Description: Having grown suspicious of John Smith's showing in the King of Fighters tryouts, Ibuki goes searching for the true identity of the over-muscled doctor. Will her glorious plan be executed without a hitch? Will she find what she is looking for? Will she be an obnoxiously sarcastic teenager with no respect for her elders? Find out in this filler episode of A Shinobi's Tale!
The scenery has all of the elements of a romantic rendevous. A carpet of lush grass coats the ground of a small clearing tucked away from prying eyes within the confines of the dense forests that begin to take over as the heavy urban development of Southtown fades away at its outer edges. The afternoon sun hangs low in the sky, its daily journey winding to a close as the evening hours come marching onwards. The golden-red glow trickles through the thick canopy of leaves overhead sending slender fingers of illumination stabbing down into the ground and bathing the healthy green of summer in a warm blanket of orange. A faint but noticable breeze flutters through the leaves and among the stout trunks carrying with it a gentle relief from the heat of the season. The perfect setting for romance.
Such a waste, then, that romance is the furthest thing from the mind of the young girl who lies in wait within this fleeting slice of heaven. She sits in a half-crouch high above the fresh grass and gentle breeze, resting on her haunches so as to be able to spring into action at a moment's notice. At first glance, it would be easy to mistake the teenager for a simple school girl, perhaps one overcome with a sense of adventure who felt the need to climb the tree she currently occupies. However, that illusion is dispelled almost as immediately upon taking in the unusual accessories that accompany the unremarkable school uniform. Both of her arms are wrapped from elbow to wrist in a shell of protective metal plates. Her hands are likewise shielded on the back and palm leaving her fingers free of obstruction. Greaves of similar design protect her lower legs but have the added feature of sporting bands of thick leather that hold a dozen or so long slender knives. And, ofcourse, what ninja would be complete without a mask?
That's right, this school girl is a ninja. Decked in her hybrid of fashion and function, Ibuki waits in her chosen perch and watches from on high for the arrival of her guest. Ofcourse, she didn't bother listing an exact time to be present. If her target is who she thinks he is then schedules tend to be tight and she figures being lenient will be more likely to get an actual response. On the other hand, the message she left might be concerning enough that the man who calls himself 'John Smith' might be willing to drop whatever he was doing and head right over.
Ibuki rolls her eyes for atleast the fifth time in the last hour as the name dances through her mind. Seriously, who comes up with a cover identity and uses the MOST GENERIC AND OBVIOUS possible choice. Maybe it's some kind of reverse psychology, like, 'there's no way anyone would be that dumb, he must be legit' or something. Except then the guy claiming to be a doctor turns out to be a mountain with legs and goes on to display clearly advanced martial skills. It's almost like he's trying to draw attention.
"Well, you got what you wanted, buddy," she whispers to herself. "Now I just hope I got /your/ attention."
She hadn't been very subtle in her efforts on that front. A delivery of flowers with a message on a card. Not the most original idea ever but - shut up. The message was simple as well but to the point - "I know who you are." She'd left instructions on where to meet indicating that she'd reveal his associations if he didn't show. If her hunch is correct, that should definately get a response. If she's wrong and this guy is just some weirdo doctor with a body building fetish and a sports fighting hobby, well, he'll just be very confused and she'll have wasted a day that could have been spent hanging out at the mall.
Pulling one of the armored plates aside, she glances at her watch and sighs, yet another activity she's performed many times in the last hour. Ibuki drops her chin into the flat of her palm and yawns. Stupid stake outs.
Time marches on, slowly grinding away at the patience of the young girl so effortlessly perched in the leafy canopy. And so it continues, until nearly 8 PM rolls around.
It is at that point that the sounds of someone pushing their way clumsily through the brush reach the young ninja's finely tuned ears. Accompanying these rustling's is a young male voice ranting softly to itself in Japanese. Both the ranting and the rustling grow steadily louder as the figure approaches, reaching a climax as a short young man in a light tan outfit bursts into the picturesque clearing.
"THERE!" He practically screams, face flaming red with building emotion. And as if to punctuate this random pronouncement, the enraged man hefts a small brown box he had been carrying, winding up before throwing it as hard as he possibly can.
