A couple days later…
Once again everyone assembles at the fountain at 9am. Sensei walks up and take her headphones off as always, then tells everyone to pack up for a four-to-five day trip to the Fire Country. When someone asks if this is for business or pleasure, Sensei answers “business”.
Tajo says he’s already packed, and just waits around the fountain. Sensei sits down at the fountain and puts her headphones back on. Fudini gets back first, and Tajo takes the opportunity to make sure that Fudini is caught up on Team Itou’s recent accomplishments. Kam gets back after a while, and presents Tajo with two little “forehead protectors”, one for Youshun and another for Tanuki. Tajo accepts them but doesn’t really know what do with them, so they just end up in a pocket or in his backpack. Li then wheels up a noodle cart, and Tajo and Li fight over who is bringing noodles and who gets to eat them.
Once the group gets underway, though, Li leaves the cart behind—he was just trying to gauge people’s reactions. After the group is safely out on the road, Sensei reveals the details of their C-rank mission: they are to infiltrate the Shinra Corporation’s compound in Ba Sing Se (third largest city in the Fire Country), swap the “Pesiko” product research scroll for one that she now gives to Team Leader Tajomaru, and bring the real scroll back.
Sensei also asks how the group wants to make the border crossing—would they prefer to enter the country “legitimately” or sneak across the border somewhere? Li suggests making the crossing as a group of traveling merchants going to Ba Sing Se to make some purchases. They settle on Li being the businessman “in charge” of the group, Kam being an associate, Sensei being a lower-tier secretary, Fudini being a magician accompanying the group, and Tajo being the bodyguard/escort. When Tajo says he doesn’t have clothes to disguise with, the rest of his team reminds him that the Transformation Technique can create disguises easily, and he grudgingly decides to use it.
As the trip to the Fire Country border is about a day’s journey, they stay the night at a traveler’s inn before making the border crossing the next morning.
Ba Sing Se is about another day’s trip away; the group arrives at just about sunset. Sensei has made arrangements for three rooms at the Outside Inn. Tajo and Kam decide to make a reconnaissance trip that night, so Li and Fudini take one of the rooms and make plans for doing the swap tomorrow. Shinra Corp mostly focuses on household goods and appliances, so Li thinks they can pretend to be placing an order for a large amount of such things and asking for a tour of the facilities. Sensei claims one of the rooms for herself, and leaves the third room for Tajo and Kam once they return. Tajo leaves Tanuki and Youshun in the room to guard the fake scroll until he has a better feel for this city. Kam dresses all in black for this nighttime operation.
Tajo and Kam find the Shinra Corp’s facility pretty easily, in the upper commercial district of the city. Like most corporate holdings in this city, the complex is surrounded by a story-tall wooden wall wide enough for guards to patrol along the top. Tajo and Kam walk up next to the wall itself, just off of the main street outside. Once there, Kam places a hand on the wall and tells Tajo that there are four guards currently patrolling. Tajo waits for the nearest guard to cross above them, then stealthily runs up the wall and jumps down on the other side while the guard’s back is still to them, and Kam follows suit.
The complex is well-kept, with large two-or-three story wood buildings, lots of open spaces, several trees, and bushes lining the inside of the exterior wall. There’s even a large pond in one of the open areas. Tajo and Kam proceed around the complex in a counter-clockwise direction, with Kam trying to sense any occupants of the various buildings. He finds a couple large, mostly empty buildings in the back, and Tajo takes a peek at the gates at the rear entrance. The building in the center of the complex appears to be the main administrative building with several people walking around inside. The front building also appears to hold offices, but only seems to have a couple people inside right now. While prowling along the outside wall, Kam also takes the opportunity to size up the guards; they mostly look like hired thugs.
As they try to sneak over to the next building, however, a guard walking on the wall nearby shines his light over at Tajo and calls out. Tajo tries to run out of the spotlight before the guard can realize what he’s seeing, but somehow trips over the bushes instead. The guard shouts that they have an intruder, but doesn’t seem to notice Kam sneaking back towards the central building. Tajo gets up as quickly as he can, and starts running off towards the side wall, screaming. Some other guards rush over and start firing arrows at Tajo; one of the guards has a similar turn of bad luck and breaks a bowstring, but Tajo still gets hit with two arrows before he can get to the far wall, which he simply jumps over. He quickly darts into a side alley and hides there just long enough to catch his breath and determine if anyone is pursuing him out of the complex, then transforms into a vagrant and gets back to the hotel to regroup.
