Description: Miko and Tiffany have a very suspicious meeting! But really. It's not about anything Daigo's been doing -- it's about practically everything else that's been going on in the schools.
Since she's in a position where she doesn't really want to go back to Googling 'what is nests' 'nests -bird' and other progressively more desperate attempts at finding out what a NESTS actually is, Tiffany has decided to engage in the proud American tradition of outsourcing research that can't be done to foreigners.
Specifically, she's called upon Miko Kobayashi; she's a little nervous about contacting a Gedo student about this, but she doesn't really have any other options. If anyone's going to have the breadth and depth of information network necessary to find anything out about this... it's probably her.
She's told her to meet her at the riverbed -- specifically, at the ledge between the wash and the river -- to discuss 'the ongoing weird stuff.' She has not made any efforts to make herself clearer, because truthfully, she's a little scared about the possibility of getting /caught/.
Miko Kobayashi has a number of protocols in place to ensure that people who want to find her cannot do so on demand. But there is one avenue of reaching her that, unfortunately, cannot be so secretive. A girl in high school must -always- keep the same number if she ever wants to be reached. Voice mail, though, provides a reasonable modicum of security for the privacy-conscious. And returning said voice mail was how Miko coordinated with Tiffany.
So close to Gedo, she does not feel the need to have her "three stooges" present; Miko feels they would unnerve her Pacific High informant. But Miko also feels completely confident that she can handle herselves -- Gedo students patrol the area frequently as it is, and her charcoal-grey gakuran and seifuku are pretty distinctive, even for those who might not be personally acquainted with the disguised crime boss.
So, confidently, Miko strides out to the ledge. "Ongoing weird stuff," she states as soon as she's within earshot, "does not leave me with much room for an exhaustive search. But I will help as I can."
Miko withdraws a piece of hardware that may be uncharacteristic for the poverty-stricken Gedo students: a six-inch tablet computer. With a tap gesture, the device unlocks, and three more taps summon a photo of the Gedo campus, torn asunder by what could have been the detonation of a series of explosive devices. One who pays attention to the news would note, it looks nothing like this now; the so-called 'modernization' is practically complete even despite the poor weather. Miko turns the tablet to face Tiffany. "Would this be Pacific's handiwork?"
Sometimes questions are asked for less than obvious reasons, as Miko's engimatic lack of emotiveness can attest.
"I didn't want to just say outright, like... what the DEAL was," Tiffany shoots back as Miko closes the distance between them; she stands up from her current seated perch on the ledge, stretching out a little. "It's SCARY, you know? There's a lot of stuff going on!" Finishing her stretches, she moves closer to the enigmatic Gedo student, chewing on her lips a little in what she's trying to keep from thinking of as nervousness.
Moving to meet Miko, she gives the tablet a good, long look -- and seems aghast at it. "Uh -- not that I know of? And, like... I'm kind of a BIG DEAL around Pacific campus, so... I think I'd know," she stammers out after a few moments of racking her brain. She has to be /sure/ she hasn't heard anything about this -- and indeed, as best as she can remember, she hasn't.
"I've learned a FEW THINGS too," she notes, looking the tablet over a little more carefully. "But first... why'd you think it was Pacific?" If there's an undercurrent of 'real questions' to Miko's initial question, Tiffany sure doesn't notice them; she's totally guileless in her interactions with Miko, and tends to assume the same of people who aren't obviously suspicious.
Absently, she brushes a few strands of blonde hair out of her face; she is having the worst hair day. (It looks fine to outside observers, of course; Tiffany just holds herself to an arbitrarily high standard.)
The need to keep things discrete is appreciated -- and certainly, Miko -appreciates- Tiffany's discretion. But it'd be boring to simply say 'hello,' much like it would have been boring to simply present the picture and explain its relevance before Tiffany can even digest what she's seeing.
Miko shakes her head slowly. "I don't think Pacific has. But it's past time for -something- bad to happen to your school, wouldn't you agree?"
Miko takes a glance around. This spot... Miko is realizing, is a little open. Exposed. While she understands that Daigo is not on campus at the moment, spies could quite well be anywhere. But... Miko has a contingency plan for that as well, she reminds herself as she swallows the momentary sensation of trepidation.
"Gedo is under attack, but it is not from students." She points at specific places on the image. A blasted-out window. A large chasm carved into the ground. Exposed rebar from a section of the wall that's completely -missing-. She idly pinch-zooms into different areas of the image as she speaks.
"Two weeks ago, this building was intact. A fight broke out, between our principal, and the principal of Taiyo. You may have heard that Taiyo, Gedo, and Gorin recently participated in an unprecedented 'principal exchange' set up by the Southtown school board." She looks back at Tiffany, tilting her head. "Perhaps you mean to speak of this... or something else...?"
