Date: November 10, 2010
It began with a search for orphans turned out on the street when an orphanage was shut down. It has now turned into something a bit more complex… And perhaps dangerous.
"The Noonshade Mystery - Misplaced Records"
Kazekage Administration Dome - Sunagakure
Today was a mild day. It was hot as usual, but not all that much. Perhaps that's easy to say for one that is used to it. Things are going back to normal to a degree. People are working, guards are guarding and within the administration dome, things were oddly quiet. Administrators were running back and forth as usual, attending meetings and whatever else went on inside the building. There wasn't much in the way of achievement, but that was a bit common. There was always some sort of disagreement that needed some resolution. Itami just didn't want to be the one to decide.
Inside, she was called on more than once to try and figure something out that multiple people couldn't do together. Like them, she didn't help all that much. Thinking on a whim is something she hasn't been doing well these days, but she has to try for improvement. She doesn't make it back to her office, instead electing to stay out of it for the time being. She had to try and gather her thoughts for what needed to be done around here.
Nai has been doing some research on a certain subject. Sunagakure once had an orphanage. After the Clan Wars ended, there was no shortage of children without parents. Maybe the fighting was done for right THEN, but that would not bring back the countless dead. So a rather simple facility had been established for the parentless children to live until someone could figure out what to do with them. No one ever did.
Very little funding and very few resources in the barren Land of Wind were a main contribution to the eventuall dissolution of the orphanage, but there was still enough food, water, and funds to support all the more-or-less intact families. So why could nothing be spared for an orphanage? Why was it shut down? Not being able to pay for its own upkeep? Pay how? To whom? And why? It was run by the government of Sunagakure! If Sunagakure could not afford to keep an orphanage active the entire Village would be in dire straits indeed.
And yet here everyone was in the present. Something very strange was going on. As Head of Records, Nai has been unable to find a credible report on why the orphanage was shut down in either Records or Restricted Access Records. So that must mean whatever documentation was created is being stored somewhere else…
Nai now goes in search of Councilwoman Itami, in order to find out if she might know where such records might be kept. And perhaps to see if she has any guilty reactions to the subject being brought up. You never know, after all.
Meanwhile, Meimei/Yoko and Risu are just arriving in the Administration Dome after a morning and part of an afternoon of trying with only minimal success to teach Risu how to untie rope bonds tied around her wrists without the use of her hands. She had managed string, but when actual rope was introduced it proved to be a stumbling block for further progress. At least for now. It is one thing to stick a card to one's forehead, and another to perform true Ninjutsu, after all.
Yoko spots Nai emerging from the library and heading across the lobby towards some place undefined. Just who she was looking for! She considers calling out to Nai, but even with the relative quiet of the Dome right now, she is uncertain she would be heard over the bustle. And if she was, people might think poorly of her. She does not care what other people thing or don't think about her manners, but she doesn't want her behavior to reflect poorly on her suitability to guide and raise Risu.
So she just walks after him. "Come on, Risu-chan. Nai-san should have a better idea now of who is available for enrollment. We can get a peek at possible classmates, and see if he found anyone from the orphanage!"
Risu is tagging along with Yoko. She's a bit tired after her earlier practice but looks to be in good spirits and all. She's cheerfully playing the follower as she keeps closer to Yoko. When she's told that she might get a better idea of who is enrolling with her she grins, "Really? You think there might be a bunch of kids? Maybe even some from the old orphanage? I hope so. That'd be good if they made it and can go to the academy with me." She says, as she practically skips along side Yoko, keeping up easily. "I wonder if any of the kids are okay. Dunno what happened to most of them." She says thoughtfully.
Risu knew what happened to a few of them, less than pleasant things hang out in dark alleys after all. She was careful to avoid them but some were less lucky. Still, that was before the latest attack and a 'long time ago' in the kid's mind. She pushes those thoughts back and moves with Yoko to catch up with Nai, who is apparently in search of Itami! As these things go, odds are the two will catch up with Nai just after he gets to Itami, but who knows. Either way the group is headed in Itami's direction.
Itami was sitting in the lobby of the admin dome. She was true to her thoughts of not wanting to be in her offices considering she's been in and out of everywhere else. So, she stayed somewhere in between. She's opposite of where Nai is at the moment and where Yoko and Risu are heading. All she was doing at the moment was attempting to relax, so she's kind of lounged across a couple of chairs, with her body taking up the majority of the one she's sitting in. She's fairly short, so her legs barely hang over into the next ones, but enough to claim it.
Like usual, there were people wandering about going to and fro, so she couldn't really see Nai, Yoko or Risu at the moment, but she thinks she might catch a glimpse of them every so often when the crowd breaks. It's only temporary, though.
There are many people surrounding Nai. This is not uncommon. His face wrap is presently air-tight unless he breaches the seal manually, in order to keep out all scents that he might possibly detect by accident. This is also normal for him. What is not normal is for him to be completely unaware of his environment except for a single objective. He does have a tendency to overfocus, but when travelling around he at least has the same degree of awareness as a semi-experienced Genin. And yet right now he is focused only on the mental image of Itami, trying to match that image to any of the faces he sees down here. If he does not find her, he will try upstairs.
