Date: March 5, 2011
For some, the Clan Wars are merely circumstances, to be responded to, but not conformed to. For others, the effects run deeper.
"What If? Clan Wars - A Person Apart"
Open Plains [Land of Wind]
The long grass of the plains rises easily 5 feet tall, and it is a truly beautiful sight with the blowing wind. The grass swirls and ripples like eddies and waves on a lakes surface as the wind blows, and the golden stalks in the sun almost glow with a good natured light. The sweet smell of the plains is adrift in the air, and many travelers will stop to rest amidst the stalks for a night.
To the south lies a rising mountain, with a barely visible narrow path beginning up its massive height. Far to the east lays a narrow path, following a small river out of the stalks of grass, and into some distant trees.
The Clan Wars raged on for a long time, until the failed peace treaty four years ago. The leaders of Senju and Uchiha gathered, only to have a coup staged. The leaders were almost killed, and many people died. The mediator, the then-time leader of the samurai, was assassinated. The forming pact came to a bloody end. Of course there was more fighting than the Senju and Uchiha. But they were the most powerful; the greatest. They were almost a symbol to the other mercenary clans warring with other countries and each other. The samurai withdrew into their own lands, and their own defenses, leaving no mediator to bring stability to peace. The war raged on.
Far before the shinobi villages, Mushi established the Neutral Medical Center. Many people, especially normal people, flocked to the Center. They didn't merely want medical aid. They wanted food. Rogue shinobi, even more rampant than some clans, burned crops and sacked villages at will. It forced the Center to flee to the Hot Springs Country. There, they forged an alliance with surrounding villages elicting the healing powers of the springs. It also allowed them to be in contact with the coast. The Center solicited the aid of the neutral islands for supplies who were less touched by the war, and in turn them free treatment. It almost worked until the Land of Water, seeing the aid that the Center was giving the mainland countries, burned it to the ground.
Seeing this, Mushi made a hard choice. She made the Center a mobile one. They moved from country to country, giving aid wherever they could, and never staying too long. But many of the healers, too caught up in the war, began defecting and joining other villages. When the Waterfall was attacked, Mushi rushed to their aid. It was her home village. Her participation in the war effort helped turn the tide of battle. But there was no doubt that she had broken the agreement. By her own rule, she was banished.
That was two years ago and now… Mushi is very much alone. Her power came in the combined strength of the Center. Now, no matter how good she is, she's still just a single healer. At least that's how she feels. She has just left a village hit by an epidemic. Her healing techniques turned over the years from wounds to illnesses, and she's gotten very good at it. She quickly moved on. More than one village had tried to make her stay by force. But she finds herself depleted of chakra as she moves into the Wind Country. It's something of a safe haven for her. The harsh conditions drive away others and, unlike many people, Mushi knows how to live off the land. She's sheltered within the maze of caves and a scroll is set out before her. Jugs of water, food, and other supplies are laid across them. Good storage. She's wearing a wrap and hood against the heat. Just sitting in silence.
Funny, how caves tend to produce strange sounds. If you're not accustomed to them, you'd probably jump at every little sound. That faint moaning? It's just the wind going through some crevice. That odd clicking? Probably just water dripping against a stone. And that irregular shuffling? That's…well…hmmm…actually, that one's a little hard to identify. It's like the dragging of feet, but the steps are asymmetrical, and something besides the feet are scraping along with it. Could it be some prehistoric monster with a misshapen body, pulling itself through the tunnels in search of prey? o.O Whatever it is, it seems to be coming closer…closer…it's-just-around-the-CORNER —
"WhuOOF!" A strange form trips and falls to the cavern floor just as it comes into view. Closer inspection reveals it to actually be two forms: a grown man in shinobi garb, lying limp and looking deathly pale, and underneath him a dissheveled young boy just into his teens. A boy with rather large ears, messy strawberry-blond hair, and a distinctive blood-red bandana. The boy grunts and attempts to push himself and the other man back up again, until he spots the other resident of the cave. A relieved smile takes over his visage. "Mushi…neesan…"
The healer glances around and then turns towards the sound of shuffling. She prepares herself. Mushi has found a way to convert some of her eating into chakra restoring. It's by no means eat-a-bite-get-some-chakra sort of process, but it accelerates her recovery a little. She has plenty by now. So when she hears that shuffling she turns and in a puff of smoke a kunai appears in her hand. Appearances are important. It may give the illusion she has any chakra left to work with. "Show yourself!" she demands. Her scroll vanishes. Unsurprisingly, Mushi looks more ready to run than to fight. From those sounds there may be more than one. She may not be stronger than some, but she's faster. Running away has proven to be a good strategy many, many times.
