Date: February 18, 2014
Finally getting close to the end of their investigation, Atsuro and Daisuke search a bustling marketplace-island.
"Colony Collapse - Part 6: No More Stalling!"
Shoninshima, an island far out in the ocean
Now that they have the records from Nejirojima, Atsuro, Daisuke, and Taizen are finally getting close to whoever's behind this operation. The records have led them to Shoninshima, another island in the north section of the chain they've been investigating for some time now. They've arrived in a bustling port town on the island. Men and women go about their business while children play in the streets, which contain about as much garden as they do cobble, and the clean white buildings are lined up neatly, row by row, with the sun shining on them brightly. It's a beautiful place, but somewhere around here is someone with a rather ugly secret.
Rather than boating here themselves, the Leaf nin have taken a handy ship here. Relatively large for this island chain, the ship is a symbol of Shoninshima's popularity. Atsuro and Taizen step onto the docks, waiting for Daisuke to get off the boat. "Here we are," says Atsuro cheefully. "Now, how do we find who's been selling the stolen goods?"
Daisuke had been much better with all these boat trips with his medicine on hand, though he had not planned for so many uses on this mission originally and was running out. They needed to get this done. As the boat arrives, Daisuke notices the well-kept town, immediately spotting the difference between this island and the others. Flashbacks of Fuuma Alley move through his head, the extravagant casino and tourist district, and the slums and industrial districts. The reason why this was important is that money usually had some kind of dirty trail to crime, and if their reports had sent them here, they could be dealing with it.
"We could look around at the market square or stalls along the road, see if any items on the original shipping list are showing up at that level. It would be at least a good start?" Daisuke suggests as he hops off the boat onto the dock.
"Ughhhhhhhhh," says Atsuro, "Uuuuuuuuuuugh." Seems like he didn't like that suggestion! "I was really hoping you wouldn't say that. We're gonna have to look at every stall and compare the items to the records. And that's assuming they haven't sold them alreadyuggggggggh." Despite that reaction, though he knows that they're going to have to do it. It's pretty easy to find the market square. And boy, are there a lot of stalls there. Uuuggghhh.
Atsuro sighs loudly. "How are we going to do this?" he asks, "We could each take a copy of the list and then take half of the place. Look at a two hundred stalls each instead of four hundred." He says this much like he's choosing between being boiled alive or pecked to death by birds.
"What's your problem today?" Daisuke asks as they walk towards the marketplace. "We've done way more work than this so far, and all we need is one match and we can grill them." he says as they enter the square. He looks around at all the denizens and stalls, the cry of mongers and shopkeeps selling their wares ringing out through the square. He gives Atsuro another look waiting for an answer before he snatches one of the lists and moves off to the right side to start.
"It's not a problem /today/," Atsuro says, "It's a problem tosituation. You really don't mind looking at every single stall and talking to whoever's running it?" He shakes his head, "And I don't see how having to fully investigate someone if there's even one match makes it simpler." Obviously a pessimist. Since Daisuke takes a list for himself, he figures they're going with the plan to split up. "Tai, you should go with him," he instructs Taizen reluctantly, "If we find something, I can track you guys down, and you can track me down." Taizen follows after Daisuke to the side he's picked. Time to go to work!
From one stall to the next ,Daisuke passes by jewelry, vegetables, the daily catch, until he stops at a textiles shop. All three stores try to lure him in to have a look, but the last one was the only one he took the offer from. Since numerous amounts of items were textiles, cloth and similar, it was his best bet. He peruses through the stall itself, occasionally glancing at the list kept hidden in his hand to see if anything matched. Fingers crossed!
Indeed, the stall has some nice-looking cloth. Perhaps some of these pieces have been stolen. If Daisuke gets a chance to investigate, he can certainly compare them to what's written on the list, but right now, someone wants to talk to him. "Well, hello theeeeere," the stall's owner, a middle-aged man wearing a fine kimono saunters up with an ingratiating smile. "A customer. Weeeeelcome." He bows deeply. "What can I do for yooooou?"
Daisuke eyes some cloth that look to be a matching item but as he was about to investigate he was interrupted. "Nothing, thanks, I'm just browsing." he says, making it known that he didn't want to be interrupted. "I'll ask you for help if I have a question." With that being said he would get the chance to investigate the cloth, which certainly matched a shipping record from last week that was taken. He had to play this right. "On second thought. This cloth. It is exactly what I am looking for. Unfortunately I am looking for a lot more of it. I was hoping you could tell me where your supplier is? I would be willing to pay you a middle man fee."
