Date: April 12, 2012
After Maikeru fails rather miserably at attempting to kill himself to keep Jigoku from being freed into the world, a rather unexpected visitor shows up on his island.
Northern Island - Land of Water
As evening sets in on the Land of Water, a cold breeze blows through from the sea, and the tide appears to be rising. Finally back on the island he moved to when he was still a part of Kirigakure, Maikeru stands on beach ahead of where he set all the tag barrier traps when he went Missing. His eyes are blood red, as if he hasn't really slept in some time. He stares at the area ahead, knowing exactly where he laid his traps. A lot has happened since that day, many changes to his life… too many for one man to be able to take, really.
After a few moments of staring out at the land ahead, the Rogue closes his eyes and lets out a deep sigh. Has all he's done, all his fighting against becoming Jigoku and people's expectations for him to do so been, been for naught? If this reborn Jigoku in his mind overcomes him, any good he's done will be reversed a thousand-fold. He can't let that happen. If he does, his legacy will be that of a man that failed to do anything but bring death, destruction, and misery…
In a flash, his eyes pop open, and he flickers. He reappears directly in the line of a massive trap of tags he set up, setting off violent series of explosions that seem to actually shake the ground and send up a massive cloud of smoke. When the smoke dissipates, he is laying on the beach fairly close to where he originally. His eyes are closed, but, if one actually looks, he is completely unscathed. "Damn," he mutters as he bangs his head back against the sand. Apparently the new side of his personality has access to his jutsu, in this case Jigoku Tense.
Much has happened in these months since the last time Maikeru was near Kirigakure in any significant capacity. Much has happened since that tournament that was held. And much has happened just recently, in regard to Maikeru himself. But perhaps not so much is about to happen this eve. As the former Jounin of the Hidden Mist lies exhausted on the beach, unharmed by the explosions from his own traps, he may become aware gradually that ther sound of the ocean has gone silent. The sea breeze has ceased caressing the tired man's flesh. The cry of sea birds, and the gradual settling of debris from the traps have likewise ended.
And then a voice so deep it is almost inhuman speaks from nearby. "Onryou Maikeru," the so-deep baritone begins. Assuming Maikeru doesn't react by leaping up and blasting away, whenever he does look around he'd find that it's as though the whole world has frozen in place. The only two things that seem to be alive and mobile are Maikeru himself… And a man about 8 feet tall, garbed in a black mantle with red clouds, and a black mask with a red question mark emblazoned on its surface. No eye holes.
"I thought I find might you here," the man continues. After a brief pause, the masked man says plainly, "You look terrible."
As the sounds of the world around him start to fade away along with the breeze, Maikeru tilts his head slightly. Just as he is about to open his eyes and sit up to investigate, a deep voice calls out the name he once went by. His eyes pop open to look up as he searches for the source of the ungodly deep voice. Spotting an enormous figure out of the corner of his eye, he turns his head slightly to see the giant of a man nearby.
"My apologies. My beauty sleep has been a bit lacking," he replies as he finally pushes himself to his feet and dusts himself off a bit. He gives a brief glance around at the seemingly frozen world, eyes narrowing slightly. This level of power is a bit disturbing, even for a man who has leveled a village in a matter of minutes. However, he doesn't seem afraid, though that could be due to the fact he just failed miserably at killing himself.
"To what do I owe the honor of the visit of a man who sees fit to stop time itself?" Maikeru asks as his eyes return to the giant, attempting to measure him up as he looks up to his face… This guy has got to be close to two feet taller than him, and he is no small man… "I don't believe I caught your name."
The man waits until Maikeru is up and looking more or less aware. "Someone you once battled requested that I check up on you for her own reasons. I 'saw fit' to fulfill that request for >my< own reasons." The man raises his right arm and brushes it through his short, spiked, gray-brown hair for a few seconds. Then he says, "I have many names. The five Kage know me as 'Fuu Ka'. Those close to me in my inner circle know me as 'Amuro'. The bandits of the desert of the Land of Wind once knew me as 'Koro' before they killed themselves upon the Sand's defenders. Once upon a time, I was named 'Nagato', and before that I probably had a name I was born with. There have been many aliases and identities over the century-and-a-third I have lived. Pick the one you like best."
