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Old 04-04-2014, 11:10 PM   #11
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The shinobi turned her head as Shuju called out to her. She crouched down to speak quickly to the divers, then strolled over to Shuju across the tops of the gentle waves rolling into shore. As she got closer, it became increasingly obvious that she heralded from Mist: her skin was darkened by days in the sun, her dark hair pulled back and coarse from constant exposure to salt, and she wore a modified forehead protector about one bicep, to go with her white bathing suit. She looked back over her shoulder at the works and laughed a little.

What happened? Nothing, they just got suckered into doing a job with too much work and too little pay.” The woman nodded her head toward Anji and the camp. “Can I help you boys find something? You look a little new.

Meanwhile, the old man took a good look at the map, with a long 'ooooh'. He traced his finger around the coastline a bit, hummed to himself in thought, then tapped the marked sightings of the mermaid. “Ah, yea, I think Ken saw her here and Hideyoshi reported this one. A lot of the men have seen her, actually, but...well...” the old man leaned over to Anji, covert even though the closest worker was napping in a hammock, “she asks you not to tell anyone, you see. She's got hair blue as the sea and wears starfish in it, and she's got impressive, uh...” he gestured to his chest, “and your map is missing a few.

He pointed to a few more spots further east, into the ocean proper and not just near the coast. The three additional spots formed a loose ring with the official two. “She shows up near wrecks when they're being scouted, far as any of us can tell. Doesn't show up often after work starts. Let's see...” The old pulled a folded note out of his pocket and looked over it, little more than chicken scratch. “She doesn't like rain, married men, sunglasses, beets, or guys named Sosuke. Lots of other stuff, too, but not enough of that empirical evidence, you know.
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Old 04-05-2014, 10:43 AM   #12
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As the woman turned around to face Shuju, the hidden mist's logo became visible to him. He immediately got a better picture of what she was doing there but it wasn't his concern. He just wanted information about the rumored mermaid everyone was babbling around. The puppeteer was somewhat superstitious, so he was still thinking that he would eventually hear a theory that wasn't related to mythical creatures causing the boats to crash. While he still hadn't completely written off the possibility of there being an actual mermaid, Shuju figured that there was some other explanation to the whole thing.

"We're here looking into the ship crashes. The frequency of crashing ships has been alarming recently. Incidents have been keeping men like these rather busy, haven't they?" Shuju ended his sentence with a chuckle. "Anyways, I'm mostly wondering what caused the ship here to be in such a condition? I assumed that ships handling such important business would have enough safety measures to not end up like this scrap yard."

At first, the mist shinobi responded to Shuju with an answer that was completely unrelated to his concern. It was his own fault for being unclear, but he decided to follow up with another question that was more direct. He had no clue what sort of safety measures were possible or not but he induced a little small talk into the conversation in order to appear more friendly. Since she's supervising the situation around here she should at least have some sort of idea as to what happened here.
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Old 04-05-2014, 05:55 PM   #13
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"Thank you, you've been very helpful," Akagawa Anji said as he stood up and shook the old man's hand, before turning and heading over towards Shuju. Well, if nothing else, now we know where to look. A ring of incidents brings to mind a territorial range. The prospect of investigating out in deeper water was only mildly alarming to the Akagawa jounin. He wasn't adept at fighting in water, but he was certain capable of fighting on it. Plus, the only dangers outside of a freak storm are going to be coming from below.

Still, something didn't sit right with Anji. He checked and double-checked the map as he walked over towards Shuju and the Mist woman. Nothing with the geography. Next, he went back over the mermaid's details. She was certainly friendly enough, by the old man's account. Sounds a bit like a teenage girl, really, the Grass jounin thought, with her itemized list of dislikes... beets. It was an odd thing for a supposed mermaid to be acquainted with.

