Date: March 2, 2013
Hired to guard the leader of a village from assassins, three Leaf nin have some interesting encounters at a festival.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Struggle with No Reward - Keeping the Peace"
Douyou, a village in the Land of Fire
The village of Douyou has not seen the same level of unrest that seems to be plaguing the smaller settlements in the Land of Fire. The reasons aren't complicated at all; most people credit the steadying hand of Shitaru Kou, the village's reeve, with keeping the situation stable. This is good for most people, but there are some who /want/ the instability. And if they were to strike, today's Spring Blossom Festival would be a good time to do that, what with its crowds and Kou being prominent throughout the festivities.
Which is why some members of the village have pooled their money and hired a team of ninja from Konoha to ensure that Kou is safe during the festival. And that's why Ataru, Atsuro, Daisuke, and Hideaki are here. They're currently inside the community hall, and it's a few minutes before Kou heads outside and gets up on stage. As the plan currently stands, Atsuro will stay near him, while the others head out into the crowds and look for anything suspicious, but Atsuro is always sure to get his team members' opinions before enacting a plan. "We need someone to be patrolling the crowd itself, someone to be patrolling the merchant stalls, and someone to be patrolling the backstage area. Or if anything thinks they'll be better guarding Kou, they can switch with me." He looks to each team member to see what they think.
Ataru was surprisingly quiet about the whole situation. Indeed, Kyouki was for once, not sure about his stance on the matter. Afterall, justice on a country level was one thing, but this was something deeper. Considering that there might be people out there who see those whom Ataru is trying to defend, the village he is now a part of, like he sees the mafia was an unsettling thought, to be sure. Grimly, Ataru would give a small shake of his head. "I'd probably be best in the crowd. I know how ta blend in.. and I can also hop 'round the easiest from there, eh? I ain't exactly.. the stealthy type.. so at least in a crowd I'm less likely ta stand out.."
"I believe it would be an inferior use of my abilities to guard instead of patrolling," Hideaki nods. "Your basic plan seems sound to me, Atsuro." He clears his throat after, a hint of awkwardness at referring to his friend without an honorific while on a mission. He then glances over to the merchant stalls, waving in that direction. "I shall check the stalls, if there are no objections?" He then heads off, unless someone indeed raises a complaint.
Daisuke was pumped to get out there and do some good in the villages, maybe stopping unnecessary violence from breaking out. He had experience with a few of the surrounding villages within the Land of Fire but Douyou was new to him. Having arrived before the festival made the village even more livelier as Daisuke soaked it all in, seemingly fascinated with everything. Atsuro had assembled quite the dream team for this mission, the foursome probably able to take on a city by themselves if needed. To be on bodyguard duty was a bit of a drag, but nonetheless they are able to enjoy the festival once it is all over.
"I guess that doesn't leave anything besides backstage for me, huh? At least I will be close if needed. I've done bodyguard duty for Mako-ba and I will be but a moment away if anything happens. The plan is fine by me." the young Jounin says with a confirming nod of his head.
"I'm not /totally/ sure you know how to blend in," Atsuro tells Ataru, "But otherwise your logic is okay. Sounds like we've got our plan, so let's move out. Remember, keeping the mayor— er, reeve — alive is our top priority, but apparently the Hokage wants us to investigate the source of the unrest too. So it doesn't hurt to keep that in mind." Kou is now ready to go, so Atsuro gives each team member a nod, then he and Taizen walk off after him, staying close enough that they can respond to any attack, but not so far that they appear to be a part of the event itself.
Ataru's crowd is… a crowd. They're gathered in the town square. Most people are now looking at the stage as Kou starts a speech, but some are still dancing, playing music, and playing games. The music and the dancing goes together, of course, and a small area has been cleared for both musicians and dancers to do their thing. The games are varied and people can be seen playing simple cards and darts, or more adventurous pursuits like juggling knives or firebreathing.
For Hideaki, the merchant stalls are relatively peaceful. Most merchants are still setting up, getting ready to sell their various things. There are plenty of food vendors, as well as some selling clothes, knick-knacks, or even weapons, but the majority are selling flowers. This /is/ the Spring Blossom Festival after all.
