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Post  Hamazura Shiage Wed Nov 18, 2020 8:31 pm

Aug 27th; District 15

Dark alleyways and abandoned warehouses were all just a bit too cliché for Hamazura Shiage to accept them as a meeting place.

♟Well, it's more like I won't have that girl coming back to another of our hideouts. Hanzou said she's a dangerous person, and besides...♟

August 21st, 7:45 A.M.

«So that’s what happened.»

It had almost been too much for Hamazura to deal with. It hadn't been hard to fake sleep considering how much booze he had put away the night before, but still. The girl had talked about hospitals and kidnappers and laundry chutes - stealing outfits from doctors and throwing off pursuers. It was the stuff of a high-budget action movie, and Hamazura had listened to it all in his fake state of sleep. It was no wonder Boss Komaba nor the kunoichi herself realized he was awake - and since this girl had laid her cards on the table, Boss Komaba offered his own information on that scumbag Kurama.

All the while, Hamazura feigned slumber and listened - and later, he had spoken with Komaba about the situation, but decided not to get involved.

♟I know she's a dangerous person. She took being shot point blank pretty professionally. It was a bit scary, actually. If I'm gettin' involved with this girl, I'm doing it on my terms. Sure as hell not hers and not even Boss Komaba's. I'm the one stickin' my neck out here.

He certainly was. Hamazura had agreed to Boss Komaba's request with just a hint more reluctance than usual. He had accidentally shown enough hesitance that the bigger boy had even told him there was no shame in turning down the mission. But Hamazura respected no one in this world as much as Komaba, and even a mission where he couldn't count on the numerous soldiers of Skill Out and had to work with some sketchy espers to boot wasn't something he'd turn down. Loyalty had fueled his eventual response to the affirmative, and ambition had seen him work through the past few nights to make modifications to a vehicle. He had procured the thing easily enough, and the behemoth of a getaway car was parked elsewhere.

Hamazura believed it was a bad idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Well, that wasn't the problem - the problem was despite his excellence at being a criminal, he didn't pay attention when he *had* still been in school in the first place. Even in his head, Hamazura had confused one saying for another. What he really intended was that if things went south during this briefing, it wouldn't be said that he had handed this TASK group the fruits of his labor. He didn't want them getting away quickly if he had to make a scene. Further, he was confident that he could escape quicker than them even without the truck. And so, aside from his favorite piece, Hamazura had abandoned all his tools and toys and come as bare-handed as he could be to this final meeting.

This wasn't an interview, exactly.

They had gone past that point by the time Komaba had offered him this fully optional mission. This was no longer a favor to Boss Komaba or even a job from Skill-Out. This was Hamazura's baptism by fire, a chance to join this group as something more than just a consultant or outside source of help. As he understood it, someone higher up than the actual girl...

♟"Crap, what was her name again? Kisarama? Kisagaki? Kisa-somethin', anyway."♟

He muttered as much to himself.

Someone higher up than the girl had needed to approve his participation, and it was intended that if this operation was successful, he would for all intents and purposes be part of this faction. The members of his own gang would think he had left Boss Komaba after a disagreement they had staged. A very loud and very public disagreement. But it was all part of an act - and it was Hamazura's chance to act freely. No esper in their right mind would want to work regularly with an active member of Skill-Out, but even more than that - it would lead to trouble for Boss Komaba if Hamazura were seen running around with this girl and they had to deal with another faction of the gang.

No, as convoluted as it seemed, things were simpler this way: Hamazura pretended not to be involved with Skill-Out, Hanzou and Boss Komaba would provide resources and information when needed, and Hamazura would remember his loyalty to those two boys he considered family and return the favor as needed. All the while, he would work with this TASK group from now on. He wasn't on loan and he wasn't a one-time partner (well, unless he screwed up so bad that whichever higher power decided to eighty-six him); If this job went well, he was going to be the newest member of TASK. And as his honey-colored eyes scanned the café, he thought bitterly of one, last memory from nearly a week ago. One he hadn't needed to pull the old "fake being asleep" trick to get.

Hell, Hamazura's own gun had been trained on the assassin's still-upright friend at the time.

District 7, 22:00

«I’m not with the Fuuma anymore.» The girl had confessed, though Hamazura would only understand two days later after he made Hanzou talk.

«That day…my entire group turned on me…and was wiped out by Academy City. I’m the only survivor. They took me in. The city’s darkness did. Not for shelter. As a prisoner.

...

«This is proof of that.»

Hamazura had watched the girl lift a hand up slightly - and hoped she was going to pull down her shirt collar and show them all something to make their night worth the trouble. He had expected a yakuza tattoo on her tits or somethin', but what she did was point. And he saw the black collar upon her throat. It didn't take him long to figure out what the purpose of that collar was. He didn't share that information with anyone, but he had puzzled it out while walking back to the hideout with some snacks and booze for the little powwow they were all going to have. Shame Hamazura had gotten into a drinking contest with Hanzou then, because he had missed the chance to see two girls sleepin' together. He wasn't sure if he'd ever forgive himself for that one.

And that brings us to the here and now.

Hamazura sat in the upscale, little café called Farbuck's. Some fancy-pants little pad that catered mostly to wealthy hipsters and trendy assholes who could afford it. Almost to spite the cheerful, androgynous cashier and their attempt to sell him a $3.00, 12oz coffee - he had ordered a juice and palmed a fancy pastry when they were distracted. So he sat - outdoors, in fact, in a gated little area outside the store and looking as out of place as a turkey in a chicken coop. With his informal sweatshirt and dyed hair, he looked every bit the delinquent he was among the school uniforms and well-dressed patrons of Farbuck's. His back was to a corner, to maximize his field of view and present limited options for someone surprising him.

He sat with his arms crossed about his chest, impatiently - he knew girls tended to be late, but it was nearly five minutes after their scheduled meeting time.

♟"Probably went and got herself shot up again."♟ Hamazura muttered to himself, as if he had anything better to do with his day.

Naturally, he didn't - he was to meet this TASK group, and lead them to their vehicle after discussing the details of the operation.

Only they knew what they were after - and where it might be obtained.

After all, he wasn't a member quite yet.
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Thu Nov 19, 2020 5:43 pm

«Sorry to disappoint you.»

In response to his careless muttering a whispering voice would creep into Hamazura’s ears from behind. Upon turning around, he would find an entirely average looking girl with shoulder length black hair in a bordeaux tracksuit and white sneakers inviting herself to his table. How exactly she had snuck past his attention would remain a mystery buried under the craftiness of her trade. That woman was a professional after all.

Placing the overpriced beverage the shop had branded as ‹classic Japanese matcha› on the table, she took the seat right next to his.

«So you’re the one Komaba talked about?

She only meant for her disappointment to surface ever so lightly, but given her sharp nature, it wasn’t exactly contained. Still, if that boy was someone Komaba trusted, she wouldn’t immediately distrust him either.

«It’s been a while. But please don’t speak of what happened back then.»

A lot had happened, indeed. The battle with a gang of costumed insanities and their beast of a leader, the clash with one of Academy City’s greatest assassins, the flight and ultimate confrontation with that group of ruthless mercenaries and the darkness that had slept beneath theirs and ultimately the end of that thrill ride. It had been a hell unlike any she had ever experienced, but it had been over. For now. However, it had still left its marks. Marks she couldn’t exactly pinpoint and did not wish to. Enough had been enough.

«Now, let’s wait for the others.»

Maybe that was why she had been – by her standards – exceptionally talkative…
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Post  Aoki Aiko Thu Nov 19, 2020 7:23 pm

Aiko sighed as she looked down at her phone and saw the time, she was already 10 minutes late for the meeting and she was still another 5 minutes walk away. For once she though she was going to be on time, however that was before she realized she had left the dorm still wearing her Tokiwadai uniform and that was a big no go. Then she'd been chewed out by the dorm mistress upon return because of her sneaking out the night before, and overall this morning was getting off to a rocky start.