But then he sees her, unaware of those following him, and proceeds to make his way unobtrusively over to the chairs that the Councilwoman is lounging on like some sort of… 'Lounge lizard'. He is, infact, so unobtrusive that people bump into him at least three times without noticing or stopping to apologize, before he reaches Itami.
Bowing, he says in his raspy voice, "My apologies, Itami-san. I do not mean to interrupt your rest, but I have a matter of a records irregularity that I am unable to resolve on my own. I was wondering if you might have the time to assist me? It shall hopefully be brief."
Yoko nods to Risu. "That's my hope." 'Sort of,' she thinks silently. 'I'm enough of a nervous wreck dealing with ONE kid. Dealing with too many might make me snap…' "I did ask for Nai-san to try to find the other orphans, yes. And I'll bet that they'll be glad to see you and know that you're okay too!" Nai seems to get bumped into a lot, Yoko observes. Even with her goggles she can see him just fine. So why is he jostled so much? Well… He is sort of easy to overlook.
Still, she picks up the pace a bit, stopping nearby and starting to raise a hand to wave as she calls out, "Nai-san—" but then she notices Itami is there too. Oops. Did she just interrupt something? "Err… Hello, Itami-san. Nai-san."
Risu keeps following, her own thoughts swirling a bit, she hardly had food for herself. But she can't help feeling like she should have made some effort to find out what happened to the other kids sooner. Still, she was in no shape to do so before. Hard for her to think about that, painful a bit. She pushes such thoughts away, and nods, "Okay…" She offers to Yoko, distractedly as she looks to the other two here. She peeks around Yoko and waves, "Hey all." She offers, rather informally as she greets then waits to see what she can manage to overhear.
Itami opens up a solitary eye to look up at Nai and…she has to admit that he can be a little creepy sometimes, but the small fright she experienced lasted for a moment. "Records irregularity?" She inquires as she begins to lift herself up from her lounging spot. "I have the time. That's all I have to give today, really." She chuckles. As Yoko and Risu approach, she turns her gaze on them and lifts a hand to greet them saying, "Greetings to you both. Are you both well today?" She inquires and then looks to Nai and lifts a hand to her neck. "I suppose that's a question I should extend to all of you, actually." Adjusting herself in her seat, she straightens herself out until she's sitting properly. "While we're all here, is there any business that you needed to conduct with me, Yoko-san?"
Nai turns when he hears Yoko's voice from behind, sees who it is and who accompanies her, and then just nods towards them both. Turning his attention back on Itami when she asks her question, he says, "Yes. It seems that certain records may have been misplaced… That or they were never located in the Records Department in the first place. I could find them neither in normal Records, or Restricted Access Records. I found SOME files, but they do not adequately explain a troubling detail…" He pauses to say, "I am well enough." Then he continues, as though Yoko and Risu were not there at all. "You see, Sunagakure has only ever had one orphanage. It was supposed to be a temporary measure until a family could either adopt a given child, or until the Kazekage could be legally granted guardianship — purely in a technical sense, mind you — and the child could then be assigned quarters and resources to live normally, with regular check-ups from social workers to ensure all was well."
"This is how things have been handled for the past three years, ever since Sunagakure was founded. And yet, according to the records I have access to… Only about half a dozen children from the Noonshade Orphanage were ever adopted or placed in the custody of the Village. At the same time, many other children orphaned by circumstances OTHER than the Clan Wars received families and so forth…"
He then withdraws from within his cloak a rather thick stack of papers and files and begins deftly flipping through them, even with bandage-wrapped hands. "…And then approximately a year ago, Noonshade Orphanage was shut down. It had been run by charity despite having been established, and ostensibly overseen, by the Village's leadership. And all I have been able to determine about why it was shut down is that it lacked the money to continue doing its job. Even before then there were shortages of food and water. There was essentially NO help offered from the Village, and I have found no records of appeals for financial aid registered anywhere, except at the very end of the facility's operational period, date-stamped as having been received three days AFTER the orphanage's services were discontinued."
Nai has goggles of his own, and they reflect the text as he looks upon the various folders. "Risu-san, here, lived at the orphanage. I have yet to speak in-depth with her on the subject, but from what Yoko-san has told me, Risu-san says the orphanage was shut down due to lack of funds. This raises a very interesting question." Nai selects a particular folder with a single piece of paper pinned inside of it. "That question is why an orphanage run by the Village itself was being charged to continue doing its job, without aid from the Village, and to whom they were paying the funds provided by charity work, and FURTHER why these payments were not enough to continue operations when my research indicates the donation intake was sufficient to keep the orphanage running and full of food, clean water, and anything else they needed for at least three more years — and that is WITHOUT a single additional donation during that time period."
A pause. Then Nai asks, "Would you happen to know anything about this, Itami-san? As I said there is a records irregularity… Namely, there are no records that would answer any of the questions I just asked. I was hoping a Council Member might have an answer."