However, she relaxes upon hearing her name. It must be some past client. But not only a past client…someone she is very familiar with. "Aburei…oh my." The kunai vanishes. "Are you okay?" she asks with concern, though her voice had been cold and challenging a moment ago. "Is he okay? And what are you doing here?"
Aburei carefully shifts the weight of the shinobi off of himself, so that he rolls onto his back. The man is breathing lightly and his eyes are open, but he gives little sign that he is aware of anything going on around him. "I was…looking for you," Aburei explains, gathering his breath. "I tried to help this guy, but it's beyond me…so when I heard you were seen around here, I decided bringing him would be his best hope. It's kinda like malaria, but there has to be a cure, because it was made as a weapon." Aburei is suddenly gripped by a violent cough, and a few blood specks appear on the ground. "Oh, um…and you might want to stay back a bit until you figure out if you can cure it, 'cause it's kinda contagious." n.n;
Even if she were 'in the area' it's still a vast desert. Aburei must have gone to some trouble to track her down. But it's not his resourcefulness that surprises her. It's that he's even there. She just stares at him with her wide green eyes for a long time. It's as if the wounded man isn't even there between them. Then, she gives a soft sigh. "You haven't even changed, have you Aburei?" she asks. "I'm kinda jealous. Kind of happy too. But it's been two years since I left. I can't really be a sister or a Center medic. If you can't save him with your talent, I guess that's that."
She sounds tired. Not the tired that comes from lack of sleep, but one that comes up straight from the soul. She doesn't look at the patient at her feet. Long ago she'd already be at his side, whipping out medical supplies and gathering her chakra for some complex healing technique. She just sits down and grabs a bun before taking a deep bite. It doesn't look like she's enjoying herself, but she doesn't seem overly concerned.
She shrugs. "Sorry."
Aburei tilts his head. "What do you mean, Mushi-neesan? Why would I have changed? I mean, I guess I'm a little older than the last time I saw you, but…" Aburei pushes himself onto his knees and wipes his mouth on his sleeve, then looks down at the patient, even though there isn't much to see that he hasn't been seeing for a long time. "Anyhow…early symptoms include nausea, sweating, and — *AHUKTH!* — ugh…hacking cough. The disease progresses slowly, I think they wanted it to have plenty of time to spread. I'm not sure whether to call these final stage symptoms, but this guy's gone catatonic and lost skin coloration. Don't you have any ideas at all what might help, Mushi-neesan?"
Mushi is just sitting there, rolling the bun in her hands and dead to the world. She won't or can't meeting Aburei's eyes. However, when he coughs, her head snaps up. Highly contagious. Of course. And he had been carrying this disease riddled man over him like a blanket. Giving up on the old man is something, but giving up on Aburei is another. Something flickers in her eyes, then she says, "Idiot. You caught what he caught. Now you'll both…" Die?
She tries to give an exasperated sigh, but it's clearly feigned. For she's already unrolling another scroll. More items appear. This time it's healing supplies. She passes a water bottle to Aburei. "Drink half, no more. See if he can drink some." It's common knowledge to avoid dehydration in the desert. In the meantime she takes three pills he may recognize as chakra pills. They're effective to give immediate chakra, but afterwards slow the regeneration of chakra for hours or even days."
The first thing she does isn't to heal them. She forms a few seals, gathering chakra, and then a dome of clear chakra pops into being around them, blocking out any blowing sands, though most of the area is rock. She's actually humming now as she goes over to the old man and carefully places a hand on his head as she says, "I'm a healer. I'm going to make you better, but please stay still."
Then she begins to heal him, not dramatically, but to clear the mosquito bites. Then, rather than use some fancy chakra technique she wraps some plastic tightly around his arm till a vein stands out. And she'd plunge the needle into his arm and squeeze the evil looking liquid into him. She goes over to Aburei and does the same study, but rather than inject him with something she'd heal him medicinally. "Medicinal Healing Technique," she says, as he would feel a strange healing. Not the warm glow of chakra, but more like a wave of goo is seeping through him. Then it changes to a very, very unpleasant tingling. "And if it's needed Remedy of Ap…ah nevermind." After it's done he'd feel only a soreness in his throat but his symptoms have vanished. "Yours aren't so advanced. As for the man, we need to wait for the drugs do their work before I use any chakra in his system. Aburei-san, remember this. Medicine is better than us most of the time for illnesses. I have about a hundred with me. Because chakra can be tricky work. If you train with it /always/ do it on animals. Or better yet, with a good illness-related healer with you." Then before he might recoil she takes out a spray can and would douse him, before doing the same to the man. A fancy medicine…insect repellant. She'd let him keep the bottle.