"Yeah, it is... though it's kinda... smaller, than the others? Maybe that's why it's not drawing the attention the others are...?" It's the only explanation Tiffany has -- their student body only numbers in the hundreds, and that's /total/ rather than per year. Compared to the other schools in Southtown, Pacific is downright tiny.
Looking around, Tiffany considers Miko's words carefully. "... yeah, I think that's what I was going to talk about. I managed to sneak into Justice's main hall when something was going all weird..." How much of this can she actually /explain/? How much of this even makes sense?
Whatever, Tiffany thinks -- it's time to just lay it all out. "This insanely powerful guy fought one of the teachers there... and then I thought he and the principal were gonna' get into it, too, but he just told him that... like..."
Tiffany's nerves make it /easier/ to talk, rather than harder -- she's focused on what she has to say, not how to say it. There's no weird emphasis here, for once; she's actually pretty articulate. "He said some guys named NESTS were behind all this weird stuff going on with the schools. I heard the Taiyo football team might also be in on it... somewhere else."
She thinks carefully about the images she's seeing, noting, "That same night, there was an 'accident' in one of the Justice dorms... about as big as the damage you've got me looking at right now."
The missing pieces tease at the corner of Tiffany's perception of the situation; she knows they're there, but she sure can't find them.
Pacific, smaller... perhaps. "I'm not sure. Though I really admit to being out of the loop on that front." She smiles tightly -- not condescendingly, just... tacitly. If there is a secret, she's honor-bound to keep it.
She is glad that Tiffany decides to talk about the school administration instead though. It does make things significantly less complicated to explain if someone informs Daigo that she's speaking with someone from a different school -- "enemy" or not. "Insanely powerful in what sense?"
She glances up at the word NESTS. She'd heard it only in whispers -- other students had caught bits and pieces of the conversation that took place between the two pseudo-principals, but hearing a word and knowing what it means are two different things entirely.
"An accident, you say." Shelving the "NESTS" conundrum for a moment, she returns to her tablet, taps a few more times. "... Forgive me, I misspoke earlier. This was the man, not Taiyo's principal. There are many stories -- I got some of them confused." The picture shows a man with bronzed skin and a shock of dirty white hair -- currently draped over the shoulder of the man claiming to be Gedo's current principal. "I do not know enough about him, however I understand that within the past week, he has challenged Ken Masters for the Master Belt. And won it." She looks back at Tiffany, curiously gauging her emotions, her facial expression betraying none of her own.
Tiffany /would/ answer Miko's question, but then she sees the man that she had previously thought was Taiyo's principal and her mouth is too busy sitting agape for a good solid thirty seconds before she can actually construct any sort of answer. "THAT'S HIM!" she declares, loudly enough that -- were they not in a relatively secluded area -- it'd draw attention. "That's the guy! The one who fought that nu -- orthopedic surgeon!" She is oddly particular about that.
Gnawing at her lips, she says, "I -- that's the one who mentioned 'NESTS'..." She turns the thought over in her head for a little while, trying to figure this out. She's a totally open book, unlike Miko -- every thought she has is plastered across her face.
"He just seemed... really strong. And if he beat Ken Masters... yeah, he's definitely REALLY strong." Once again, that feeling of being so far out of her depth that she's drowning starts to encroach on her thoughts, and she doesn't much like it. If this is the sort of shadow war being waged over their schools... how is she supposed to do anything, even /with/ help?
Her shoulders slump a little, and she says, "... I just don't know what to do," a little helplessly. Even her normally sunny disposition is hard to keep like this.
Miko nods slowly as Tiffany identifies Urien. "So he ... attacked the... orthopedic surgeon in Justice High. Interesting, then, that four schools are involved, and the fifth..."
Miko taps the screen again. It is not much -- a blurry photo, but it is the picture of a Taiyo football team member. "There is -some- connection, though I regret that I seem to have been left a bit out of the loop on this young man's front. What I do know, however... is that the bronze man..." At this point, Miko touches the screen once more, and the face of Gedo's principal, identified as "Walter Smith", shows up on screen, with a Saturday Night Fight logo, appears. As does an image of Tiffany.
"and this man, with whom I believe you've been introduced, are the rogue elements here. Likely, the Gorin and Taiyo principals may be connected, as they had been installed at roughly the same time. Gorin High has a man named 'Randy Sergei', but he was removed a few weeks ago for reasons I could not ascertain. Taiyo..." Miko pulls up a video of Taiyo's 'Principal Brown', from local television. It is an interview with the Taiyo Principal, given shortly after Daigo Kazama reportedly assaulted him to retrieve the Gedo mascot. In the interview, he also goes on to detail the tournament. She pauses for a moment, to let that sink in, before clarifying: "That, of course, is the tournament in which you are currently participating." She pauses for a moment, "Congratulations, by the way."