Yoko starts to answer, "I'm alright. I actually just came to see Nai-san about Academy enrollment—" but she stops when Nai starts speaking like she's not even there. She listens to the whole thing. And when it's over, the entire grim picture painted before her, she is just sort of… Stunned. Congrats, Hone Nai. Consider your bombshell dropped. Meimei stands and stares at Nai. At the very end, she looks towards Risu, as though to ask, 'Did you catch all of that?' and then she looks towards Itami. Does Itami have an answer? If so, Yoko sure would like to hear it. Cause it sounds to the Land of Snow fugitive like either this is the biggest case of crappy book-keeping ever, or someone is intentionally hiding records that would reveal what actually happened.
Risu is left just kind of unsure what has been said from the looks of it. She listened quite carefully, but… she has no answers. She was just a ward of the orphanage, no one shared private information with /her/. She heistates then shrugs and almost whispers to Yoko, "I dunno… we never had enough food or stuff… even clothes…" She stammers, not having a clue behind any possible explaination behind where the supposed money went or anything. "I just know hardly any of the kids from there got adopted…" She says, trailing off and looking to Yoko with a slightly confused look then looking over to Itami, wondering if an answer she might understand will be forth coming. She frowns a tad, "The place was always too cold or hot…" She mutters mostly to herself, then shrugs, looking unsure what to add, as she's learning things she didn't even know about the place herself, before now.
Records? Misplaced? Itami began to grow concerned. Hearing that from Nai, the records keeper, is a bit unsettling. He was pretty thorough with the records, but…now it seems something is missing. She began to open her mouth as if to reply, but then the subject of the orphanage came up and she closed it to listen. They…did have an orphanage at some point and it was shut down, but…
She keeps herself from thinking too much so that she may be able to listen closely to Nai's explanation. While he does so, some signs of discomfort show. She leans forward in her seat, arms propped up on her knees while her hands are crossed over her lips. That's about it…aside from the fact that she's a little stiff. When the stack of papers are produced, she glances up to them momentarily before redirecting her sight ahead. She wasn't looking at anything in particular. Another glance is offered to Risu, but like before, she returns her sight ahead of her as she continues to listen.
Once he finishes, Itami is still stiff as ever. Even her breathing seems to have slowed to nothing and in front of Yoko and Risu… This only makes the moment more tense. Eventually, she calms down and begins to breathe normally after exhaling a breath she didn't know she was holding. That was a subject she wasn't expecting, but it was going to be brought up at some point and this time happened to be that point. "I…" She starts without giving any eye contact to anyone. "This…is something I wasn't expecting to hear. So, it's a bit difficult for me to give a proper answer at the moment." She didn't really want to answer. Not now, at least. "But, it's about time it's been addressed." She finally looks up to the trio and leans back in her seat. "I'll have to try and find the missing pieces to make up for this irregularity."
Nai nods and bows towards Itami. "Thank you, Itami-san. I am glad to know that something of this nature can be trusted in your hands." He turns his head slightly to hear what Risu has to say. When she is done, he nods and then turns back to Itami. "One other thing… Do you recognize this signature?" He opens that one file folder he picked out and holds it up. The one piece of paper within, has five signatures at the bottom. One for each Council Member, and one for the Kazekage. The document itself does not appear to be anything special. Just the confirmation that the proposed Charity Haunted House be authorized and endorsed by Sunagakure's government, and the holiday of Halloween itself be integrated into Sunagakure's yearly calendar. It is thus, obviously, recent.
"It appears that your signature is on this paper — there in the bottom left — but someone spilled something on the original, so I had a back-up copy 'pulled' in order to replace the damaged document. I just wished to make sure your signature is recognizable to you as your own. If someone were ever to compare handwriting, he or she would need to be able to identify it as yours, rather than someone else's. And our ability to copy documentation is somewhat limited. It is just a quality-check I thought I would perform while I was here."
Once he has confirmation or denial that Itami can recognize a copy of her own signature, he nods, puts the file away, and then turns to Yoko and Risu. "I have found at least one of the orphans from the Noonshade Orphanage and am in the process of getting her established with housing, food, medical care, and so forth. Another, a girl orphaned by the Siege, is likewise in our files now and will be attending. I believe we have one other at least, and when enrollment actually opens on the 13th, there will likely be more. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to replace these files where they belong." He bows to both the short woman and the slightly shorter girl, and then moves to depart.
"You're welcome." Itami states in a distracted manner, but backs it up with a weak smirk. When Nai goes about speaking of something additional, she was hoping that it wasn't anything that would make her uncomfortable, but as it turns out it isn't. It's in regards to a confirmation…but maybe that's something that /should/ be concerning. One look at the document says otherwise, though as it is shown to her to skim over. "Ah, the charity. Yes, that is my signature. I was happy that the charity went over well." She says after confirming her signature. Since that seems to be all, she starts to rise from her seat and excuse herself so that she might go to her office for the first time today. It always seems to have a way to drag her inside.