The little box arcs through the air, landing with a series of tumbling bounces somewhere near the center of the clearing.
"Package delivered!" The man screams, already in the process of whipping around to begin stomping back through the brush.
As he turns, the emblem on the back of his tan jacket comes into view. It is a clenched fist surrounded by squiggly motion lines, which blast outward to form the tail of a rocketing brown package. Below the symbol are the words, 'FightX, aggressive deliveries for competitive prices.'
The sudden intrusion into the peaceful calm of the glade catches Ibuki somewhat by surprise. She'd been expecting her target; instead, she's got some delivery boy who seems strangely upset at having to do his job. That's not suspicious at all!
Ibuki eyes the young man with a quirked brow, watching his overly dramatic entrance and exit until she's sure he's gone. Her gaze then shifts to the package which was tossed to callously to the ground and she fights to keep her eyes from rolling completely up into her head as she plants the palm of her hand against her face.
"Maaaan, you have absolutely no idea what subterfuge means, do you?"
She whispers this in an exhasperated tone. This is obviously a trick of some sort. Her target is trying to play it safe and find out who sent the message. She could wait him out - just sit here all day and make him take the first move but there's no guarantee that he'd bite and she's willing to do just about anything at this point beside let her muscles descend further into atrophy by playing the cat and mouse game. She does have to be careful though; there could be anything in that box - sleeping powder, a bomb, a deadly snake.
Waiting what seems like an appropriate amount of time to let her target think she's being cautious, Ibuki hops down from her perch and lands on the ground in a nimble crouch. She pauses to stretch her legs a bit, wincing as the muscles groan in protest at being locked into one position for so long, then heads over to the box.
"Hrm," she says, amplifying her voice to ensure that it carries in a completely obvious and deadpan sarcastic manner. "A mystery package. What-ev-er could it be."
the sounds of a completely anonymous and totally innocent young delivery boy thrashing his way through the brush slowly fade to silence.
Ibuki's sarcastic call rings through the forest.
Damn this waiting game! Don't people know how impolite it is to keep someone waiting? And with that so lovingly crafted invitation to this little romantic get away, surely he couldn't just be standing her up?
The box sits happily in the center of the clearing. it seems more than willing to wait the girl out. As boxes go, it might even be a little smug.
The box begins to ring, vibrating gently in the soft green grass. its ring tone is high pitch and generic. In fact, this box sounds suspiciously like a throw away phone.
Crossing her arms, Ibuki peers off into the distance, waiting for...something. Except she doesn't get a response of any sort. No telltale rustle of grass to indicate the approach of someone trying to sneak up on her, no smug voice proclaiming that she's fallen right into a trap, not even a simple response. This guy is getting on her nerves.
After a couple of minutes, she sighs again and looks down at the box. She nudges it with one toe, tipping it slightly. It's not very heavy which would tend to indicate that it's not an explosive. There's a mininum size one can reach before something stops being a bomb and starts being a firecracker. Something shifts inside, sliding to rest against the lower side with a soft thump. Well, it's not empty either.
The sudden whir and noise makes her take an instinctive step back. Well, more like a leap. She peers at the vibrating box accusingly for several seconds as if it were a coiled viper but when it doesn't explode the ninja girl eventually moves up to investigate once again. Instead of opening it by hand, she draws one of her kunai and throws it at the cardboard container, piercing its thin shell as easily as if it were paper.
No explosions, no deadly vapors, or acid spray.
She frowns, almost disappointed. Retrieving her dagger, Ibuki rips the box open and finds inside a small generic cellphone. She sighs and takes the still ringing rectangle of plastic and presses the green 'Accept' button before holding it up to her ear.
"MOSHI-MOOOOSHI," she says obnoxiously loudly with a great deal of fake enthusiasm. "You have reached Middle of Nowhere Pizza Delivery! We're having a special promo event today - big fat jerks who don't know how to follow directions get a free spot on our new commericial, airing tomorrow at 8 o'clock sharp!"
