Description: With a piece of the puzzle in hand, Ayame makes one long distance trip on a chance of finding mutual understanding and a potential ally.
A lot of really freaky stuff just happened to Nagase, and yet, the Iga-ryu kunoichi just doesn't seem to want to leave the magnificent grandeur of Victoria Falls. It's one thing to treat a priceless, one-of-a-kind landmark as a battlefield for super-speed combat; it's something else entirely to actually be able to sit and -enjoy- the field for what it is: simply breathtaking.
The hustle and bustle of the King of Fighters tournament has more or less abated. Nagase may not have needed that much medical care after all: as hard as she and Haru both fought, the Justice High youth was remarkable in how much he -held back- against the ninjette. Her nose sports a totes adorbs band-aid, a remnant of her close encounter with the rocky floor of Livingstone Island. The overzealous medical staff had tried to snip apart her custom skull-and-crossbones-styled kevlar-weave dress, though after breaking a second pair of scissors, they determined it was a lost cause -- there wasn't a whole lot they could do for the multiple thumb-sized bruises all across her body. Marks of the psion's yo-yos will go away in time.
No, most of the damage sustained by the kunoichi was on a metaphysical level; the boy genius's mastery of Psycho Power was largely what had been her undoing. And while the physical damage of such attacks was practically nonexistent, the girl is left with a more lasting wound: a marked loss of confidence.
The convoy of military-grade transports has departed, for whatever reason. No one was able to give her any information on that at all: the KOF staff were (as expected) useless, and almost all of the bystanders were on the other end of the damn waterfall. If there =was= intel to share, they all took it with them when they packed their bags. And from what she could tell, most of the bystanders present on the other side of the falls are new arrivals, jealously claiming the premium viewing locations that the KOF attendees had vacated.
What's more, her Battle Disc System's data logs were prioritizing data from the fight -- data she read in mid fight, and still retains.
Really, she wished she'd paid for the high-definition video streams. She doesn't feel like hacking into anyone's databases right now,
So, here she is. Long after the end of the battle. The KOF staff have left. The audience has left. Even the damned HitBit tent has been broken down, not that the tech-ninja needed a FAQ on how batshit crazy -those- guys are. No, she's the only one left on Livingstone Island at the moment, as far as she knows: she had even managed to convince Ryu Hayabusa to let her stick around here for just a few more minutes, as she hadn't gotten to enjoy the falls alone yet.
Her folded-up glider is strapped to one shoulder, as he had considered gliding off into the falls -- it seemed like there would be a pretty strong updraft from time to time. Her glasses have been unfolded, and hang from the front of her dress. No -- for right now, she could deal with a little -less- of the technicolor tint on reality. Just her, and nature. Back to the basics, for now.
Maybe she'll find some inspiration from the awesome might of the Victoria Falls.
Maybe, for one damn minute, she can stop obsessing over what went -wrong- in her past two fights.
It had been a week since the thing had showed up at the Meian Jinja, courtesy of Miyama delivery services. And from there, Ayame realized that it had become her problem to deal with. It was her fault for making the suggestion to the massive shinobi she found herself aligned with unexpectedly. She partially regretted it even it as she said it - that perhaps the best source of help with a technological problem would be the tech-savy ninja girl she had faced in the Rumble tournament some months before. Unfortunately, it was both the best idea and Noboru felt she was the best to pursue it...
She really disliked dealing with someone she knew so little about as the technoninja. She didn't know who the girl worked for, which clan she was affiliated with, what her weaknesses might be or even what level of interest she'd have in helping in the first place. Her shadow ally had been unable to provide anything more about her other than she was 'young' and 'less well mannered than Ayame'. Not exactly remarkable detail to go by. It felt like walking into battle nearly completely unarmed. She was going to have to improvise this one.
She had one piece of information to go by - Team Ninja vs Psycho Soldiers was a week away. One opportunity to predict, for a brief window, where Nagase would be. Getting the heavy object of interest from Japan to Africa proved to be quite the challenge with airport security, as the severed thing had all the makings and appearance of a bomb to the uninformed. After significant delays, lots of questions, and intense scrutiny of the device, she was finally able to get on board the plane with it stowed away in luggage.
Finally, she's in Africa, the day of the Quarter Finals King of Fighters match. If she thought it was hot and humid at home this month, Zambia introduced her to an all new level of misery. She was at the match in time to watch it from a distance, though it was not an event she was paying rapt attention to other than to keep remote tabs on the one participant she was interested in. She was less likely to stand out than she normally would back home, wearing a long sleeved, button up white blouse and crimson pleated skirt. A ribbon-style neck tie sat at her throat, tied into a small bow, and a larger, more impressive ribbon was tied into a bow in her long, strawberry-blonde hair.
She never let the backpack on her back leave her shoulders, which made the sweltering heat even more unbearable. Muttering to herself, she kept an eye on the fight, raising a thin eyebrow as the epic moments were lost to audience view only to end with the Asamiya girl unconscious and the Hayabusa shinobi yielding the match. Frowning, the Meian Jinja priestess immediately suspected Athena might be some kind of Darkstalker, which would really explain a lot of the weird rumors going around about the enigmatic violet-haired girl, but that would have to be an investigation for another day.