Anji was not a farmer, but growing up in a restaurant had left him somewhat familiar with produce. A root vegetable that requires temperate climate; this seems more like sugar cane country. On top of that, I can't think of a reason anyone would want to ship beets out here. It wasn't conclusive--it frankly couldn't be until they actually met the mermaid in question, but it gave Anji some doubts; enough that he revised his most likely scenario.

The mermaid is or is not involved. Not enough evidence to determine that, but my gut says she isn't involved based on her interactions with the sailors. He looked once more at the map. If that's the case then, rather than finding her at the center of this ring, we will instead find some sort of territorial sea creature... Anji frowned, ...strong enough to capsize ships? Fast enough and well-hidden, perhaps, to catch the dive teams unawares. That thought gave the Akagawa pause, and suddenly he found himself wishing he hadn't lied so flippantly about his time spent kayaking. Ah well, it can't be worse than the jungle.

Which just left the girl. If she is a mermaid, then there are others. Alternative scenario: a sunken city in the center of the ring? Wrecking ships and killing dive teams in order to stay secret and protect their territory? This, Anji figured, was on the extremely unlikely end of the spectrum. Alternatively, she is not a mermaid, which likely makes her a person. She's asking sailors not to tell anyone she exists, so she might be in hiding. A runaway from one of the villages, using ninjutsu to pose as a myth? It seemed more likely. The Grass jounin was about to follow that line of thinking down to a series of possible conclusions but he had, by that point, reached Shuju.
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Old 04-05-2014, 11:36 PM   #14
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The Mist shinobi crossed her arms and frowned. “Most of these wrecks are older, from before Last Landing got big. The one they're working on now is an Earth Country ship from twenty, thirty years ago. No one's been able to get an operation large enough out here to do widescale salvaging until recently. Well, obviously.” She waved a hand behind her, to where the divers and haulers were working. “Anyway, I guess I can give you a quick little history lesson, yeah?

A lot of vessels used to pass out by the island to try to do quick resupplies and repairs – the storms out here can sink smaller ships by themselves. Others are previous expeditions, from before Last Landing's site got found. The one we're working on right now actually looks like a storm took it. There's some serious burn damage all along the mast and on parts of the deck.” The woman gestured as she talked, laying out the center mast with one hand and then smoothing her other hand over the air for the deck. “I'm guessing it took a few lightning strikes and got run aground. Only a few, uh, bodies inside so far, so most of the crew probably made it to land before, you know.

She cocked her head at the jungle. “The rest of the island got them.

The good news is that not too many ships actually just sink anymore. Not out here anyway. Other parts of the island have pale sharks and I've heard talk that the island's starting to attract pirates, but most wrecks are weather related recently. Those storms will turn a ship around and then suddenly they smash into the reef or rocks.” The woman smiled as Anji appeared. “But that's enough blabbering from me. This is salvage zone's claimed by Tori Trade, so if I can't you boys get what you need, I have to ask you to leave.
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:52 PM   #15
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At first Shuju was fairly excited, thinking that he had hit the jackpot with the mist shinobi, but she burst his bubble by mentioning that the ship they were salvaging had been sunk decades ago, meaning that it was completely unrelated to what the two shinobi were investigating. The woman then continued talking, giving the sand jounin a brief history lesson. He listened carefully, keeping the details of what he heard in a mental note. While he didn't personally give a damn about the history or general activity of the island, it was his duty as an investigator to keep an eye open for details. As opposed to what some people would assume, Shuju's natural affinities did not lean towards investigative skills so he had to put in effort to do his job. His love for tinkering made it easy for him to get into puppetry, but other than that he would have probably grown up to be a bar brawler.

"Ship wrecks caused by weather don't concern me." The green-haired one complained. She had no further information for him and thus, he no longer needed to put in the extra effort to be the least bit polite.

The investigator then turned towards his partner, hoping that he had better luck with questioning the people around there and that was when Shuju realized he had no clue about his teammate's skill set. He normally would have asked before a mission involving combat, especially if it was the dangerous kind and if it was an intelligence mission Shuju would have normally taken the lead and bossed the rest of the team around, but since he was around a jounin from a foreign country, the sand jounin figured that he could stand being behaved.

