Date: August 2, 2012
Taiki and Atsuro are called before the Inuzuka Elder Council and given a new mission, opening a new chapter in threats against the clan and Konoha. (Next chapter from Inuzuka Pride Chronicles)
"The Recluse Saga - A New Mission"
Inuzuka Founders Clan Mansion — Elders' Council Chamber
The Founder's center mansion had its doors open tonight, late in the evening right before dusk a pair of large grizzly ninken made their way to Atsuro and Taiki, within their maw a scroll telling them to come to the main meeting room for an urgent message, pretaining to Taiki's parents. The mansion itself was surprisingly empty, a single cushiond seat at the edge facing the long table which stretched towards the entrance of the meeting room, the place was crowded with ninken, guarding each exit, taking shifts, it seemed like they all had their own little system to follow.
At the head of this table was one of the clan elders, older, a woman, long silver hair and a frail foundation, she was excellent though, a breeder and a trainer, stuck to her roots and very conservative. She sat quietly in her seat, waiting… Just waiting for the two to show up in the cold silent corridors.
Taiki himself was finishing up his recommendations to Kenichi-sama when the ninken arrived. He nods deeply to the ninken, then takes the scroll from his mouth. "Nozomi, Shinobu, we've been summoned." His two ninken look up from where they were laying and nod slowly, Shinobu giving a soft wuff. "By the Council, not by Kenichi-sama," he says as he makes his way to the room. "Let me change into something more suitable then we'll be on our way. Five minutes later, he comes out wearing his red kimono with the black sleeveless Haori. The Haori has the symbol for "Inu" over his heart and the symbol for "Lightning" over the right side, in an equal placement. The back has a large version of the clan fang marks, signifying his pride in being part of the Inuzuka clan. After picking up a couple of scrolls and sliding them in pockets in the large sleeve, he turns around in front of his ninken. "So how do I look?" Another minute later and he is on his way, having sent the ninken messenger back before he went to change with an approximate time for arrival.
A total of 15 minutes later he and his ninken find themselves in front of the Founders Clan mansion. Being a member of the Founders Clan himself, he's been here several times, with and without his parents. Though the reminder of his parents makes him a little sad, and the fact he's being summoned in front of the full council makes him nervous, he schools his expression into a politely neutral one as he walks up to one of the people at the door. "Inuzuka Taiki, son of Kenshin Taiki, Partner of Shinobu and Nozomi, appearing as ordered," he says to the man. If waved or escorted in, he follows quietly with his hands tucked into the kimono's opposite sleeves, bracketed and followed by his two ninken.
This late in the day, Atsuro is at home, just about ready to relax after a long day of training. He's freshly showered and groomed, and out of his ninja equipment. Taizen, too, is resting, lying on the couch of their apartment. The nin-dog messenger arrives just as Atsuro finds himself wanting dinner. Unfortunate timing.
"Dammit," mutters Atsuro, taking the scroll from the message dog. "Thanks," he tells him, "I'll read it right away." Hoping for good news (is it ever?) he reads the scroll. Looks like dinner's going to have to wait. Quick as he can, he starts getting back into ninja gear. Put on forehead protector, put on chuunin vest, put on kunai holster, put on equipment pouch, and take off socks and put on sandals. He /thinks/ that's— wait, this is a meeting with total squares. He buttons up his shirt and zips up his chuunin vest as well.
Now that he's ready, he and Taizen hurry out the door, quickly locking up behind them then heading for the Founder's Mansion. Atsuro feels his stomach rumble as the building comes into sight. Apprehension or hunger, he wonders. He shows up to the building not long after Taiki. "Inuzuka Atsuro," he says as he approaches the guard, "I've been summoned for a meeting." Once allowed in, he continues to the meeting area.