Finally, there's Daisuke backstage. There's a large space under the stage itself, which Kou and Atsuro are now standing on. Beyond that, there are a number of boxes hidden out back, most of which formerly contained decorations or other equipment which is now in use, leaving them now empty. Various workers bustle about here as well, doing their best to keep the festival going smoothly.
Ataru would smirk at Atsuro.. hey, his bluster has gotten him through before! that has to mean something. Shaking his head with a chuckle, he'd wave and head off into the crowd. Hands in his pockets, after he'd slip on those orange shades, Ataru would casually stroll among the people. Anyone that's looking like they're chatting he'd try to check out, ease dropping if possible. Otherwise the first thing he'd look in on was that music and dancing, studying people with a false smile plastered grandly on his face. After that was the games, studying those interested, just to see if he can find anything of interest. Afterall, knife throw from here to there would do the job..
Hideaki moves from stall to stall, paying special attention to food and flower vendors. Deciding that poison is the most likely threat from these vendors, he examines the food and flower with calm eyes. Having no ability to detect poison directly, he watches the faces and reactions of vendors carefully as he inspects the goods, keeping an eye out for anyone who looks nervous or otherwise suspicious.
Daisuke first checks the undercarriage of the stage in the large space to make sure no one was planning to hide out. It was a fairly large area and he notes that, if needed, they could pull the reeve down into it if something large broke out and they needed to get him out. After the investigation of the large area came the actual backstage area, littered with boxes off to the side to make room for everyone. Scanning the area and briefly pausing on the workers, Daisuke tries to pick up on anything suspicious. But with all the people moving to and fro, it was hard to pick up on anything suspicious from just body language or movement. Daisuke figured that if something was going to go down, perhaps some of these boxes would not be empty as they should be. And so the young jounin begins to rifle through the boxes to make sure they contain nothing or things they should contain.
There are a number of people in the crowd discussing current events, so of course the talk of rebellions and revolutions come up, but nobody seems to actually be planning anything. Purely talk. There's even less going on with the music and dancing. A quick check will reveal that all of the instruments here are genuine — no blowpipes disguised as flutes or anything. And the dancers don't appear to have any weapons on them. One musician, though, has kept his case with him. As for the knife juggler, he could indeed through a knife right at Kou, although he doesn't seem to be planning that at this point.
Hideaki's investigation reveals something suspicious. Not at a food vendor or a flower vendor, but at one vendor who does both. The merchant himself doesn't appear to be around right now, but behind the counter one can see a tray with a number of bottle on it, and in those bottle are some kind of beverage, plus a flower. There's orange blossom cordial, hibiscus cordial, elderflower cordial and… nightshade cordial?
Daisuke's search of the boxes turns up something as well. In an ordinary-looking cardboard box, there's a book of matches and a scrap of paper. It has a rectangle drawn on it, with a little x in the corner. And just so whoever's reading knows where everything is, either side of the rectangle is labelled. One says 'town square' and the one on the opposite side says 'town hall.'
Ataru ponders. Hmm.. doesn't seem like much in the crowd. The knife juggler definitely a potential issue.. as was that case for the instrument. Pondering for a few moments longer, he'd finally move, while keeping an eye on the juggler, especially as the reeves showed up in public, he'd move a bit faster. Waiting for a lull in the music, he'd approach the musician that had his case. A small nod given his way. "Yo mate.. mind ifn I can check out that case? I dun mean ta pry or nothin, it's just routine, yah?"
Hideaki stops at the empty stall and glances around for the merchant that belongs with it. He slips behind the counter, picks up the nightshade cordial, and inspects it, seeing how full or empty it is. He then examines the food trays to see if there are obvious crumbs or grease left behind from where food has already been taken away.
Daisuke examines the paper closely, figuring it was a map of the surrounding area. With the matches there, it could just be some scribbled down map for the person in charge of the fireworks or something, but Daisuke wasn't taking any chances. First the Jounin stuffs a few of the matches in his pocket in case he was wrong after this was all done. Then he breaks the tops off the other matches and sets the box back where he found it. Then it was time to get creative, taking out a marker as he holds the map.