"Apparently this damn shipwreck is ancient, and irrelevant to what we're looking for as far as the girl there said." He gave a brief summary and sighed. "Any good news from your side?"
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:02 PM   #16
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Akagawa Anji offered a polite nod in response to the Mist shinobi's smile. He had only caught the very tail end of the conversation, enough to hear that the wrecks were, in most cases, ancient and, in seemingly all cases, weather-related. I think I jumped to a certain conclusion: that we were off to investigate who or what was causing wrecks and attacking divers. If it isn't causing wrecks...

"All good news on my side," Anji replied, "except for the part that is bad news." The Grass jounin gestured to the map as he spoke, explaining that the old man had pointed out a few extra wreck sites where the mermaid had been spotted and that those spots, forming a rough circle along with the original spots, gave them a place to start looking. "And if all these wrecks are old and weather-related, then we're not looking for something that sinks ships so much as something that attacks divers."

"As for the bad news," the Akagawa continued as he stepped out onto the water, "getting here"--he pointed to the area in the middle of the circle--"is going to be a bit of a trek. Out into open waters which, frankly, is not something I am familiar with." He glanced up at the sun, then down to the map to get his bearings, before he put the map away and took a few more steps out onto the water.

"Lastly, and I don't know if this is good or bad news, but the feeling that I got from talking with the old man leads me to think that the so-called Mermaid is not the cause of the attacks." Anji frowned slightly. "So if what we're really looking for is an aquatic predator that attacks divers... then one or both of us is probably going to have to go under to find it." The Grass jounin was a recreational swimmer. He liked water, though he preferred fresh water to sea water. He had even, as a child, hid underwater during his final match in the chuunin exams. But fighting underwater, against a creature native to that environment? That was firmly on the bad news side of the equation.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:24 AM   #17
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The Mist woman seemed about to say something to Shuju, probably to tell him off for ignoring her warning, but she paused with her mouth open. After another moment, she decided to ignore the puppeteer and turned to speak with Anji directly as the other man stepped out onto the water. The woman followed him a few steps, though she remained some feet away. “The mermaid? She's not exactly hard to find. She's been right there all morning.

The woman pointed to a point over Anji's shoulder, further off the coastline. A bunch of large, black rocks jutted up out of the water, dark and shiny as surf sprayed over them with every ebb and flow of tide. Two seagulls sat on one rock, fighting over half a crab between them, and a couple barnacles lay shut just below the surface of the water. The woman pointed to a rock that was roughly central and looked fairly flat on top, perfect to sit on, except there was no girl, just open air. The Mist nin looked between the two men, sighed, and shrugged as she headed back to the divers.

Give it a few minutes. Whatever she does, it works about ten times better on men, and a hundred times better on nonshinobi. Doesn't let me get anywhere close to her, so go ahead and investigate away.

As the woman strolled away, something indeed started to happen, first for Anji, but soon for Shuju as well. The air around the flat stone rippled and warped as if being pulled away, and then there was the girl in question. Her hair was blue and messy, and she wore a blouse with a long, red and gold skirt, which clung to her legs and the rock – it was easy to see how the divers mistook her for a mermaid. Though there was no starfish in her hair, she wore a simple yellow star pin to one side and appeared to be watching the Mist woman walk away. She kicked her feet a little in the water and didn't seem to be aware that the two shinobi near shore could see her.

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Old 04-08-2014, 12:20 PM   #18
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After Anji got involved in the conversation good bits of information just started to pour in. It seemed that the person Anji interviewed was very willing to share what useful information he had and that meant they were making good progress, but then, the mist shinobi intervened and mentioned the mermaid and that was somewhat surprising to the investigator. Mention of the mermaid was far more believable coming from a shinobi rather than the rumor mill that was generated by the locals but the puppeteer still had his doubts about the mermaid's existence. I guess that's what subtlety gets me. I should've just asked about any mermaid sightings then...

