Date: September 8, 2012
Team Two head out to unravel an increase of crimes in what was once a nice neighborhood.
"Pick Pocket Troubles"
A Village in the Land of Wind
Among the multitude of the missions coming into the hands of Sunagakure was the following: an area in one of the Land of the Wind's cities had just noted a notable rise in reports of things stolen. The timing and frequency of these crimes made it impossible for one person to have committed them, and the fact the rise came all at once suggested that the various criminals were somehow connected. Of course, this was just speculation up to this point.
Investigating whether this is true is the first task that falls on the shoulders of Keiji's team. They are sent to this city with the purpose of finding verifying the information already gathered, and rooting out any such criminals as thoroughly as they can. Specific, classified orders have come to the leader of the team: since this mission will also serve to gauge their new recruit's ability, he is to maintain a supervising and commanding role and let his subordinates do the work proper as long as that is possible, and interfere when he is needed only. And of course, all members of the team except Akina have been warned not to let too much classified information near her because Kuoroke does not trust her personally.
Keiji had his orders. He gathered the members of his team that were availible. Mainly Kazeodori and Akina. Once they had arrived in the city, he lead them to the first crime scene. It was a road leading off of the market square. "Alright you two. Lets see what facts you are able to gather. I have some of the details previously gathered, but we are here to confirm it. Do not be scared to go ask witnesses and such. A few days ago a man was pickpocketed here. He was on his way back from the market."
Kazeodori follows alongside his commander, and next to the new recruit. As Keiji stops, the Genin does too, his hands tucked into the ribs of his robe. He stares at the mainly empty road: the dust rolling in the wind, the quieted calls of sellers, the rambles of children as their parents shop.
"What, um… what facts are we supposed to discover exactly?"
Kazeodori takes a few steps forward, casting his head this way and that, to discover anything of what it is they are supposed to find. For what it seems, however, there's nothing but a bunch of dust and myriad footprints. Several doors, leading to homes perhaps, or back entrances to businesses, stick from the walls alongside the road. The Genin turns back to his team's leader.
"Seriously. Unless one of us gets pickpocketed right now, how are we supposed to find this out? If I wake up and find an apple missing, I'm pretty sure an animal took it, but I don't think I'd ever find out which one did it."
A grin snaps to the boy's face, his eyes casting to the ground as his lips move.
"But if I set a trap…"
Kazeodori brings his gaze to Keiji's indigo eyes.
"I bet I'd be able to catch it."
The kunoichi is silent as she follows Keiji and Kazeodori ahead of her, watching their backs for several moments at a time before her dark gaze drifts to the scenery. It was a village market, probably much less busy compared to Sunagakure, but still people moved like a current through the streets. Children laughing happily while adults yell over the tops of heads to pull attention towards one kind of merchandise or another. Much like any village in the Land of Wind really. Akina slows as she glances back at Keiji, silent while she listens before her attention drifts to Kazeodori. A small breath parts from her lips and she nods lightly beneath the hood of her kimono. "Sasaki-san has a point. Unless we catch them red handed I doubt we will find anything of use. And being outside the village, we have less of a chance that anyone will talk to us for any information." Thoughtful for a short moment, Akina blinks her dusky eyes once as a thought occurs to her. Her gaze swiftly shifts back to Kazeodori. "It is possible that we might glean some information from the local gossipers if we're careful. That is, a group of housewives maybe know more of what we need to know than anyone here in the market."
"If you were going to rob someone of the coins, where would you stand that you would not stick out? You need a perfect view and a get away plan in case things go bad. We know he robbed someone here, so we can at least look around and find some different ideas of how the thief here might operate." Keiji states. He then grimaces behind his mask at Akina. "If you really want to we can try the local gossipers." He was not exactly on board, but this was their mission to figure out.
Kazeodori squeezes himself tighter within his robes, even though the day is warm and the wind is easy. Perhaps he's coming down with something.
The Genin looks over the area, running through his mind the best options for thievery, calculating the variables by which the thief could pos- oh, but that's so boring!
"Yeah. The gossipers. I bet they can tell us a sto-. The story. I bet they can tell us THE story. Yes."
Kazeodori walks past Akina, giving her a slight nudge with his shoulder.
"Let's go, cowgirl."
Recently - probably not to the knowledge of all - Kazeodori had come across a dilapidated stack of Western storybooks, bundled with string and practically given away by the man who sells all the random things that people never needed, but maybe wanted now that they was so cheap. Skeptical at first, Kazeodori had voraciously devoured the books upon finally coming to their distant lands and wild adventures, his mind filled with gun fights, and horse chases, and mean men with dirty mustaches. Much to the infuriation of his father, Kazeodori had even begun talking with the twang he so ardently heard described on the pages. But a swift cane to the back of his neck knocked his country tongue right loose. His father couldn't, however, yet beat out the boy's use of friendly terms, like 'cowgirl' and 'cowboy' and 'yee-haw'. It was only more fitting that now, like sheriffs of old, the trio was on the trail of some villainous folk.