Everything in the box was set back where it was, albeit useless to the person who may have ill intentions for it. Daisuke would continue to keep an eye on it to see if anyone came to pick it up, but he would move on to other boxes before turning his attention to the people around.
The knife juggler continues his juggling. The musician is about to join in the music again as it strikes up, but Ataru has his attention. He frowns a little at Ataru in confusion. "Uh," he says, "Why?" He seems a little suspicious of Ataru, though whether it's the sort of suspicion you get when you've got something to hide, or merely the suspicion you get when a stranger asks to search your things, it isn't clear. He puts down his guiter and starts to grab at the case.
Hideaki's investigation bears fruit more quickly. The nightshade bottle does indeed appear to be a little less full than the others. Only a bit was taken, but… As for the trays, there is indeed a little food missing. And the reason for that soon reveals itself. "Uh, son," says a merchant, appearing from behind Hideaki, "I'm glad you're interested in my cordials, but you're not supposed to actually go into the stall." He's carrying a small tray with him which has a few small pastries and small bowl of jam. His eyes widen as he sees which of the cordials Hideaki is examining. "Oh," he says, "That one's not supposed to be out. But you can try any of the other ones."
Nobody pays attention to Daisuke's little bit of sabotage. The workers don't have any particular uniform or anything, so Daisuke's clothes don't make him look too suspicious, at least at a casual look. Not long after he's left the box, another worker comes by and opens it up. He starts digging through and produces the matchbook, which he stuffs in his pocket, then he bends down and starts looking through again. As for the map itself, the rectangle seems to represent the stage. And there /is/ a box of fireworks in one corner, but it doesn't seem to be the corner indicated on the map.
Ataru chuckles with a light shrug. "Ain't nothin doin with you mate. Gotta bet with someone, yanno? Yer gonna save me a buncha ryo ifn ya show me what's inside it, ta be sure.." He'd lean in, motioning to what looked to be two guys looking their way. "Mates are bettin I couldn't getcha ta do it.. tell ya what.. afterwards I'll split the bet witcha, huh?" Grinning, he'd straighten up, hands going back into his pockets. "I dunno.. they've mebbe had too many drinks or somethin.. ain't really sure why they picked this.. but.. eh. So anythin special in the case?" Ataru would glance at the other musicians. "I dun wanna hold ya'll up of course."
Hideaki bows to the merchant. "My apologies." He steps out from behind the stall, as requested, but picks up the nightshade cordial as he does so, holding it out. "I hope you don't think me rude, but I am compelled to ask if you remember whether this cordial was out when you left? I fear someone may have accidentally sampled it while you were away." A half-truth. That is one of the possibilities that frightens Hideaki.
Daisuke's digging turns up the fireworks, which were not exactly in a good spot for lighting. He frowns at this, taking a look around. He notices the guy as he slides the matchbox into his pocket and walks over to him with the box of fireworks under his arm. "Hey, did you find any matches to light these? I have to get started setting them up for the grand show tonight." he asks the man rummaging through the box. It was a trick question to see if the matchbook was for some other purpose.
The musician swallows. He looks down at the case, then up at Ataru again. "Ssssure," he says finally. He doesn't seem sure, but he opens up the case and shows it to Ataru. It appears to be empty. "Nothing special," says the musician quickly. He closes the case and snaps it shut. "So did you win the bet?" But Ataru and his sharp, sharp eyes know better. The inside of the case is a little too small to match its exterior. There's some kind of hidden compartment or false bottom.
Hideaki's merchant seems to want the nightshade cordial away. "Oh that one?" he asks. "That's just one I was experimenting with. I've tried all the other flowers before, but that one's new. A rare flower. Evening Blossom, it's called. I… tasted it." He pauses, then quickly adds, "But it wasn't very good. I'll have to look somewhere else to get a truly unique flower cordial. So why don't you just give it to me and I'll put it away. You can try some of the other ones." The merchant shuts up as he realizes he's starting to babble.
