Date: January 18, 2015
The organization known as Hanpa arrive in Kirigakure to meet with the Mizukage about the Silence and the desires of the Shinobi Alliance.
"The Silence - Traversing the Spider's Web"
The date had been set some days prior to the actual occurance of the meeting. A week in fact after the request had been sent to the Mizukage's office. IT detailed the fact that a meeting had been held in Kumogakure concerning the Silence, and that an envoy was being sent to represent the "Shinobi Alliance's interests" in the matter. Hanpa was given at permission to make his way to speak on these matters, and thus he would inform Ayumu and Zetto of his desire that they join him on a trip to Kirigakure to meet with the Mizukage. For Zetto, this was primarily to get him involved in how things would work and up to speed on what exactly was going on within the organization. With Ayumu, it was a bit more complex. Sunagakure representation, even if low ranking, was something that was important to Hanpa's proposal, but beyond that, his experience with matters such as these from days long past were also of value.
Hanpa would have arrived in Kirigakure a few days ahead, making sure that his paper work and verifications were all in order prior to the meeting so nothing would hold it up when the time arrived. He stayed to himself, though he did take a bit of a tour of the village. It had expanded a bit since the last time he was here. It also gave him a small bit of a feel of the new Mizukage's character who was perhaps no more than a genin the last time Hanpa had been in this village. So, a bit of time before the meeting was to occur, Hanpa would now be waiting for his entourage to arrive. They deserved at least the smallest of briefings after all.
Trip from Kumogakure to Kirigakure had been far from enjoyable. Oh how he hated those endless fields of snow and blinding sunlight reflecting from the ice. Yet as motivated as he was he had made it here in record time. Now only thing left form him was to track down Hanpa, which was a bit of a problem. He did not exactly know the village like his pockets. Not being too familiar with the layout of Kiri he kept up pace fearing to miss their appointment. Yet despite all the stress he was in a good mood. His meeting with the Raikage had gone better than expected and things were set in motion. In fact everything seemed to go almost too well. A fact, which should worry him as sooner or later something would come up. And then there he was. Right place at the right time and it would seem Hanpa had made his way there prior to him.
Securing passage to the Land of Water had been less than easy, but by some miracle Ayumu managed it. Although the alliance had yet to be annuled, the relationship between the Land of Wind and that of Water was strained by the declaration. At least that is what the Iga had chosen to presume, though for obvious reasons, the difficulties he was besieged by went beyond such issues. He lacked the physical evidence, and yet remained certain of being watched more than usual. Despite the disturbing thought, once the request was made by Hanpa, the Iga set aside his concerns in favor of preparation.
Officially, he and Arika were apart of a larger team overseeing the transporation of goods from the Sunagakure to Kirigakure. Normally the role of guard would've been transfered to whatever personal Kirigakure deemed fit, but the products in question required careful monitoring. It is apart of the reason why Ayumu was allowed to join in the first place. At the earliest opportunity Ayumu handed the role over to several shadow clone, and left explicit instructions to Arika to make sure noone dispelled them. Over the trip a few of the team members had taken it upon themselves to constantly poke or prod the Iga for inexplicable reasons. Aside from that, the Iga was careful not to make mention of his intentions, or to give away the moment in which he slipped way…
It does not take long at all to reach the meet point with some time to spare. Despite this, he is nervous, and… conflicted. He nearly wound up lost twice because of his thoughts being so scattered. Thankfully, some order returns to them upon picking up on Hanpa's familiar presence, and by extension, Zetto's abnormally high concentration of chakra. Ayumu wore his usual fox-like smile during the approach, though it is a little distorted thanks to his eyes actually being open.
Arika was chosen to help Ayumu for this mission, to which she was glad. He was, technically, her teacher now that he had accepted her request! The girl was put in charge of the Shadow clones, but who wants to watch over them? She makes one of her own, making it do what she was instructed so she can follow the Iga. The girl is careful to trail behind him a distance away, keeping an eye out for any sensory organs as well. Just so Ayumu doesn't realize she's following her. If he does happen to look with his abilities, she would henge into a water bird.