Again, the curiously monotone Miko glances back over to Tiffany, expectantly. "Is anything making sense yet?"
When she's congratulated, Tiffany takes a second to broadly smile and even pose a little; she loves being reminded of how great she is, and this is no exception. "Thanks!" she notes, tossing her hair before moving back to the somewhat more weighty topic they have to discuss.
The principal of Gedo draws some attention. "I /thought/ something was kinda weird about him," she notes, lips pursed. "It kinda does... I feel like... okay, let me see if I can get this straight..." Tiffany tilts her head, starting to try to piece things together.
Indeed, she literally sits down, taking a moment to pick up a stick and draw a diagram in the mud. She's a visual thinker -- at least about this kind of thing.
"So NESTS... moves on the schools, for some... reason. They replaced the principals..." Her expression turns down, and she notes, "And this guy is trying to unify them because... I don't know." She gnaws at her lips again, saying, "They managed to alienate the Gorin principal..."
Her eyes widen a little. "Wait -- they're /running a tournament/." Something seems to click in Tiffany's head, and she says, "Are they interested in... teenage fighters? But -- why?" If she knew what NESTS /was/, she could make sense of it. "They were real insistent on shots and physicals..."
Miko does allow herself to smile, once Tiffany beams in response to her congratulations. No harm in that, at least: the puppetmaster is more than happy to let Tiffany draw her own conclusions. It's safer that way, letting Tiffany show how closely she's been paying attention to the information that Miko is practically dropping into her lap. Nothing that's not publicly available, aside from the image of Gedo before the reconstruction, and the occasional tidbit of Gedo gossip.
Miko eyes the stick drawing in the mud. Here she has one of the most advanced pieces of modern technology in one hand -- a tablet thought to be at least two hundred years in the future just a few short years ago -- and her compatriot is content to play with sticks and mud. Perhaps, though, that's better than allowing her unfettered access to the Empress' datastores.
"It would make sense to learn that the one organization alone is responsible for all of the changes here. The unusual focus on shots and physicals, particularly." She declines to assign culpability towards unusual transfer students, of course.
"But here is something else that you won't find on the news. It seems Gedo's nurse was... also involved in an attack. It seems that some of our students were assisting our... janitor, after an attack on a... nurse." She is careful to avoid saying 'orthopedic surgeon.' "I did some further checking, and she worked for an organization known as the 'Atelier Medical Group,' they've had their signs up around school. The vaccines, you see, are not administered -directly- by the school system."
She curls her thumb and index finger about her chin, expression once more neutral as she looks back to Tiffany. "It certainly sounds suspicious. Janitors, nurses, principals... who all know how to fight. And fight well. But moreover, the pattern that you've identified -- whoever is running this tournaments, likely NESTS as you've mentioned... they want to ensure that the best and brightest fighters of the school system are identified. Singled out, for some purpose."
She pauses, and considers her words. "... Can you think, then, of any other incidents that might connect with the patterns here?"
When it comes down to it, Tiffany is pretty bright, despite the distinct lack of common sense she often exhibits; she's good at putting things together once she has any reason to, even if that reason is partially 'pride.' "Yeah, exactly -- if they're trying to single out students who know how to FIGHT..." There's that weird emphasis, again; she can't /completely/ lose her issues with the language by not thinking about them. Some of them are just 'Tiffany doesn't know Japanese as well as she'd like.'
But then her thoughts drift to 'incidents.' There's been multiple explosions, obviously... "I feel like there was something at a concert, but..." Tiffany shakes her head. "No, that was fine." Laughing a little, she says, "Don't worry about that one."
Tapping her chin, she says, "Well -- there was a girl who said she was part of Taiyo's JOURNALISM club who was taking pictures... I think she's /in/ the tournament, too. I'm not sure she's even a real journalism." Every word there is /absolutely/ what Tiffany intended. "She beat me up..."
She rolls her neck to one side a little, saying, "Anything else, though... I'd need to ask around." There /was/ that weird blue girl... but she seemed as baffled as anyone else did, so...
Miko agrees. She does not know motivations -- they are only seeing the parts of the puzzle they are allowed to see. But the fact remains that NESTS is, unfortunately, running the show. And other powers -- Urien, most obviously -- are trying to carve up their own piece of the pie.
She glances back at Tiffany. A concert -- dismissed. And then... "A journalism student from Taiyo? Would you be referring to the Prom Queen, Himeko Kashiwagi?" She nods attentively, not wanting to -dissuade- Tiffany from continuing to explain more, but as she can sense some hesitation on the cheerleader's part... perhaps the Pacific student is just grasping at straws, she considers.