Well, hopefully I get there before they start they actually start talking about anything important, the last thing I need is too be out of the loop again.

As bad as she was at arriving at places on time, her predictions on how long it would take to get anywhere were spot on. Five minutes later she stepped through the entrance of Farbuck's and into the aroma of coffee and pastries as well as the realization that she'd forgot once again to eat breakfast. Catching a glimpse of Kisaragi sitting at a table outside on the terrace next to a blond boy she did not recognize, Aiko made her way over to the pair.

"Oho? Am I not the last to arrive for once? What's next, will the sky start raining plushies?"

As she approached the table, those already sitting there could feel the cool air almost like air conditioning that almost always seemed to accompany Aiko during the summer time and allowed her to continue to wear her out of season outfits during the sweltering summer months. The outfit this time was that of the uniform for yet another school she did not attend. Where she got all these uniforms as well as where all her money managed to go would remain among the many mysteries of the city.

Aiko slid into the open chair next to Kisaragi with a mischievous grin proudly displayed on her face.

"Ki-sa-ra-gi-Chan, how would my favorite teammate like to spot me some money for a snack... I may have forgotten to eat breakfast again this morning..."

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Post  Kinoshita Nori Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:34 pm

Inside the store Kinoshita Nori watched from behind the counter as each member of the group began to show up from the meeting, starting with the new guy. Usually the self declared villain likely would've quickly caught the attention of his teammates and Hamazura, after all it was hard to miss someone who wore a mask like some kind of superhero, wore an all blue track suit, and had their hair dyed to match. However, today the unmasked villain looked nothing like that. Instead his hair was it natural black color and he was wearing Farbuck's uniform instead of his usually blue tracksuit.

Why was he working at Farbuck's? In simplest terms he had burned through a large portion of his money a few weeks okay during an incident at the mall while trying to get a certain bunny plushie his boss requested. So to help make ends meet until his next payday came around he was working here. Needless to say he was relieved when he managed to convince the group to hold their meeting at the cafe since otherwise he would've dropped had to skip work for the day.

The Dark Side of Academy City had made him use up all his money once, he wasn't going to so easily interfere with his personal finances again. At the same time working behind the counter had given him the an opportunity to get any idea what the new guy was like as he was making his order. Unfortunately, he didn't gather too much information besides that fact that he seemed like a delinquent and had at least some half decent skills as a pastry thief. Not that Nori was going to report the theft or anything. It was just a pastry and he had only been working here a few days, he didn't have any loyalty to the place.

"My shifts basically done so I'm going to head out. You got everything covered back here? Also mind if I grab some of these before I go?"

It took only one look from his coworker and he already knew what the answer to his second question was. Not that he hadn't expected it, he asked that same question almost everyday he came into work. After all, if you were going to work at a place with pastries it was almost mandatory to try to get some free ones out of it right? Opening his wallet he'd reluctantly fork over the cash for the pastries before pilling the one he's he wanted on to a paper plate.

"One of these days I'm going to convince you to let me have these for free."

With that said he'd grab the backpack he had brought to work with him and head outside to meet up with the rest of the group just in time to hear what Aiko had to say. Raining plushies huh? Performing a quick balancing trick Nori would balance his plate of pastries in one hand while reaching into his bag with the other to grab a certain bunny plushie that had clearly been stitched back together out of it. From there he'd walk up behind Aiko and drop the bunny on to her head.

"It seems it is going to rain plushies. You'll have to excuse the stitches though someone here decided to try to kill the poor fellow a couple weeks ago. Anyways, you can share some of food or maybe you should ask the new guy here to grab you one. He's pretty good at that."
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Post  Hamazura Shiage Sat Nov 21, 2020 7:11 pm

«Sorry to disappoint you.»
Came the nearly instant reply, as if they had been engaged in casual conversation.

Only, casual conversation didn't cause one to jump in their chair hard enough to nearly knock over one's juice. The half-empty bottle of OJ nearly careened onto its side but was caught by Hamazura in a flash of quick movement that would be commendable from a normie (read: non-ninja) such as him. If he had meant to pull that kind of feat off, he would likely have only succeeded in further upsetting the tipping beverage and sent it splashing across the table. Both his quick start in response to the suddenly spoken words behind him and thew pure reflex with which he caught the drink before it could spill were more of a testament than any Boss Komaba could have given Kisaragi: Hamazura was by no means brave, but he had very good reflexes - and, as his nearly instant transformation into a casual, almost contrary body language spoke to a very adaptable person. The fear he must have felt to jump like that barely even registered on his face as the kunoichi stalked around him and to her own seat.

As Kisaragi sunk into her seat next to him, there would be no fear or tension on his face. Only a seemingly disinterested, sideways glance. But she had no doubt seen the way he jumped at her whispered words, and a swift recovery or admirable reflexes didn't change the fact the young man before her was obviously able to be scared by something sneaking up behind him. A lot of predators were like that - cat's especially - where when the unexpected did occur, it startled them, and they typically recovered or sought a more advantageous position quickly. Hamazura set his bottle back down on the now still table and shot that sideways look at Kisaragi, pretending as though he had not just jumped several inches in his chair. Perhaps a seasoned and trained warrior like Kisaragi would know that had he not boxed himself into this cafe's outdoor corner, he would have shot to his feet and sent the chair into her legs instead.

Yes, even if he was a bit jumpy, even his cowardice seemed to have a certain cleverness to it - even the way his hand gripped the juice bottle seemed like he had been prepared more to fling it into an attacker's face than consume it. But of course, if Kisaragi had allowed a weapon to do her whispering instead, she would have gotten that decisive first strike in all the same; Hamazura hadn't noticed her until she spoke, plain and simple.

♟"Yeah, I'm 'the one', alright. Boss Komaba's right hand man. Although, we had a bit of a falling out. Good of him to give me a reference, at least~"♟ Hamazura answered Kisaragi's first question. And thankfully, he was a far better at lying than he was at resisting jump scares.

«It’s been a while. But please don’t speak of what happened back then.»
The girl requested, although with this kinda chick Hamazura decided it was less a request and more a demand. He only sighed in response, and gave a quick reply of his own.

♟"Sure. Whatever floats your boat."♟

Hamazura pinched his thumb and forefinger together, and drew them across his lips in a zipping gesture, although if one looked closely seemed like he gave Kisaragi an instant, casual flip of the middle finger as he made a "throwing away the key" hand motion.

Yeah, this is her alright. She seemed like a scary girl then too. Walked right up to one of the largest factions of Skill-Out and demanded help, and didn't even hold it against us when she got capped. I wonder if this city is full of scary women like her. Least she's hot, though, I guess.

Thankfully, the next girl to emerge was a bit more what Hamazura expected when he thought of "A regular girl in Academy City".

"Oho? Am I not the last to arrive for once? What's next, will the sky start raining plushies?"
Asked a girl in a sheer, black school uniform that made her angular features stand out.

♟"Plushies? What the hell would something like that happen for? Is that what kids these days dream about?"♟ Hamazura asked aloud, looking Aiko dead in those dark eyes of her with a neutral expression - as he ignored the fact he couldn't be that much older than Aiko. About this same time, someone (this one a boy, praise be) in a Farbuck's uniform was walking towards their table.

Although when the second girl to arrive seemed to instantly jump to asking for money from her teammate, Hamazura cringed internally just a little. He wondered how bad the pay was in a genuine Dark Side group that this girl was bumming money off her partner. But something then occurred to Hamazura a little out of left field.

Could it just be that she's an idiot regarding money? He wondered, although he supposed it was equally likely she was just stingy and perhaps more fond of spending other people's money. The words to a popular song played in his head.

Now, I ain't sayin' she a gold digger,
But she ain't messin' with no broke---

But before the imaginary lyrics could finish playing in Hamazura's head...

