got that it involves using living people as machine parts. "Oi…and we are going to use one of these monstrosities?" c.C; Not that it likely hurts the victims much more than they already have been, and the practical necessity is obvious…but it still feels pretty rotten on principle. Like a group of environmental extremists spreading their views on paper that came from the trees of a decimated rainforest, or something.
Ruri listens to the answers provided, and nods. She understands. It's kind of interesting, in a way, how this 'genius Tenjin' has taken such different paths from her 'real' counterpart. …Or has she? It's not like Ruri knows much about what the Hibari of Sunagakure does. She can apparently make EVIL PLANTS somehow, so maybe she's not that far off from rigging mutilated bodies to machines to let people get around faster. She'll have to investigate when they get home.
IF they get home.
For now, Ruri shakes her head and starts to rise, when her older self approaches and leans in close. Ruri fights hard to keep a muscle in her cheek from twitching as she stares politely into that so-familiar face. When the death threat is uttered, she doesn't react immediately. Instead, she waits until Other-Ruri has turned to walk away. Then her left hand whips out and attempts to seize her counterpart's wrist. Rising to her feet, Ruri turns her gaze on her other self, and smiles. "Thanks for the motivational speech, and the same to you," she says at normal conversational volume. She tries to lock eyes (or eye) with Other-Ruri for a moment, and then lets go, if the doppleganger hasn't already broken free.
Then she makes sure she is ready and moves over to check on her sister. She wants to make sure that broken finger is no longer broken. Even without Rinako bitching about it and sending her death glares, she feels plenty guilty on her own.
Other-Sheex answers Rinako as the display between the two Ruris continues and concludes, with Other-Ruri being released, and stalking away towards the stairs. "We have access to a teleportation pad to send us to one in the cargo and delivery pad of The Facility. We haven't been able to use it safely, however, for the reasons I already said. With your presence, Rinako-san, you can first travel to the pad at Hibari's fortress, and then deactivate the security measures with your presence and the touching of the machine I mentioned. While security remains deactivated, the rest of us will teleport in, and then when we are all present, we can enter the fortress and follow the floor plans to the control room. From there, locating Hibari should be simple. You can simply order the machines there to divulge any information we require."
Other-Kara grabs up a tattered manilla folder with various notes and pieces of paper and such inside, including that racy photograph of Princess Rinako. She flips it open and looks through the information. "The Princess has no known 'friends' outside of her master, and potentially High Researcher Tenjin. The third member of the Dark Triad is one that she keeps her distance from, typically. It is difficul to trust others enough to make friends when every moment of one's life is spent in a haze of paranoid delusions that are actually fairly close to reality. There are many who would like to take her place as a member in the Dark Triad."
Closing the folder, Other-Kara looks up with her blue eyes at Rinako and says, "But assassinating one of the most powerful people in the world, in addition to being exceedingly difficuly, is also likely to catch the attention of >the< most powerful person in the world: the Dead King himself. And he would be displeased at the murder of his student and adopted 'daughter'. That doesn't mean that less intelligent minions or resistance members might not try to kill her anyway."
She shrugs and puts the folder down on the ground where she got it. "As for lovers, she has plenty. That's public knowledge. The specifics of her sex life are, for some strange reason, not a topic discussed with impunity, and thus I am sadly unaware of quite how many men have passed between her legs since she and her master took over. However, it is reasonable to assume that at the rate she goes through them, she has no plans to remain attached to any one individual. They are probably used for pleasure or to relieve boredom, and for no other reason." There is a pause, and then Other-Kara tilts her head to the side as she asks in the same cold monotone, "Would you like her measurements and preferences in partners as well?" Was that a joke? A really bad, really disturbing joke? It's hard to tell. There has been no change in Other-Kara's voice tone or expression. …At least that can be seen.
Other-Sheex says, "Alright, that's enough. Let's get moving. And yes, She—Err… Well, I suppose I can call you 'Shemri' and our world's Shemri can be called 'Shem', if that is acceptable?" Other-Shemri looks up from tieing her heavy, white fur cape closed about herself. "Ah. Aha. Yes, that should work. It will cut down on confusion in the midst of battle." Other-Sheex nods and says to Shemri, "Shemri-san, once the Dead King has been crushed, and his armies destroyed… Once the land sees spring again, and the enslaved are freed… The poor creatures being used for the abominable devices will be terminated. They may not be able to feel pain anymore, but their souls deserve rest, at the very least. Until then, we must use what resources we have at our disposal."
And with that, the two teams of ninja prepare to head outside on their mission…