Description: Nagase the Southtown Ninja tracks the Dungeon Master to his sinister lair in Minnesota, near Minneapolis, and seeks answers. Stray, meanwhile, comes one step closer to an all-out war with Southtown Syndicate.
-- METRO CITY --
Nagase's bluff seems to have paid off: her collection effort has given her -tons- of actionable data. During a redeye flight back to Metro City, she was able to form a comprehensive plan of attack, allowing her to hit the ground running. After a few stops, the tech-ninja was back in the air...
-- A SMALL FARM TOWN NEAR MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA --
"Lilo Spunkmeyer. Now there's a name you don't see every day." The young woman guides her brown UPS truck to a stop outside the farmhouse, flipping on the four-way blinkers so that no one accidentally slams into the back of the vehicle. Slicking back her flame-orange hair, she dons the cap, frowning at the looseness of it for a moment before tightening the headband. And then she slips through the passage leading to the rear of the truck.
Moments later, a uniformed UPS employee steps out of the back of the truck, with a standard-sized UPS package gripped firmly in her left arm -- held like one might hold a cake -- and a digital clipboard in the other. She struts up to the main door of the farmhouse -- not too slow, and not too fast -- and gingerly rings the doorbell. If that doesn't elicit a quick enough response, she raps her knuckles on the door.
"U P S. Delivery for a... Lilo... Spunkmeyer..."
It's hard to keep a straight face, but she manages, somehow.
Lilo Spunkmeyer, after potentially being traced by Southtown Syndicate, had a night in mortal terror. Tossing and turning, sleepless sometimes and in a fever trance others, sweating heavily despite the cold Minnesota winter. Skull Cross had cut him off. He wishes he had just gotten a new job after Radioshack shut down...That he had never turned to crime. The first payoff was a rush, enough to support him for ten years in his old lifestyle. But, as many criminals learn, easy gratification is addictive, and he got hooked on the taste of the devil.
There's a long silence behind the door, before the door quietly pushes forward, someone leaning on it to look through the peephole. Lilo knows this could be a trap, but so soon? When he's got anonymonity, when he's got henchmen and planned strategy and tactics and Stray hacking information for him, he holds all the cards.
But now? The Dungeon Master is naked. He slowly opens the door, dressed in a pair of brown khakis and a red t-shirt, probably his past Radioshack uniform. He has a thick pair of glasses and curly black hair, with a Ashkenazi nose and a narrow face. There's some gristle around his mouth, indicating he hasn't shaved in a few days. He says nothing, staring at her with deep, wide-eyed blinks.
A Japanese woman stands before the man identified as Lilo Spunkmeyer, in a uniform that hangs about her a bit more loosely than it should. No eyewear, no identifying marks, save for a few strands of orange hair that have strayed out from under her brown uniform cap. "Hi, Mr Spunkmeyer? I'm sorry for coming up to the door, I know you have a message in your file, but we've been having a rash of thefts around the area lately. Home office has asked for signature confirmations on all packages until further notice, so..."
She sets the digital clipboard on top of the package, extending the stylus out towards her customer. "If you could just sign here, I'd be happy to hand this over to you?" On the top of the digital clipboard's display is a copy of the items contained within the box: Preorders of a D&D sourcebook that wasn't supposed to be released yet, and the next Law and Order season on DVD.
She smiles sweetly, with the grace of a hardworking and honest employee that would assuredly have no idea if this were a mistaken order or not. It's... -paid- for, at any rate, according to the screen.
Lilo sets his scrawny shoulders against the door frame as he takes the stylus, peering over the items on the digital clipboard. He blinks several times at the pad, seeing that the D&D sourcebook arrived well ahead of schedule. Had he been a professional criminal, he'd be suspicious. But he's just a gaming genius playing the part. He smiles, then grins, laughing as he finds himself foolish for worrying. "Of course," he says quietly, in good humor. He signs his name on the clipboard, with a well practiced flourish. He has very good cursive, even using digital technology to write.
With both of Lilo Spunkmeyer's hands suitably engaged, the brown-uniformed woman takes the opportunity to stick her foot in the door.
Correction: she sticks her foot right between Lilo Spunkmeyer's -legs-.