On his way back, Tajo is approached by another vagrant asking for money. Tajo gives him a couple coins, which is gratefully accepted. The drunk then notes Tajo’s injuries and asks if everything’s OK before trying to put his arm around Tajo. Tajo expects to have to check his pockets afterward, but is surprised when his injuries are healed. He mutters something about Sensei after the vagrant leaves, and still double-checks his pockets.
While Tajo is running around, Kam scopes out the center building some more. It’s three stories tall, has sheer walls, and the windows don’t open. He decides not to try to break any windows. He decides to hang out by the building for a while and see if the guards change shift; while doing so, he makes a clone and has it sneak back out to the hotel to let his teammates know what he’s doing. The clone meets up with Tajomaru, who sends it back with Tanuki in case Kam can find a way to use the little guy. Tajo also sends Youshun along to help keep an eye on things.
In the meantime, Kam transforms into a uniformed guard. Around 3AM the guards do change shifts, and Kam is able to sneak in right behind that group. One of the guards he sneaks in behind looks like he was drinking before he came in to work. Kam cases the place, and is able to determine that the archives are on the second floor, with about two guards on that floor. The ground floor has four entrances, with a guard stationed at each. Kam is finally able to sneak back out around 6am when employees start arriving for work. He then makes two more clones; one to track one of the archive guards once he leaves, and another to act as a messenger for the clone doing the tracking.
Once Kam gets back to the hotel and is about to go to bed, he realizes he has to stay awake to keep his clones from disappearing.
The next morning…
Li and Fudini, still disguised as a merchant from the Wind Country and his assistant, rent a rickshaw and drive up to the Shinra Corp. Li sweet talks their way in past the main gate, and gets a middle manager to offer a tour of the facility. They discuss customs for a while with a clerk from the Customs sub-department, and Li barely manages to avoid insulting anyone when asking if his assistant can check Shinra’s archives for information to help him find a product he can get an exclusive distributorship for in the Wind Country. The clerk is sent up with Fudini to the Archives on the second floor of the central building while Li and his guide continue on the tour.
The Archives is reminiscent of a library. It appears to be a large, open room with a security desk and extra guard near the stairwell entrance. There are several aisles of stacks in the center, and it looks like the edges of the room are devoted to small “reading rooms” with a large table in the center of each, and a couple chairs around each table. The doorways to these rooms are open, with no doors.
Fudini gets the clerk to bring him large amounts of files on Pesiko distributors, and piles them up on one of the tables, so that someone coming in the room couldn’t see him sitting behind them. He then starts asking for investment and other information on Pesiko, and gets the clerk to call in a manager when Fudini refuses to back down on asking for proprietary information.
The manager tries to give Fudini product info rather than marketing info. Fudini follows him around and finds the card catalog, where he finds that the scroll he wants is in a secured area, rather than the unrestricted-access room he’s in right now. He then wanders off to the restroom (near the security desk) and sets an exploding tag on a fifteen minute timer, then goes back to looking through the various files he’d already been given.
When the tag goes off and everyone (including the clerk escorting Fudini) starts panicking and running around, Fudini tries to sneak into the secured area… and finds out that there is another security station there. He fails to fast talk his way in, so backs out to his cubbyhole and transforms (not very well) into a guard. He goes back, and fast talks the ‘free’ guard into going up front because they’re asking for more security there, but the guard at the desk says he can’t leave his post.
After some back-and-forth on this, Fudini deftly drops a smoke bomb just outside the doorway to get the guard’s attention and hopefully draw him away from the desk. Unfortunately the guard just kind of stared into the smoke cloud wondering what it was. Fudini and the guard chatted about it for a little while, contemplating if it was related to the previous explosion, and then Fudini suggested they check this room to make sure no one was doing anything suspicious.