She had to wait for things to die down, loitering off near where the audience had been situated as the convoy retreats into the trees, the audience dwindles and departs, and the event staff finish cleaning up their own mess from the environment. It was a precarious balance - wanting to catch Nagase alone but also fearing that if the ninja took off, she might be almost impossible to track.
Finally, it's time. A boat tied off against the shore, used for carting KOF venue materials back and forth, is taken without a second thought. By the time anyone realizes it's been moved, no one is particularly sure which of the various staffers must be out joyriding along the river.
She had to debate how to approach the girl. If she had never encountered her before, delving into her past experiences of adopting a more approachable, friendly persona would make sense. But Nagase had already been introduced to her nature... any other approach would ring false to the undoubtedly skilled shinobi's perception. The direct method will have to do.
Trudging through the foliage of the island toward where she knew her target of interest would be resting, getting her white shin-high socks stained green in the process, Ayame announces her presence as soon as she's near.
The slightest hint of empathy. She knows what an unexpected defeat feels like - her own elimination from King of Fighters will be forever heralded as one of the shortest bouts in history.
A faint smile works its way into her expression shortly, as the girl in white and red shrugs off the heavy tan backpack and lowers it to the ground, kneeling down as she does so to avoid making her back even more sore than it already is.
"I have brought you something that might be interesting..."
The Iga-ryu ninja was, in fact, too reliant upon her technology. It had made her complacent, lazy. Technology betrayed her in the battle some weeks back, a fact underscored when the shadowy hands organizing the tournament abruptly terminated her live video feed into Ayame's HitBit. It normally wouldn't be a problem, but most of the competitors weren't able to both keep one eye on the data feed and still fight at an acceptable level of performance. As it turns out, Nagase was more impacted by the -loss- of the data than anything else.
Her ninjutsu was brought into question. And it was brought even further into question during each match with her team, gathered to lure out the elusive Ghost of the Ryouhara. No matter how fast Nagase had proven to be against lesser opponents, her speed was woefully inadequate against either Maki Genryuusai or Ryu Hayabusa. And matched against the ninkougakusha she had sought combat with... she felt to be less a combatant than a liability. Her speed was not only inadequate, but her -techniques- felt... underwhelming. As if she was aiding the enemy's ninkous, falling into traps she should have seen.
With the falls roaring just a short distance away, the Iga-ryu ninja was lost to her introspective contemplations. Had the convoy left behind an assassin, it's quite likely it would have hit the spaced-out kunoichi, with her battle surveillance suite disarmed for the moment. Had the maiden from the Meian Jinja not announced herself, the kunoichi may have done something drastic.
As it is, her spine stiffens. Her hair flutters in a light breeze as she turns around to face Ayame, her eyes wide with surprise. How did she--
Emotions flicker across her face in rapid succession: shock, realization, awareness, recognition, and finally, at acknowledgment of Ayame's smile, a friendly warmth.
"Y-yeah, I guess so! And, uh... hey. Sorry to hear about your bad turn, I was looking forward to a rematch on the big stage." Nagase had stayed apprised of her opponent's standings -- with the selective nature of KOF's invitation system, it was much easier than the last tournament, after all.
The tech-ninja raises a finger to her glasses, as if contemplating the notion of donning them once more. It's... weird, really: with the amber filter overlaid atop her vision at almost every waking moment, she almost feels naked without having them. But isn't that... the reason for her current malaise, after all? She gives her glasses one poke of her finger, just to reassure herself that they are there, and lets her hands swing down by her sides.
This, of course, means that she'll have to use her old-fashioned eyes to stare blankly at the backpack as it is lowered to the ground. "... Somethin' interesting? So lemme get this straight. You lugged that... all the way from Japan... in -hopes- of catchin' me here?"
One hand reaches for the glider slung about her shoulder. A thumb hooks under the strap. An eyebrow lifts. Paranoia begins to set in -- what -could- be in the bag? Would it be -more- or -less- threatening than the convoy that just drove off?
No, Nagase, she reminds herself. No. Just ... relax.
She unhooks her thumb from the strap, moving her index finger to brush the bridge of her nose instead. "It's, uh... not a bomb, is it?"
Dammit, Nagase. /Relax./
One knee in the grass, Ayame reaches for the backpack straps, listening to Nagase while she fiddles with them. Whatever is in there is bundled up tight, with cords tied, straps secured and buckled, and small padlocks on the zippers. "Heh." she grunts regarding her own match, delicate fingers pausing in the middle of untying a knot. "Sometimes..." She had studied the match intensely in the aftermath. How had she been struck down so summarily by the simple, direct brawler? Was it that blow to the side of the head that sent everything spiraling out of control?
"All the preparation in the world is not enough to save you from a single critical mistake." She speaks with her head bowed, her long hair draped against her upper back and spilling over her right shoulder, her hair ribbon bobbing up and down as she moves. Her fingers resume their work of unsealing the well secured backpack, fishing a small key from a pocket in her skirt to take care of the tiny padlocks. "Understanding sometimes only comes in the aftermath... the key is to survive long enough to learn from it."