As the uniformed "employee" rushes forward, shoving Lilo in through the open doorway, she allows the package and the perfectly-signed digital clipboard to drop to the floor with a cacophony of noisy thuds. But, perhaps more alarmingly to Lilo, it will become alarmingly obvious that she was carrying a slim, nine-inch-long dagger in her left hand. Because she's flipped it around in a murderer's grip, brandishing it right in front of the man's eyes as she aggressively encourages him to scramble backwards.
"I think you just botched your initiative roll, Mr. Dungeon Master," she teases, tipping the heel of her sneakers backwards so that she can nudge the front door shut. "Though I guess you're not so tough without a screen in front of you..."
From outside, the sound of the truck's door can be heard sliding open, as well.
The tech-ninja twirls the blade about in her hand, making it crystal-clear that she knows how to wield the blade with expert precision. "So, which stat of yours is better, charisma or dexterity?"
Lilo emits a screech as he's shoved into his house and lands on his back, sliding along the floor as he scrambles backwards with his hands and heels. He looks up at her, his glasses on crooked, jaw gaping. As she begins twirling the dagger around in her hand, there's the faint odor of urine, as he begins weeping. "Please," he begs, shaking and putting his hands up in front of his face. "Please don't kill me, I'm sorry! Stray made me do it!" he whines, shaking. It's a blunt lie, the kind men in terror of torture make, but it's pretty much his only option. He may live if he gives up his contact in Metro City.
"Mmm-hmmmmmm...?" is Nagase's encouraging response. She's keenly interested in that, if her broadening smile is any indication -- the name Stray is -definitely- one she didn't have before. The Iga ninja calmly sidesteps the small streaks of dampened flooring -- wouldn't want to slip on that -- as she continues advancing on the self-styled Dungeon Master. With one hand, she calmly pulls the hat off her head, withdrawing a set of custom eyewear from the hat in the same silky-smooth gesture. Folding them open, she continues: "He... -made- you order an assassin, then? Are other people's lives just a big -game- to you?"
As her frost-tipped bangs fall into place, she brushes them aside with the temples of her eyeglasses, seating them into place. Her identity should no longer be in any question -- this is undoubtedly the same young woman who was singlehandedly holding off an assassin on the Dungeon Master's video display, just a few days prior.
"Oh, where are my manners?" She gives a coquettish giggle, as she drops to a crouch, flashing her pearly white teeth back at the Dungeon Master. "Hi! I'm the woman you tried to -kill-. And I'll be happy to listen to... -any- information you might like to share. Like... more about this Stray. And -where- the assets from the First National Bank were moved." Her tone varies between teasing and forceful, but never once does it suggest that the young woman is a pushover.
The Dungeon Master swallows heavily at the accusations against him, sniffling and calming down just slightly. "No, no, but, you know, I'm just a game theorist, all I do is plan, and I had orders..." He trails off, as the subject changes. "His name is Stray, nobody knows his real name. He's the field commander for a Russian Mafia organization called Skull Cross. They're headed up by this guy named Black, he's former Spetsnatz. Real scary guy. They're involved in half a dozen foreign countries, including Japan. They're mainly involved in the Russian oil business, but they have a lot of muscle, spies everywhere, upstart groups, corrupt cops and politicians all over...That's all I know, I swear..." He shakes as he looks at her, bunching his shoulders together as he pushes himself up against a kitchen cabinet.
The young woman's eyewear lights up: vague amorphous blobs of light slowly resolve into the forms of letters much too small for even the Dungeon Master to read. "That -does- explain quite a bit..." she responds. Though, Mr. Spunkmeyer should be pleased that the young woman is no longer advancing upon him any further -- she hangs back in a low crouch, quietly twirling the razor-sharp blade around her finger as if it were as benign as a 5-cent ballpoint pen.
"Good stuff, a lot more than your friend gave me. But... I like to think the time and money I spent tracking you down could buy me a -lot- more information than that. Tell me more about your network connection. Did this... Stray fly out here and set it up for you, maybe?"
Nagase hopes that Lilo can appreciate the extra breathing room she's yielding him. It makes the ninja no less lethal, but perhaps the additional degree of comfort could loosen his tongue a bit further.