The guard gets a little more scared at that thought, gets the list of people who have signed in to use this room, and hurredly goes to check everything out, splitting the search with Fudini. While “searching”, Fudini quickly goes to the scroll location from the card catalog, and swaps that one with the one he brought. After the search (and reporting nothing found), the guard and Fudini meet back at the security desk where the other guard has returned, saying they didn’t need him up front after all.
Fudini spots the other guard holding the remains of the smoke bomb, and asks what it is. The guard says he’s not sure, and says he should probably turn it in as evidence. Fudini offers to take it in for him, and is given what’s left of the smoke bomb pellet. The guard then says he’s going on break, and makes some small talk with his co-worker as Fudini leaves.
Fudini then goes back to his reading room, de-transforms, finds the clerk, and leaves to meet back up with Li.
Li ended his tour when the explosion happened, and has been back at the first building negotiating possible terms waiting for Fudini. By the time Fudini gets back, negotiations are essentially put on hold until Shinra cleans up from the attack.
Li and Fudini then go back outside the compound to where their rickshaw is waiting for the return trip.
During the ride back…
Li and Fudini get in their rickshaw to go back to the hotel. Li quickly realizes they’re NOT going back to the hotel, they’re going somewhere else instead. Li uses the Transformation Technique to disguise himself like someone from this lower-class commercial area. Li and Fudini then prep replacement techniques before blowing up the rickshaw with 2 exploding tags, which happens to knock out the driver.
Li fails to replace with a drug dealer on the corner, lucky for that guy. Fudini hides by a building across the street.
A knockout gas grenade lands near Li, but he manages not to pass out and just feels woozy for a round. He recognizes the gas as standard knockout gas, so isn’t too worried about it. The drug dealer, however, is out cold. A bubble-gum-chewing chuunin with short purple hair, on top the roof of a nearby store, tosses another gas grenade to Fudini’s general vicinity. He tries to stealth into a doorway or something away from it, but passes out before he gets there.
A cop runs up and punches Li, who only takes 2 damage. Li runs around to the side of the building to try to hide before he jumps up to confront the grenadier; on his way there he tosses a kunai at her but misses. The cop follows Li shouting about him resisting arrest, but fails to grab him before he jumps.
The purple-haired-chick jumps down to Fudini while Li is around the side. Li doesn’t see anyone up top once he gets there, so transforms into a fly to hide.
A brunette jumps up to the roof shortly after Li gets there, doesn’t see anyone, and calls down to the chuunin to see how she’s doing. Since they lost Li, the chuunin jumps up carrying Fudini. [ Insert jokes about Fudini getting picked up by a hot chick, but being too unconscious to realize it. ]
Then the chuunin pops her bubblegum, walks over to where Li is hiding, and tries to smoosh him (lightly). He somehow manages to replace with a passerby, so now Li is down on the ground and some random guy is on the roof taking a punch.
The chuunin then walks over to her first post, blows another bubble, and gasses Li (who succumbs this time).
Sometime later, Li and Fudini wake up in an abandoned warehouse, tied to wooden chairs, with a bright light close by overhead keeping them from seeing very far away from the circle of light they’re in. The brunette, wearing a waterfall village forehead protector, is standing in front of them waiting for them to come around. The chairs are about two feet apart, facing her. The kids are untransformed, and their gear seems to have been taken. The brunette is tossing a scroll in the air while she waits.
Li makes a crack about the girl (in her late teens) being “old”, and she gets mad and slaps him.
Li does most of the talking for the first part of the “interrogation”. He tries to say that they never managed to swap the scroll, and when the girl says that they have a common goal then, he tries to talk like their cells should join up. The girl says that wouldn’t work since they both have to steal the scroll; Li says that one team can just make a copy. Brunette thinks that might be an useful idea, and tosses her scroll over the heads of the boys and tells someone to make a copy of it. She then says that she doesn’t know if the rest of the kids’ team would go along with this idea, and asks who else is with them.
Li gives the name of the Akakaze from Team Hana, and refuses to name his sensei (he thinks she’ll get mad if he uses her name). He calls her “Headphones”, but the Waterfall nin aren’t certain who he means.