"...Anyways, you can share some of food or maybe you should ask the new guy here to grab you one. He's pretty good at that."

And this time Hamazura didn't miss a beat.

♟"Oi. I'm pretty good at a lot of things, I'll have you know~"♟ The delinquent responded, giving a small smirk as he crossed his arms about his chest. ♟"Like not loaning money to bums, for one. And also counting. One, two, three, and the barista makes four. That's the magic number, right?"♟

As he asked the somewhat rhetorical question - his tone suggested he knew the answer - he looked over to Kisaragi, deferring to her in his own obstinate way.
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:44 pm

There were three different types of attacks her own pride couldn’t endure.

«Ki-sa-ra-gi-Chan, how would my favorite teammate like to spot me some money for a snack... I may have forgotten to eat breakfast again this morning…»

The casual usage of ‹-chan› had been the first.

«It seems it is going to rain plushies. You'll have to excuse the stitches though someone here decided to try to kill the poor fellow a couple weeks ago. Anyways, you can share some of food or maybe you should ask the new guy here to grab you one. He's pretty good at that.»

Her coworker – who already appeared in an outfit as degrading as that work uniform – bringing up that incident again, the second.

«And also counting. One, two, three, and the barista makes four. That's the magic number, right?»

And that ‹capable› outside asset she herself had brought in, proudly bragging about the most insignificant of skills, the third.

Could there have been any party not out to trample her pride on the very first instance of the meeting? This had been meant to be professional, after all.

However, somehow still stuck at the ‹-chan› and the memory it invoked of all things, Kisaragi had visibly gone astray from the world, drowned in the despair these three had brought over her. Meaning that all there remained was an extremely tense robotic shell in which her actual consciousness floated within for a couple of moments.

Until.

«What took you all this long?»

Like the brave warrior she was, she shrugged off all of those lethal attacks, instead jumping to her usual mercy lacking attitude. Ignorance had always been the way forward!

Frail ignorance, as she would reveal the very next moment, tossing a couple of coins over to Aoki without any comment or emotion attached.
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Post  Aoki Aiko Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:42 pm

♟"Plushies? What the hell would something like that happen for? Is that what kids these days dream about?"♟

"Well, someone clearly doesn't appreciate the finer things in life."

With her field keeping the whole table area nice and cool, Aiko could tell that Nori was approaching, however she was not expecting the pleasant surprise that he had in store for her as a soft object landed on her head.

"It seems it is going to rain plushies. You'll have to excuse the stitches though someone here decided to try to kill the poor fellow a couple weeks ago.

"That's alright, this is adorable!"

"Anyways, you can share some of food or maybe you should ask the new guy here to grab you one. He's pretty good at that."

"Yes, snacks! Thanks Nori!"

Aiko didn't waste a moment swiping one of the pasties from the bunch Nori had set out on the table.

"I don't think the new guy could be good at much, he's somewhat of a heathen that doesn't appreciate a good plushy."

♟"Oi. I'm pretty good at a lot of things, I'll have you know~ Like not loaning money to bums, for one." ♟

"Who are you calling a bum!?!"

It was official, Aiko didn't like this new guy very much. He was going to have to prove himself very useful in order to move over to Aiko's good side.

♟"And also counting. One, two, three, and the barista makes four. That's the magic number, right?"♟

Aiko was ignoring the new guy at the moment, trying to think of a good way to get back at him for him making fun of her before a terrifying sound cut through her brainstorming...

«What took you all this long?»

Uh oh... seems like Kisaragi is angry.

"Okay so, I'm not thaaat late, and it's just because I accidentally started on my way over here while still in my school uniform and that's a big no no. So I had to go back to the dorm and change before showing up. Otherwise I would have been right on time."

Somehow even with her silly reason for being late, which was probably even more confusing for the new guys since Aiko was still wearing a school uniform, Kisaragi still saw fit to toss Aiko a few coins, which Aiko quickly gathered up and gave a small seated bow to her monetary savior.

"Thank you oh great Kisaragi-Sama."

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Post  Kinoshita Nori Thu Nov 26, 2020 8:08 am

"Yes, snacks! Thanks Nori!"

When Nori offered his snacks he had expected Aiko to take some but the speed at which the girl managed to grab the pastries off his plate had definitely caught him off guard. Not that he was upset about it though in fact it was actually kind of amusing. The masked villain was also happy to see how excited Aiko was about the plushie. After all, now he could go get a fresh doll to bring back to the orphanage on his next visit instead of having to give the Frankenstein's monster bunny to one of the kids while the rest of them got new ones.

"No problem Aiko. Its just a few pastries and just between you and me I think I'm getting close to convincing my boss to give them to me for free."

Was he getting closer to that goal? Not really but that wasn't going to stop him. After all, if he succeeded he'd be getting paid and provided with free food. How could anyone turn down money and free food?

♟"Like not loaning money to bums, for one." ♟

"Who are you calling a bum!?!"

"Haha! I'd be careful man if you get on her bad side your going to end up getting burned."

To be fair Aiko actually seemed to be the most peaceful member of the group but considering her power Nori imagined it would be pretty easy for her to roast someone given the right opportunity. More importantly, the barista didn't want the new guy to be underestimating TASK after just meeting them and a lighthearted warning seemed like a good way to put a little fear into him without also making him defensive.

«What took you all this long?»

"What do you mean? I've been here the whole time. Just made sure to take my time to check out the new guy and how each of you interact with him before revealing myself. Regardless, we are all here now so why don't we go over the mission?"

Kisaragi's mood seemed to have turned sour and after seeing what had happened last time he had put the ninja in a bad mood Nori was now a bit on edge. Maybe he could use the new guy as a meet shield if she came after him. Better if he played his cards right maybe he could get her to direct all her rage at the new guy and then the rest of the group wouldn't have to worry about imminent death. That definitely seemed like the best plan of action if things went south. Nori had nothing against Hamazura but by virtue of being the newest member he was also the most expendable in the masked villain's mind.
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Post  Hamazura Shiage Thu Nov 26, 2020 5:49 pm

«What took you all this long?»

Hamazura suddenly felt a shiver run up his spine - and was pulled from his witty comeback regarding Aiko's fondness for plushies. Something about her being an elementary school student or something? Well, whatever the next joke he had been about to toss her way, something pierced him like a knife. The tone of this shinobi's voice - a girl who he had to remind himself was dangerous according to Hanzou. And so the delinquent abandoned his japes and jibes for the moment. Besides, it seemed like he had really upset Aiko and given her offense. It wasn't like he cared about the feelings of this childish girl... But regarding Aiko...

Middle schooler, at best - no matter what kind of uniform she's wearing. Still, she's pissed now too - look at her pouting like that. Maybe I went too far? I don't give a shit if she likes me, but we need our heads in the game.

Could it be that the threatening voice Kisaragi had used had flipped a switch in him?

Well, yes, the same switch he often had when it came to Boss Komaba saying anything - since the giant of a boy rarely spoke. When Boss Komaba spoke, Hamazura listened. And it seemed Kisaragi would enjoy that same power if nothing else by way of her authority over him. The boy crossed his arms lazily and balanced his chair on two legs. Although his tone was still somewhat obstinate towards the kunoichi, he did settle down and stop picking on Aiko. Even more noteworthy was how his own internal thought process suddenly snapped into "work mode". But he wouldn't move on without shooting off his mouth at least once.

♟"Urk... Uh, hey, Kisaragi-san, I was here on time. Early, in fact. So I'm sure you aren't talkin' to me."♟ Hamazura allowed himself, yet ultimately he ceased his own attempts to bait the newcomers. In fact, that was a true statement - even worded to allow that Kisaragi had been there first, although Hamazura doubted that was the case. Well, not counting the fact Nori apparently worked at the place. Even when he was right, Hamazura couldn't help but be wrong. He had been there second, at best - beaten in attendance by the only other dude present in their little group.