She never looks up - a gesture of trust in trying to put the clever ninja at ease? Or a demonstration of confidence? "I have an enemy I wish to target in a very specific way... but the execution of my counterstrike requires skills that I do not have time to develop right now." The last lock is undone, the zippers dawn back, the straps unbuckled.
Is it a bomb? "I can assure you it is inert. I disconnected the capacitors to make sure that there was no residual power in the system first thing." She grips the concealing flap over the top and pulls it back. Reaching both arms in, she withdraws a steel, cylindrical object with wires, cables, and tubes hanging down from beneath it. Two red LED plastic covers sticking out of one side look almost like eyes. And of course, adorning the flat top of the robotic head is a large red ribbon identical to her own. She isn't sure why she didn't take it off, herself, as it looks ridiculous and reminds her of what the vexing thing even is, but so it is.
With a grunt, she lowers the head down onto its side in the grass and finally stands up, brushing her hands off. "You are likely already be aware that the Hitbit technology in use in the Rumble tournament was recording an extensive amount of data about everything going on in the fights. You may already be aware that this data is being fed to robots being mass produced by Violet Industries under the direction of the corporation's CEO, Lee Chaolan."
The girl waves her hand down toward the severed AY4M3 head. "This is a piece of the hardware, the CPU, central ROM, and flashable memory still intact." Ayame pauses for a moment, curious to see the shinobi's reaction to the stolen device. "This one in particular was programmed to emulate my own fighting style. Adjusting for stature differences, it really is..." she exhales softly, "Remarkably accurate."
Normally, Nagase would have been able to see what's in the bag by simply focusing on it for more than two seconds. The Battle Disc System would recognize the stare as a command input, switch to a different set of analysis tools, and provide her with a detailed readout of what was within. Sure, there's padlocks and keys and seals that might get in the way, but she'd at least have a clear enough picture to determine for herself that, no, it wasn't a bomb.
Again, she feels the urge to reach for her glasses. Maybe the self-repair routine is done. Has she -checked- it lately? Maybe it finished early, maybe it finished while they were talking. No... no, Nagase. /Relax./
The Iga-ryu ninja nods slowly at the knot being untied. Is everything moving in slow motion for anyone else? No? It must be intentional on Ayame's part.
Nagase takes a deep breath, steeling herself. This is exactly why she needs to go sans-BDS for a while. She listens to her guest -- the one who went all out of her way to bring this to her. And she ... finds herself nodding along with the assertion that preparation can go awry in a heartbeat. "... Yeah. I... I definitely can appreciate that, now." She laughs mirthlessly, her mind already helpfully replaying her recent failures for review. She... could get lost in that train of thought for another long moment, if she...
Capacitors. That's... remarkably technical, for a shrine maiden. "... You, uh... know a lot about technology, then, huh?" It's something she doesn't have the time to develop, she just said that. Another weak laugh: an apology from the momentarily-scatterbrained kunoichi as she attempts to keep herself on topic.
And then Nagase realizes, hey, it might be nice to get a little closer. The tech-ninja crouches down beside Ayame, nimbly remaining on the balls of her feet as she gets a closer view of the technological marvel. "... Heh, yeah, I got a bunch of that data downloaded. Pretty remarkable how -precise- a lot of the recording tools were..." A hand reaches for her glasses again, though this time it's relevant to the conversation -- demonstrating what she meant to say. "I... kinda could see things from your viewpoint. -That- accurate." She laughs again, though her lips turn into a guilty frown afterwards as she directs her eyes back towards the head.
At which point... she whistles. "... Surprised they keep all that stuff in the head, but I guess it makes sense from a weight distribution standpoint." Her lips purse, and her chin resembles a walnut for a moment as she appraises the device. "Is this the one that fought Maki in Rumble? I mean, it -won-, and Maki's no joke."
Nagase chuckles again, forging a light-natured smile. "I got proof of that, myself."
Now that she's up close, though, the skull-and-crossbones-garbed ninja presses a button on her gauntlet. The armored carapace retracts with a series of metallic clinks, and then hisses as it expands outward. The left glove is removed entirely up to the wrist, tossed with care into the grass. She uses her hand to poke at some of the shrouds left behind by the severe method in which the head was removed. "So tell me about this enemy, then. What's so important you need -me- to do it? And how's this thing gonna help? It's pretty cool and all, but I'm not sure =I= wanna lug it all the way back home."
A smirk begins to spread on her lips -- showing that even though she's still a little shell-shocked from her team's loss, she still has some trace of humor in her.
The twitchiness of the technoninja isn't lost on her visitor though trying to figure out the source of the agitation is difficult for one too far removed from a lifestyle that would support such... addictions. The observations are tucked away in her mind but outwardly, she continues as if Nagase's frequent glances and subtle reaches for her glasses have gone unnoticed.