Seeing she won’t get much more from Li, the girl turns to Fudini, who says he can’t talk well with his hands tied. So she has someone behind him put unflexing gloves on his hands, and untie his wrists.
Fudini promptly says, “What makes you think we /want/ to work with you?”
There’s some more chatting between the three there before Fudini and Li decide that they want to try to “network” with the Waterfall cell. The briar kids offer to help, trying to just get free, but the Waterfall seems to already have all the info the Briar has.
Someone throws a scroll back to the brunette who catches it, pockets it, and says that they’re out of time—if they won’t cooperate, they’ll have to be left here. She starts up a ninjutsu that takes an unusually long set of hand seals, then unleashes an Air Blade on Li. It makes a gust of wind that launches Li and his chair into the air, and he is then hit by three wind-chakra blades. His armor protects him from some of the damage (he takes only 27 points) but the chair is broken and his bonds are cut. Then he takes a lightning burst to the back from a blonde kunoichi from the Waterfall Village, but manages to replace with the brunette instead, who falls over twitching from the taser effects.
Li runs over to Fudini, takes the gloves off, and spins him around to face the brunette & blonde. Fudini blows a fireball, the brunette gets KO’d from the stun damage but the blonde jumps back out of the radius.
Then a gas grenade falls at their feet and neither Briar genin makes their save.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel….
Tajo wakes up after 6 hr nap, about 3 hours after Li and Fudini left. Kam has gotten some senbon from Mina in preparation for his grand plan to Get Stuff Done if the other two fail, so Kam and Tajo decide to go find why their teammates are taking so long to get back. Kam makes disguised clones and fans out from the Shinra complex… and quickly finds the remains of the rickshaw. So they all regroup there, and Kam promptly fails (a lot) at tracking.
Kam gets lost, and Tajo tries to tell him to quit tracking because he’s doing such a bad job.
Fudini and Li wake up on the floor of the warehouse sometime later. They find their stuff is still there (but no scrolls) and no one else that they see. So they go out the main door… right into Kam.
Tajo laughs at Kam for walking around with his eyes closed and walking into people. Li says a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense to Kam or Tajo and there’s a lot of 7th grade jokes between Li and Fudini about Li getting a blow job.
Kam: “So, what. Happened?”
Li: “We were ambushed by Charlie’s Archfiends. And we attempted to escape from the rickshaw by blowing it up.”
After they finally get a clear story out of those two… Sensei walks out of the warehouse and asks what they’re gonna do now. While they’re trying to figure something out, she heals up Li and Fudini.
She also finds Ayugai Ume in her bingo book, tells them that they’re up against a sensory chuunin who leads an infiltration cell, and that the chuunin is rather weak (the genin she leads provide the muscle).
So the kids transform back into their “business suits” and go back to Shinra Corp. Li says they got beat up by someone asking about some kind of documents. Kam scans everyone from under his mirrorshades and doesn’t see anyone out-of-place. Tajo also sent Youshun ahead to scout the road to the Waterfall area, to see if there’s a group of 3 girls leaving. Regrettably, Youshun does not see anyone matching that description. Li is told that Shinra discovered that some documents were stolen, and there is a current investigation, which will check if the missing documents match the ones Li was asked about.
Once they leave the Shinra complex…
As the group starts wandering around the city to try to look for clues (or a convenient place to plan), a orange tabby cat runs up and starts begging for attention, or food, or something. Tajo tries to make friends, but the cat decides it doesn’t like him and runs back into a nearby alley. Mina chases after the cute kitty, and the group follows. Once they’re far enough back in the alley to be inconspicuous, the cat poofs into a Nekodama with two swords on his back and orange hair, in his late teens. He exclaims, “I found them, Mina-chan! They’re resting up in the Tokimeki Memorial Hospital.”
“Good work, Kenta-kun,” says Sensei. “Mind sticking around for a bit, just in case?” Kenta nods, poofs back into an alley cat, and runs off further into the alley.
Kam sends a clone out to purchase gas masks for the group from a local military surplus store. The group then goes to the Tokimeki Memorial Hospital, and Li tries calling from an outside payphone, posing as the boyfriend of one of the Waterfall genin, to find what room they’re in. On his first call, he’s put on hold and then the call is disconnected. He calls back, gets an apology for the disconnect, and is told that the girl is in room 116.
