Date: November 18, 2013
Atsuro and Daisuke investigate the disappearance of goods from a small colony.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Colony Collapse - Part 1: Dock Ears"
Minatoriko, an island far out in the ocean
After a long and uncomfortable boat ride out into the ocean, Atsuro and Daisuke have arrived on the small island of Minatoriko. Unsettled until fairly recently, Minatoriko has only one city. Well, if it can be called a city. Seijintaro, as it's called, is pretty small itself. The main street is relatively lively, but aside from that there isn't a whole lot going on, and the population of the town probably isn't any more than two thousand. This small settlement has been having some trouble lately.
Atsuro and Daisuke have been called here to deal with a problem the town has been having. Cargo shipped here from the mainland is going missing. Not only is it suspicious, it's occuring frequently enough that the town is having trouble compensating for it, and is now missing significant portions of medicine and equipment. The two man (and one dog) team has only just stepped off the boat, but they've already got their instructions. Not wanting to indicate to anybody involved in the matter that the new arrivals are working for the city, the mayor has sent them an explanation of the situation in a letter. They're to use their own devices to find out what's happening to these shipments, and put a stop to the problem. Other than that, they have one other piece of information: a schedule of cargo ships arriving over the next week or so, so that they can stake them out, if they decide that's the best course of action. Atsuro turns around, watching the crew of their boat start getting the ship ready to head back. "That's the last of home we'll see for a week," he says, not totally hiding his apprehension. "What now?"
What Atsuro may not know about Daisuke is that the open water, boats, and he do not get along. The ride may have been uncomfortable for Atsuro, but hanging over the edge of the boat the whole time was even worse. As the boat docked, Daisuke leaped to the wooden dock and took a moment to get his land legs back, taking a good swig of water. "That wasn't fun." he comments before letting out a breath and patting his clearly empty stomach.
As Daisuke looks around the immediate area, he takes in certain sights, noticeable landmarks, shops, mannerisms, anything he may find useful on this mission. As Atsuro comments on the boat leaving, Daisuke turns to watch it go, looking relieved that the evil transport was going the opposite direction for now. "Well, we are on our own here, so lets say we get some food and look over the cargo ship schedule?" he suggests.
"Looked pretty rough for you," Atsuro admits. But he and Taizen love the sea. "Did you see that pod of dolphins swimming alongside the boat, though?" Yep, it sounds like he and Taizen had a much better time than Daisuke did. They were also able to dig in when the crew caught that huge marlin, so they're not as hungry either, but they're also never going to say now to a second lunch.
The area nearby is fairly busy, with some activity on the docks, plus some businesses near the docks. This includes a pub and a couple of restaurants, which is probably a relief for Daisuke. Wherever the other man wants to go, Atsuro and Taizen will follow, and eat and look at the schedule with him. It's pretty much what you'd expect. Shipments come in a couple times of day carrying things you can't get on the island. Furniture, medicine, certain foods, luxury items… There are various ships carrying some mixture of these things, plus one carrying salaries for employees of the main company sponsoring the exploration of Minatoriko.
"They were probably enticed by all the floating 'food' in the water." Daisuke says with a grimace, heading to the pub with Atsuro and Taizen to look over the schedules and maybe sneak a drink with some greasy food. As Daisuke looks over the schedule he thinks out loud, "Medicine, furniture…the money might be a high priority target. Did they give us any information about what was targeted the most or anything? Would be nice to be able to plant ourselves in the shipping and unloading process to catch any would-be robbers." He stuffs some potato wedges in his mouth, chewing quietly as he waits for some feedback on their next move.
"Ewwwwww," says Atsuro. But he's still more than willing to get a drink and some greasy food. Taizen gets some strange looks as they walk in, but nobody seems to have any big objections to a dog being in here. Not like it's a high-class establishment, but it can be a concern sometimes for an Inuzuka.
Atsuro nods a little as Daisuke talks about the schedule. "I was thinking something like that," he says, "Just pick out a couple juicy ones and watch where the cargo goes?" He rubs his chin, "I guess it would be pretty simple to just use henge to disguise ourselves and hang out at the docks. Then look for anyone who seems to be putting the crates where they shouldn't be?"