"Okaaaaaay," says the merchant, knowing better than to waste his time on a looky-loo. He glides off to another part of the stall and look for an actual customer. But then! Daisuke brings up the possibility of money after all and the merchant glides right back over. "Yes," he says, "Yeeeees. You have a discerning eye. Most of this is just from weavers around the islands. But that one was special. The suppliiiiiier is a man who visits sometimes. He's a dealer in rare items. He sold me that one for quite cheap, even though it's of such quaaaality."
"Do you happen to know the name or location of this supplier? Something we can go on? I am eager to meet this man and timing is crucial. I would be willing to double your pay if you could set me up with a meeting today." Daisuke says to the man with the cloth in his hands, a fake, but very eager look on his face, his eyes widening with excitement. "I really need to get this done today, the Master's ceremony is tomorrow, money is no object." he adds, inserting a rich sounding master to help the man see dollar signs.
Indeed, the merchant's eyes are shining. "I think he's a part of one of the larger merchant house— er, hoooouses." He pauses for a moment to clear his throat. "Most of the big houses have their buildings around heeeere. You could certainly ask arouuund." He steps out of the stall for a moment and gestures in a number of directions. Indeed, though, he's pointing to large and impressive looking buildings — buildings that just scream 'commerce.' The merchant steps back inside the stall. "This man — this agent, yeeees. He keeps his head shaaaved, and he always wears a ruby ring on his left haaaaaand."
"Thank you for the information. I will see that my Master reimburses you handsomely once I obtain the cloth." Daisuke says with a polite bow, having the description of the man. He heads out with Taizen to locate Atsuro, asking Tai to lead the way. Maybe Atsuro has had some luck as well, but regardless they had something to go on. He weaves his way through the market in the direction Taizen leads, getting closer and closer to Atsuro's location.
"Thank you," says the merchant, "So happy to heeelp." Taizen leads the way, heading back to where they'd last left Atsuro, then sniffing along the ground once he's caught his scent. He leads Daisuke to a stall owned by a clothing vendor, who is currently showing Atsuro to a mirror. "As you can see, it suits you perfectly," she says. "Yes," says Atsuro reluctantly, "The epaulettes really add… something." Seems she's the pushy type.
As Taizen and Daisuke enter, he turns to them briefly. "Uh, I gotta go." He takes off the shirt and quickly puts his regular shirt and vest back on. "Thanks," he says, hurriedly leaving the stall, "I'll try to come back and buy it later." A polite lie. "You found something?" he asks Daisuke.
Daisuke gets to the shop Atsuro is in and bursts out laughing, caught completely offguard at what he was going to see there. As Atsuro strips it off and wears his usual attire, Daisuke is busy trying to calm down. Once Atsuro gets to them and asks, Daisuke has calmed down enough to spill what he found. "Seems the large merchant houses control the trade around here. One of the sellers for those houses, a bald man with a ruby ring, sold some of the stolen goods to a local clothing stall for cheap. So we locate and interrogate a man with a bald head and a ruby ring. If there are more than one of them, that would just be ridiculous." he explains to Atsuro, pointing towards the larger houses in town.
Hmph. "You wish you could wear it like I did," Atsuro tells Daisuke, "Mm, yes, you'd be very happy to own that shirt. I think I'll get it for your birthday. It's only a month away!" He listens to what Daisuke has found out for them. "Makes sense," he says, nodding, " You wouldn't expect it to just be an independent merchant." He seems pleased… mainly because this means they've got a lead, after only a few stalls.
"Which house though?" he asks, "If the guy didn't tell you…" He pauses for a second. "Hey, Tai. Did you happen to get a sniff of the rug? Maybe we can track it to a particular house and look for the guy in there." Taizen nods his head. "Yes," he says, "We can look around for the scent." Figuring the marketplace has too many smells to track it easily from there, Atsuro asks Daisuke, "Alright, where's the closest merchant house?"
"You do that and I will be regifting it back to you, it was much more your style." Daisuke quips back as he looks out over the bigger houses lording over the town. Thank god they had Taizen around, as Atsuro didn't seem to get a whiff of the rug. "Thankfully we have one good scent tracker with us, huh?" he says with a smirk to Atsuro before they are off, Daisuke leading them out of the marketplace and up through better looking roads and a large amount of stairs before they arrive at a road overloading the lower town and sea beyond, the houses starting to get larger and more luxurious. The buildings closest to the road all bear various marks of trading companies and guilds, merchant buildings where trade of a high monetary amount are conducted. If they needed a place to start, this was almost perfect.