She glances up from the heavy object in the grass at the question about her knowledge. While the direction of her dark brown eyes has them looking in the direction of the young shinobi, her focus seems somewhere past her, the priestess pausing as if reflecting heavily on the question or musing something it reminded her of. "I..." Her lips curl into a faint smile that bears a certain wistfulness, "Do a lot of reading." she seems to settle on, glancing back down at the steel bucket.
Now she has Nagase close by, looking over the hardware with her. At the revelation about what she had been pulling in from the Hitbit stream to her glasses, the miko glances up, blinking once. She doesn't look upset at the idea that her fighting was essentially being studied by her opponent all thanks to the sensors she wore voluntarily, but rather impressed. "I knew you were the right person for this effort," she responds, eyes flicking over the glasses as the shinobi gestures toward them.
About the head of the robot, the strawberry blonde nods her head twice, "I pondered the same thing. They could put it anywhere, after all. However, by putting these central aspects in the head, they are located in one of the easier places in the robot's body to move out of harm's way quickly." She gestures at the broken pistons and servos that must serve to manipulate the head on the machines. "It also makes it easier to swap them out and upgrade them if they do not have to replace the entire core for every change." She pauses, rolling it over to gesture at the sensor eyes, "It also reduces the processing latency between the sensor array and the CPU by a few nanoseconds, which is not much, but when churning the volume of input it has to handle..." she shrugs slightly, letting the thought die on her tongue.
Is it the one Maki fought? "No, that one got damaged in the fight. This one came from a pristine machine." She pauses, eyes blinking once, "Well. It was before it lost its head anyway," she continues, glancing up then. "But the programming is the same as that one, using data collected over my participation in the event. At the time I thought it was a gimmick... but then it won. And since then, I have seen 7 more like it. I imagine there are even more out there."
She pokes at the side of the cylindrical head with her finger, causing it to rock back and forth a little in the grass. "Every fighter that has participated in Rumble and King of Fighters has the likelyhood of being imprinted on one of these things." She glances up again, "Including your teammate... who fought incredibly well considering he was facing a monster." She drops her other knee against the ground, getting a bit more comfortable now. "This means that the company that creates these has the potential to churn out robots with your and Ryu Hayabusa's skills in mass numbers as soldiers of war. I believe they would sell them - Violet Industries does not seem inclined to wage war themselves. But it means every other random despot with a checkbook around the world can have an army of robots with your fighting talents on demand."
Ayame sighs softly, resting her hands clasped in her lap now, "I would like to put a stop to it. I believe the solution is to take advantage of one of the critical weaknesses of a purely technological army. You already demonstrated it yourself by hacking into the Hitbit systems before." She's grinning faintly now, a twinkle in her eye at the idea of getting up to some of her old mischievous ways. "I know they can be given instructions remotely. My hope is that you are interested in finding a way to hijack that signal and implant instructions of our own... perhaps to turn them against their makers and put an end to this problem once and for all."
The shrine maiden extends her hand to pat the side of the head, "This thing contains everything needed to reverse engineer the signal, the programming logic, and AI subroutines that are driving all of these robots. I would think that might be worth lugging anywhere."
Doing a lot of reading, Ayame says. Circuitry and capacitors are a bit of an odd subject for a shrine maiden to learn about, especially since she seems to eschew technology of any kind. Nagase offers a brief smirks in response, but that's about the sum of her commentary on that topic -- the drive to pursue the issue further is reduced by her current mood.
She wants to relax, really. The kunoichi hadn't been quite ready to leave the falls yet; self-doubt is not baggage you want to be carrying around on a vehicle that depends entirely on the ephemera of air currents and one's own level of confidence. Unfortunately, doubt and uncertainty had been rooting her to the point for quite some time. Alone, she had been unable to stop herself from questioning her own airworthiness -- even though she had managed to land on Livingstone Island perfectly well by herself some hours past.
Ayame's arrival seems to have been most fortuitous then. She may have begun the conversation with a haphazard morass of disjointed speech and out-of-place facial expressions, but with each passing sentence, the kunoichi is returning to a more normalized pattern of behavior. That is to say: smirking and taking a less grimdark view of the world.
The introduction of a puzzle gets her gears turning. She listens carefully to Ichijo, her hand brushing along the cylindrical head with some measure of admiration. The construct definitely bears the look of a prototype, but in doing so, it avoids that awkward 'uncanny valley' effect that makes a realistic automaton look even more fake.
"... Yeah, reducing the latency would be a huge bonus." Her lips curl into a faint smile as she angles the robot head upwards, looking about it for an access panel. "It's kinda weird, that with all the frailties of the human body, it still manages to be a pretty solid template for something like this."
Even as Ayame drops to her second knee, the kunoichi does not; even amidst the mood which would have her question her ninjutsu training, she still steps through the motions as second nature.
"So it's in King of Fighters, too, huh." Pleasant surprise gives way to a notable frown -- she could question Ayame on this, as well, but she's been impressed enough with the miko to trust her words, for better or worse. She, instead, listens as Ayame addresses her rapid-fire questions, fingers of her right hand counting off points into her left.