"Haha! I'd be careful man if you get on her bad side your going to end up getting burned."

...

...

...

♟"Okay, okay. I ain't tryin' to pick a fight. You say you aren't a bum, you aren't. Whatever."♟ Hamazura allowed to Aiko, holding his two hands palms out in surrender, before helping the conversation along. He also allowed his chair to settle forward again, and picked up his pastry to finish his own breakfast.

♟"So, no need to lose your cool."♟ Hamazura went on, and he showed no outward fear.

Although he did regard Kisaragi with some deference as he offered an opinion he wasn't sure she'd like. And with the same words, countered Nori's own suggestion with what he knew was just common sense - talking about the mission here would be, in Hamazura's estimation, dumb. This was merely a rendezvous point.

♟"We can't exactly 'get down to business'... Noro, wasn't it? Not here. But even people like us should have professional courtesy. So, I'll start. The name's Hamazura. I like fast cars and faster women. I'm a Level 0. So don't waste your effort trying to 'burn' me. I ain't worth the time."♟

An introduction that might have been quite smooth - if one forgot this guy was only seventeen or so himself, if he had remembered Nori's name, and if he hadn't been holding a half-eaten croissant of some kind which he waved at them slightly like some old man as he introduced himself first.

At least he had manners of some kind, it seemed - whatever 'honor among thieves' was worth in any case.


Ok. Kisaragi-san is definitely scary. A ninja too. And she's no-nonsense, like the Boss. I can get behind that... But these other two...

The shrewd Hamazura began his own mental profile of the two in front of him.

The other girl. She's definitely middle school... Fifteen? 157 Centimeters, give or take. Apparently likes plushies. And she doesn't like me... Safe to assume she's an Esper, given the way this... Nori, she called him? Given the way Nori warned me off antagonizing her. I wonder if he was being literal. Could she be a pyrokinetic or something like that? Gotta keep my eyes on that one. Kids like her make dumb choices. Probably why she has no money, despite her work with this group.

Hamazura had backed off his assertion that Aiko was a bum, but he still suspected she might be a tad impulsive if she was so immature elsewhere - such as her love of plushies, or her apparent lack of financial responsibility. Angering people who might be childishly impulsive was one thing. Picking a fight with a powerful Esper would be something else entirely. And so, out of both pragmatism and a sincere desire to at least be able to have a good working relationship - he had done as much as he could to pave over the bumps in that road.

And this Nori guy. He's not bad. In fact, he's also trying to take the lead to get the conversation back on track. Not only that, but just like me, his first focus was to dismiss the idea he was late. If anything, it shows I was right to get serious all because of Kisaragi-san getting tense there. This guy's no pushover. We're the same. He's practical. And willing to try and throw others under the bus. I can respect that. But it doesn't change the fact I fit into the "others" category for the moment. Can't trust him. If I do, I'll probably have a knife in my back the first time he stands to profit from it. He's even more dangerous than the impulsive plushy girl.

Thankfully, because Hamazura was also ruthless and efficient, he had already taken the initiative as well - to appease Kisaragi with the truth, that he had even beaten her there - and what's more, dealt with Nori's foolish (in Hamazura's opinion) idea that they talk about the job at their supposedly private table. Hamazura was, if nothing else, just as careful and forward thinking as Nori - and that he had the extra forethought to decide even this setting wasn't private enough at least suggested Hamazura wouldn't be some sitting duck for whatever plans the eccentric barista thought to involve him in.
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Sun Nov 29, 2020 2:17 pm

For now the best course of action was keeping a straight face while ignoring the half-assed apologies or explanations. Not that they mattered. They had all been too late, as she had declared. And her declaration, even though faulty, was absolute.

With how little tolerance and social capabilities she had regarding nonsense, she took a moment to dive into the background of the conversation, before finally an attempt was made to stir it into the direction of actual action. One that was halted by Hamazura, who proposed to start at the very beginning before moving on to the important aspects.

A sentiment Kisaragi thought she understood, but did not at the same time.

«I’m Kisaragi. I don’t have a preference in terms of cars. But I do believe that a good horse is superior to any engine. A reliable partner like that won’t ever leave you in a pinch. But then again, it’s very unlikely to find such a horse in this city. Only pretentious machines meant to act the part…»

Instead of giving a proper introduction to herself, she picked up the one aspect of the thug’s she saw herself fit to comment on and continued on with it, intently shoving aside the unnecessary commentary towards sexual preferences – which was something she had sworn to never address in the presence of TASK. These experiences should remain her very own treasure, buried so they never would put a dent into her pride ever again.

«Not that there is anything remotely authentic to be found here.»

She went on with an off-topic note, directing a disgusted glance at the still nearly untouched cup of tea she had brought along.

Then, in what was her typical cold voiced attitude, she would slip into the role of the striver found in any classroom across the world, unhesitatingly providing a large chunk of nearly indistinguishable information hardly anyone could keep up with or actually care for.

«As for the remaining aspects of my repertoire: I have been trained in numerous martial arts styles, know how to slip past enemy lines, know how to disguise myself under any circumstances, know how to speak multiple languages, know how to wield numerous weapons both traditional like the tessen, kunai or shuriken and modern such as various fire arms. Furthermore, my training also included acrobatics, cipher languages, climbing, swimming, diving, acting, fishing and trickery among others.»
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Post  Aoki Aiko Mon Nov 30, 2020 9:34 pm

"Haha! I'd be careful man if you get on her bad side your going to end up getting burned."

Aiko sat there with a smug look on her face. Nori had her back and with his comment Hamazura had decided to back down.

♟"Okay, okay. I ain't tryin' to pick a fight. You say you aren't a bum, you aren't. Whatever."♟

" Regardless, we are all here now so why don't we go over the mission?"

♟"We can't exactly 'get down to business'... Noro, wasn't it? Not here. But even people like us should have professional courtesy. So, I'll start. The name's Hamazura. I like fast cars and faster women. I'm a Level 0. So don't waste your effort trying to 'burn' me. I ain't worth the time."♟

«I’m Kisaragi. I don’t have a preference in terms of cars. But I do believe that a good horse is superior to any engine. A reliable partner like that won’t ever leave you in a pinch. But then again, it’s very unlikely to find such a horse in this city. Only pretentious machines meant to act the part…»

It seemed like they were going around the table doing introductions now. According to Hamazura, he was just a level 0. Aiko wasn't sure how capable he was, other than maybe he could drive quickly. His strategic ability would yet need to be proven. As for Kisaragi, she went on for a bit listing all her capabilities, most of these already know to Aiko, though her preferences for horses was something new for sure. Then it seemed like it was her turn.

"Right, my turn then. My name is Aoki Aiko, just Aiko is fine. I'm a level 3 that can interfere with the passage of electromagnetic radiation. The details are a bit complicated so I'll just show you a few things I can do."

With that, Aiko shifted her field from blocking heat to blocking light. The hot summer air quickly moving in to engulf their table while at the same time the lack of light from the outside caused the area outside their table to be pitch black.

"Does this count as a more private area now... just kidding."

With an unnecessary snap of her fingers, light returned to the table along with the cool air that came with her blocking out the heat.

"Along with messing with light, I can also block communications, fire some lasers, and that nice air conditioning your been feeling out here has been my doing as well. It'd be really uncomfortable if we had to sit in the hot sun this whole time during this meeting."

As Aiko continued speaking, she was looking directly at Hamazura.

"As for interests, I like Plushies, Food, long walks, and cute girls with glasses."

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Post  Kinoshita Nori Thu Dec 03, 2020 11:24 am

♟"We can't exactly 'get down to business'... Noro, wasn't it? Not here. But even people like us should have professional courtesy. So, I'll start. The name's Hamazura. I like fast cars and faster women. I'm a Level 0. So don't waste your effort trying to 'burn' me. I ain't worth the time."♟

Nori knew the new guy had heard Aiko say his name just a moment ago so the fact that his name was already being mispronounced must've been intentional. Took guts to show up to a dark side meeting and immediately get on the bad side of two of the groups members. Well guts or just pure foolishness, especially considering he was a level 0 and based on his introduction didn't have any particular skills to make up for the lack of power.