"Sure, that's the idea." Daisuke says with a nod to Atsuro before he looks back at the schedule. He takes a drink before asking, "But which ones..the shipment with a little of everything looks like it could be a tempting target for sure, but we should plan out at least one a day, if possible, in case we come up dry the first time." Unsure of what Atsuro wants to make their next move, he quickly finished up his meal so that they could move if necessary, letting Atsuro do the thinking for a moment while he re-filled his stomach with something.
"I think you're right," says Atsuro, "The one with the money would be dangerous. People aren't going to be too upset if that thing they wanted isn't in the store for a couple weeks, but they get pretty crashed when they don't get the money they worked for." He rubs his chin and looks down at the schedule. "Well," he says, pointing to one entry. "What about this one in a couple hours? It has a good mix of stuff, so there's probably something worth stealing. And it's late enough that it'd be a bit dark, so you sneak off with stolen goods easier."
Daisuke finishes up, wiping his mouth with a napkin before getting some money out for the food and a generous tip. "Sounds good, lets work on our plan of attack." he suggests, standing up to imply that their strategizing probably shouldn't take place in such public view. "We can work something out for a few different situations, depending on who we eventually run into as the culprit." he adds as he walks out with Atsuro and Taizen. "Rebels, thieves, organized bandits or ninja…."
"You were pretty hungry, eh? Might be the fastest turn from sick to ravenous I've ever seen." Atsuro notes, putting some of his money on the table too. "And I set a few of those records." He and Taizen get up and follow Daisuke out of the building. "Seems like a lot of those situations have the same strategy," he says, "It's a game-changer if they've got ninja. And we don't know if it's just one person or a whole bunch of people." Since Daisuke suggested it, he starts leading them, looking for somewhere out of the way to discuss things in detail.
As they find a spot, Daisuke sits down, patting his stomach. "I was starved after emptying my stomach out the whole trip, there was nothing left." he says with a chuckle. "Anyway, the situations were really, a single thief, a group of baddies, organized or mob-like, and then ninja as the worst. Whether it's some local who believes he's owed the world, or hired help from a Hidden Village, it is good to be prepared for anything, or else we get surprised or caught off-guard, which is never good. We have an hour or so to kill, anyway, right?"
"And now you're emptying out your brain," Atsuro teases. "Okay, fair enough. There are a few different things it could turn out to be." He rubs his chin. "If it's one person, they're probably just slipping of with bits of the shipments and hiding them somewhere. If it's a group… maybe the same thing, but someone drops them off somewhere temporary, then somebody else comes in and takes it, maybe?" He pauses for a second, "You wanna spend the next hour doing this?"
"Groups are trickier, and it did sound like a significant amount goes missing, so I think we are dealing with a group." Daisuke points out before Atsuro speaks up. "No not really, I was just trying to sound all professional and smart, lets go do something or scout out the dock at least." Daisuke says with a sigh of relief, looking relaxed now that he got that out there.
"I think that's a safe bet," says Atsuro, "We can't really rule anything out yet, though." He grins a little. "Daisuke," he says in a mock-comfortingly voice, reaching over to pat Daisuke on the head, "I'd never expect you to be professional and smart." He nods. "May as well scout out the dock. There probably isn't a whole lot to do in this town anyway." So they head to the docks.
The layout of the docks is pretty simple. There's a smaller side area for passenger ships (where the team arrived), and then there's a larger area for cargo ships. One carrying coal is unloading right now, so they can see how it works. Without any fancy equipment like cranes onsite, the crates are hauled off the ship one at a time and organized in the center of a large, rectangular section of the dock. From there, the crates are loaded up on hand carts and taken up to the streets to be put on a mule-drawn carriage, and shipped off to whatever part of town they're destined for.
"Daisuke tries to sock Atsuro in the shoulder as they get up to leave, a smirk on his face. "Too busy having the best looking muscles in Konoha." he says as they head out for the docks. Once they arrive Daisuke checks out the process itself, figuring out the two spots that they would need to be. "So if someone is here in the central area for unloading, they could keep a good eye on bot the off loading and the travelling towards the wagons. The other would be better off near the wagons, watching the crates come from the central area of the docks to the carriage. It could be a rogue carriage as well, so it would be important to find that out."