"We will speak as adults, or we will not speak at all." comes the reply to Ibuki's all too teenaged sarcasm. The voice that speaks these words is very deep but quiet, speaking Japanese with a folksy, almost archaic accent. In it can be heard the man's age, clearly over 30; the man's mood, relaxed; and undertones of the man's deep patience and stoicism.
There is a brief pause as the owner of the voice allows Ibuki a moment to either accept this, or say something snarky and sarcastic. If she chooses to accept it he will continue.
"I know not what things you wish to reveal. Perhaps they are true. perhaps they are not. I choose to speak with you because I feel there might be some importance in your request. Please treat this as the courtesy it is. You will receive what respect you give."
The immediate overtone of condescension from the voice on the other end of the phone makes Ibuki's brow furrow and her nose wrinkle in a show of disdain that only teenagers seem capable of mustering, an instinctual backlash against the authority of someone older who believes themselves inherently wiser for their age. Even worse, he sounds like several of her instructors, who are probably some of the biggest killjoys in the history of mankind.
She fights to keep the edge of her tongue, which is just as sharp as those of her blades, carefully sheathed for the moment while she ponders just how much she cares about having a civil discourse with this person. She didn't have any trouble tracking him down before and since he's decided to put his current persona into the public eye she doubts he'd be hard to find again. Also he's like seven feet tall and half as wide. Not a hard to spot figure in Japan.
On the other hand, she doesn't know for sure that the guy is up to something shady yet. Being a jerk could just pointlessly burn a bridge and that sort of thing usually comes back to bite you in her line of work. So, swallowing another smart remark, Ibuki lets out a soft sigh and rolls her eyes yet again.
"I thank you for your gift of flowers." The voice continues, and there is no sound of sarcasm or chiding in it at all. The thanks seem completely sincere. "However, your threats show a lack of understanding. I am not one who is full of confidence. I do not feel as if my skills are without flaw. And thus, I will not willingly enter a place of ambush needlessly. Even if I do not think you to mean me actual harm."
"When a hook is cast." The deep voice rumbles calmly , "You must know well what you are attempting to catch. Threatening to reveal me is not bait enough. As a result, it is doubtful you truly know anything of importance. If you truly knew me, you would know better the bait for your hook."
There is a pause before the voice continues, still calm as a mountain pond, with no condescension whatsoever.
"Ask what questions you have."
If the owner of this voice is worried about being tracked down a second time it doesn't come through their connection. He has the attitude of someone perfectly comfortable in their current position, though he lacks the gloating sense of accomplishment a younger man might show if he thought he were winning. There is a certain amount of tiredness that comes along with his words of wisdom. A veteran's grinding experience that is indeed similar to what Ibuki's trainers likely show.
"Uh - you're....welcome?"
Ibuki sounds confused at the thanks. She hadn't sent the flowers out of any sort of sentiment, it was simply an easy way to deliver an anonymous message. Despite the lack of mockery in his tone, Ibuki feels like she's being teased or made fun of somehow. Or maybe he's just a weirdo.
"It was good enough bait to get your attention," she counters. "If you thought I couldn't interfere with whatever it is you're doing then you would have ignored me."
She pauses in a similar fashion to let her rebuttal sink in. No way she's going to let this oversized meatball give her a lecture over the phone; plenty of those waiting back at home. However, if he's willing to talk then she might as well probe him for information. Even if it's a bunch of lies, it'll give her something to work with.
"Alright, we'll start simple. Who are you? What group are you working for? And why are you getting involved in the King of Fighters tournament?"
"I do not think you will interfere with what I am doing." The voice replies with calm solemnity, "The reason I have given for speaking with you is not a lie. While often I must abandon the truth for duty, it is not a thing I take lightly." With that being said, the voice moves on to other topics. he doesn't' seem overly interested in taking away whatever victory Ibuki feels she has scored with her counter argument.
"My name is Noboru Miyama." The deep voice replies with typical impassiveness. "I am of the Miyama clan, and we have found signs of trouble within the King of Fighters corporation. it will be easiest to investigate from within." And still Noboru, if that is truly who he is, seems quiet and unbothered. Apparently revealing his master plan isn't something he sweats about. He might be lying. it really just depends on how much Ibuki knows about the Miyama, and Noboru in particular.