The guy looking through the box looks over to Daisuke. "Matches?" he asks, "Yeah, sure. I got some right here." He pulls out the matchbook and takes one of the sabotaged matches out. He begins to offer it to Daisuke, then frowns as he realizes he's actually just handing him a stick of cardboard. "Uh," he says, "My wife's been trying to get me to quit smoking. Sorry." He hurriedly puts the matches away. Then he closes up the box and hurries over to another, smaller box which he quickly hefts and starts to lug away. It looks heavy.
His eyes were sharp and his hand was faster. As the guy would try to close the case, he'd move, it wouldn't take much, a simple hand catching that top lid to stop it short. Once that was done, he'd open it and point out the hidden compartment. This time he wasn't friendly, the flash from those orange shades quite sharp. "That. Open it. Please.. or I rip it open." He wasn't quite to the point ready to deck the guy.. but he also wasn't backing off either. With that said, he was still keeping an eye on the knife thrower.. never knowing if he might have to do a leaping tackle to stop any threat from there.. just in case.
"Ah, I see," Hideaki replies, still holding on to the cordial. The merchant's nervousness does not seem to match his words, and so Hideaki attempts to apply a little more pressure. "Perhaps you and I have different tastes. There is truly no predicting when one person will like something another does not. I should like to sample some." He begins to unscrew the top of the cordial. "Personally, I always try to be unique. It would be a special treat to have something rare I could share with others at the festival."
Daisuke blinks as the man hands him the sabotaged match, looking at the man as if he were crazy. "Not going to do much good without the full thing." he says as he watches the man blame his wife. That was strange to Daisuke, who knew exactly where the matches were from. He hops up next to the man and puts a hand on his shoulder. "Let me carry that, it looks heavy. I've been working out lately and would like to test my strength." Ignoring any protest, Daisuke would reach for the box to pull into his arms. "What they got in here anyway?"
The musician seems stunned. "What?" he says, "Just how bad do you want to win this bet, man? It's nothing!" He tries to pull the case away. The knife juggler has stopped to watch the confrontation, but so have a lot of other members of the crowd. One of them, a big muscley guys steps forward. "Hey JERK," he says, "You here to hassle the entertainment or what? Beat it." He makes a threatening pose, showing off his muscles.
The merchants eyes widen as Hideaki suggests that he drink it. "No!" he cries. "Stop, put it down!" It seems Hideaki's getting closer to making him give it up, but he's still got a little fight in him. "Look, just… don't drink it. I think it's, uh, gone bad. In fact I think I might have put something bad in there by mistake. So let's just dump it out."
"What?" says Daisuke's worker friend, "I thought you were on fireworks. Uh." Not being a ninja, there's very little he can do to prevent Daisuke from taking the box. Already thrown off his game, his answer to the question turns out to be rather dumb. "Oh, that?" he asks, "It's… oats." Whatever's inside is fairly heavy and much chunkier than oats, judging by the way its weight shifts when one moves it.
That grip tightens on the case, mayhap denting it where his fingers are at as he'd stare at the musician through the shades. "Last chance, or I open it." The man that tried to approach him picked all the wrong ways to get Ataru to stop.. trying to pose and use his power to get his way? Oh heck no. Of course.. they are here to guard the one guy.. so that probably means minimal supplimental damage.. right? right.. In that flash of motion, Ataru's free hand would snap out, quite a bit of power snapped into the punch to the guy's chest. He wasn't going for hard enough to send him flying.. but at the very least knock his breath out of him and most likely knock him down.. unless he can take a hit!
"No. You're right. Drinking it would be a poor decision, if my suspicions are correct. Instead, I will ask that you drink it. As you have already had some, it should be no problem. Or, instead of drinking it, you can revise your story. Those are your options, the choice is yours." Hideaki fixes the merchant with a hard stare as he puts the cordial down where the merchant can reach it. Evidently, he is through playing with minor deceptions.