«As for the remaining aspects of my repertoire: I have been trained in numerous martial arts styles, know how to slip past enemy lines, know how to disguise myself under any circumstances, know how to speak multiple languages, know how to wield numerous weapons both traditional like the tessen, kunai or shuriken and modern such as various fire arms. Furthermore, my training also included acrobatics, cipher languages, climbing, swimming, diving, acting, fishing and trickery among others.»

Kisaragi on the other hand had a resume like a protagonist in an action movie and Nori had already seen some of the skills in action himself. Even with his powers the ninja was someone he'd like to avoid fighting as much as possible out of fear of having his heart ripped out of his chest. The part about her being trained to fish caught the masked villain a bit off guard, mostly cause it just seemed like a strange thing to mention in context of all the skills she listed. Maybe fishing was her hobby?

As he thought about this he came to a completely unrelated revelation, he definitely needed to recruit Kisaragi for a game of baseball. With all her skills he imagined she'd be player like no other. It would probably be hard to convince her though especially in the middle of a job. Well he could always wait till after the job was finished.

"As for interests, I like Plushies, Food, long walks, and cute girls with glasses."

Nori kind of understood the point of needing to give interactions but after hearing the end of Aiko's he had one question. Why had they decided to stick with the subject of what kind of girl you liked? Seemed like a strange subject to pick as a fun fact to share before leaving on a mission. Like Kisaragi, Nori was going to take no part in it.

"My name is Kinoshita Nori, I'm a level 4 esper and in simplest terms I can freeze things. Outside that I'm pretty good with any kind of blunt weapon though not anywhere near the level of Kisaragi."
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Post  Hamazura Shiage Mon Dec 07, 2020 6:30 am

«I’m Kisaragi. I don’t have a preference in terms of cars. But I do believe that a good horse is superior to any engine. A reliable partner like that won’t ever leave you in a pinch. But then again, it’s very unlikely to find such a horse in this city. Only pretentious machines meant to act the part…» Kisaragi added, before going on to list a very impressive list of qualifications.

Is she havin' fun with this, saying something like that? Or is she really some Koga-clan style cutie from Kyoto, who'd be more at home in a countryside a few generations back? Still, yeah, Hanzou-sama said she'd be about like this. The kind of person who can kill a man multiple ways - and that, with just her bare hands. Hell, for that matter, is he some kinda super ninja? Oh well, questions for later.

"Right, my turn then. My name is Aoki Aiko, just Aiko is fine. I'm a level 3 that can interfere with the passage of electromagnetic radiation. The details are a bit complicated so I'll just show you a few things I can do..."

At Aiko's command, the air around their table grew warm - pleasant at first, then oppressive.

But of slightly more concern was the sudden onset of darkness. One would think based on his sudden start from earlier, Hamazura would shoot to his feet - although this time he didn't so much as flinch. It seemed Aiko's warning had been enough to not let him panic. But what would have been of slightly more concern if anyone had been able to see it in the darkness was the pure, reflexive speed with which his hand silently dipped down below the table as if to retrieve something. The same lightning fast reflexes as before - and this time, directed towards the instinct to ventilate the esper's chest for her if she launched some kind of attack. The instincts of a well-trained Skill-Out member, and more than that - one who had left out quite a bit of his own capabilities, deliberately. Hamazura stilled himself though, and by the time Aiko rather playfully inquired if this sudden pitch black counted as more private - his hand was back on the table, and he decided it wouldn't help set things right to rudely ignore her.

Ironically - and Hamazura didn't know this - only those outside the affected area would have noticed Hamazura's close call at giving away some of his other capabilities he had worked so hard to obfuscate by this point - the court jester should hardly be seen swinging a sword against knights, after all.

♟"That's quite the power, Aiko-san."♟

Oh. They were up to "-san" now... Well, that was noticeably more than "Noro" had been given.

Progress.

But what he actually said had little to do with her demonstration - and that fact alone meant her powers had made an impression on him.

♟"Right. Well, walks are nice - and glasses are nicer, on a pretty girl. I can respect that."♟ He said with a nod.

A complex statement, within a simple one: "We're cool. I won't provoke you anymore, so let's try not to laser anyone by accident." or something to that effect.

"My name is Kinoshita Nori, I'm a level 4 esper and in simplest terms I can freeze things. Outside that I'm pretty good with any kind of blunt weapon, though not anywhere near the level of Kisaragi."

♟"Oh, Nori! It was Nori!"♟ Hamazura said, with such sincerity that it would be hard even for the three at the table to not buy his little act - well, it would be hard, if Nori hadn't already decided Hamazura was screwing with him. In a strange way, Hamazura showed off another one of his skills by accident: the guy gave the impression of someone who could talk his way out of an Anti-Skill cell, if he was given time to even think about the right thing to say.

♟Well, Nori,♟ Hamazura continued.

Still no "-san" for him.

♟"I'd say it's nice to meet ya, but I think we're past that kinda lie. Don't take this as a request for a demonstration, but I can't wait to see your ability in action. I've only... Ah... 'met' a few level fours. And they're always fun to watch. From a safe distance. Not a fan of 'freezing' any more than I am 'burning', ya know?"♟

Hamazura lifted his hands palms out as if to reiterate that the above wasn't some request to be a System Scan dummy for Nori.

Hamazura had worked hard to find a word for "dealt with violently and effectively", and had settled on "met" in a move one could be sure he thought was subtle in his own idiotic way. But it was the truth. He wasn't an ordinary Skill-Out member, no matter how hard he tried to keep his résumé to himself - and he had taken down more than one Level Four just in his work for Boss Komaba - although the number of times that had happened could be counted on one hand. He hated dealing with level 4 espers to be honest - they were problematic for him, most of the time, and he had learned to usually get a good read on one before engaging them.

Doing anything less was suicide.

And here Hamazura was, still refusing to style Nori's name properly. But at least he remembered it this time - a world record for him, so far, in that department.



There would only be a few more minutes of idle chatter, before Hamazura would take control of the conversation for once - in a seemingly innocuous manner.

♟"Nori. Kisaragi-san. Aiko-san. Let's see if I can't get started earning my keep. You guys like money, right? I like money. Let's go make some. And if this goes well, I'll be working with you all from now on.  It's more like something a transfer student should say in a manga, but 'let's get along', okay?"♟

Hamazura rose to his feet in one calm, practiced motion - a motion that would give away to Kisaragi more than he wanted to: that he was not only tense, but probably fast enough to put those reflexes she had seen earlier (used to catch his drink) to use; and the practiced motions of someone who either had been training (or else had been trained) weren't so easily hidden by amateurs like him.

He clearly wasn't a black belt or even worthy of being called a soldier. But if what people said about ninja and samurai and the like picking up on "telegraphed movement" was true, the fact he was hiding some skills of his own was hard to hide. For just a moment his eyes hawkishly swept the area and Hamazura would seem more like someone's highly trained bodyguard - or perhaps, a lieutenant worthy of a powerful gang boss like Komaba. His pose seemed like a fighter ready to react very quickly to some threat, and Hamazura's center-of-mass remained oriented towards Nori even as he did his best to rise casually. In short, someone with Kisaragi's level of training would be able to see the boy wasn't everything he seemed. Or maybe he was much more. But that was over the moment he opened his mouth again. His fairly decent attempt to seem playful and casual came back as the delinquent interlaced his fingers behind his head and offered a small grin to the whole group.