Lowering his arm, the masked man says, "However, I am not here about >my< identity. I suppose you must have given some consideration at one point to how Jigoku's soul was ripped from your body even with his seal in place. Perhaps you wondered what that rift was that formed behind you during your tournament match? I know that Shirayuki Hikan wondered. However, Yotsuki Mune knew. She was one of three people in the stadium who knew, actually. One of the others was in the audience. The third was standing high above, on a stone ledge, waiting for you to use up your personal power so that the trapped spirit would emerge and could be 'dealt with'."
The giant waits a handfull of seconds and then says in the same deep near-monotone he has been speaking in, "You are welcome." Another pause. "But your troubles are not over, are they?"
Maikeru goes silent as the giant in black attire begins to semi-explain who he is. While he isn't that familiar with any of those names, he gets the feeling this man has been definitely made his rounds sewing his own seeds of chaos… At the mention of living for well over a century, he blinks and narrows his eyes slightly before glancing around at the frozen world again. Could this guy be an immortal of some kind? It would certainly explain having the time to acquire this kind of power…
As Amuro begins to speak on matters much more in his person realm, the Rogue lifts an eyebrow slightly. While he knows a lot of people know of Jigoku's banishment, very few know in this much detail. At revelation that the black hole that opened was this man's doing, his eyes widen slightly before he gives a slow nod. "And you are also the one that covered for me when that fool Kaede lost his mind in the Boneyard Gardens and I had to put him down then?.. It seems I owe you a lot."
After a moment's pause, he replies, "Jigoku's soul is gone, but it seems I was pushing too much back in my attempts to be a better man than him and do the right thing, and his voice was recreated in a place I can't so easily get rid of him, in my mind. Despite my attempts to push him aside, he seems to only get stronger. Perhaps I have extended too much mercy to those who have done wrong. When I found out Jigoku was my father and that my own family were the ones trying to kill me, I tried to push it back and even spared their village when every fiber of my being wanted to bring them their own personal Apocalypse.."
Amuro makes a brief tilt of his head and a 'Hm!' of affirmation to the part about covering for him with Kaede. He then keeps his peace and listens to the explanation of what has been happening in the interim. The right hand raises again to rest thumb and forefinger along the bottom of the ceramic mask in thought. The left arm continues to hang unused. Whereas the right has age-greyed flesh visible on the hand, the left hand is wrapped tight with bandages that seem to bear seal calligraphy in abundane and even have some thin chains of some dark-purple metal binding it. Two men who have, at one point or another, bound and chained one arm as though it were a beast that might lash out and kill otherwise…
Eventually, Amuro says, "I once had thought that Seishukuni Kureno, who renamed himself 'Kaede', would make himself useful to me with his crystallization abilities. Sadly, he was more damaged and foolish than I had suspected. A summoning scroll I gave him to bring him to safety at one of my bases so that I could help him repair his psyche, went unused for so long that the destination seal decayed. He wound up using it to escape death at the hands of the Land of Wind's very own 'boogie man'. I do not know where he wound up, but he very well could have found himself in outerspace if he had been less fortunate. Even so, you know what happened eventually."
Lowering his right hand, the masked man turns to look out over the ocean. The waves remain motionless, like a three-dimensional painting, but the lack of life is clear. The water is like quick-silver frozen in place in the faded sunlight that has become night. No light comes from above after all. It's really surreal. "I thought it best to provide you with a power source without a mind of its own. I have experience with entities of that kind, and it is simply not wise to trust them. Eventually, however, one >will< trust them. Even if it is only for a moment, one will rely upon that thinking power… If it does not take over then, it will wait until the next time, when you think it is safe because there was no rebellion the time before. Mind games with things you need to survive is a dangerous past-time."
Though no eye holes are in the mask, Amuro still turns his head to face the Jounin. How he sees through that thing is unclear, if he is at all. Could be like a Hyuuga or Uchiha, though they don't tend to grow this large. "I also have experience with sharing my head with another person's spirit, and the memories of others. This seal on my right hand…" Amuro raises the hand and shows Maikeru his palm. On it is the kanji for 'Memory' in black ink. "I can copy, erase, modify, and otherwise tamper with the memories of others. I can even absorb memories if I can make contact with someone's head. I can just suck them dry. And I've done it many times. After all this time, I think the best advice I can give for dealing with memories from another person is this: Do not fight him." A brief pause is folowed by more words. "But do not surrender either."