It takes a bit of time to filter any information remotely worthwhile out of the general populace with a large-scale, indiscriminate questioning. When asked about gossip, they all too often start telling stories about their neighbour's sister's new presumable boyfriend they'd seen walking the other week. While some of these relatives, friends, friends of relatives, relatives of friends, and other, longer combinations of these, may be involved, the majority of the intelligence gained seems to have no relation to the case at hand. When asked of crimes, similarly, often stories of acquaintances pop up, but in this time case the information gained is at least marginally mure useful: it allows the group to make an estimate of where such crime is most rampant, which helps narrow the further search down.
Some things are of more interest and less mundane, though. So, a very helpful barkeep offers a tale of some warehouses being suddenly devoid of life, while earlier, there was quite a bit of traffic going in and out. Another person informs them that one of the nearby neighborhood turned really bad really fast around the same time crimes started, before launching into a story about his brother-in-law who has friends there. Lastly, there's someone who knows someone, and because of that can share inside information of the city guard: namely, that in quick succession several of the most promising and honest guards were fired for no reason during the period of these crimes. He then makes some very unsubtle allegations towards corruption of the general system.
"With other children." Akina murmurs lightly. "If I had to be in a place that blends in but have a good view of the market, I would be with other children. Adults always overlook children because they are considered harmless." The corner of her lips tugs with a slight smile. Her dark eyes blink slowly as she shifts her gaze back to Kazeodori, blinking once at the nickname and pointedly frowning at him with confusion. "I do not look anything like a cow."
he group quickly splits up to gather information, listening in on conversations, asking questions from patrons and narrowing in on the source of the problem. Even catching hints of possible corruption inside the local law enforcement. And meeting back with the rest of the team she seemed none too pleased with what she may or may not have learned. Looking between her team mate and her team leader, she releases a longer breath as she crosses her long sleeves. "So, after learning all of that… we have what, possibilities but no definite answers?"
Keiji smiled a little at the answer Akina gave. "Other children would be good. We might even be dealing with some kids. However keep your minds open." He then proceeds to let them run along and find out the information from the gossip sources. As the move through out the market, his eyes watch over them to make sure no one has any ill intent. He also watches to see if maybe they could stir up someone thinking they were getting too close. So far they were safe.
Once they return to him, Keiji shrugs his shoulders. "Well, someone did the original investigation. We could always go speak to them and see if their are any holes in their story or if maybe they noticed something they omitted from their report."
After talking to myriad strangers - some of whom, like the man with three fingers, were quite odd - Kazeodori makes it back to the group, relaying his own mostly trivial details. But within the stories of the others, his haphazard mind - so used to consuming the world in bits and pieces, and then reforming it into its whole self - plucks at the scattered data, drawing pieces here, leaving bits there, coalescing a figure of something which may be helpful. As Akina said: it's all possibilities.
Kazeodori stares at his feet, his arms still wrapped around his ribs, trying to keep from looking at the others that his brain might function more easily.
"The thieves might be kids. There's a bad neighborhood. Those honest guards were fired."
The Genin shuffles a bit, as if to shake together the pieces of information. He shakes his head.
"If we speak to the person who did the original investigation, and they're the bad guys, we'll only let him know that we're here trying to intervene. Which could be dangerous. If we go to the bad neighborhood, that could also be dangerous. And if they're using kids, then- that's it!"
The boy's eyes light up, flashing in the afternoon air to the stare of Keiji and Akina alike.
"Kids! We're kids! We can pretend we want to be thieves!"
Such erudite explanation, such logical, progressive thought. Kazeodori must be spending too much time with Asao.
Akina lifts a slender brow at Keiji for a skeptical moment before her attention is pulled towards Kazeodori, who looks as if he was struggling to use his brain for the first time. Poor thing.
She almost jumps in her skin when it was Kazeodori that came up with the first idea. One that seemed out of the blue and came as something of a surprise. Blinking once, Akina frowns gently to herself as she gives Keiji a glance out of the corner of her dusky eyes. "Is… uh…" Her frown deepens. "We are not sure that the guards are corrupt, much less involved in pick-pocketing that may or may not be by children. There are no proof of anything except there are seemingly random instances. Maybe Shippodoku-sama's suggestion could get us some more information, maybe even some facts."