"They do keep me pretty busy," Atsuro shoots back, grinning, not minding the punch. He and Taizen watch the workings of the dock, and Atsuro nods when Daisuke speaks up. "Sounds like a good plan to me," he says, "We could have Tai move between us and take messages back and forth." He pauses to scratch Taizen behind the ears, "Even a hardened criminal wouldn't expect a big ol' dog to be working with the ninja team that's gonna take him down. As long as we hide the vest."
"Sounds good. Taizen you will have to go 'full-dog' for this one. No talking or wearing clothing." Daisuke says to Taizen, giving him a pat. "How much time we got until the next shipment?" he asks Atsuro as he notices the coal ship was getting ready to undock. He didn't really have a good sense of time in unfamiliar places and looking at the 'location of the sun' never helped. "Should we get into position? You at the dock, me on carriage duty?"
"I just said that," Atsuro protests, "C'mere for a sec, Tai." He leads Taizen to a an out of the way spot and removes the dog's vest, then stashes it somewhere it hopefully won't end up among the missing cargo and ruffles the dog's coat where the vest made an imprint. "Ta-da," says Atsuro as they return, "Aside from being totally huge, he looks just like any other dog."
And of course ninja can't tell time just by the position of the sun. Atsuro looks into a nearby cat's eye to determine the size of the slit, then he asks a nearby dock worker, "Hey, you know what time it is?" It turns out they've got about half an hour before the ship comes in. "I don't mind staying at the dock," he says, "No rush, though."
"Well I don't mind either way. If you wanted to do something else with our time, I'm all for it. Maybe secure some lodging or something?" Daisuke suggests after Atsuro finds out what time it was. "It's been awhile since I've been on an extended mission away with others, I forget sometimes people might do things differently." he says with a chuckle, walking over to Taizen to give him a scratch behind the ears.
Atsuro tsks. "So soon after you finish vomiting because of the boatride, you want to get to vomiting because of the rooms?" He pauses, "Wait, I shouldn't assume. You want to get to vomiting because of the rooms or room?" Sounds like Atsuro isn't expecting the greatest lodgings here. "We don't know how long it'll take to find a room," he says more seriously, "I say we get this stakeout going. Besides, who knows if it'll show up early or something like that?" Taizen wags his tail in response to the scratching, but can't say thank you, now that he's full-dog.
"Alright, lets get into stakeout mode then." Daisuke says with a nod, heading up to the spot where the carriages were collecting the coal, others having yet to arrive for the next boat. He looks around the area, finding a good spot in a storefront nearby. The bench out front would be perfect and so, feeling bad for just using the bench, he wanders in and buys a few drinks before getting into his position.
"Sure," says Atsuro, "See you when we catch somebody… or we don't catch somebody and we've totally wasted our time." And then he goes to his position (which doesn't have a bench and drinks, by the way) too. Taizen wanders back and forth between their stations, checking on things, but he doesn't have anything important to say yet. After a while, a ship loaded down with cargo approaches the docks, and the workers there start to the business of unloading it.
Lots of workers start coming up to the street, carrying cargo with them to be loaded up, but Taizen follows behind on of them, occasionally glancing towards Daisuke to get his attention. Looks like there's something strange about this guy. He doesn't seem to be loading the crate onto any of the carriages either, as if he's waiting for something to happen.
Daisuke watches from his position as the group of workers arrive, the carriages already prepping for transportation of the cargo. He spots Taizen in the pack of workers approaching the carriages and notices the look he is given. 'Hmm' hm thinks to himself, standing up and dusting himself off. Does he go offer help to the man to load it into a carriage or does he not spook him. Either way Daisuke is moving towards the carriages.
Taizen steps off to the side, staying out of the way now that Daisuke knows something's up. The man himself doesn't seem to notice all this as it's going on, looking down the road, probably for a carriage. There are a number of carriages lined up by the dock, so any carriages that are coming aren't moving too quickly. Eventually, the man seems to spot a carriage he's interested in. He doesn't do anything obvious to show it, but he's definitely looking at it pretty intently. It's still a while before the carriage will get here, and the man doesn't seem to notice Daisuke approaching in the meantime.