♟"I wanna show you all something I've been working on. Just a little something for today. Nothing too special."♟
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Post  Kisaragi Anko Mon Dec 07, 2020 6:15 pm

The introduction session had come to an end. Both fortunately and unfortunately. Even though she had known – and only cared about – the skillsets of everyone present she believed in acts of politeness such as listening carefully. Naturally, though, there had only been little new aspects that were brought up.

Hamazura summed the conclusion up the best, bringing up the cliched «’let’s get along', okay?» to conclude that conversation.

«As long as we don’t end up screwing things up, I’ll be happy.»

However, only to be met the usual indifferent response from the tracksuit kunoichi.

«I’m quite curious about finding out the contents of this job. Given we needed to involve an external asset, I am sure things will be just as fidgety as they usually are.»

TASK’s track record had been quite impressive, even from Kisaragi’s point of view. One would expect for an experienced ninja to have seen everything already, but the past couple weeks had proven that assumption to be wrong. Drug traffic, assassins, games of espionage, literal urban warfare. Just what the hell would the next step be?

But other people did not seem to share her curiosity.

«I wanna show you all something I've been working on. Just a little something for today. Nothing too special.»

«Go ahead. But hurry up with it.»

On the outside the girl showed little regard for anything that was to come. Yet, behind that facade she could not deny the momentarily but more focussed glance she had placed on the dumb thug’s physique and posture.

That being said. She really did not wish to loiter around any longer.
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Post  Aoki Aiko Mon Dec 07, 2020 8:56 pm

♟"That's quite the power, Aiko-san."♟

Aiko smiled, have received some praise for her demonstration. The faces of her team members though were of those that were not surprised, and why should they be? They'd seen Aiko in action a number of times now so it was nothing new for them.  

♟"Right. Well, walks are nice - and glasses are nicer, on a pretty girl. I can respect that."♟

First praise, then sharing some of her tastes. Maybe this guy wasn't so bad of a person. His usefulness though had yet to be proven. Nori's introduction had been very standard as well, not even a hint to his tastes. Aiko considered for a moment teasing him a bit to try and get him to spill but Kisaragi was right there wearing one of her scary faces so Aiko decided now might now be the best time.

♟"Nori. Kisaragi-san. Aiko-san. Let's see if I can't get started earning my keep. You guys like money, right? I like money. Let's go make some. And if this goes well, I'll be working with you all from now on.  It's more like something a transfer student should say in a manga, but 'let's get along', okay?"♟

«I’m quite curious about finding out the contents of this job. Given we needed to involve an external asset, I am sure things will be just as fidgety as they usually are.»

Kisaragi was right and it made Aiko curious. This was the first time since TASK had be founded that they had brought in outside assistance for a mission.

Maybe it has something to do with computers? I'm not great with them and Kisaragi can't use them to save her life.

♟"I wanna show you all something I've been working on. Just a little something for today. Nothing too special."♟

"Alright, time to move. I was getting tired of just sitting hear smelling all the food I can't eat. Let's go see this thing."

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Post  Hamazura Shiage Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:04 am

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11:45 AM

Computer hacking and lockpicking.

Driving and heavy machinery operation.

A terrifying proficiency with firearms which surpassed that of any mere "soldier" and went into "action-movie hero" territory.

While his wheelhouse was not as diverse as Kisaragi's (or at least, not as diverse as she had made it seem) Hamazura managed to keep quite a lot up his sleeve by playing the part he had always given himself: the lackadaisical fool. But not as a stroke of genius. He simply was an idiot. He often did his best to go unnoticed and fly under the radar. And even this early in his life he had a penchant for escaping the notice of others and screwing up what said others surely considered to be foolproof plans. Well, in terms of classic literature, Hamazura already had massive potential to become the reason those best laid plans often went awry. He just didn't know it yet - he had always been happy to just do what Boss Komaba said, since the hulking giant was such a good guy. Hamazura had a lot more up his sleeve than he gave himself credit for, true, and had hidden his capabilities from his new team.

But this wasn't the result of some clever manipulation.

It was the result of his own lack of confidence.

Hamazura had always been worthless. Once he had been deemed a Level 0 with no potential, Hamazura had fallen through the cracks of a broken system. And his earlier introduction had just been the honest-to-God way he saw himself. Even he did not think himself capable of flawless plans or perfect preparation. In fact, in that very moment he was considering just how FUBAR this operation could become. He didn't know enough about the abilities of his comrades yet. At least if he went back to Skill-Out, he knew what his men were capable of. But Hamazura couldn't very well plan for every contingency with this group; both because he didn't know their abilities, and they didn't much seem the trusting (or trustworthy) kind yet.

Hell, they wouldn't be here in the gutter with me if they trusted so easily. Wonder if Boss Komaba was wrong about that whole 'expanding my horizons' crap. Sounded like a motivational poster the one time he actually spoke during that conversation. Then again, that's just like Boss Komaba.

Such were the thoughts in Hamazura Shiage's head as he led the others down one increasingly empty, well-lit commercial street to another - and slowly but surely, a roundabout path through alleyways and side streets led them all to a warehouse. More specifically, what looked to be an abandoned firehouse. It wasn't in the roughest part of the district, but it also wasn't somewhere that probably had a lot of excess funds and hope going around. And Hamazura waltzed right in - at least taking care to employ a back entrance that led into the alleyway. A chain on the door had been shattered, and he spoke only as they entered the building.

♟"This is it. It's been empty for a while. Long enough to make it a dead drop, anyway. I need to pick up a few things. If you'll follow me, I'll show you what I've been working on for the past week or two. Since your liaison contacted me."♟

And in the open, roomy expanse of the firehouse's bay it sat: an eighteen-wheeler semi-truck complete with a trailer. And upon the trailer itself sat a bog-standard shipping container. The cab itself was larger than usual - a four-door monstrosity that probably had enough horsepower to haul two such trailers with no effort. And as the behemoth of a vehicle came into view, there were clear signs of Hamazura's activity here. Two barrels of some apparently hazardous material that used an image to warn people not to touch the contents (the barrels were missing their lids and were clearly empty). Another drum with a black, oily stain at its base. And a toolbox, if it could still be called one as it was about four feet tall on wheels and looked like the kind a professional would use. The tires, if one looked closely, seemed to be reinforced and heavy duty even for a rig like like. And lastly, inside the back of the open container was a single motorcycle and a massive crate the size of a couple footlockers - although any plates had been removed from the bike.

♟"It sure ain't pretty, but it's discreet - at least where we're goin'. On that note, have any of ya heard of the company 'Babel'? Or should I ask if that name rings any Ba-bells for ya?"♟

...

A stealth pun that didn't even flicker across his face came from his lips as casually as a comment on the weather.
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Post  Kinoshita Nori Sun Dec 13, 2020 8:21 am

If Nori had learned anything about Hamazura in their interactions so far it was that he was awful at just getting to the point. So far all he had mentioned about the mission so far had been the potential to earn some money and some project he had been working on. Not only that but he also refused to go into any kind of detail about what this project was. Instead the thug had decided to guide them down a series of alleyways to show it to them.

Why couldn't he simply tell them what it was and then show it to them? Nori had no idea. What the masked villain did know was that if this project turned out to be something completely pointless or stupid he was going to give Hamazura a case of frostbite he'd never forget. This was a mission, not some kind of show where you withhold information for dramatic effect and nothing taught lessons like that quite like pain.

♟"This is it. It's been empty for a while. Long enough to make it a dead drop, anyway. I need to pick up a few things. If you'll follow me, I'll show you what I've been working on for the past week or two. Since your liaison contacted me."♟

Despite Nori's reservations about Hamazura's competence he was actually pleasantly surprised by the project contained inside the firehouse. A fully decked out truck with reinforced wheels, a trailer, a shipping container, a motorcycle, and whatever other modifications the thug had made using the former content of the barrels. An impressed whistle escaped out of the masked villains lips as he walked up the truck and walked along the side of it to get a better look.