"N-no, nobody from Skull Cross has ever met me face to face." He knows this isn't good, but he's cracked in terms of hiding information. Lilo continues, "I waited outside a truck stop, a big rig pulled up, a trucker with a samurai sword on his back dropped it off in a trashcan, then after he left, I picked it up. Stray recruited me from the internet. He's a pretty big deal in hacking circles, and I'm a computer geek..."
Nobody met face-to-face... and yet, he went out to a truck stop to retrieve a custom built computer. Interesting.
Nagase hops to her feet, pinching her thumb and ring finger against the pommel of the blade, pendulating it like a Sword of Damocles. More amusing than dangerous, but still plenty menacing all the same. "... Show me, then. I wanna see the rig and whatever passes for a 'mancave' in this neck of the woods."
She pauses for a bit, then flashes a sideward glance at the Dungeon Master. "I hope it smells better in there than it does in here right now."
She has her doubts, after all.
Lilo slowly moves to his feet, being careful but a little too quick since he's not used to being held hostage. He looks at Nagase, his hands fidgeting up and down as he worries about turning his back on her, before he reluctantly leads her to a door to the basement. He flicks the lights downstairs on, and carefully moves down into the basement. He turns around to face her at the bottom and pushes his back against the wall, silently pointing at his 'mancave'. There's a great deal of charts, maps, foreign language dictionaries, Apple computer screens, computers, painted metal figurines on custom drawn maps of various setups, and the object Nagase is looking for - a Chinese-built, high power modem, connected to a fiber optic cable that hooks into the wall, and a small radio unit, allowing person to person speech over it. No method for video, however, it is simply audio. If she looks close enough, there's a switch for 'voice modulation', switched to the 'on' position.
Nagase is on her best behavior. Lilo may be a hostage, but for the walk into the basement, she's content to allow herself to be the guest rather than the warden. She wrinkles her nose as she's led into the basement. It lacks the scent of urine, but she clearly doesn't approve of the stale, musty odor. Never did like basements, really -- her own workspace is kept in -much- better condition than this.
Not to mention, ew. "Apple, huh. I thought you said you were a computer geek." A wry smile spreads across her face -- she's clearly not above poking fun here and there, as she looks throughout the room. Eyes fall upon the charts, maps, and dictionaries -- and from time to time, the knife-wielder even gives an appraising nod. He keeps his collectibles in good shape, at least!
But then her eyes fall upon the modem -- a custom model, and not a make she's terrible familiar with. The knife stops pendulating as she pulls it back into her palm, leaning over to examine the connections at the back of the device.
She whispers quietly, "System access: Infrared visor." And then she gets a closer look at both the modem and the radio unit.
Satisfied, she smiles sweetly as she turns back to Lilo. Without even glancing back at the modem, she guillotines it free of the fiber optic connection, eager to gauge Lilo's response. "I'll just be taking these~"
Lilo stands against the wall, pressing his palms against the white plaster nervously. As she insults Apple, he says nothing, too in shock to be humorous or argue. And then, as she finds the modem, he winces reflexively as the fiber optic cable is cut, the show of petty violence clearly terrifying him. Boy, that's sharp. "S-sure. Stray is a prick anyways." He watches her, wide eyed and frightened, waiting for her next move.
"I'm sure he is! I mean, Stray. What the hell kinda name is Stray, anyway?"
This is -easier- than taking candy from a baby, thinks the UPS-branded ninja. As she pulls the modem under one hand, she cuts the radio device free and takes it as well... before giving the Apple computer that was hooked up to it one sidelong glance.
She's done giving the man -too- many choices, though -- for when a prisoner is cornered -too- far, they need a little bit of guidance. Wagging the knife around, she indicates the computer which seesm to be the latest and greatest. "You and me, we're going on a trip, and we're taking your computer along with us. Unplug it and we go. Leave the monitors here, got a schedule to keep."
Nagase knows that the man's already -admitted- to knowing nothing -- but there's a matter she doesn't want to leave to chance. And besides -- she's got free labor, so why do all the heavy lifting herself?