Daisuke doesn't catch the man's gaze to any specific carriage but he does get a good look in the direction, where it could be one of two possibilities. He turns, still on the other side of the carriages passing, and looks to Taizen, hoping to catch his eye and make a motion down towards ATsuro to let him know about the situation. For now he will stay on this side watching so that the man can make his move, perhaps weeding out even more accomplices or allowing Daisuke the opportunity to track.
Eventually, the carriage that the man is so interested in arrives. They don't do anything really obvious to blow their cover, but they certainly seem a little hurried in loading the crate up onto the carriage, and they speak so little to each other, it's a little suspicious. The other men make casual talk with their carriage drivers, but these two hardly spare a sentence each for one another. Taizen gives a little dog-nod to Daisuke and starts heading back down to the docks.
Daisuke decides to tail the carriage for now, waiting for it to make a move while casually walking behind it as if he were crossing the street so that he could peek inside at any other contents. For now he wasn't sure if the man and the driver were the only ones caught up in this, and following the carriage back to its destination might provide fruitful, but hopefully Taizen gets the message across or Atsuro has discovered something else.
After they're finished loading the carriage, the first man heads back in the direction of the docks, no doubt in for a little talk with Atsuro. As for Daisuke, his look inside the carriage reveals only the crate. The carriage itself has a little bit of red paint on it, applied so that it's not easily noticeable, and looks almost accidental. Perhaps it's for signalling to the worker back at the docks? In any case, the carriage driver continues for now, not noticing that someone is following him. He makes his way out of the main part of the city to the less-populated outskirts.
As the carriage begins to move into less populated areas, Daisuke has to make a quick call, as his cover is lessening. As the wagon turns a corner he maneuvers himself into a position where he can slip underneath the side of the carriage and rest against the frame underneath, plenty of room between both axles. This way he can keep following without being seen, though it does raise another issue. He can't see where they are going. Thinking quick, he grabs a few pieces of chakra paper from his hip pouch and gives it a good rub on his face briefly for the 'dogs' before he begins to lay small pieces of it as breadcrumbs to the observant eye.
With the driver none the wiser, the carriage continues a short ways more, until it finally comes to a stop. Under the carriage isn't exactly the best place to tell what's going on, but the sound of movement from about makes it clear that the driver has climbed into the back. Then there's a little more movement, then finally the sound of something heavy being pushed, and landing outside the cart. There's some more movement from the back, then the sound of the driver getting back into his seat.
Daisuke lowers his head a bit so he could see what was dropped on the ground, judging if it was worth getting off or not. If it was the crate, Daisuke would silently drop to the ground and wait for the wagon to leave, sinking into the ground before he could be revealed. Finding a vantage point, he would pop his head up to observe anyone coming for the crate and follow. If it was not the crate, Daisuke would stay put.
It was indeed the crate! The driver snaps the reins and drives the carriage out of there, leaving Daisuke alone. Alone until Atsuro and Taizen show up. Atsuro looks stunned for a moment, then returns to normal. "Geez," he says, "For a minute there, I thought they'd beheaded you." He holds up the papers Daisuke dropped earlier, "So, how come you carry around paper that smells like you? Just in case you're working with an Inuzuka or something?" He looks over to the crate, "Guess we got the right guy, eh?"
"Exactly because I'm working with an Inuzuka." Daisuke comments as he pops up completely from the ground. "Gave it that extra Eau de Daisuke for you." he adds with a smirk. "Now what happens to the crate after this I wonder. Seems pretty seamless so far." he says, thinking out loud again as he looks over at the crate.
"I thought maybe they were a present for Satomi," says Atsuro. "I talked to the dock worker about that. He doesn't really know the particulars of the whole operation — he just puts it on the cart and gets some money sent to him in return." He shakes his head, "Barely knew anything about it beyond that. But he did seem to think there was some group behind it." He gestures to the crate, "I'm guessing someone'll be by in the next little while. Looks like we'll have ourselves another stakeout."
Daisuke nods his head as he looks around the rural area. "Follow the trail to the treasure, fun times. Wonder if we will be sleeping under the stars tonight." he comments as he looks around for a suitable stakeout location. "Shall we get prepared, then? And good job picking up on the guy, Taizen. You are the star of the mission so far." he says with a smile to the dog.