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Jan 21, 2020 12:57 PM
Orochimaru and Rian resonate
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"Just a bit of a brat." She sets down her coffee and waves him over, taking her dinner with a mutter 'thanks.' "Who's on your team? - This looks good, I think I might've missed lunch again..."

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"You need to take better care of yourself." He sits, and starts unwrapping his own dinner. "And my team's Juugo - he's really quiet and a bit scary but also kinda nice - and this Karin girl. Who's annoying, she's a total Rian fangirl, and she keeps switching between being all sweet and yelling. My new sensei's Uchiha Emi, she's kinda distant."

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"Huh. I'm surprised you got saddled with Emi, I would've expected her to be too busy with handling military affairs. Not like we have many jounin, though - they're probably going to put chunin in charge of at least some of the new genin teams when graduation rolls around." She actually would've expected Orochimaru to insist on teaching Nawaki again, but 'resonant's sibling' is a decent compromise if he's too busy. Which, given what she's heard of the new daimyo and what she's seen of the state of Sound, is likely.

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"Huh. Sound's not very big, is it?" Not as good as Konoha, at any rate.

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"The smaller villages do tend to struggle with this sort of thing. And Sound's new. But, yes, it does suffer a major numbers disadvantage - which is why official policy is to rely more heavily on staying hidden than Konoha does. Despite the names, the big five hidden villages are somewhat. Blatant."

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"Huh. Hadn't thought of it like that before."

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"It isn't something that's obvious when you're a genin, I'll admit. So... Other than the team, how've you been doing?"

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"Mostly good, kinda bored..."

And they spend the next thirty minutes chatting, mostly stiltedly, but slowly regaining their old ease with each other.

When Nawaki leaves, he decides he's glad he decided to reach out.

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She brings Rian, Orochimaru, and an honor guard consisting of her own samurai with her to the summit. It's in Fire, on that daimyo's home turf. A disadvantage for her, especially if Konoha has grown treacherous, but one she's willing to weather.

She learned mere hours before her departure that the Wind daimyo and his retinue will be in attendance as well. Another new person, the last daimyo's nephew.

This will certainly be an interesting meeting.

She's made to wait when they arrive. She settles in, sitting perfectly still, not chattering with her guards. She notes even the young Rian doing the same. Good.

When she's finally allowed to enter the grand receiving room, the Fire and Wind daimyo are already there with their retinues. She half-bows, says, "Shingen-dono, Torasuke-dono. It is my pleasure to meet you." The Fire daimyo, Madoka Shingen, is reportedly weak-willed, easily led by his advisers, though given the surprise appointment of Utatane Yasumi to Hokage, perhaps he has some cunning hidden under that. The new Wind daimyo, Kousa Torasuke, is an unknown. He seems severe, entirely unlike his reportedly hedonistic uncle, but time will tell.

The Fifth Hokage and a figure Kyoku recognizes as Nara Shikaku, jounin commander of Konoha, flank the Fire daimyo, while Torasuke has only a Suna elder, the Suna jounin commander, and a blonde teenaged girl who Kyoku identifies as the late Fourth Kazekage's daughter after a moment. Interesting.

"The pleasure is ours, Kyoku-dono," Shingen says, waving his hand dismissively. Torasuke mutters something to the same effect. There's a round of pleasantries, then: "Of course, all this aside, there remains the issue of the recent hostilities between our three nations."

She inclines her head. "So it does. I assure you such an action will not occur again. Unfortunately, the instigators are no longer with us. My father died rather tragically, and Orochimaru as you must know resonated quite recently." Of course, that was before the 'hostilities' against Konoha, but the truth is for the historians to argue over. Politics can be rather more malleable.

Shingen frowns. "I am sympathetic to your loss," he says, "But reparations must be made."

"Our nation is poor, grown poorer with my father's mismanagement," she says, voice frank. "What reparations could we give, that would not be snatching rice from the mouths of babes?" (Torasuke isn't quite as good at hiding the way he rolls his eyes as he should be.)

"Certainly a compromise could be reached," Shingen replies, looking discomfited.

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And that would be Rian's cue to incline their head and murmur, "If this one may be granted the honor of speaking, my lords?" An imperious gesture from the daimyo, and they continue with, "Oto has certain less tangible resources to offer. Namely, intelligence, on a matter that concerns all three of our great nations, as well as the results of certain experiments." Spreading information on Akatsuki will only help them, and they've identified techniques and medical knowledge that aren't as critical of secrets. It can't be considered full 'reparations,' but given the way hidden villages cling jealously to the slightest scrap of knowledge, it might be considered more valuable.