Shuju then started looking towards the rock formation that the woman pointed at. He started for a bit before he started noticing something strange going on in the air around the center flat rock. Then, a girl appeared and she was by no means a mermaid. Shuju was relieved to see that he hadn't lost his senses and was right all along. Something strange was indeed happening, but the girl on top of the rocks was by no means half sea creature.

"Mermaid my ass." The green-haired one mumbled audibly. "Seems like there's nothing there but a strange little brat."

The two shinobi weren't going to get anything done by staring at the girl from a distance so Shuju started considering options regarding getting through the body of water. Being as a jounin with apparent gaps in his education, the puppeteer still hadn't learned the water walking technique, forcing himself to resort to alternative solutions to getting to the rocks. He was capable of swimming to get there, but that would have been tiring and extremely inefficient so he started looking around his surroundings for a small boat the he could commandeer to get to his destination. Any tiny 2-person sea vessel that Anji can operate will do...
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:45 PM   #19
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At the Mist shinobi's direction, Anji turned to look at the outcropping of rocks further out into the water. He waited patiently, as instructed, and still as a statue until the illusion covering the jutting rocks rolled away. Interesting. A persistent illusion technique? Not something I am familiar with. I wonder if I can pick her brain on it... He was about to head out towards the rocks when it occurred to him that he had not heard any further sound of splashing, no foot steps on the water that would announce Shuju's presence.

The Akagawa jounin glanced back briefly and noticed the Sand Jounin looking around. He had seen that look before, mostly on the students he tutored whenever their lessons took them across or onto water. He must be highly specialized, Anji thought, having encountered a few such shinobi in his career. The Grass jounin, himself, was very much a generalist, and he found that despite occasional difficulties like the one that faced them now, the combination of a specialist and a generalist was typically a potent one.

Moving through a practiced set of hand seals, Anji knelt on the water and placed one hand to its surface. Keiryu no jutsu. As he hadn't gone very far out, the ocean floor wasn't too far below him. After a moment, a large mass of aquatic roots and vines rose from the floor. Anji looked over at Shuju.

"I exaggerated my experience with watercraft," he admitted with a slight deprecating shrug. "So even if you took a boat, I'd have to tow it. Instead..." The mass of plant-life broke apart to reveal a dragon of vines and spikes; its neck, head, back and tail visible above the water. "We have a craft that will pilot itself."

The large dragon brought its wings up out of the surf, spraying water all around and drenching the Akagawa as it swung its head to peer at him. "I know, you don't like being used as a ferry," Anji said, placing a hand on a horn in apology. "But we need you to take us out to those rocks." The dragon settled back into the water, and snorted as if in begrudging acquiescence. The Grass jounin wiped the sea water from his face and hopped lightly onto the back of the dragon's head, before glancing to Shuju once more. "Hop on."
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:46 PM   #20
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The plant dragon stayed stable on the surface of the water, more than enough to carry the two shinobi. The creation of the dragon got the girl's attention and she watched as the jounin climbed aboard and started floating away from the shore. The workers glanced over, too, but as the Mist woman suggested, they seemed oblivious to the shinobi's target, and quickly went back to work as the overseer neared anyway. As the makeshift boat got closer and closer, though, the non-mermaid girl finally seemed to realize that she'd been found out – she straightened up with surprise and turned her head this way and that.

H-hello! Lovely weather today, huh? Nothing strange or suspicious going on at all!” The girl laughed nervous and started to lift up on to her hands to lower herself back into the water. As her toes touched the waves, three pairs of slits opened on her neck, revealing shallow pink gills. She looked about to make a run for it, or at least to dive out of reach of either shinobi. “Nice meeting you, but I should really get going, I think I left the stove on!
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