Ibuki's eyebrows rise up a little at the casual revelation. Well... that was easy. She wracks her brain for whatever information she can dredge up about the Miyami clan, wishing she'd paid a little more attention in those boring history classes when she was younger.
If she remembers correctly, they're one of the older clans, maybe from back in the feudal days even. That kind of prestige carries a good bit of weight in the circles she runs in. Good thing she decided to play nice. The last thing she needs is Master Enjou getting a strongly worded letter about the professionalism of one of his agents. She'd never hear the end of it!
That is, assuming what he's saying is the truth. For the moment, she doesn't have any better alternatives so it'll be best to proceed with that assumption while remembering to keep in mind that it is only an assumption at the moment.
"Alright, let's assume I believe you. Why are you being so...", she gestures in the air, frowning, "obvious about it? I mean, John Smith? Really? Reeeeeeeaally?"
"The answer to this question is simple. In a tournament that requests the best of fighters, they do not care what these fighters may be. The disguise of John Smith was not designed for the tournament. It was meant only for one fight." Noboru replies in his typical quiet way.
"People enjoy feeling as if they are clever. This disguise was a string, dangling open to draw in the curious. To show myself to be hiding something served the duel purpose of possibly gaining interest from the one creating the team. That was a gamble, but many fighters are inquisitive and do not run from secrets."
"Isn't the whole point of infiltration to /not/ have people think you're a spy?" Ibuki shakes her head incredulously. "I mean, I'm clearly not as OLD as you, so maybe I'm missing something here..."
She exhales in exhasperation. This guy is definately off his rocker. Why does she always get the weird ones?
"Even if the people you're trying to bait take notice of you, you're gonna get a lot of OTHER people wondering what the heck you're up to and then you have all sorts of problems! I mean if you're trying to make things harder on yourself to activate hard mode or something, good job, ya did it."
There is a moment of silence, as if perhaps Ibuki's words had struck a cord with the enigmatic man on the other end of the call. But when he once more begins to speak, his tone has not changed in the slightest. Though the words seem like they should have some sort of bite behind them, they are delivered with rumbling calm.
"Your memory is short, or else you grow once more bold and speak without consideration of respect or tone. I have answered all of your questions truthfully, and politely. Please extend me the same courtesy ."
Reminder given, the older ninja continues.
"it does not matter if those gathering us think me a spy. Among those I know to have been chosen are several members of criminal investigation and law enforcement groups, as well as a private detective. To gain a reason to attend is more important than secrecy. If I wished complete secrecy, I could have attempted entry without an invitation." Though the man's tone is patient, there is a lot he isn't explaining. Like, for example, why he didn't choose that second, much more reasonable seeming option.
"it is good that certain of those people have taken notice. I have contacted one already. You are the second. Gaining allies is much more difficult from the shadows."
"But, I feel it is time we end this conversation. I wish you luck in what it is you choose to do. If you choose to aid me in my task, feel not the need to set up a second ambush. A polite visit will gain you better results."
And, with that, there is an electronic 'click' as the other ninja simply hangs up on Ibuki. It is true that it isn't the most polite way to end a phone call, but he did warn her that she'd get the same amount of respect she gave.
Ibuki pulls the phone away from her ear and stares at it. "That...that jerk! He hung up!"
Growling, she has a sudden urge to smash the phone and hurl it into the bushes but her strong moral upbringing simply won't let her litter in such an untidy fashion. Also, it would leave evidence. How exactly someone could trace a broken throw-away phone to something that could cause trouble for her in the future, she can't possibly imagine, but that doesn't make it impossible and it's a bad habit to get into.
She'll break it later. Jerk.
With her business concluded in one of the most frustrating fashions possible, Ibuki decides its time to head home and figure out her next step. First off, she'll have to consult with the clan records to see if there really is a Noboru from Clan Miyama and if so maybe she can get some details about his description and personality which should help her verify if this person is the same one. After that... maybe she'll do some investigating of her own.
Scratch that - bath, dinner, sleep, /then/ investigating. Yeah, now that's a plan.
Log created on 01:49:22 05/31/2016 by Noboru, and last modified on 15:45:29 05/31/2016.