"Well color me impressed, I was expecting something significant since you dragged us all the way out here but this actually caught me by surprise. Now go on, you withheld telling us anything about this beast until we got here so fill us in on all the details of this project of yours."

There were a vast number of questions running through Nori's head now. A majority of them were about what exactly this monster of a truck was capable of and what modifications had been made but the most important one was about the exact content of their mission. What exactly where they doing that required the use of something like this? Whatever it was it seemed like it was definitely going to be entertaining.

♟"It sure ain't pretty, but it's discreet - at least where we're goin'. On that note, have any of ya heard of the company 'Babel'? Or should I ask if that name rings any Ba-bells for ya?"♟

"Can't say I have but I'm assuming that where we're heading. So what exactly is the mission?"
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Post  Aoki Aiko Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:56 pm

After they got up from the table, Hamzura lead them on a winding tour of some of Academy City's back alleys until the came to what appeared to be an abandoned building. The Facade Aiko gave while walking the alleys was one of someone without a care in the world, though this wasn't the case. Her field was extended to it's max range and she was paying close attention to any suspicious motion. Luckily, nothing had happened during their trip.

♟"This is it. It's been empty for a while. Long enough to make it a dead drop, anyway. I need to pick up a few things. If you'll follow me, I'll show you what I've been working on for the past week or two. Since your liaison contacted me."♟

"Well color me impressed, I was expecting something significant since you dragged us all the way out here but this actually caught me by surprise. Now go on, you withheld telling us anything about this beast until we got here so fill us in on all the details of this project of yours."

Impressive was the right word. It was a huge truck with a giant trailer and shipping container on the back. Aiko couldn't fathom what kind of mission would necessitate such a giant vehicle but it would certainly be something interesting.

♟"It sure ain't pretty, but it's discreet - at least where we're goin'. On that note, have any of ya heard of the company 'Babel'? Or should I ask if that name rings any Ba-bells for ya?"♟

This was considered discreet? That probably meant the place the job was taking place had a number of such vehicles, or that it was a location where such a vehicle wouldn't be out of place which only brought up more questions. However, a question had been posed to them first.

"Babel? I don't think I've heard of it. Oh Wait! I think there was something like that in a game I played one. The main villain was trying to summon some kind of tower called babel. That's... probably not it though is it."

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Post  Kisaragi Anko Tue Dec 15, 2020 5:36 pm

The abandoned warehouse had been a surprisingly cliched hideout for someone in this line of business to rely on. Usually, what Kisaragi had seen, were simple back benches of random, entirely unremarkable cars. This time, however, even the means of transport stood out like a sore thumb.

It was massive and most likely equipped with the capability of transporting even more massive objects. She was nearly impressed, but that boy didn’t give off the impression he was deserving of that. Besides, this choice of ride certainly implied a rather specific mission.

«On that note, have any of ya heard of the company 'Babel'? Or should I ask if that name rings any Ba-bells for ya?»

«It doesn’t.»

Terrible puns aside, the tracksuit girl had not been in the mood to talk in roundabout ways. Clearly, nobody in the group had heard about the company, which only meant it was another very specific aspect to the whole deal. And specific things in this line of business demanded for even greater professionalism.

«You have my number, right? Just send me the dossier you’ve been sent. I’ll share it with the others.»

Sharp, direct and entirely pragmatic. The art of true professionalism. She didn’t mind bonding hours or anything the like, but when it got the job, she preferred a more straight-forward path. Thus, in line with her own ideals, she would spread the information the moment she obtained it. If she was given it in the first place.
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Post  Hamazura Shiage Tue Dec 15, 2020 6:53 pm

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"Can't say I have, but..."

"Babel? I don't think I've heard of it."

«You have my number, right?»

Well. This was certainly an interesting revelation. For one reason or another, it seemed as though TASK's liaison had not opted to share information with the other members. Instead, they had only given the details to Hamazura - a brand new member who had only been granted probationary membership to be made permanent if this mission went well. It changed his tone quite a bit - and did a lot to explain why the three were so eager to hear his part in the plan. After all, it seemed they didn't even know the most basic of the basics regarding this operation. Hamazura had, for his part, assumed they might know at least the vague details surrounding this mission. And when he only stared blankly at them for a second after their responses, he couldn't help but question either their own competence or the wisdom of whoever was pulling their strings.

♟"Wait a minute, they didn't tell you anything?"♟ Hamazura said simply, his expression fallen into a neutral look that no longer seemed proud or theatric. It was a skeptical expression, directed at the three in front of him - but really meant for their masters.

What on Earth? Trusting an outsider exclusively with the information for a job like this. Is this some kinda set up, or maybe it's plausible deniability? A test, maybe? Or else there's a reason they didn't tell one of these three stooges. Whatever. These three probably think I'm stringing them along if they've been waiting to hear the details. No wonder they're wound so tight. This is a mission they know nothing about yet, and here I thought I was just the driver.

♟"Okay."♟ Hamazura said simply, after a moment of thought. ♟"Dunno why your bosses only gave this to me. But information's a big deal and this job's no joke. Thought I could just take it easy and do my part - that is, drive and be some extra muscle. Seems someone on your end has a sense of a humor, though. Definitely not you."♟

The last statement was directed in a quip at Kisaragi, but if Hamazura disagreed with her terse, no-nonsense attitude he didn't say anything else to show as much. In fact, even as he mouthed off he had already produced his phone and sent the details of the mission to Kisaragi. Details which would no doubt be shared with both other operatives present. And while he was clearly caught off-guard by the realization that only he had been given the details of the mission, he was quick to become suitably serious for the moment as he fired off the message and gave them a moment to read the file.

Babel is a company specialising in the storage of rare and luxury goods situated in District 17. Their average customer is affluent and can afford to store their valuables inside the facility. Naturally, the goods found here are of the most obscure and valuable kind, as the monthly rent alone exceeds any normal worker’s yearly pay check.

Babel itself is situated in a small office building which harbours a number of storage and transport companies. Babel’s main office, however, is situated on the ground floor. Here, the front is made up of an ordinary – although quite professional looking – office space which is normally occupied by two to three clerks who handle all administrative tasks. On the backside one finds a loading bay designed to handle shipping container-sized cargo. In fact, the entire backside of the business is optimised to transport large freight in and out. This includes these dual elevators which ascend at most to ground level and can be accessed from the loading bay or the lobby - albeit through personnel-sized double doors.

Whatever access point you choose, that lift is the primary way into the vault section of the building. This section consists of two gigantic freight elevators capable of transporting standard freight containers, usually secured by thick steel doors. The elevators themselves, however, are simply gigantic platforms with railings for individual safety purposes. The cargo is transported by forklifts which can carry multiple tons of cargo. The cargo elevators lead down into the actual facility which is 21 story underground structure which forms a ring around the two elevator platforms. Together, this ring forms a circle that can perfectly divide the structure above from below. Each floor consists of a corridor about four metres width and holds 50 doors to 50 storage units - there is a metal railing on each floor along with 3 foot tall panes of safety glass to reduce fall risk. Aside from the vault doors, each floor possesses four narrow stairways moulded into each cardinal direction of the wall, which was mostly designed for maintenance work purposes over customer ones. Workers can access floors quickly this way, but usually not with heavy equipment. Lastly, the bottommost floor extends beyond the two elevator platforms, serving as a storage area for the forklifts and other equipment.

Each of the storage units is the size of a standard shipping container (2.43m x 2.59m x 6.06m) and protected by a reinforced door demanding biometric authentication. This authentication consists of a speech analysis based on the customer stating their security code and a hand scan, as well as a keycard swipe. Furthermore, when the vault doors are closed all air is sucked from the respective containers, transforming them into a vacuum of sorts.

As for overall security, all customers have to undergo a complex registration process in which every person permitted to access the rented vault has to undergo a background check and offer biometric samples which will be used to unlock access to the vault itself. To enter the actual vault both the customers and an employee need to run their key card through a scanner before the security door functioning as the access point. From there, they have to head into the security zone where the freight elevators are located. These are limited to customer use exclusively.