"I have been down that path. Dying for the sake of others is all fine and well, but not if you have something to accomplish still. Dying to end your own suffering is only sensible when there is no other way to find happiness. Instead of battling your father's memories or letting them subsume you in their own sense of 'self', seek to understand them. Understand what experiences and what pain shaped him into who and what he became. Understand him first, and then act out of that understanding to work alongside him towards the same goal. You need not always agree on the means to achieving that goal, but once his remnants acknowledge you for your own strength, your own capacity for accomplishing what you set yourself to even >without< his aid, you will stop being two minds fighting for one body. You will become someone new, and yet old. Both lives intertwined to form a hybrid mind, and yet still possessing the memories and personalities you started with.
"…That is what I did with my wife, Uzumaki Natsu, to save her entire being when she was about to die. That is also what I did with all the twelve-thousand, nine-hundred, and ninety-eight other minds I have accumulated during my life. I talked to them in my head. I reached an agreement with them. Sometimes I felt like I would go mad, dealing with all those voices and memories babbling and conflicting and struggling for supremacy… But I endured. And now I, they, and we are the man with thirteen-thousand lifetimes working as one."
He says nothing else after that. Well then.
As he starts to get more of his mind about him, Maikeru starts to notice more things. Despite the fact that the place around them is frozen, the sun is still moving. That at least lets him know that this man hasn't made himself some sort of kami capable of freezing the planet itself in place. While his own power and that of normal Jinchuuriki is scary, this sort of thing shows that there are jutsu capable of more than even what they can do. It's almost as unreal as when Higuregakure was swallowed up by that black hole… He gives Amuro another glance-over, picking out things like the chains and seals, his eyes narrowing slightly as he realizes just how powerful an individual this man could be.
With a nod, the Jounin replies, "Yes. I had hoped the same for him, that he could help me in overthrowing a corrupt Mizukage, but he proved that he was beyond help and unable to control himself, so I did what had to be done."
Maikeru's eyes glance to the seal on Amuro's hand as he starts to explain, an eyebrow lifting slightly as he studies over it. While he is quite skilled with seals himself, thus how he has kept Jigoku's power in check since a child, his own seals don't do anything close to that. That is even more impressive than the seals used to lock Jigoku or the Bijuu away in a way, considering the depth it goes to. Perhaps that is how he has been alive so long as well…
At the last explanation, the Rogue gives a solemn nod as he thinks on the words spoken. If this guy can handle having one short of thirteen thousand people in his head, he can handle one… Even if the one is a power maniac bent on bringing the world to its knees who basically ruined his life from the start. "So, instead of fighting it, I become the demon everyone has been afraid I would become, meld myself with the man whose sins are a monument to fear and become in balance with him somehow?"
Amuro says, "Yes and no. Yotsuki Mune's alchemical techniques are skills I studied long ago, though I never truly practiced them myself. The basis of her alchemy is first understanding a subject, then decomposing it, then recomposing it. She can unmake something and then remake it how she wishes it to be. This works for more than just material structures. Understand Jigoku. When you understand him, you can deconstruct what he is by taking away his resolve and his will to overcome yours. When you have deconstructed him, reconstruct him as part of yourself by showing you are worthy in and of yourself. You do not >need< him. You can live >without< his presence. But if you go over his memories, his past, and see where he went wrong… You may gain understanding not just intellectually but emotionally. Whether you choose to break down his hatred completely and simply make his power an addition to your own… Make >him< become >you<… Or if you choose to accept who he is, and show him your own strength so that he will accept you in turn… That is up to you. However, you might both be able to heal together, as father and son."
"As two humans who, despite their mistakes, their flaws, and their differences, have come to understand each other and move forward into the future. If the future is one of death and destruction, life and creation, or something other, that will be yours to decide — either alone and extracting knowledge from his remains or together and with his willing aid. However…"
Amuro turns his back as he lowers his right arm, and takes a few steps away that cover a considerable distance given the length of his stride. "The more lifetimes you have to live, the greater the burden of being alone. There is strength in unity of purpose, and when two minds are working to solve the same problem at the same time, your effectiveness and success rate will increase substantially. That aside, do not forget that even Jigoku was once a child and new to the world. He was not born the way he was when he died. And even if his ghost could not change at the end… Within your mind is >your< universe. You are God within it. You can choose to give him the second chance that no one else did, and you can choose for him to make good on your mercy. You can show him that there may have been a better way."
"The most important aspect of this whole situation is that you must not allow him to define the terms of your interactions. If he presents you with two options, create a third. 'Win' by overcoming him, or 'lose' by being overcome… And the third option. 'Become allies and overthrow the ones who have hurt you both and so many others'. Show them >all< that they were wrong. Show them your will. Father, Mizukage, Village… And anyone else who tries to stop you. You are neither their villain nor their puppet. You are what >you< choose to be. When he sees that, I think Jigoku will want to be what you choose for him to be as well."