"Hm. Yeah, I -guess- it'd be worth lugging around," she concludes with a faint smirk. "Though I might need to find some other way off this rock than Air Nagase," she notes, shrugging her shoulder and the glider upon it.
Now that she's had time to think about the issue, she raises an eyebrow. "... So hold on, you think they're being given remote instructions? Just... whenever?" Nagase shakes her head. "I dunno. It's... kinda dangerous. Hacking into the Rumble servers was one thing, they were secured like Swiss cheese in our fight. Hacking into HitBit devices was a bit harder -- but it was mostly because they didn't have any sort of flood prevention. As soon as they blocked that stuff out, it'd stop working, and we'd be back at square one. So we kinda gotta figure out how this bugger -works- first." Squinting her eyes at the robot, she reaches out and stabs her fingernail into an innocuous-loooking port. Twisting her finger, an access panel pops open, and she start to peer inside.
Considering the situation for a moment, she doesn't see anything terribly out of place. "Yeah, I... I know it's a bold idea, but how are they gonna copy ninjutsu arts? They all revolve around manipulating chi, and there's no -ninja- technology in here. It's one thing to leap around like a cracked-up jackrabbit, but actually -translocating-? I mean, half of what -you- do isn't based on lighting things on fire, you're actually, like, tapping into sorcery and stuff." She kids -- the smirk makes that obvious -- but it's true that the prodigal Iga-ryu disciple has no -real- idea of the forces that Ayame had called upon.
"Eh. If I'm gonna control it, I wanna know what they're -capable- of first. Like, first off, how are they even recording this stuff? Did you see any sensors or anything? I mean, I'm gonna hazard that they're using some kind of photometric sensors, then."
Her expression grows a bit more bitter -- it might be a smidge hard for the miko to hear her over the rushing waters as the kunoichi pointedly looks away. "... Which would be unreliable as hell in a world where you're dealing got people who can cook you in your own skin by jacking up the temperature way up..."
Nagase's cheeks flush red with the memory, as her jaw sets. It wasn't so long ago that she was fighting someone who could do just that.
The bitter, far-off look only lasts a moment. She's supposed to be calming herself. After a moment to recollect her thoughts, she shakes her head, turning back to address Ayame and the topic at hand. Her left hand reaches up to clear her forehead of a slight bit of perspiration -- when did -that- get there? -- as she attempts to pass off the momentary reverie with a self-deprecating smirk. "Sorry, war flashbacks or something, heh. Anyway, just that, like..." Her left hand pulls away to demonstrate the gesture, undulating as if to suggest the motion of an ocean. "You ever try scanning a bar code in front of a barbecue grill? It ain't gonna work, the air ripples too much. It's probably enough to get the general feel of a motion or something, but anything involving chi, or whatever psycho bullshit that brat was slinging at me just now, I'unno how that would work."
She shrugs her shoulders, one side of her mouth curling up in an optimistic glance. "I mean, heck, maybe they'll just stick to brawlers like that Miguel guy who came outta nowhere. They don't need anythin' fancy in the mystic arts and crafts department to pull off that guy's whole schtick. But like... I'll dig around. Maybe I'll find something that'll help, right?"
Nagase bites her lower lip for a moment, gauging Ayame's expression. Is there something she forgot to address...?
"... Ah, right. So... exploit, hack, hijack?" Her face lights up into a grin. "I -like- these words, but it's gonna take more time. You on a schedule with this plan of yours? Or do you know about a party you -really- wanna crash?"
"I believe it would put your air buoyancy in question, yes," Ayame replies regarding trying to fly off the island, her tone deadpan. "I am not entirely sure what can be broadcast to them." she responds a moment later, "Only that I saw Lee Chaolan manipulating behaviors by way of a tablet. It could be sending detailed instructions, but I think it is more likely that it is simply sending more basic controls and allowing the device's own logic deal with the minutia of execution."
She's quiet as Nagase weighs some of the risks and challenges compared to the security measures she's already gone up against, glancing up, brown eyes blinking as she takes in the kunoichi's musings with no visible expression of judgment. "If our window of access is likely to be limited, it will be important to use whatever brief moment of access obtained to plant a trojan that can breech back out from inside the firewall." Read a lot about internet security measures, does she?
She leans her head to the side to watch as the tech savvy prodigy pops open an access panel to see inside the solid steel exterior casing. "I believe the emulation is limited to only what can be physically copied. Though in reviewing footage of the battle against Maki, it is clear that they are emulating the more... ethereal nature of some combat techniques with pyrotechnical devices affixed to the robot's limbs." She pauses, shrugs faintly before continuing, her smile faint as she glances at Nagase's face, "So fire is not an issue... but yes, beyond that, it is probably unable to fully copy the details."
She pauses at the next question, then shakes her head, "I have not seen the sensors for myself, but I have had some elements of them described to me by one who has. Unfortunately, for as intelligent as he is in his areas of expertise, he is not technically inclined enough to render a low level explanation of the hardware he discovered. All he could verify was that it was capable of identifying individuals by their physical stature and gait, and that it was embedded into the various stages many of the battles are taking place." A glance to the side gives her another pause as her eyes trace over the environment. "Admittedly... I have a hard time imagining that they could have been set up here, giving it thought. I... it is curious that they would have staged your match in a location where their technology would be too obvious."