And so, Arika is tagging along with Ayumu. The girl finally reveals herself when Ayumu seems to stop to meet with people, the girl attempting to scramble onto the Iga's back so she can take a free piggyback ride. "Ayumu-san, who're these people?" she asks, perhaps not very tactfully. But she's nine…
As the people Hanpa had summoned began to gather, he would note that there was another with them he did not expect. He took a moment to consider this, but at the end of it, if Ayumu believed it wise to allow for this girl to participate, then he would not question it. Hanpa could only hope that Ayumu was aware of how delicate a meeting with a Mizukage could be. Of course maybe this one wasn't quite as interested in taking over the world…
Bowing his head a bit respectfully to them both, Hanpa would greet them. "We do not have much time… so I will be quick. Our objective is to see if Kirigakure is willing to get involved cooperatively against the Silence. We have some cards to play… but some may require…" Hanpa would face Arika, noting her chakra coposition and… duality. "… some form of revelation that is likely best left for another time if it can be helped. Ayumu and… young girl… we are here to help represent Sunagakure's initiative in the Shinobi alliance. Zetto, Kumogakure has agreed to this as well and our proof of success or failure is primarily to the Raikage even though it weighs more heavily on Suna as far as the benefits of this."
Hanpa would then lead them all in to the halls of the Mizukage's domain as he'd continue to speak lowly. "This is important, for both credability and international stability. It may even save the world as we know it. Keep that in mind before saying or doing anything. Also note that violence is a way of life in Kirigakure, and use of force is a possibility that may be unavoidable should things go sour." They had arrived at the doors to the office, it was time. Placing his covered hands upon the door, Hanpa would open it wide enough for all to be seen before stepping in with everyone. He would greet the Mizukage with a respectful bow before taking a seat in the forefront of all of this. His reflective helmet would show Meruin his own visage as it was oriented towards him now.
There were others. Naturally he should have expected it but somehow had not included such possibility in his calculations. Regardless there was no helping it now and he decided to play along. What choice did he have anyway? They were already on their way and Hanpa was busy giving his briefing. Zetto grinned in a way more fitting to some comic book villain. "You should have filled me in better Hanpa as I see we have company." He stated his complain with slight tone of irritation on his voice. Most of the information he already knew. Hiei had filled him in on all possible details and angles. After all it is in best interest of the Raikage to get Kirigakure involved too. Then again one might as well say it is in best interests of Land of Water to participate in the coalition too. If only they have had more time Zetto would have filled Hanpa in more but dices have been cast and he would have to make this work - on his part.
Mizukages office seemed to roughly be of the same size as the one in Kumogakure. Style of decoration was rather minimalistic to say the least. Zetto could appreciate that and smiled faintly. To tell the truth he was rather excited to be here. He bowed slightly and stepped in following Hanpa.
Ayumu had not truly noted Arika's presence until the girl decided to pull the wrong hair. Following a wince and sharp gasp from the Iga, the man turned to regard Arika with a sidelong and less than pleased look. It is only now that he truly began to understand his grandma's annoyance with him during his own formative years, and wished karma had not deemed today to be the day he learned his lesson.
Ayumu opened his mouth with the intent to grudgingly admonish Arika, then send her way before any further trouble could be done. Instead, what leaves is a mildly irritated sounding sigh before Ayumu returned his attention to Hanpa and Zetto. "I'd ask for your — both of your forgiveness for the strangeness of said company if it means anything to you. My… student, still has much to learn." Is all he can offer as he followed along behind the others. To Arika, he motion for he emphasis Hanpa's point about thinking before speaking by outright signing for her to do so in one of Sunagakure's codes. She is to observe silently, and say nothing at all without his permission. It was unlikely that she would follow his order, but he had to try.
As soon as they are inside, Ayumu inclines his head briefly to the Mizukage before motioning for Arika to take what should've been his seat. In meantime, Ayumu would stand by the same chair if possible and rest ontop of its back rest.
Arika's chakra is currently only her own, though there are hints of a sort of duality. She peers at Hanpa, staring at the mask on his face distrustfully. Her blue-green eyes narrow just a bit, too, but she stays clinging to the Iga. The girl nods to the instructions, but Ayumu is right in assuming she probably won't end up following the orders. The look of irritation is completely ignored. And then they step into the office. Arika's curiosity presses her to look around in curiosity, but she keeps quiet. The Mizukage gets a wave from her, of all things, and a small incline of her head. It's a bit difficult to bow when perched on someone's back, though.
"See them in."
The secretary bowed her head to the Mizukage and stepped out of his office to see it done. As she left, Meruin stepped away from the wall holding the scrolls of war's dogma, sending a glance out of the office's window. It was a dark day, though a warm one for winter in Kirigakure. Shadowed clouds and a subtle threat in the air; It would likely see snow.
Unable to tell the time of day from the sun, Meruin took his eyes from the outside, instead striding to his desk and taking his seat behind it to the quiet sound of the rustling of his platinum robes.