"You mean it looked better on my body," Atsuro corrects, "Which is true, I suppose. Because I have a better body." He smirks a little, "Taizen is a good tracker. I won't argue with that. Unless you want to go all the way back to the stall where you found the rug." Actually a better burn than he realizes, considering he doesn't know about that merchant!
As they go to each merchant house, Taizen stops and sniffs around for the rug, trying to catch its scent, and those scents he caught on it. Finally, as they stop in front a building that looks wealthy even for these merchant houses, he announces, "The rug was here at one point."
"Yeah for that shirt, which requires a spindly and gangrenous type." Daisuke says with a smirk, listening to Atsuro defend his smelling. "It was cloth, I thought you were talking about that rug we took from the bandits a few days back. Be clear man!" he says with vigor. "Either way lets keep going."
Walking by the buildings Daisuke was looking impressed. Fine craftsmanship, these people weren't kidding around. Once they come upon the richest of the lot, Daisuke looks a round and nods. "Lets see if we can find ourselves our man." he says with a wave.
"Mm," says Atsuro, "Yup. If there's anything I'm known for, it's my spindly, gangrenous appearance." He shakes his head. "Because that rug would be so useful to us, when it could clearly have never made it here? Get your head in the game, young Daisuke!" Once they've determined which house it is, he hold the door open for Daisuke and Taizen, then walks in himself. It is, of course, crowded and full of busy people bartering, haggling, selling, and buying. The question is, how does one find a single bald man with a ruby ring in all this?
"Only when you are walking beside me." Daisuke says, finally getting to the quip and it's a zinger. He chuckles and thanks Atsuro for holding the door, walking inside to see the hustle and bustle of trade, most likely both legal and off the books. "How hard can spotting bald men be. We are decently tall men, lets surf the crowd shall we?" he says to Atsuro before slipping into the sea of people, his six and a half foot frame able to see most heads in the vicinity as he moves and turns, like some crazy ninja sonar, pinging the area for bald men. He finds his first one and approaches, stopping himself short as he sees no ring. On to the next.
"That hardly seems like the most efficient way of doing this," Atsuro says apprehensively. Then again, he doesn't have any better ideas. Taizen, while large for a dog, isn't quite so tall that he can easily see over the heads of the crowd. So Atsuro makes him useful by climbing up on the dog's back, actually standing on him, somehow managing to balance on him. He looks strange, but he can certainly see around the area pretty well. "There he is," says Atsuro, pointing the guy out. Shaved head, check. Ruby ring, check. The guy they're looking for, check?
Daisuke looks over to Atsuro and almost facepalms. Here he was trying to blend in and not cause an incident and there he was standing atop a massive dog pointing at their target. If the man didn't start to run now, they would be really lucky. "You think the people in the house next door heard you?" he says as he moves towards the man through the crowd, beckoning for Atsuro to come as well, or at least get down off the poor dog.
Atsuro gives Daisuke a cheeky grin. "Worked, didn't it?" he asks, climbing down off of Taizen. Taizen, for his part, doesn't seem to mind — many Inuzuka ride their dogs, after all. Atsuro just did it… creatively. "They didn't choose us for our subtlety," he points out. Atsuro's not the one who can blow up an entire city, or whatever it is you kids are doing with your jinchuuriki these days.
Their target is heading for a nearby exit, but he doesn't seem to be in a hurry. He's probably not suspicious of the two ninja, if he even noticed them.
Daisuke gives Atsuro a smirk as he moves through the crowd, noticing the man having stopped talking with others around him and was casually making his way to the exit. "Oh no you don't" he says under his breath as he jumps up from the tightly fitted crowd (his muscles were clearly too big as he kept bumping into people) and grabs onto the railing of the 2nd floor, surprising a couple of onlookers. With a wink at the lady, he jumps back out, this time able to land at the exit the man was headed for so that, once he arrived, Daisuke would be standing there against the doorframe looking all cool and asking him, "Going somewhere?"
With Daisuke providing a nice distraction, Atsuro does the /actual/ work of apprehending the man, approaching from behind. "As a matter of fact I— hnt!" The man grunts as he feels a kunai pressing lightly against his back. "Take us with you," Atsuro whispers, standing so that he simply appears to be following behind and not threatening the guy with a sharp object. "We've heard some interesting things about your business practices." The man lets out a shaky sigh. "What do you want to know?"