"Mmm. Well. We have much work to do, then. I... will see what I can find. I cannot guarantee anything, of course -- it's not like I can follow in our friend Urien's footsteps, after all." Just to illustrate her point, she flexes a bicep. Even with her seifuku, and the gakuran overcoat, it's... nowhere close. "Perhaps our own Daigo Kazama has more information."
She draws in breath, then tilts her head to the side once more. "Thank you very much for filling in the missing pieces, I don't think I would have connected Justice High with... NESTS. Is there any more you would feel comfortable telling me about that incident?"
"... You know what, I think that's right," Tiffany says, with a nod. "So maybe she really /is/ part of the journalism club..." Could that have been just a misunderstanding? Tiffany begins to feel very faintly guilty; did /she/ push that to the stage where things were a problem...?
Moving right along before she thinks too hard about it, "I think Justice is working against 'em." She does not explain why or how she has this feeling, but she speaks with certainty as she says it. "That Greek guy showed up, demanding to see the principal... started beating everyone up... the -- SURGEON -- nearly stopped him, and then the principal showed up... and then the Greek guy told them that NESTS was responsible for this, and that all the weird PROTECTIONS Justice demanded made it real easy for 'em to do it. So I guess he has a grudge against NESTS, and wanted to SABOTAGE them... by playing Justice against them...?"
That narrative hangs together in her head, at least. "Then something happened in the girls' dorm a little while after he told them. I don't really know the details -- there were a /lot/ of people hurt, so I had to help fix it." She does not elaborate on how, because without knowledge of what she can do, 'I had to make out with, like, thirty Justice students over the course of a few hours' does not really hang together.
Finally coming back to her full height, she asks, "So what's our NEXT MOVE?" with a tilt of her head. "I was thinkin' I'd just see how far I could get in the tournament, because... I don't know HOW to find NESTS. Or what a NESTS... /is/, really."
Students -are- who they -say- they are? Miko's only response is an arched eyebrow. It's common sense, isn't it? She can guess that there's a misunderstanding involved -- that part, at least, doesn't require a psychic.
"... I don't see any reason why Justice -shouldn't- be employed against NESTS, personally, so long as they know what they're up against." She smiles warmly, even with a smidge of encouragement.
She listens attentively as Tiffany tells her more about the incident in the girls' dorm. "Hmmmmm. More people hurt. That -is- troublesome." The Gedo-garbed student tosses a look back towards her high school, before tapping out a brief notation on her tablet. "We... may be running out of time to solve this particular mystery for ourselves, Miss Lords, but it does seem like the adults seem to be a bit on the ball. So perhaps the tournament will be the best avenue for -us- to find out what's going on."
Miko turns off the tablet, tucking it back at her side. "I do think we have some leads to follow up on, at any rate. If I come up with anything, I will let you know. Thank you for sharing what you know, we're certainly getting closer."
The idea of just leaving it to the adults doesn't sit right with Tiffany; after all, aren't the adults the ones who got them /into/ this mess? With Justice's desperate attempts to carve out their own little fiefdom, with all these shadowy types playing the schools against each other and wrecking everything... that seems like a bad plan. It might patch it, but it won't lead to anything /good/.
Grinding her teeth and ultimately letting out that tension with a sigh, she says, "Let me know if Daigo knows anything. After what's been goin' on lately, I feel like someone going to another school CAN'T talk to him."
Stretching out, she says, "THANKS, Miko-chan. I'm glad I can count on you." She's skipped directly to ultra-familiarity... though that /might/ just be her not knowing how to use keigo? It's a secret to everyone.
"True enough, there. Daigo may have concerns about... working with others, but perhaps he'll listen to reason." Miko has doubts about her own statement, but she has... methods of persuasion that may help.
The elusive Gedo transfer student bows formally in response. "Likewise. Do take care." She offers a brief wave, and then starts back to the school, mulling the thoughts over.
Like Tiffany, Miko doesn't sincerely think the adults can handle everything themselves. But perhaps she can parlay their confusion and disorganization into a position of power. The fact is, compared to these "adults," her own agenda is downright glacial in comparison. But she's left no signature... aside from a fake paper trail needed to register her in classes. Either she's on no radar screens at all... or perhaps it's only out of professional courtesy that she's been allowed to do what she has.
These are the thoughts flickering through her mind as she walks back to the school. The mysterious Miko-chan, and the cheerleader Miss Lords. Together, they... fight crime?!
Log created on 20:47:48 01/01/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 01:10:22 01/02/2015.