Keiji looks between the two of them. His eyes first focus on Kazeodori. "Because we do not know if kids are involved or not, lets go with the guard who did the investigation. If he is corrupt, perhaps we can catch him in a lie. If there is no kids involved, becoming a thief may just end up with me trying to solve a mix up with the guards. I really think we should go with talking to those involved before we take any big risks."
After having made the decision, Keiji leads them to the guard house and asks to speak with a specific guard by name. The receptionist asks them to have a seat and tells them that the guard they requested will be with them shortly.
As Keiji observes the area, it seems to be peaceful… well, as much as a marketplace can be peaceful, with people hawking their wares loudly and the general noise of human motion. There are, indeed, a few children running here and there, some apparently with their parents, some obviously with them, and a good deal without any. None of them, however, seem to be doing anything illegal or dangerous.
After they have arrived at the guard house and some time has passed, the receptionists collects them and takes them deeper into the building. They are brought to a man sitting at a desk, piles of folders lying on both sides of it. He looks like he doesn't get much sleep, is slightly overweight and entirely bald. The man is reading something. He looks up. "Yes? Can I help you? Oh, yes…" He looks a bit disappointed by the group. "You're the ones we've recruited for our pickpocket problem… and, any progress so far?"
Kazeodori snorts as his idea is trumped by the "safe" and "comfortable" investigatory tactics thought up by his teammates. Alas, there is not much for a Genin to do when his entire team is against him, and so Kazeodori follows suit beside his troupe, his arms still tucked around his ribs, as the team finds their way to the station.
It is but a moment before they are seen, the rotund gentleman before them - so shiny on the top of his head - offering but the most meager of salutations. Kazeodori stands behind Keiji, allowing the older of them all to be the spokesperson. And it is not too long - in fact, nearly instantaneously - before the boy's mind is wandering away to visions of wind-swept plains, men on horses with huge hats and jingling spurs, and the cries of maidens against the savagery of villains so easily known as such.
The boy sighs.
Why can't real life be so easy to know who's bad and who's good?
Releasing a longer breath, Akina rolls her slender shouders as she turns to follow Keiji's lead, her dusky eyes silently watching their surroundings all the while up to the guard station itself. Meeting the large, balding guard, the kunoichi lifts a brows as she glances over him, dark gaze watching for a silent moment longer before focusing her gaze specifically on the scroll he was reading just a moment ago. Was it work or something else?
"Greetings." Keiji opens his statement. "I was hoping to speak to you over the details of the case. Could you run through them once more with us. Maybe tell us anything that did not seem important enough to make it into the report?" It was hard to say that they had no actual concrete leads. At best they suspected a guard or two, but they would not tell him that.
While Kazeodori floats away into dreams of Ol'Shatterhand and the Lost Adams, the rest of his team engage in some fact-searching. Akina tries to spot if what he's reading is in any way interesting. It might be considered so, but not particularly: it's a fairly standard report of an assault. She can make out some details, even if it is upside-down and quickly rolled up: with a bit of puzzling of the pieces, she comes to the conclusion that the victim was a local entrepeneur and merchant, and the perpetrators tried to force him to do something, or possibly not do something, and broke something to prove their point. There is also mention of a large stock of some items, but what exactly she can't make out.
Keiji is, at first, given little new to go on: the answer narrows the area they had selected as the source of the attacks down a bit, leaving the newly troubled neighborhood slightly outside its redrawn borders. But more information -is- obtain none the less: after a careful analysis, the guard has discovered, he tells them, that most of the thefts must have happened late in the afternoon, shortly before most of the vendors at the markets close up shop, most likely to take advantage of the hurry people find themselves in to still get what they need at the last moment.
Over wild blue yonders, do buffalo roam, tramplin' beneath them, an old man's bones.
Kazeodori is deep within Cloud 9, floating as effortlessly along the windy plains and long-sighted rifles as Akina is through the details of the document at hand. At least in the books, the heroes were never bored.
A great sigh pushes from the chest and nose of Kazeodori as even his own fantasies can't uphold against the sheer boredom, which slices through his illusion like a wet knife. It is here, at this moment of intrusion, at this fine point of complete abandon by which at least SOMETHING happen, that Kazeodori blurts out:
"So why'd you fire those guards?"
And yet, even with the question, the boy can't even focus on the other man's eyes, the draw of the bald glinting in his eye like the promises of some faraway land.
Sensitive detective work, it seems, is perhaps not young Kazeodori's forte.