She seems stuck on that thought for a long moment. "They would have already had ample opportunity to record Asamiya and you are likely already on file from the Rumble event. Hayabusa would have been quite the catch though... did they think someone of his caliber would get wise to what was going on and it was not worth the risk?" She shakes her head, willing to set aside the subject for now, only then realizing the lengthy pause in Nagase's own analysis and questioning.
It takes a moment of mental rewinding, a skill that has never dulled as she replays in her head the words spoken that she had not focused on directly. The Iga-ryu shinobi is studied for a longer moment then, Ayame turning her face to the right slightly, an already questioning, curious look working its way into her eyes. But she doesn't pry, as much as she looks like she wants to.
She listens to the other girl's explanation of why it would be so tricky to record combat skills in an environment where such disruptive abilities come into play. "I am afraid I do not know full well how they are recording that side of things. They may simply be relying on approximation of visually observed energy manifestations." She looks like she wishes she knew more about the recording equipment as well, but she has nothing else to offer on it for now.
There is a nod and slight smile that Nagase might find something, Ayame sharing a brief moment of understanding for the thrill of having an interesting problem to solve. If only she had the means and time to do it herself, but technology seems to be growing at leaps and bounds faster than... she thought it would. Old skills are not keeping up with the new times quite so well.
"I do not have a specific timeline in mind. I imagine... you will somehow find the time to explore options before the right opportunity to put them to use comes along." She falls quiet then, glancing from the severed robo-head and Nagase, back and forth, as if weighing something else on her mind. Finally, she lifts her right hand to rest against her right cheek, pressing up off of her knees to return to standing.
"So..." she's studying Nagase carefully now, focusing on her more directly than she had seemed to throughout the entire exchange, "...what will you want in exchange for your assistance in this matter?"
Nagase nods attentively, curling herself up as she bobs lightly upon the balls of her feet. She's excited about the possibilities here, and glad to talk with someone who, uh, totally reads a lot!
"Tablet, yeah... that makes sense. There's too many options to just... wait, did you say Lee Chaolan?" Nagase starts reaching for her glasses again, but stops herself in mid-reach. Her cheeks puff out, then deflate as her nostrils flare from exhaling the breath.
She reaches the conclusion, based on the facts she -does- know. "Okay. He's the connection, I see." She nods, first to herself, then meeting Ayame's gaze and nodding more directly to her. "The guy you fought at the end of the tournament, he's connected with HitBit. And Violet Systems. It all makes sense. ... Still, two major tournaments in a row for this guy to have a hand in, how does he even do it?" The flame-haired kunoichi chuckles, sharing a conspiratory smile with her conversational partner of the moment.
"Trojan... yeah. That'll be the biggest bang for the buck. Getting the first one in is easy, but figuring out their network from there without getting caught..." She laughs, once again. "That's the fun part!"
As for the mention of pyrotechnics as a cheap surrogate for chi flames... well, that just makes her stress out about -fire- again. Her cheeks stain a faint shade of pink, as she runs her fingers through her hair as something of a nervous affectation. "Y-yeah." That memory again. She really needs to get over it.
When Ayame broaches the topic of the capture devices, Nagase's eyes light up. She knows someone who -saw- the sensors? But then the Iga-ryu ninja seems just as crestfallen when their witness' lack of expertise is brought up. As for placement, though...
"Well, this is an outdoors venue. They had drones doing videography, would anyone really be able to tell the difference? If they even -suspected- Hayabusa-pyon was gonna break their gear they'd be keeping it out of arms' reach. Still..."
An impish grin flits across her features. "Hey, correct me if I'm wrong, but did you say he was fighting a -monster?- Asamiya?" She laughs -- almost -snorts-. "Nah, if she was a monster they'd probably get more use out of recording her. As it is, I think it'd be hilaaaaarious to see a Combot of -her-. And with those flames, haha!"
She pokes and prods at the inside of the Combot head. Not firmly, not destructively -- just taking careful stock of the things she finds within. But when she's had enough... the access door swings shut, and latches itself.
As Ayame rises back to her feet, Nagase spends a moment looking up at the miko, faint amusement playing across her features. It would have been hard to see before with all her rapid motions, but after asking the x-million-dollar question, there's plenty of time for Ayame to pick out two characteristics from the half-smiling woman above all else: injuries, and fatigue. The bandages are pretty obvious: a plastic bandaid across one cheek, and cloth bandages binding her shoulders. Her skin is also discolored, in patterns consistent with exposure to flame.
There are also clues in Nagase's movements that only become noticeable to someone standing nearby, someone able to examine the young woman move without the prattle escaping from her lips. Someone able to witness as she pushes back to her feet, minus the usual spring in her step...
She's even more hurt than she's letting on. The multiple layers of clothing and underlying armor are layered on top of even more bandages -- bandages that certainly predated her combat with the yo-yo combatant. Not bruises -- abrasions, puncture wounds, possibly serrated slices. During battle, it would have been easier for the ignore the pain via the mystic powers of adrenaline, but now that she's at rest, it colors each of her movements.