As Taiki, followed by Atsuro entered the scene they would find themselves flanked by both sides from the most grizzly of ninken, the guards naturally let them in, double checking the scroll as a precaution. Nevertheless the duo would be lead into the massive meeting chamber, darkness eluded them except the the main elder at the foot of the table, candles lit the interior, illuminating the room with a faint hint of despair.
"The both of you, please take a seat," the elder spoke softly, with further investigation it was known that her name was Inuzuka Hanuko, though not a heir she was as old as can be, one of the oldest living members of the clan. Her wrinkled hands folded along the table, there were a few mutters, shadows of the council, " Is that a lightning symbol on his chest?" one of the members whispered out, though Hanuko gestured for the man to be quite, she had Senority here.
"You've been behaving lately, Taiki-san, I trust that Atsuro-san has been keeping a well trained eye on you?" She asks, her voice trailed a little raspy, it was good that the place was so silent or else it would have been difficult to hear. "Do you know why you are here, do you know why security is so tight…?"
Taiki walks in calmly, taking the seat as ordered. He pretends not to even hear the comments about the symbols on his Haori, having long had practice at ignoring far worse. Indeed, that bit of curiosity is minor, and the Inuzuka Fang marks, as well as the Inu symbol, more than states just where his true loyalties lie. He is an Inuzuka, a Founders Clan member, and has been taking up his father's work as of late. So of course he's been good. All he needed was the removal of the death threats.
Bearing that in mind, Taiki nods his head in respect to Hanuko before speaking in a polite and respectful tone, "Hai, and when I'm not under the eyes Atsuro-sensei, I have been under the gaze of Kenichi-sama. I have tried to the best of my abilities to do honor to our clan since that unfortunate incident. I hope I have met your expectations, Hanuka-sama," he says, bowing deeply this time. "Unfortunately I do not know why I've been called, save the scroll indicated it was for a briefing. As to the security here, I can only assume this has to do with sensitive information, or dangerous information, or both. Of course that is only conjecture, and if I am wrong please instruct me as to my errors?"
Those who know Atsuro well are generally aware that he doesn't hold much influence within the clan. He had a feeling that whomever he was meeting here would make things difficult because of this, but this Hanuko, at least so far, has been civil enough. Regardless, he's pretty sure he'll let Taiki do most of the talking here, if he can. Aside from the fact that the meeting seems to be about Taiki… well, he's never had much contact with the elders, and he can't see a reason to change that for the time being. As directed, he takes a seat on the chair provided for him, sitting up stiffly as he waits for the meeting to begin.
And so it does. Hanuko sets her attentions mostly on Taiki for the moment. He can't help but frown a little in the direction of the whisper, but for the most part he sits and listens to Taiki's response. Maybe the kid knows more about what's going on than he does.
Hanuka was very civil, or at least at first glimpse, as Taiki spoke, while his attitude was sincere, she felt as if he simply wasn't sincere enough, she snarled her noise briefly, while planting her palms along the table, maintaining just how upset she actually was. " You are here because you decided to take a seperate path, with a total disregard of our clans heritage and traditions, specifically, the Founding Branch, our most important structure," Her voice was firm, flat out harsh she she leaned in, the words spit right out of her mouth literally, it was great that they were so far away from one another. " Most of the actions of the council, and investigation has shown that due to your public means of breaking from old traditions our clan, especially the founding branch has become a target… We searched through our own ranks, months we have been looking within our own ranks, invading the privacy of our clan, because of something you have done… " her voice paused briefly, a hint of grief, anger all of the above.
" Investigations have been completed, or at least what we could have find just on the outskirts of the Land of Fire… To be conclusive, your antics has spread from not just your clan but definitely your friends and whomever you mat reign close to," Hanuka explains, finally crossing her arms along one another, her eyes briefly turn to Atsuro, " Atsuro-san…. What do you think of this situation?"