While Li is on the phone, the other genin make a quick lap around the building to see where the other entrances are. Fudini transforms into a doctor and Tajomaru transforms into a janitor. Kam leaves a clone with an exploding kunai near each entrance to act as a lookout in case the Waterfall nin decide to flee. Fudini manages to gain access through the staff entrance; the rent-a-cop on duty doesn’t seem to be very particular. Tajomaru hangs out near the loading docks with the Kam-clone stationed there. After a little while, Tajo sends that Kam-clone to make another lap around the building to confirm the other clones are all in position.
By the time Kam-kun gets back to the main entrance, Li has gone inside to get flowers at the gift center. They meet up and proceed to room 116. Kam uses his tremorsense to discover that there are two girls sleeping in the hospital beds, and an older lady sitting in a chair reading a book.
Doctor Fudini checks at a nurse’s station for info on any recent female burn victims, and discovers that there are two in room 116. He gets their charts and proceeds to room 116, arriving just after Kam finishes scanning the room. Fu enters the room immediately, and Li follows. Kam hangs outside until the other two confirm that this is the right room.
The lady sitting in the left corner of the room nearest the entrance looks up and snaps her book shut. Fudini looks at the flipcharts on the beds, but he can tell that these are the same girls from the warehouse. Li can’t see much from behind the large collection of flowers he’s carrying, and asks the lady where to put them, trying to be a distraction for Fudini. Li is directed to a table on the right side of the room. Fudini uses the nurse-call-button to request 20cc of morphine.
Kam stalks the nurse bringing the morphine. He manages to catch her by the women’s restroom and tries to Vulcan Neck Pinch her, but fails. Startled, the nurse screams and tries to put up a fight, but Kam is able to drag her into the restroom before she can flee, and gags her and ties her up in one of the stalls. He takes the morphine and her nametag, transforms into her, and goes back to room 116. As he leaves the restroom, a security guard comes up and asks if everything’s ok. Kam says that someone assaulted him [her?] and makes arrangements to file a report later in his shift. Kam proceeds to room 116 and the security guard goes back to the security station.
Meanwhile, the lady in room 116 has been making light conversation with Dr Fudini and Li, but after a short time she stands up and goes towards the door. Li tries to throw a poisoned kunai at her as she passes him, but she blocks it with the book she had been reading. She then throws a gas bomb as Li’s feet; Fudini manages not to pass out and puts his gas mask on, both the lady and Li exit the room via Replacement Technique and end up in the hall, on opposite sides of the entrance to room 116.
Li cries out, “How dare you, assassin!” The waterfall chuunin throws another gas bomb in front of the doorway to room 116, then rushes through it back into the room. Li puts his gasmask on before following her. Kam, farther down the hall, puts his gas mask on as well and runs up as quickly as he can.
Fudini tries to rush the chuunin with a gurney that Li had replaced with, but she vaults on top of it and jumps over him. She tries to grab Fu, but he replaces with the gurney himself, bottlenecking his teammates from entering the room easily themselves. He then threatens the lady, telling her to surrender or he’ll blow up the room with a fireball.
She seems to consider this for a second, then jumps back and grabs both unconscious girls and says, “I dare you.” Fudini complies, and a fireball consumes all three Waterfall nin, but when it dies down, there’s just a burning shrubbery between the two smouldering hospital beds.
Li catches sight of the chuunin outside in the garden area, and tells Fudini to grab the girl’s stuff while he pushes past and jumps into the burning bush… replacing with another shrubbery. So now there are two shrubberies inside the hospital. Outside, one of the Kam-clones near the main entrance has spotted Li chasing someone outside, and throws an exploding tag overhead, attracting a lot of attention to that area. Fudini spots a fabric bag near where the lady had been sitting originally, so he grabs that and then follows Li out into the garden. (Three! Three shrubberies! Shall I assume Kam exits the same way, and the final count is four?)