And the fatigue... From the onset of bags under her eyes, she looks like she's been fighting for weeks. Her motions aren't only slow from the injuries, either. She takes a step backwards so that she can rest her hands on her hips, and deliver her answer.
"Listen. I... this is gonna sound weird, but it's been a -really- long week." She pointedly rubs her shoulder -- no hiding her intention there. "Been through a lot. My head hurts. Excuses excuses, blah blah blah. Haha." Her lips curl into a smile, as she rests both hands back upon her hips My point is, though... I might not be thinkin' too clear. But this is your big chance."
Nagase raises one finger into the air. "I'll take a favor from you, payable whenever. I don't know what it'll be -- my head's not on straight enough for that now. But I don't have a whole lot of people I really trust."
She smirks faintly, rolling her eyes in mock exasperation. "I'll take my chances trustin' you."
Her upraised finger droops, her hand turning supine. "... Or a hundred grand, US, if you'd rather not trust a vague 'favor' to someone you happened to fight once a few months ago. I mean, I can see how you would feel nervous about that." Eyes widen, as she nods overemphatically. "And I understand completely!"
Her hand returns to her hips again. "I think I got what I need for the job, anyway. Y'know, aside from my own private helicopter to get me off this rock."
"Wealth, no doubt." comes Ayame's succinct answer about how the mysterious executive keeps finding his way into the machinations of tournaments. Wasn't his name also associated with that disastrous island team tournament some time ago...? "That opens the doors, at least. His inherently persuasive charisma likely paves the rest of the way." She had dealt with him in person - that he was powerful she had no doubt, and his power was not merely in his martial arts prowess.
"Maybe," the surprisingly tech-informed shrine maiden considers, "But the devices at the other arenas were far larger than the recording drones present during your battle would suggest. I do not imagine there has been enough time to miniaturize the technology yet."
She's quiet as Nagase considers her assessment of the dangerously gifted psychic fighter Hayabusa yielded to in the match not long ago. "Perhaps. She is very suspicious though." She sounds unconvinced. Something was very odd about how that round of the event resolved, but she had just as good a view of it as the rest of the world - which is to say, not one at all. She does seem to pause and imagine what a Combot in a violet wig would look like, but the rather perplexed, conflicted expression that flashes across her face suggests it isn't so immediately hilarious as the shinobi suggests. A brief grimace and single shake of her head dismisses the idea before it can take a lasting hold on her imagination. No. Just no.
She would find herself scrutinized by the miko of the Meian Jinja - Ayame is not particularly discrete about her evaluation at the moment. It is obvious after even a brief consideration and reflection upon the battle against Haru that the evidence of injuries is inconsistent with anything that took place then. That the shinobi is fresh off some other extremely demanding, dangerous encounter is obvious now. "Engaging in dangerous work right before a demanding match will affect the efficacy with which you can execute said match." The council is offered with a faint smile, "Something to consider for next time." That she hadn't gone into the match against Haru Sakuraba completely fresh is obvious to her now. What impact that might have had is less certain.
She's reserved as Nagase walks through what she thinks the crux of the arrangement should be, dark brown eyes blinking slowly once, showing very little by way of immediate response. Lifting her right, she rests her curled pointing finger against the front of her chin, weighing the offer quietly. Interestingly, the six figure financial solution is not getting dismissed out of hand as being a viable path to pursue, the girl not balking in the slightest at the large figure.
"Very well." she concludes after over fifteen seconds of protracted silence. This does not seem to be an agreement she's making lightly. "A favor then." She nods her head in affirmation of coming to a decision in her mind between the options presented. Like so many questions the priestess poses, the inquiry regarding reward was a loaded one, her interests in more than the actual price. It was also a measure of interest, of motives, and agendas. Whatever answer she was seeking, she appears satisfied with the result, lowering her hand from her chin, hands resting over each other over her lap - if she had her normal voluminous sleeves, they would easily cover her forearms now.
"In the world we live, trust is a currency more precious than lucre. I feel that I am not spending it poorly now." She bows her head, leaning forward for a moment, before standing up straight. "In the side pouch of the bag is a burner phone you can use to reach out to me if you have reservations of me being able to trace your location your more permanent methods of communication." She shrugs faintly, her smile taking on a mysterious edge. Maybe she's done a lot of reading about reverse tracing cell locations too?
"I will leave you to your well deserved rest. I should be getting home myself. Good luck, Nagase." Another smile, another slight bow of her head, before the shinobi's unexpected visitor would look to take her leave.
The wounded kunoichi considers what she's hearing about Lee Chaolan as she scratches her finger across the bridge of her nose. She also thinks long and hard about Ayame's assessment of the scanning technology. "... Well, without examining the scanner tech, it's really hard to know what they are or are -not- capable of. So maybe that's something I can get a better look at in the next rounds. They're probably widely dispersed and don't have the time to run wire, so they're wireless -- which means it's child's play."