Taiki frowns deeply for a moment as Hanuka spoke, his eyes narrowing as he listened to the Elder place the blame for his uncle's crimes on him. Like any Inuzuka worth their salt, he even snarls as the implications are made. It would appear as if he were tried without the possibility of defense, and found guilty for something he did not do. But he does not speak, nor does he do anything other than sit there. Indeed, the snarl soon fades into a polite expression of neutrality. As his sensei had been addressed, he remains silent, motioning to his ninken to remain still. This gesture is needed, as both ninken were up to that point also snarling. But his motion is obeyed, and they settle down with the only proviso being that they draw closer to him in a more protective stance than before. Not directly challenging, but it is clear they will protect their partner.
Well, this isn't quite so civil, is it? Atsuro slowly folds his arms as his brow creases slightly. He remains calm, but obviously he's displeased with this turn of events. Taizen is not a dog who expresses upset, but he has gone still and quiet. Unlike Atsuro, he may simply be saddened by this, but clearly he doesn't like where things appear to be headed. His response to the question is carefully worded. "I don't know exactly why sort of answer you're looking for," he answers, "Or rather, what about this situation you'd like me to address. If I may, I don't quite understand the purpose of this meeting."
Atsuro's answer was at least somewhat suffice. The woman crooked her head for the moment, she hoped her words landed home for the moment, enough to get him a little upset, his reaction was exactly what she was looking for. " What ever your reasons to continue on this path, whether you feel compelled to be individualistic or what have you… the Council here has deemed it apporiate that despite this we can't abandon our own blood, no matter the circumstances…" She peered around at Atsuro, and then exchanged a quick glance with the shadow council about her, there were still some disagreements but overall they reached the same conclusion.
" Taiki-san you are still young, but nevertheless you are the sole one responsible for this, there for it has been deemed that you will take care of the situation, you are to be the one to track them down, the one known as Reculse… We know that you can't handle this alone… Atsuro-san, your guardian will be able to help you in these regards, there is no other choice in the manner…"
Taiki sits there for a moment, the now mask of neutrality still on his face. Though some people have been more supportive lately, it was too much to ask for the Elders to admit they may have been wrong about him. After a few moments of careful deliberation he stands and bows to the Elders, his voice polite. "Even if you had not laid this task before me, I would have asked to have been a part of the group to track them down, Hanuka-sama. They have murdered my mother, and are on their way to killing my father. It seems their mastery of seals is great, or so the Med-Nins have explained to me. I have already vowed vengeance, and therefore I thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me in this. I will not rest until all members of this organization, and their collaborators, are found and brought to justice. The blood of my mother, a prominent member of the Inuzuka, demands no less."
He bows again, taking the time from doing this to consider his next words. "You are right, I am young. I am growing in my abilities, but I am not able to take on all comers as of yet. So again I thank you for allowing Atsuro-sensei to assist me. But allow me to make a peace offering, if I may?" He considers his words carefully before continuing, "I had never meant for my studies to benefit only myself. I regretfully and respectfully take a small exception to being called individualistic on those grounds. The Founders Clan of the Inuzuka are the ninjutsu specialists of the overall clan. As such, I humbly invite the Elders of the Founders to observe my innovations on our clan's tiajutsu. If my fighting style meets with their approval, and provided I can gain approval from our honored Elders to do so, I will offer to help teach anyone the heads of the Founders and-or Alpha Clans, or their heirs, direct to learn. I do not wish to horde this to myself, nor do I wish to be a lone wolf. I wish to help our Clan grow. Those are my goals, as they have long been. But just to be clear, Hanuka-sama, I will not teach this unless I have permission to do so. I just ask for the chance to prove myself to you. I am not a traitor, nor do have I ever held myself separate from the rest of the clan. I am a member of the Founders Clan, and the son of Inuzuka Kenshin, a well respected member of our Clan."
Taiki lets those words hang for a moment before speaking again. "In the meantime I will obey your directives, and use any and all means at my disposal to ensure that these people are dealt with. Is there any information you possess that may assist me in these endeavors?"