Lilo begins crying again, at the thought of being kidnapped by Southtown Syndicate. He slowly stumbles over to his computer, reaching behind it to pull out all the plugs. And as his hand moves into the mass of wiring built into his desk, he sniffles, shaking particularly hard. Too hard for a man in fear. More like, he's psyching himself up for something. His shakey right hand slides around the handle of a machine pistol. He sniffles, slowly swallowing as his arm quivers, his left hand pulling out the wires to the computer as his right stays down.
And then, he swings around, holding the trigger to the machine pistol down as bullets spray across the basement, his unpracticed shooting sending a line of bullets in Nagase's general direction, causing the drywall of the basement to explode into dust when shot.
No job, -no- job is too easy. That was the teenaged ninja's mistake: giving the Dungeon Master a bit too much free reign in his own abode.
The anxious quaking in his limbs is the first clue -- and it's one that her eyewear is quick to pick up on. She'd slapped a watch on his thermal signature before she'd even stepped into the house; his heartbeat reaching a fever pitch caused a rather angry red blotch to appear on her left lens.
But by the time she realizes that he's gone from 'terrified' to 'dangerous', he's already got his finger on the trigger. " <Shit!> " she curses under her breath, ninja reflexes kicking in as she twists sharply to the side.
The Dungeon Master seems to have gotten a lucky shot in, perforating a gash in the right sleeve of the garment, a bloody spray spattering the floor and the pearlescent finish of the Macintosh.
But, one fraction of a second later, Nagase has disappeared from view, leaving behind nothing more than the two fallen pieces of communications equipment, and a faint wispy outline of herself. Bullets ring out, leaving pock-marks in the drywalled basement but no further spurts of crimson.
Two heartbeats later, the Dungeon Master will experience a sharp pain on the arm holding his gun, as Nagase plunges the knife clear -through- the arm. He will then find one of the ninja's knees slamming into his face, while the other cradles his head from behind.
And then he will find himself spinning, as the ninja wrenches him into a forward flip, slamming his back into the hard floor as bullets continue to spray everywhere -but- into their intended target.
"You know what?" quips the tech-ninja as she continues to move with her spinning inertia, wrenching the blade free from his arm as she calmly rolls right back to her feet. Rising, she presses her knife-wielding palm against her gushing arm wound. But she won't need her hands -- with one kick, she liberates the machine gun from the Dungeon Master's hand.
"I've changed my mind." And with that same foot, she slams her foot down. There are 27 bones in the human hand, and the experienced ninja just shattered about half of them.
The flame-haired ninja looks down at her would-be murderer, fires smoldering in her eyes from behind the green-tinged lenses. "I didn't feel like dragging you along anyway."
Upstairs, the front door can be heard swinging open.
And Nagase doesn't seem concerned in the slightest, as if this was all part of her plan.
"Thanks so much for choosing UPS for your delivery needs!" At this angle... one swift kick would be all it takes to snap his neck.
The Dungeon Master screams as the knife cuts through his arm, the sound cut off by Nagase's knee slamming into his face. He spins through the air, gun firing bullets in all directions, before he hits the ground, the gun clattering from his hand and the spray of lead stopping as Nagase kicks it away. Then, the foot slams into his hand, another scream wrenching out of him as his delicate hand is brutalized. He twitches on the ground, beginning to curl into a fetal position as he babbles in Yiddish with a Midwestern twang, before his head gets kicked and his neck breaks. His eyes loll about in the back of his head as his organs cease to function, and within moments, his brain suffocates from lack of oxygen in his bloodstream. Life fades from him quickly, and he's left lying on the ground, limp and dead.
Nagase lets the uber-cheerful mood drop, glaring down at the sad sack of a man dying at her feet. Her eyewear makes a small audible indication that it's recorded the footage of the encounter for later sharing with Duke, and maybe even social media. (If it comes to that, anyway.)
It isn't long before her four helpers, accoutred in similar UPS uniforms, descend the stairs and happen upon the scene. Gesturing to each of the computers, she suggests in her native tongue, " < All the maps, all the computers. Trash the rest. >" And then, after crouching to reclaim the modem and radio from the floor, she... smiles, suddenly, humming a small tune to herself once she realizes that the Dungeon Master was nice enough to house himself smack dab in the middle of nowhere, where no one can hear.
Log created on 19:49:43 01/19/2016 by Stray, and last modified on 22:41:22 01/19/2016.