The tech-ninja looks skyward for a moment, searching her memories of the surrounding airspace during the fight. "... It's possible they could have equipped a warhead-ready drone with a big scanner, and just flown it at a high altitude. I mean, I wouldn't put it past the desk of a certain charismatic executive of a weapons manufacturer to do such a thing, right?" She smirks -- the idea is conjecture, but she still intends to do some legwork on that front.
"But if they could do that, then..." She considers this for a moment, but ultimately shelves the idea for the moment. "I'll keep an eye open for any evidence once I'm inside their net."
She squints at the mention of Athena -- and offers a brief smile in response. "Well, I don't know much about her. She didn't have fur or a tail, so that's pretty much where I stopped trying to figure it out." She raises her hands to suggest air-quotes: "But you could talk to the resident expert in 'fiends,' Mr Ryu Hayabusa, I'm sure he would know. I can text you his location, but just... don't expect a quick reply to any texts you send his way."
Nagase blinks at the silent exchange taking place regarding the possibility of an ATH3N4 model, and then considers: perhaps it's bad form to joke about a Combot homage to other fighters when she's standing over the disembodied head of one built to the specifications of her conversational partner. A sheepish laugh follows.
As Nagase finds herself on the receiving end of some admittedly motherly criticism, she gives an appropriately teenager-like response: shoulders canting forward, and her hands returning to her hips. She doesn't really shy away from the attention, otherwise, though. "Bah. You make it sound like I -wanted- to daisy-chain two beatdowns in a row. The fight chose me, y'know? That's just a downside of the ninja lyfe! Upside, though, we got the most bitchin' gang signs of all!"
Her hands begin moving into a flurry of motion, in the mimickry of a variety of handseals, all appearing to have -zero- actual effect on her environment If there was some deep meaning to be conveyed there, it's likely lost in her attempt at levity. Call it a coping mechanism, maybe?
The fifteen long seconds of silence are handled by Nagase finally relaxing her stance towards the Battle Disc System. She plucks the glasses off their convenient resting spot upon the front of her dress, and gingerly places them back on. She blinks eagerly once the amber lenses are back in place. The familiar signs of technology scrolling in front of her eyes are a welcome treat after her self-imposed penance, if her wide smile is any indication
... She is surprised that Ayame took so long to make the choice, though: her grin grows a bit lopsided at the realization. She nods in acquiesence of the terms: favors, and trust, are good things! "Great! Though that -may- set me back on getting an apartment in the Bahamas."
The expression grows considerably more shrewd once the priestess turns around and offers the burner phone. Nagase would probably pick some other way of communicating with Ayame anyway -- a more secure line, several levels of indirection, daisy-chaning through a series of progressively opaque subnets, or maybe just the old-fashioned way of translocating right into her bedroom for a chat. ... Actually, maybe the burner phone's a good plan anyway. Simple and direct.
"... Heh. Not a bad idea." The tech-ninja just leaves it at that.
As Ayame seems to be preparing to depart, Nagase realizes... she could probably stand to do the same. First, she allows her glider to slip off her shoulder. Then, she plucks her left glove and the backpack off the ground. Her shoulders and her facial expression sag from the weight of the backpack, but considering the non-trivial weight of all her lacquered armor, it's not an insurmountable difficulty.
"Yeah, I'm gonna chill on the bridge for a bit, easier to get a lift there. You, uh, you didn't happen to check -under- the bridge, did you?" The tech-ninja passes another glance at the bridge, squinting at the enhanced telescopic view from her amber lenses. "I, uh... am picking up some strange energy signatures there. So I guess I'll have plenty to do while I wait!"
Nagase lifts the glider back up. Oddly, she leaves it in its compact travel configuration as she stows it back onto her shoulder -- now sagging even -more- from its weight. Her left wrist makes a series of clicking noises as its articulated armor pieces snap back into place as she wiggles her fingers -- not unlike typing. After a series of higher-pitched buzzing, she turns over her right hand to reveal a shuriken, which she then offers to Ayame.
On the ninja star is printed an email address: an address so simple it's -got- to be a honeypot trap. Wafting in the air is the unmistakable odor of fresh printer toner.
"Yeah. You too, Ichijo-han." The skull-and-crossbones ninja gives a quick and humble bow. "If you hear anything, just drop an innocent 'hey' in my inbox and I'll give you a ring."
Her hands flicker into motion again -- ninja gang signs? No, they're a bit different this time.
"And don't worry so much, /mom/..." She winks back with a rather cheerful expression -- well, as cheerful as an impish smirk can really -be-.
"If I fight another crazy-ass ghost of ninja vengeance, I'll abstain from any more tournament fights. Ciao!"
In less than two eyeblinks, her pronated right palm is dragged towards her across a supine left palm -- then both hands make opposing ninety-degree turns.
And just like that, Nagase winks out of existence.
The crowd on the opposite side of the fence suddenly lets out cries of surprise. Moments later, as a red and black figure emerges from the crowd, with some heavy things visible on her back. No rest for the wicked -- not yet, anyway!
Log created on 00:06:18 07/11/2016 by Ayame, and last modified on 04:30:58 07/17/2016.