The files on his desk were already well ordered, anything still in view holding information of no real secrecy. The important ones, taking the premier space at the center of his desk, are papers regarding the people that he would be meeting with now, their request for an audience granted.
The black orbs of his eyes lifted to the door as Hanpa ushered the group in, pale mists within them slowly swirling in examination of the crew. The Mizukage was silent, brow drawn low over his dark gaze as it found the masked man… and the familiar Yotsuki… and the Iga ally… and the small girl that accompanied him…
"Thank you for the audience, Mizukage-sama." Hanpa would offer when everyone else was more or less settled in. "We have come here to represent the wishes of the Shinobi Alliance to have Kirigakure join forces with them in the coming battle against the Silence. We are aware that Kirigakure has publically denounced the stance that Sunagakure took by making the temporary cease fire agreement with the Silence, however there are other circumstances that we believe you should be aware of and may eleviate certain… political ramifications should you choose to change your stance at this point."
Hanpa would begin with this as he rested his hands on the arms of the chair. "I will be straight forward about two very important details. The first one is obvious… the alliance needs as much power as it can get, and simply put, Kirigakure not being amongst that power is going to leave them significantly less prepared over all. Aside from this however, the Alliance… due to their previous engagement with the Silence… is not willing to listen to a shift of tactics. Namely, they are unwilling to attempt to defeat the mind behind the message instead of merely attacking the representation of that message. I am here hoping today that Kirigakure will consider this if you choose to enter the fray."
Curling his fingers together, Hanpa would continue, the mirrored mask reflecting the person who had his fullest attention and of whom he hopefully had the same. "As far as why we are the ones providing this… service… We represent the contracts that were drawn up for the Takokujin. Thus, our interests are both the interests of Kirigakure and Sunagakure as was agreed. While it has been quite some time since we have offered our services to either party, it seemed the proper time to act towards the benefit of both. The disagreement with Sunagakure's initiative is certainly understandable considering the consequences… but at the end of it all, the Silence is still a threat that must be eliminated. Do you not agree?" Hanpa would ask.
Zetto did know what to make of the tag team of Ayumu and Arika. He figured there is a reason Hanpa brought the two here. Either way that durable, hooded, black cloak with a simple corded drawstring makes a rather functional but still somehow stylish outfit. The Yotsuki Jounin could appreciate that. The girl on the other hand, the one with brown hair tied up into pigtails, has already proven to be quite a character. Then there was Meruin, Mizukage of the Hidden Village of Mist. The two have actually met each other long time ago. Part of him wondered if Mizukage remembers him, though Meruin was not a Kage back then. How time flies by.
For the time being he remained rather silent. He was curious to see how Hanpa would play his cards and so far it seemed to be going well.
Ayumu is leery of spewing sensory organs in the Mizukage's presence. The Okumo Clan were infamous for their pursuit of knowledge using less savory means. Chief among those means being experimentations. And while comfortable in the safety procedures he and his kinsman employed to keep their Kekkei Genkai from being broken down and taken in by a potential enemy, there were still risk to keep in mind. For that reason as well as others, the Iga kept the eye he crafted for the sake of examining the documents without having to touch them to himself in his mouth, teeth raised/lowered just enough for it to view the world without being too unseemly.
Even without the handicap Ayumu would have remained silent. By his recollection the need to ascertain the Mizukage's — and by extension, the rest of Kirgakure's standing over any future alliance was necessary. Aside from that, no further risks could be made. None have forgotten the slight made in regards to the Chuunin exams, or for that mattered the previous stand point of the village.
Arika just watches and listens for now. The girl isn't quite sure what to make of all this, though there is a bit of a grumble in the back of her mind. She considers the people around her then, and Hanpa just continues to unsettle her. Mostly in her mind right now are questions. What is going on? Why exactly are these people meeting here? And what about her own mission? The clones that Ayumu had left would be handling things, of course. But still…
Hanpa would chuckle at this turn of events. "It seems you were paying attention through out your… early education." he stated then with a slight raise of his concealed face. "I will have you know… not even this new Shinobi Alliance was privileged with more than what you see before you. They asked… they mistrusted… but at the end of it all, they were more desperate for Kirigakure's cooperation than was worth relieving me of my anonymity." Raising his hands slowly, Hanpa would place his gloved fingers along the hood of his cloak. "However… that is not the reason why I decided to be less than cooperative in that regard. As I told you before, our dealings are with Kirigakure and Sunagakure. Even though Kumogakure is now involved… my identity is simply… privileged information."