With that done, she shifts uncomfortably. "How have you been?"
Aburei shrugs. "Well, yeah, 'course I did. That's the risk we run to help people who are sick, right?" Aburei takes the bottle and gulps at it as instructed. Then he carefully dribbles water into the patient's mouth while Mushi works on him. Finally it's Aburei's turn, and he waits patiently (no pun intended) while Mushi purges his system. "Ngh…man, I'll never get used to that. Thanks though, Mushi-neesan."
Aburei coughs through the spray of repellant. "Whew…yeah, that's why I brought him to you, Mushi-neesan. All the rumors I heard said you were specializing in illnesses these days. I figured you were the most likely person within a hundred miles to have something that could help." Aburei folds his arms. "As for me…things have been about the same as always. I miss you at the Center, but I understand why you had to leave. You weren't the only one, either. Plenty of others had to break with the Center's code to help their families." Aburei rubs the back of his head. "It's easier for me…the Center is the only family I've ever known in the first place." X)
Mushi gives a nod. "Forming the Center was the best thing I ever did," she admits, "and leaving it was about the worst. I've thought about alot of things. As the founder, I knew if I threw my weight around enough, I could probably get back in. I considered that for awhile, but no. I made the rule and I had to abide by it. Then, I even thought of forming my own medical center and yet…never. I don't want anything competing with the Neutral Medical Center. It's something that will stand the test of time."
She sits around for some time, her eyes distant. It's clear she's going through the other options she might have gone through with, but in the end she chose solitude. She can only be glad her status as leader was anonymous. Otherwise she may be something more of value than a stray healer. Not a shinobi. Old habits die hard, and she hasn't fought in a battle since unless she was the one attacked.
She'd reach out impulsively to hug Aburei. Then, she stops herself…and sprays him with insect repellant. /Then/ she'd hug him. ;) "I want you to know," she says warmly, "I can actually make my curative techniques not unpleasant as you felt. But I don't really do that when any of my healers are dumb enough to get sick. It's not valiant to get sick Aburei…it's SELFISH." Then she'd push him away with a huff. But she had said 'my.' It seems other things haven't left her.
Aburei scratches his head. "You really think so? I mean, I always figured that rule wasn't there because it was wrong to fight for somebody, it was because we couldn't be the Neutral Medical Center without it. Sometimes, the paths Kami-sama puts before us aren't there to test us, or teach us how to choose the right one…sometimes there isn't a single right path." Aburei splutters as more repellant gets sprayed at him. X9 "Ptoo! Well, what else was I supposed to do? I couldn't just leave him lying in the sand when he collapsed!" X) Aburei sighs. "Anyhow…regardless of how many right or wrong paths we've taken, our biggest concern should be the path we're taking next, right? So which way are you going to choose, Mushi-neesan?" :)
"Oh I never made the Center to be warm or fair," Mushi says. "It's simply…apart. So it won't be dragged down by destruction with a clan or country. So even if it wasn't wrong to help my village, doesn't mean it's allowable. Heh." She runs her fingers through her hair which is longer but still bound back. I kind of wish I hadn't helped, since I was forsaking the Center. Is that horrible? Some regret that I helped to save my village. It's terrible." She places a hand over her heart.
"The path I'm taking is…empty. I've never healed anyone I couldn't live without. I'm the perfect healer. I don't grieve. The only person I needed died despite my aid. So I want to find someone who I /must/ heal. Who I can't live without, and then I want to feel that way about more and more people." She sighs tiredly. "I was just selfish going back to my village. I never felt I needed to help them. I just /hoped/ that feeling would well up within me at some time. Even after I fought for them, and they fought for me, all I really felt was regret that I'd left the Center. I guess I'm just a person apart from everyone, and this war has made me realize that."
Aburei cups his hands under his chin and listens while Mushi describes her plight. "Huh…I never knew you felt like that." Aburei smiles. "Well, for what it's worth, I'm sure glad you healed me. And I'm glad you healed this guy. And I'm glad you healed everyone you ever did heal, even if it didn't make you feel that great. Feelings aren't everything. I hope you eventually do find that feeling you're looking for, though…and I hope there's something I can do to heal you."