Hearing the commotion, Tajomaru runs around the corner from the loading area, and quickly decides to attack! Screaming out, “Primal Force,” he and his animal triple-team the overburdened chuunin, who collapses and resumes her natural form as was shown in Sensei’s bingo book.
So now there are three girls in a pile of blood in the garden, one of which wears a Waterfall Village emblem, and a variety of people wearing gas masks surrounding them. There’s also a janitor there, but he’s carrying a staff rather than a mop or broom.
Trying to escape the scene of the crime…
Tajomaru (to Li): Quick, get inside and make sure you have all their stuff.
(to both Kam and Li) me and Kam will get them out of here before security comes. I’d prefer not to just chill outside of a hospital with a few victims, after explosions, without what we came for. We’ll just take everything with us.
(back to just Li) See if you can find Fu while you’re in there too.
Li runs back in through the loading dock area, transforming in to a policeman as he does so. Kam takes off his gas mask and makes a clone, then he, the clone, and Tajo each grab a Waterfall nin and start looking for somewhere to stash the bodies out of immediate sight.
Mina walks up and says, “What /have/ you kids gotten into this time? Well, you’d better find a place to hide those bodies before the explosion draws too much attention. There should be a storm sewer back by the loading docks, that will give a better escape route than the roof here would. Or you could run through the street and try to get lost in some alleyways or another rooftop, but that would draw a bit more attention as well.”
Kam, Kam-clone and Tajo grab the waterfall nin, and drag/carry them back around to the storm drain near the loading dock, not too far behind Li. Fudini brings the bag and starts going through it; he finds the genin’s gear and some extra gasbombs. Between the three of them, they are able to open the drain and get everyone down there.
It’s not well-lit, but there’s enough water that you can at least tell which direction “out” is. On the way out, Kam brings up some ideas for getting the girls across the border—specifically, tying them up and stuffing them in big rice bags, and pretending to be merchants bringing goods back through the Briar Country.
Once Li reaches room 116 again, the window is open and the security guard from earlier is outside talking to Minaka. She’s playing the overly-frightened eyewitness, and pretty well keeping the guard busy. Li checks out the room to make sure they didn’t leave anything behind, and finds nothing else of interest. He goes back out again via the loading dock, and “rescues” Sensei from having to make a report for the security guard by taking her for an official statement.
So everyone ends up at the exit to the storm sewer system, at a river just outside the city. Sensei and Li meet them outside by the exit, and everyone gets filled in on Kam’s plan. The Waterfall nin are gagged, bound, and blindfolded.
Li and Fudini go back into the city and purchase rice, barrels, and a cart and donkey to pull it.
Sensei stabilizes the chuunin, but doesn’t want to perform surgery and really patch her up until closer to the Briar Village.
The brunette does start waking up but still seems pretty out of it from whatever meds she was on… Once she realizes she’s tied up, gagged, and blindfolded, she starts thrashing around, but Tajo steps on her a little and she figures things out pretty quickly. The blonde starts waking up similarly about an hour later, but is much quieter.
Shortly after that, Li and Fudini come back with a cart carrying several barrels and bags of rice; Mina paralyzes the genin to make them easier to handle.
And then the group double-times it back to the border, where Li handles the guards again. At the hotel, Sensei says that the Chuunin is wanted by the Briar, but the genin will probably just be used as hostages in exchange for something else.
The prisoners are let out of containment a couple trips on the trip for food/water/necessities. When they are let out, Sensei paralyzes one arm each, so they can’t make seals. When the blindfolds and gags are taken off so they can see to eat and all that, they panic a little when they first see Minaka… to condense the conversation, it sounds like Sensei is a rather famous Briar nin, and if the Waterfall girls had realized she was around, they wouldn’t have stayed.
Once back at the Briar Village, Mina sends Fudini off to deliver the prisoners, then assigns homework to the others:
Li has to write on what the point of this mission was (he goes with the obvious—industrial espionage) and his is very well-written; Kam’s assignment is to explain how the team can capitalize on the knowledge they gained from this mission (and his writing is perfect); Tajo is asked to analyze the teams’ use of force, in retrospect (he says that they succeeded so they used the right amount of force, and did OK with the actual writing).
[ 3 CP and 2 skill points to all! ]