Maikeru listens silently as Amuro explains the idea of how he will overcome Jigoku, or perhaps even learn how to cooperate with him and become a single entity. It is true Jigoku was once a child and even a good man at one time. He must have been by how hurt his family seemed when they talked about his transformation into Jigoku. In truth, that is one of the main reasons spared the village rather than ending it the way he did San Sara-Duruta.
"I will" the Jounin replies with a nod. "Thank you for the advice." He looks to the ground in thought for a few moments, letting out a sigh as he goes through his thoughts along with listening to Jigoku in his head. After those seconds pass, he looks back up to Amuro, a faintly curious look in his eyes.
"Not that I don't appreciate it, but why are you helping me?" he asks as he looks at the black-adorned giant. "You have this 'inner circle' you were talking about, I'm guessing a group sort of like what I was attempting to form? You must have goals of some sort you hope I can help you accomplish. I no longer wish to become Mizukage, but I do plan to help those leading the rebellion against him overthrow him. After that, my main purpose in the Land of Water will have been fulfilled hopefully. I could use another purpose if I am right about you wanting my loyalty for something." His words are not accusatory or judgmental, more like an inquiry/offer. Perhaps being a mercenary of destruction for hire isn't quite cutting it for him when it comes to having a purpose to use his power.
The masked man seems as though he isn't going to answer from how long he remains silent. Then his voice rumbles out, "I wanted your loyalty before, because I thought you were the right type of person for our goal. We seek to end all war, by any means necessary. I have tried to expose others to the horrors of war so much that they will, as one, reject its continuation in favor of any alternative they are given. Then…" He clenches both fists. "I will be there to give them that alternative. The erasure of hate. The same monster that split the Land of Waves and Land of Whirlpools into separate islands. That creature is the embodiment of all human malice since The Beginning. I have it under lock and key, but it is trying to break loose. The more evil there is in the world, the stronger it will become. I can make everyone >forget< the evil. But first, I must gather relics left behind by the Sage of the Six Paths. The Sage Stones. They will allow a connection to be formed between me and all life on the planet. When that happens, I can erase the memory of hatred, and >everyone< can start over. No past crimes, no past grudges, no past wars… We can all move forward as a species free of bloodshed."
Amuro looks over his shoulder somewhat, mostly just turning his head to the side. "I have three of the Stones, and there are three remaining. If they fall into the wrong hands, they can end the world. If they fall into the >worst< hands, they can make Earth worse than Hell itself. A twisted nightmare-reality where you can die an endless number of times but never rest. Stalked by our own misdeeds, eaten by our own evil, and warring endlessly with the monstrosities that we have all become… I am not going to live much longer, and if I have not dealt with the Beast of Blood before I die, then it will break free. Time is running out."
Amuro then turns fully, mantle swirling out somewhat from the motion. "When you have succeeded, I will seek you out. You can say then whether you wish to aid in this struggle… Or merely to wait and pray to anything and everything that may be listening that we are successful without your efforts. I am the last living descendant of the Eldest of the Sage of the Six Paths's three sons. The one who was forgotten by history. I have the power to erase things from existence. But I can not erase the wickedness of human beings alone. We have to work together. All of us, as one. For now… Heal. Grow strong. Think over my words. But do not wait too long. We simply do not have forever."
Then the frozenness of the world ends. Everything is back to normal. And Maikeru is lying on the beach where it all began, on his back, having just failed to kill himself. In the sand nearby, there is a scroll that wasn't there before. A scroll with a wax seal bearing a question mark. Something may tell Maikeru that it's best not to open this until he needs it.
Listening to Amuro's explanation, Maikeru goes silent to try to take in every part of what the man says. While the idea of using some massive jutsu to erase the world's war and evil may seem a tad crazy, it's better than doing nothing like everyone else. It's worth a shot, anyway, and he's seen the damage that the monster he is talking about can cause. He helped blast it down along with Ra and the others on the beach.
Once the man has finished explaining, Maikeru is about to say something before he is suddenly back lying on the beach in the same spot he was in before. He blinks and sits up, looking around for the man. As he looks around, he spots the scroll and reaches over to grab it, tucking it into his coat before standing up. "… See you soon then," he says before turning to walk toward the only safe path toward his house.