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The Fire daimyo hums, then gestures, and a barrier of silence falls over his contingent. He turns to Yasumi, angled so neither foreign party can read their lips, and says, "National security is one of your main areas, is it not? What do you think of this proposal?"

She takes a moment to gather her thoughts, then: "Our nation is wealthy, and has no need of direct reparations, it is true, especially given the minimal damage to Konoha in lives and infrastructure. The only motive to demanding monetary compensation would be demonstrating our power and crippling the economy of the Land of Rice Fields, which, in my humble opinion, will only breed more enemies in the long term. Also, in this age, in many of the lesser countries the village heads hold just as much sway as the daimyo, if not more, and a village head will naturally care more for his own secrets than for whether the children of rice farmers starve. The other nations are watching, now. Not even our beggars want for food. But knowledge, on the other hand, is the lifeblood of power. And if Fire comes away from such an attack even greater than before..."

Her lord twitches his lips slightly upwards. "They will know we are neither weak nor cruel. A delicate balance to strike, I'll admit. But one of my grandfather's most enduring policies was that punishment fall only upon the guilty. While such a policy is at times overly optimistic, it is best to keep up appearances, no?"

Yasumi nods, and that seems to be the end of the discussion, for her lord dismisses the barrier with a wave and turns to the room. The Wind contingent seems to have taken the opportunity to murmur lowly among themselves, though the Rice Fields daimyo and her retainers have remained still and silent. That woman would have made a good kunoichi of the classical age, Yasumi thinks, when shinobi were more assassins and spies than showmen, and marks her as someone to watch.

"We will determine for ourselves if your information is trustworthy, and if it is enough for our august selves," Shingen announces. "But we have no desire to see those innocent of their lords' folly starve, and are aware your nation cannot afford tangibles."

A seeming capitulation, and Yasumi knows her lord's reputation as a man easily led, but few have had her long acquaintance with him to see the shrewdness beneath. Although the way he just turned Ueda Kyoku's plea for mercy into an insult is rather more blatant than usual for him.

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Kyoku merely inclines her head and murmurs, "Your understanding is appreciated, Shingen-dono," with a faint smile. 

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"And of our concerns?" asks the Wind daimyo. "There remains the issue of Orochimaru murdering the Fourth Kazekage, as well."

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"Well before his resonance," she points out, with a faint smile. "Information can be provided to Wind, as well. And not all of our techniques are of a military focus. We are confident that certain techniques will catch your interest."

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He hums and folds his hands. "We will see."

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"Our august selves have brought a sample, of what reparations we may offer. More is available, of course."

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A gesture, and Rian sets two trios of scrolls down before them, head bowed demurely.

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At Shingen's nod, she has one of her jounin fetch Konoha's set, as the Wind daimyo sends young Temari. Yasumi channels chakra through the scrolls briefly, deftly checking for traps, and cracks one open.

The very first technique is a counter to the Edo Tensei.

She does not raise her eyebrow at the Sound contingent, but, privately, she wonders.

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The Wind daimyo has Suna's jounin commander review the scrolls. The jounin commander has a grim look on his face, and eyes the Sound contingent. "What proof do we have these techniques work?" he asks, after a brief exchange with his daimyo.

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"We have included a thorough analysis of the theory behind each, including explanations grounded in several schools of thought. Anyone with a basic schooling in technique development should be able to follow our thoughts. Furthermore, we have tested them ourselves, rather extensively."

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"Naturally, you do not need to take us on our word, my lords. We will understand fully if you wish to test the techniques before declaring them sufficient or not."

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She has a more than thorough schooling in technique development, and the displayed techniques are sound. Well, at first glance. Orochimaru's likely better than her, and could have slipped something in, and would naturally have the counter to all of these himself. She'll see what Jiraiya and her research and development departments make of them.

A bit inconvenient, that negotiations will likely drag on even longer, but she's watched her lord through enough of these to know a quick negotiation is often a bad one.

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There's assorted other decisions made, but it comes down to: they will test the scrolls, and the sincerity of nation and hidden village alike, before negotiations can reconvene.

Kyoku smiles throughout.

She wasn't expecting this to go fast, after all, and Orochimaru has Sound well in hand.

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