Akina keeps her expression masked as she reads over what she can of the scroll on the desk, silent for several moments before refocusing her attention to the exchange between Keiji and the guard. And still there wasn't much to go on. Pick-pockets, a neighborhood gone bad, guards being let go, assaults on merchants? She couldn't help but wonder if mobsters of some kind was moved in recently. It would tie everything in together, made some sense. The abrupt question beside her draws Akina from her thoughts as she blinks at Kazeodori with honest surprise, pausing just long enough before reaching up to cradle her head in her hand.
There is a simple nod of the head from the Chuunin leader. "There have been some rumors about some guards being let go. A couple of them were said to have some potential. Would you be able to elaborate any on that. We feel these people may have something to do with the case." Though Keiji was not sure their real relevance, he wanted the investigator to be at ease.
The man blinks, surprised, and even after Keiji is so kind to explain, apparently needs a while to figure out what he's talking about. "Potential? Let go? Wait… uhh… we didn't fire, well, there was Makoto, but that's just one and he was useless… Oh. Wait." Finally, it dawns on him. "Right! Maybe you mean the other station. Yeah… about that. They threw out six guys, from what I hear. They were good, granted, but they weren't working by the book any more. Sure, they made a lot of noise and they got things done so loudly they became popular, but their commander, well… he's big on sticking to the book." He informs them. "The thing is, though, we've had to pick up a lot of their slack since they just threw out some of their best people." He sits quietly for a while. "Things really snapped just recently, when all of them together (they're friends, you know, or at least used to be, just based on some rumours that there -might- be trouble, started breaking down doors in one warehouse after the next, looking for people." He grins. "I heard you could hear the captain shout 'not real policework' all the way down the street." There's a considerable pause. "Turns out, now some of the owners of those warehouses are -really- having problems."
Kazeodori cocks his head, like a bird bemused at hearing something else sing.
The boy takes a sidelong step from behind Keiji, brining himself more into view by the eyes of the bald guard. His hands were still tucked into his robes, his arms cast across his ribs.
"What kind of problems?"
Kazeodori can't help but imagine kicking into the door of the warehouse, his cowboy hat slung low, two pistols in his hands, shouting for everybody to stop or they'd get a slug in the gut.
The boy sighed, brought back to reality by the cool temperature of the office, and the hard sweat of an overweight man who has obviously spent quite a bit of time in this place. The boy takes a step towards the desk, drawn to it by the glint of a pen, his eyes disappearing in the swim of light on metal, unaware now that he had even asked questions.
Gears could almost be seen visibly turning inside her head as Akina listens, her narrowed gaze focused of the guard a few moments longer before she glances at Keiji out of the corner of her smoky eyes. There are some speculations, but for now she remains silent to instead share it with the team later. Maybe. She releases a slow breath and the kunoichi turns away, clearly done questioning the guard as she slips outside to wait for the others. Silent moments pass and she watches people milling about, waiting patiently.
After Kazeodori's question was answered by the investigator, Keiji lead his team back to the new area of trouble. As they approach the area, Keiji explains… "Ok, there are multiple people causing trouble. The crimes are not just pick pocketing. Around this time some guards had been let go. I am not sure if they are involved or if their lack of being around has caused others to grow more brave. I want each of you to henge into a local. Pick someone who does not stick out and sit around the area. We want to find anything going on that is out of the ordinary. If you see someone take off running, find them."
"Yeah. Someone's been scaring their customers away… They've got full stocks and nobody to sell them to. When there are people who have a lot of customers, too many to scare away individually, they just get the man himself to get out business, often just scaring him out of town." He waves the scroll he was just reading. He says his goobyes to them when they leave, and returns to writing his report.
Keiji takes the lead of the operation, and things chance dramatically. Instead of trying to gather information to come to the criminals, he tries to get -them- to come to him. Luckily, their efforts have given them a good idea of both when and where they should be set out, and now they're tactically placed amidst the crowd.
For the first while, nothing remarkable happens, as one would expect. And this continues, at least for our gentlemen. The lady's chosen shape, apparently, is a tad more successful, or at least a tad more profitable-looking. After a bit of time, she feels someone brush past her. Just lightly, she would probably not have noticed if she hadn't been paying close attention. And then she realizes a pocket of her new shape that should've been holding something, was now empty. And she could just catch the back of the person she believed had caused this disappearance, moving steadily through the crowd.
Asao was part of team 2, so while he had to take care of another mission that had come up in the mean time, he did catch up with them while they were out baiting the trap. As there was three team mates, so was three puppets dispursed to the area. Patiently, the ticking of the clock judged how long it would take. Until someone took the bait. Although.. From what Asao has been learning of what's going on, this didn't look like the group they were going for. Either way, he would still move. the cloak that was Toku, stayed watching over Akechi in her henged form. Asao himself, went after the man, tracing him via that silent movement across roof tops to keep him in sight. It'd only be if a chance for capture came up that he'd draw Toku to him, to go after the man.