"I told you man, I've been working out lately and I want to test out these beautiful muscles. But whatever is in th- Oats?" Daisuke says as he tilts the box in his hands, giving the guy a look. "Really man? You aren't very good at lying. I bet your wife didn't even touch those matches either." he continues with, his eyes kept on the man the whole time. He walks over to a nearby table and sets the box down. "Oats my Barnum. I'm not going to be doing anything funky, you here? We have enough trouble around here." he says to the man as he retrieves a plain knife from his belt pouch and opens the box, revealing….
…a huge bundle of dynamite! Oh my God, SD, a bomb! "What, do you know my wife or something?" the worker asks indignantly, "She's been try— " His mind catches up with his eyes and he realizes he has absolutely no innocent explanation for this. Figuring the jig is up, he turns and makes a break for it.
The muscle guy can indeed take a hit. Just not from a ninja like Ataru. He folds like a cheap suit, doubling over and landing on the ground with a thump. Someone in the crowd screams. Actually, several someones. In any case, the musician realizes things are no longer going his way. And seeing the kerfuffle backstage, he figures this is his last, best chance to get out of here safely. He lets go of the case completely and runs. Should Ataru stop to look in the case, there's a blowpipe disguised as a flute and a few darts.
The merchant opens his mouth, but nothing comes out for a second. "Look," he says, "I have a family. And a lot of debt. I got an offer…" He pauses as tears start to form in his eyes. "It's poison," he admits, "Nightshade." He tips the tray of pastries out onto the ground and stomps them.
The glance confirms the contents and he'd reach in long enough to snap it in his hand. Weapon broken, case was dropped to let the weapon shards scatter and he'd blur, vanishing from where he was, to stop in front of the musician. That hard look was still on his face as the threat of balled up fist wound up. "Stop. Put yer hands on yer head. Or I hit you." Simple, effective, the guy had already seen what Ataru did to the man of muscle.. so would he risk Ataru having to punch him too? Maybe.. maybe not, either way, Ataru was ready for any potential move the musician did. Of course, while this was happening he'd still keep an eye on the juggler.. that's the next potential threat.. or is just an actual juggler. Either way, Atsuro was right.. he didn't blend in for long.
Hideaki sighs as he hears the sound of an increasing din from the crowd. "Ataru," he mutters, guessing correctly. Meanwhile, the merchant stomps on his pastries, drawing a grave comment from Hideaki. "Many have families. Including those who are poisoned. Now, if you are interested, I have a counter offer. Tell me as much as you know about the people who asked you do this thing, and if your information leads to their capture, you may not have to take the fall for an attempted murder."
Daisuke's eyes would sparkle as all his snooping would pay off. Tucking the box of dynamite under his arm, the young Jounin flickers from his position towards the exit that he blocks, most likely surprising the man with his speed. "Told you I've been working out." he says as he aims a punch for the solar plexus of the man in an attempt to wind him enough to make him crumple to the ground so that he can detain him.
Realizing that he's out of his league, the musician puts his hand on his head as Ataru instructs. From here, he's quite cooperative. He knows he's been caught, and he knows he'll probably pay for it. The knife juggler turns out to just be a guy who likes juggling knives. The muscley guy turns out to be a helpful muscley guy who wanted to stop a fight, and when he's got a moment, he asks to exchange contact information with Ataru so he can get some fighting tips.
Hideaki's merchant is clearly wrought with guilt. He'll willingly go with Hideaki to wherever he's taken and is obviously more than ready to spill the beans. He will be most helpful when interrogated later on, but for the time being the poisoning plot has been foiled. He asks Hideaki to take a private message to his family before leaving his custody.
Daisuke's worker proves to be the least cooperative of all. Once he's gotten his breath back, a stream of insults comes out, "I didn't feel a thing, Bailey! You can't arrest me! My dad's a lawyer and he'll sue you and he'll take you to court and he'll totally win and I'll be back out on the street in a week!" None of those things prove to be true.
Three assassination attempts and the team has foiled them all before Kou's speech is even over. "…a new beginning for our village. I hope I'll have your support. Now, enjoy the festival, everyone!" Soon enough, Kou is back in the safety of the town hall, and the team's work is done. While Ataru will probably be getting the stink eye from some of the villagers, the other three are able to enjoy the festival with no troubles.