Lastly, the vault itself is operated exclusively by machines. About five security robots armed with tasers and stun darts patrol each floor individually, while the entire area is monitored by scanners installed into the environment. These scanners use both visual signals obtained through camera footage and a form of sonar which determine the location of any individual or object located within the storage vault. Overall, even the forklifts which are used to remove and transport the individual vaults from their positions are operated by an AI instead of a human workforce, eradicating the need for any human action.

And after a minute or two for each of them to read the intel, Hamazura spoke up. As he did so, he once again seemed to shift into a more serious attitude - something almost quietly capable - without even realizing it. Maybe this sort of mission brief was where he felt at home.

♟"So, yeah. A lot to take in. Reread it if you have to. You'll want to memorize most of that. Now, since I was given the impression I'd just be a driver, I don't have some brilliant plan."♟ He lied, always one to make a plan or three even just as a pastime. ♟"But our target is in Vault K-11. We're taking the whole container - because our target item is unknown. Need to know basis, and we don't need to know. We're also likely not alone in going after this vault. That last part is a direct heads up from your boss. I've put some thought into this operation, and I see two clear ways we could proceed. But this ain't my ballgame. It's ours. We're a team, for better or worse."♟

A quick pause as Hamazura looked at each of them in turn, his expression softened from his earlier skeptical look into a small grin.

♟"So, before I put my cards on the table, what are your thoughts?"♟

If they were feeling as though he might have been stringing them along and taking the piss, Hamazura wanted to show them he could be professional as well - more or less.
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Post  Kinoshita Nori Wed Dec 23, 2020 12:02 pm

♟"Dunno why your bosses only gave this to me. But information's a big deal and this job's no joke. Thought I could just take it easy and do my part - that is, drive and be some extra muscle. Seems someone on your end has a sense of a humor, though. Definitely not you."♟

It really would've been nice if their liaison had just sent them the information. Having to go through all this and only just now getting the details about the job was a pain. It also just made them look bad. Why was this thug given the information but none of them were? Was it some kind of ploy to make sure they worked together and didn't just kill Hamazura off? If so it was a brilliant plan considering he just took a jab at Kisaragi.

Last time Nori took a jab at the ninja she had decimated the plushie he had spent his wallet on and he was fairly certain the only reason he hadn't been impaled was because she needed his help to find Touka. Even if the masked villain wasn't really a fan of Hamazura for a moment he felt a bit of concern for his well being. The ninja was a professional so he doubt she'd do anything to the thug that would endanger the job but there were plenty of nonphysical ways to hurt someone and she could just wait till the job was done.

Speaking of the job, the more Nori read about it them more irritating it seemed to become. It was liked they had suddenly been transported into one of those movies where a group of misfits pulls of some impossible mission against all the odds. If only they really were in a movie, then they'd have some kind of plot armor that ensured their success. This was reality though and it was very possible they'd be taken out the moment they tried to get into that facility.

I mean come on; biometric scans, a two-man rule with a card swipe system, robotic security, sonar scanners, 21 underground floors, background checks, and the vaults even become partial vacuums when closed. It felt like they were breaking into some top secret military facility instead of some storage area for the wealthy, just how much money could these people possible have? It would take an army to rob this place and they were supposed to do it with only four people.

♟"But our target is in Vault K-11. We're taking the whole container - because our target item is unknown. Need to know basis, and we don't need to know. We're also likely not alone in going after this vault. That last part is a direct heads up from your boss. I've put some thought into this operation, and I see two clear ways we could proceed. But this ain't my ballgame. It's ours. We're a team, for better or worse."♟

Of course they weren't going to be alone in the mission for the vault! Why would they be? No matter the mission it always seemed to find a way to increase in difficulty whenever you thought it couldn't get any worse. Also Nori really wished Hamazaru would just share the plans he had in mind instead of passing the question around the group first.

♟"So, before I put my cards on the table, what are your thoughts?"♟

"Personally, I think this job is insane but that's never really taken into consideration by the boss is it? Regardless there is no way we are forcing our way in there so we're going to need a subtler approach. The safest way in would be to simply find one of Babel's customer and somehow convince them to bring us in with them. That would only get us past some of the initial security though and we'd have to find our own way around the rest of it. Finding and actually convincing a customer to go along with our plan is going to be a pain though or even impossible."
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Post  Aoki Aiko Wed Dec 23, 2020 7:17 pm

♟"Dunno why your bosses only gave this to me. But information's a big deal and this job's no joke. Thought I could just take it easy and do my part - that is, drive and be some extra muscle. Seems someone on your end has a sense of a humor, though. Definitely not you."♟

Aiko let out a small sigh of relief. No one else had the mission info either. She'd assumed that they had been briefed on it and she'd just forgotten it again. This wouldn't have even been the first time she forgot the details of one of TASK's mission while it was already underway so she was glad to hear that everyone was similarly in the dark. Hamazura sent the info to Kisaragi who then passed it along to Aiko and Nori. As Aiko's eyes drifted down the message reading over all the details, the look on her face slowly shifted from excitement to concern.

♟"But our target is in Vault K-11. We're taking the whole container - because our target item is unknown. Need to know basis, and we don't need to know. We're also likely not alone in going after this vault. That last part is a direct heads up from your boss. I've put some thought into this operation, and I see two clear ways we could proceed. But this ain't my ballgame. It's ours. We're a team, for better or worse. So, before I put my cards on the table, what are your thoughts?"♟

"Personally, I think this job is insane but that's never really taken into consideration by the boss is it? Regardless there is no way we are forcing our way in there so we're going to need a subtler approach. The safest way in would be to simply find one of Babel's customer and somehow convince them to bring us in with them. That would only get us past some of the initial security though and we'd have to find our own way around the rest of it. Finding and actually convincing a customer to go along with our plan is going to be a pain though or even impossible."

Aiko nodded along with Nori's deceleration of the job's insanity, though int's not like the higher ups could really be reasoned with.

"I agree, this sounds kind of insane. Are you sure this is a storage facility and not like a secret military test lab or something? Regardless, the robots I can disable if I can get within 10 meters of them without them signaling. The cameras I might be able to trick their visual sensors, but sonar is on another wavelength so I can't do much there. This one is going to be hard isn't it? I doubt I could cut open anything there either, at least not without some sort of hardware upgrade, these little lasers aren't going to do much to a vault door."

Punctuating her final statement, Aiko slipped one of her laser points from her pocket, waving in the air in front of her. Her firepower was honestly pretty weak and she was hopping that this mission would come to combat most of the others.

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Post  Kisaragi Anko Tue Dec 29, 2020 12:19 pm

While the others had already began arguing the plan ahead, Kisaragi was still busy reading through the file she had just received. Playing it slow and taking time to let things sink had sometimes been a necessity. However, except for that there was no change to her unaffected visage.

In fact, unlike the others she was still relatively unimpressed.

«Subtlety is not an option.»

That was the conclusion she had arrived at after a thorough analysis of her own.

«There is no way we can sneak past a security system this tight. Especially not, if there are possible other parties after out prey. No, this job needs to be done swiftly and soundly.»

She was not joking. This job was no joking matter. If they wanted to get it done, they had to think outside of the box and ignore cliched approached like one would find in TV and cinemas. No, with how common these were established in people’s minds they had to get far ahead of those.

«We need to follow the trojan horse type of strategy. Make our way in, then reveal our true colours and strike before the security can snap shut. That’s all I see.»

To sum it up, Kisaragi believed that they had to find a way beyond the initial security to enter the vault and only then rely on more violent means to force their way out again. This still meant going up against whatever mechanisms the facility contained, but at least only once over twice.

Still, at the very least she could offer a contribution of her own.

«I believe I can get is in somehow. The problem will be breaking into the actual vault.»
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