As if this mission couldn't get any more fun. Kazeodori then is currently transformed into a less-than-respectable gentleman, idling his time away watching the children scamper and play through the market square. Ugh. Ninja work was so boooooooring.
It was this very lapse of concentration which allowed Kazeodori to fail to notice the pickpocketing of Akina, and - subsequently - Asao's arrival. The Genin simply sat, in his transformed form, on a bench, watching the bustle and jive of the market thrum before his eyes, making himself all the more entwined in whatever it was he was not supposed to be doing. He'd even lost sight - or, rather, care of sight - of who Keiji had transformed into, and who Akina had transformed into. The boy, it seems, and had seemed for the entirety of the day, has been everywhere except where he needs to be.
The barmaid she had seen earlier that day was a fitting target to henge into. She seemed to blend with the crowd while also drawing attention as well. Akina just couldn't get comfortable will all the attention her bust was receiving, however. She tries to shrug off the sensation as much as she is able as the kunoichi smoothly moves through the crowd, smiling brightly and giving a wink to one or two younger (to the barmaid) teenage boys. All while her bright blue eyes keep a careful eye on her surroundings.
The moment it happened was sudden, and Akina almost missed it completely when she feels the different at her hip, the purse in the pocket of her skirt noticeably missing not a second after someone brushed past her. The tail of her brow brain swings over her shoulder as she glances over her shoulder, trying to spot the pick-pocket before they disappear. Unable to spot them instantly, Akina immediately shifts gears to give chase. Pacing herself.
Keiji did not henge himself into anything. He was there to supervise the mission. So he did that from the top of a building. He made sure to remain in the shadows cast by the second level of the building, that way he could not seen. The boy's eyes scan from team mate to team mate. Even over Asao once in a while.
As Akina took off running towards her target, Keiji began to move. He saw the last target to pass her and he was following on roof top to keep a good vantage point. Now the mission was close to being sealed. It was just a matter of it the pupils were going to finish it, or if he needed to step in.
On closer inspection, the 'man' was maybe in his late teens - though, compared to most of the gathered group, that did indeed make him a young man. He's missed Asao entirely, as well as his puppets. Akina's pursuit shocks him. Clearly, the pick-pocket wasn't used to getting caught, and or a few split seconds, he simply stands there, mouth ajar. Then, he makes a break for it, navigating through the crowd swiftly. Asao, despite his experience, starts falling back as the man turns a few corners and forces him to cross roads in order to follow him. Akina keeps up with the fleeing criminal, although the distance does not shorten noticeable. Conversely, on his easier ground, Keiji easily keeps up with him, despite all his turning and weaving. In the meantime, Kazeodori is abandoned to his own devices, day-dreaming away.
Asao would keep track of the others and indeed would be out paced. Not being able to catch up as was probably expected on his part, he'd take to the roofs. Pulling Toku into play, he'd send it, henged as a generic person to try and get ahead of where the kid was running. If that plan to cut him off would succeed, he'd have Toku just do that. Attacking from off to the side, he'd seek to literally wrap the kid up in Toku and pin him down, rolling along the street to come to a stop with the thief caught. Of course, if he couldn't quite keep up.. that'd never work.
Kazeodori sat, staring off into space, losing himself in the din of the market and the easy floating of clouds. He had no idea that the others were chasing the criminal, or that they were close to catching him. Such interest as can be kept by boys so young is not the kind which comes by the thorough investigation of trivial facts to catch someone who's stealing no more than a few things here ot here. If anything at all, Kazeodori just dreamt of finally returning home, and getting back to his stories, that he could escape again into the world of the Old West. Little did he know that such action, such pursuit and justice and adventure, was taking place where he was, but without him. It seems inattentiveness does have its downfalls.
Akina scowls silently to herself under her disguise, however she doesn't give up her pursuit, even when the pick-pocket takes off after realizing that he had been found out. For now she keeps her pace, trying to run him down without resorting to attacking him straight off. Not quite yet. Not when the others were nearby and possibly planning on making their own moves.
Seeing that his people are not able to keep up nearly as well as he is, Keiji spots an opening and leaps off the building to tackle the man. "Stay where you are. You will not escape me." he states as gets to his feet. He flashes his pincered finger at the man. "I am taking you into custody. Then we will take down your little ring of thiefs. If you wish to submit and speak up, perhaps I might be able to work out a deal with the police for you." Should the man try to move, Keiji had ever intention of disabling him in a very painful manner.