Pulling back his hood, his long locks of raven-black hair would spill free along the sides of his face, though his face remained covered for the time being. He would gesture towards Ayumu and Arika now, stating, "Sunagakure… a small piece of them, has come with me to represent this contract." He would then gesture towards Zetto as well, "As well as a piece of Kumogakure as well. Though they are not part of the politics of this directly… we are those who work between the more limiting aspects of the village system. It is entirely what we were hired for, and it is why Kirigakure was able to have support from Sunagakure when war threatened to toppled it in its infancy. A War with Kumogakure. A war that Sunagakure has always and likely will continue to deny any involvement in. Support that extended in to the conflicts with Konohagakure up until the point that an alliance was officially drawn up between your two villages."
Hanpa's hands would take either side of his mirrored mask as he continued. "While I do not expect for you to be honored by my presence, I hope that you can appreciate the reasons for my guise. But out of respect for our previous agreements, it would be inappropriate for me to do anything less than reveal to you whom you are dealing with as you have so clearly stated." The mask would be pulled forward slowly, the cloth that connected to what ever shirt he wore beneath the garb would be over his ears and apparently his eyes as well, wrapped around under his chin. The rest of his face would be seen as he lowered the mask though, displaying a somewhat young, confident face. The face of a former Daimyo. The face of the man who cleared the way for Suna and Kiri to trade and to become allies by taking over the country that impeded their water ways and ridding it of the pirating and looting activities that made it so risky to use in the first place. The face of a man once known as Lord Rain of Higure.
Based upon all information and thoroughly corroborated by evidence of all kinds, there was only one conclusion that came of any search for Rain over the past decade: He was dead. He was gone. There was no trace what so ever. And yet here he sits before the newest Mizukage in the flesh. "As far as the state of Takokujin (Strangers), there is a reason that it is now called Hanpa (Remnant). I do not apologize for those I keep company with now however. They will still be just as capable of fulfilling contracts should you indeed wish to renew our former arrangements that Kaguya Mitsuo began."
As Hanpa's mask was drawn away from his face, the Mizukage's eyes widened imperceptibly, the mists within them beginning to swirl more swiftly. He is silent for a moment, chin raising slightly as he examines the face before him. It was one he had never come to see in person, but one he recognized immediately nonetheless.
"Lord Rainos," he soon spoke.
"Very much the unexpected occurance, your presence here in my office…" A brow arched with the words, "I, along with a fair number of other people, had thought you dead. You are certainly… thorough… in your endeavors. Despite the time that has passed, we've heard not a whisper of evidence that said you breathed and moved that held up under the weight of scrutiny.
"We have, however, had a small number of somewhat convincing imposters." Meruin's fingers slide between one another, steepling and lifting to rest comfortably against his chin. "But I believe that to be a topic for a future conversation; Preferably one with fewer ears. Suffice it to say that you have satisfied my demand; I will hear from you and yours.
His gaze is level. "You've yet to give me a reason to do as you wish that I cannot shrug off," he said frankly. "You are capable of swaying me, I believe. You now have opportunity."
You sense: Meruin's chakra flares as your face is revealed to him and the mists in his eyes surge.
"Thank you, Mizukage." Hanpa would say shortly in reply to Meruin's near encouragement to continue. "As far as a reason… it is for your benefit. As I have stated, and hopefully proven beyond a doubt, I hold up the contracts that are agreed to. I am here for your benefit as well as Sunagakure's. The rift that has been formed due to the way that the Silence has been handled by Sunagakure is not healthy. While the alliance between your two villages is not entirely necessary, given the fact that Kirigakure also has enemies in other nations it is strategically sound to keep what allies you do have. But most importantly… it is an askance of my organization. The price that was asked of Kirigakure when we took the mission was to be able to continue to do business with Kirigakure in the future. The result of that business has been overwhelmingly successful on your end, and as not to cause conflicts in the future, I am requesting that you have Kirigakure join the battle to defeat the greatest enemy all of you face today."
Hanpa seemed to relax in his chair despite what he had felt from Meruin during his revelation. It was certainly not that Meruin was not a threat, but simply that Hanpa trusted that he was far more logical than to react to this information in any other way than to listen. "Your forces are renown as the mightiest. They desire conflict and blood shed. To keep them from possibly the greatest battle of your era is… politically unsound. It lessens the chance of success of the other forces as well as your own success should they fall before you are involved. You would not have to agree with Sunagakure's decision to join them, only allow for the fact that they have done all of the work already, and that you felt it was time to finish this war, so why not do so with far more resources. You are in the best position to become the final piece that creates this alliance and helps it succeed. And when it is over… there is no reason that the coalition should remain intact in any way but how you like for Kirigakure. Things will be mended with Sunagakure at least to some degree, allowing you to maintain an alliance with them, or even more amicably part ways. You have nothing to lose by joining them and many things to gain."