Ah, so that's it, is it? Atsuro's expression darkens. The real purpose of the meeting was to assign them a mission, but it seems a certain someone just couldn't resist an attempt at claiming the moral high-ground. He regrets not speaking his mind when given the opportunity, but he was hoping there was an actual point to it all. Plus, he's not sure just how sincere the request for his opinion was. If only these were his younger days, when he'd feel free to wage unrestricted verbal warfare. He makes a mental note to apologize to Taiki when they get a free moment.
He sits quiet and lets Taiki say his piece. Once the boy is finished, he figures he'll take the opportunity to ask for more details. "Can I ask exactly what this Recluse is, and what they want? And how should we track them down? Is there some kind of lead, or have the captured criminals agreed to help us?" There is a subtle emphasis on the word 'criminals.' Even if he can't simply speak his mind, he can at least remind these people just whom they're trying to make excuses for.
It was interesting at least, to see Taiki take the "high ground" so to speak in an effort to quell and but things on his side of the fence, he words seemed sincere but even admist everything, words would not be enough to satisfy the council. " This situation has grown from a personal vendetta to a discourse of the entire clan; This situation doesn't excuse you from what you have already done Taiki-san, however in the light within this darkness, it is a chance… To prove yourself," She left it at that, the old woman sighd and the more level headed Atsuro seems to take the stage soon after, "There isn't much a trace of the Recluse left, our last lead left us with fewer clues, other than they are after anything that Taiki might be close to, including yourself… The only other detail we have is during the mission they discovered a ninken, they aren't just skilled in sealing jutsu but medical ninjutsu as well, or at least they know someone, The Ninken itself was turned rabid, massive in size due to hormonal growth, not only are we targets but our faithful companions as well… This mission will require you to go out, and collect leads yourself, however you will have full access to anything you may need, the situation is growing and we need to know exactly what we are dealing with before we lose another life," With a pause she finally began to rise to a stand, along with the rest of the shadows, their face suddenly illuminated by the light. "Atsuro-san, you will be responsible for organizing this mission, as the senior of the group, you have something to prove as well as Taiki-san… And so far you have done well,"
Taiki's mask is still in place as he is determined to not give these people any more ammunition against him. Seeing is offer neither accepted nor refused, he makes a mental note to himself to gather all his notes on adapting elemental taijutsu to the Four Legged style and to start scrolls. Really, it was better than he expected, as he had thought they would snarl at him and turn his offer down out of hand. Instead there's that laying blame again, along with the "offer" to prove himself. So be it. When this was all said and done, he would demand apologies for their accusations about forcing his uncles to commit child abuse and treason, but right now this was neither the time nor the place to bring those points up. Instead he nods his head once as he considers their words and plots his own.
"Very well, Hanuka'sama. I ask for copies any and all evidence that my parents left behind. If you do not have that, I will ask the Hokage's office for that. I will work with my Team, and my other friends, and we will prove a bitter pill to swallow, one that will choke them to death. While I cannot take responsibility for any other lives lost, for I cannot control the actions of the Recluce, I will endeavor to keep their attentions focused on me, which is what I am assuming you wish, is it not?" Oh yes, he knows exactly what they are attempting to do, and what they want from him. He'll cooperate, but only so far. "In the meantime, am I safe to assume a copy of the mission report will be forwarded to either my sensei or myself, so we may go over it? If so, then with your permission we will take our leave, and prepare for this upcoming … mission."
"That's all I need for the time being," Atsuro says. He nearly says thank you out of simple convention, but stops himself upon deciding that they've actually given him almost nothing here today. If he should say anything further, it should be far less polite than that. He'd actually heard of the captured nin-dog not long ago. However, he hadn't imagined that it would be somehow connected to all this. Seeing everyone else rise, he figures the meeting is about over and gets to his feet. "We should talk later," he tells Taiki, then, now that it's acceptable, does what he'd so desperately wished to do earlier and walks out of the meeting, gesturing for Taizen to follow him.