Steeping his hands together once more, Hanpa would add one last tidbit of information. "But I do highly advise you… to attack the mind of this beast. To assault the cause and purpose as well as the flesh and bones. The methods of this cause are simply unsustainable. If it is crushed mentally… taken out of control and without the mastermind able to function… it will simply collapse under it's own weight as you land the killing blow."
"Everything that you say is true."
Meruin's hands leave each other just long enough to make a gesture towards Hanpa that was more open than the man's face before coming back together, resting once more against his chin. "There has come a distance between Sunagakure and Kirigakure for some of their recent decisions, and if left untended it is a wound that could lead to amputation. Something best curbed before that event; We are allies with them for a reason, after all. We are of use to one another.
"You'd said that you are here for our benefit. But that is only technically the truth. You are here for your own benefit; it just so happens that aiding us may aid you. My position is no different than yours. You are in my office because benefiting you may benefit we of Kirigakure. I believe that, over the course of history, it will prove to be true and as such, I will be open to opportunities to work with you in the future.
"However, I intend to spend this time watching these events as I focus on more internal affairs for now. I will not allow for the loss of this war overall; If the tides shift to pull the Alliance underwater — This is slightly more likely than not — we will pull them out and see that things finish in our favor. And when I join, it would be Hanpa's name that I credit for my decision. But the time is not now; Not yet.
"I will take part of your advice: To target mind and soul over flesh and bone. Following this path will see Kirigakure delaying or withholding its aid in the efforts against The Silence until such a time that events prove it more beneficial to invest in them."
Smirking just slightly, Hanpa would nod. "You are correct of course. This is not a situation where I have nothing to gain, but that is how all business should be conducted is it not? If you wish to bide your time, then of course that is your perogative. I suggest that you do not wait too long however, as time ticks on and others act beyond expectation at times. Opportunity can be lost, but measured movement is always the best course. I wish you luck in your timing, and great effect in the outcome of it. As it seem you are keen to continue this relationship, then it shall be done. However, there is a new condition. It should be rather small… but as you are well aware, all traces of my existence were erased until this meeting. But there will come a time when that is no longer the case… and rebuilding from nothingness… takes time and is quite costly. As we are in good standing, I may need to consider Kirigakure a… safe harbor every now and then for the time being. We will not be a hindrance nor a burden, but we may need to slip in to the shadows from time to time, and Kirigakure casts one of the biggest. IF at all possible, I will not use this part of the arrangement at all, but just as you, I prefer to have my next step measured well before taking it." Hanpa would explain thoroughly as he added a new card to the deck.
Slowly standing, taking his mask up from his lap as he does so, he would then ask Meruin, "Being such as these "brothers of darkness"… I have fought them before. To varying levels of ability and power. I may have even faced on equal to their power.. if not far beyond it. They win by making you fight on their terms and knowing what strengths you are likely to use against them. They make your strength their weakness, your history their ammunition, and exploit the lack of understanding of their own weakness by cajoling for more of the same. Pride is weaponized as disease in the veins. I wish you all victory against a foe like this, because plagues only have two endings, both of which are eradication."
Meruin inclined his head in thanks to the man for his wishes of luck, but said nothing more on the matter of the decision of when and how to join the alliance formed against The Silence. "Provide word to me that you are in the country," he said, instead, "And we will be your safe habour in times of dire struggle. I will also expect some warning if the storms you take shelter from follow you, by chance. If that is understood, we are agreed."
The Mizukage's mists bleed a deep purple. "As for your advice on the Brothers, I find it to be sound. I plan to keep it well in mind in my dealings with them; I'm sure the Alliance will do similar. We will see them neutralized, in one manner or another. And you and I will meet again, that is undoubted. We've much to see discussed." He raises a fist to his chest in salute.
"Night's blessings, Hanpa," he offered in farewell.
Hanpa salutes Meruin in his custom with a deep nod. "Soon, I hope." would be said before he would collect the rest of Hanpa itself on his way out with them. They had meetings to hold, plans to make, and quite a bit of traveling to do now that the great village politics were set in motion. It was time to prepare and rebuild, to become more than merely Remnants of the past by creating a future.