7 1c

[12:20] <Sachiko> Sachiko entered the cafeteria already holding an apple. Without needing to worry about waiting in line, she went to sit with Caolán. There was a small but obvious gap between where they sat and the rest of the students, but if it bothered Sachiko she didn't show it.
[12:36] <Minaplo> Caolán was sitting by himself, enjoying the savoury delights of some cup noodle, also unbothered by the gap between him and the student body. He looked up at her. "Good afternoon, Kurata."
[12:42] <Sachiko> "Hey," Sachiko said. She leaned a little closer and dropped her voice. "So give it to me straight: If we somehow get what the strike wants and we just start deposing teachers, can we get Kobayashi next?"
[12:50] <Minaplo> Caolán quirked an eyebrow at Sachiko. "What did he do to you this time?"
[12:55] <Sachiko> "A forced listen of his abysmal punk band," she said icily. "People who think "punk" is just a useful excuse to be shitty at singing, playing and composition deserve cruel judgement."
[01:02] <Minaplo> Caolán snorted. "Which one was it this time? His edgy rendition of London Bridge is Falling Down, or did he go all out and hit you with that good Three Blind Mice mix of his?"
[01:04] <Sachiko> "… it was Rain, Rain Go Away, but why does he keep…" Sachiko seemed to be staring into the abyss. "why though?"
[01:05] <Minaplo> Caolán sipped his tea. "You know how the Sex Pistols had a big hit with God Save the Queen, a traditional English song?"
[01:08] <Sachiko> "They didn't just sing God Save The Queen though! The second line calls her a fascist!"
[01:08] <Sachiko> "… it was still a bad song, but that's beside the point!"
[01:09] <Minaplo> Caolán nodded sagely. "A subtlety lost on Bash. He sees the song titled after a traditional English song, and realises he can do the same, and he doesn't even have to do it well."
[01:16] <Sachiko> Sachiko made a noise of utmost disgust. "… anyway, that's my day. What's going on with you?"
[01:17] <Minaplo> "My umbrella blew away this morning. I was rained upon." Said Caolán.
[01:25] <Sachiko> "Oh. That sucks," she took a bite of her apple and chewed. "You want mine?"
[01:26] <Minaplo> "Won't you need yours?" Asked Caolán.
[01:29] <Sachiko> She shrugged. "I can walk to the convenience store. Walking in the rain has its charms."
[01:38] <Minaplo> "Well in that case, why don't I walk you to the convenience store anyway?" Said Caolán.
[01:40] <Sachiko> "Sure, that works. What happened to your car?"
[01:44] <Minaplo> Caolán lifted his bag up onto his lap and unzipped it; he rustled inside and took out a small muffin. Sachiko could see, quite clearly, that there was an umbrella inside of it.
[01:44] <Minaplo> "I'm saving the car for the right moments. It's not something I can afford to run all the time. I need to know that it's worth it before I do."
[01:52] <Sachiko> Sachiko's gaze shifted from his face to his bag and back again.-
[01:52] <Sachiko> "That-…" A small frown creased her brow, and she took a hasty bite of her apple. "What's the car have to do to be worth it? I don't think it's going to level up."
[01:56] <Minaplo> "Think of it like this. If you're trying to transport five people in a car with only a single tank of petrol, you want to wait until they're all together so you can take them all at once, right?"
[01:56] <Sachiko> "Sure."
[01:57] <Minaplo> "Well there you go. And everyone is sheltering in the rain today, so they're much more together than usual."
[02:01] <Sachiko> "I really don't know how those two thoughts connect, but you do you," she shrugged.
[02:08] <Minaplo> Caolán gave Sachiko a look of obvious disappointment. He opened his bag again and put the muffin back in, revealing yet again his umbrella.
[02:11] <Sachiko> "… oh."-
[02:11] <Sachiko> She coughed into her hand. "Right. Umbrella and muffin and… right. Yes."
[02:16] <Minaplo> Caolán nodded slightly. "Exactly. So if we're going to start planning carpools, people will be easier to ask today because they're more pushed together."
[02:25] <Sachiko> "Good plan." She tore a chunk out of her apple with cartoonish ferocity.
[02:32] <Minaplo> "Have you had the new history teacher yet?" Asked Caolán.
[02:37] <Sachiko> "Not yet. Why?"
[02:39] <Minaplo> "He seems…" Caolán pondered his word choice. "Nice."
[02:41] <Sachiko> "That's a lot of pausing for 'nice'."
[02:44] <Minaplo> "He put a pack of juice boxes on his desk and started drinking through them one by one, but on the other hand he gave a very measured lecture and seemed concerned for everyone, so…"
[02:46] <Sachiko> "… I guess we have worse teacher quirks."
[02:54] <Minaplo> "Like Mr. Kobayashi. Don't worry, eventually you'll start to see his good sides." Said Caolán sympathetically.-
[03:01] <Sachiko> "I'm sure he's fine. Exhausting, but fine."
[03:06] <Minaplo> "Yeah, he's okay. There is one major problem with Bash that you may have seen yet. Which is that you see him and you immediately think he's full of artifice, but then you dig down and no, that's really just who he is." Said Caolán.
[03:10] <Sachiko> She winced. "Wow, that's a little sad."-
[03:10] <Sachiko> "… not that he seems to know it. I guess sometimes there's kindness to lacking self-awareness."
[03:32] <Minaplo> "What if he is aware of it?" Said Caolán seriously. "What if he is, and he doesn't care, because not caring that he's like that is punk rock?"
[03:40] <Sachiko> She considered this.-
[03:40] <Sachiko> "… damn, that'd actually be pretty cool."
[03:49] <Minaplo> "Exactly." Said Caolán. "Exactly. I've been wrestling with this same question for years."
[03:55] <Sachiko> "I'm mad you might've made me like him."
[03:57] <Minaplo> "Mine is a terrible power, not to be used except in uttermost need."
[03:59] <Sachiko> "Ugh."
[04:05] <Minaplo> "Who else do you hate? Maybe I can redeem them too."
[04:25] <Sachiko> "Hm," she gave the nearby tables a closer look. "I don't really hate a lot of people. I know it seems like I do, but I'm usually just frustrated."-
[04:25] <Sachiko> "I hated Asaka and I hate the people he assisted, but I don't think you're redeeming them."
[04:31] <Minaplo> "Agreed." Said Caolán. "Besides, I understand. You don't really seem like a hateful person."
[04:44] <Sachiko> She smiled. "Well, that's good."
[07:14] <Sachiko> And an instant later she dropped her apple and gripped her head with both hands, the air forced out of her lungs in a long, rattling hiss. She looked surprised.
[07:17] <Minaplo> "Whoa. Are you alright?!" He reached out to gently take her shoulder.
[07:21] <Sachiko> "What the fuck," she muttered, keeping one hand on her temple. She seemed to be regaining her senses. "I'm… yeah, I'm fine. Sorry."
[08:23] <Minaplo> He nodded slowly. He didn't remove his hand but he pulled it back slightly.
[08:23] <Minaplo> "Okay." He said. "Are you good enough to join me for a walk? I think I need some fresh air, it's awfully stuffy in here right now."
[08:51] <Sachiko> "Walking, got it," she said. She stood up with a little more care than she'd used to sit down. "Lead the way."-
[08:51] <Sachiko> Once they were moving she pulled the tomephone from her pocket and did her best to track Caolán and panic text simultaneously.
[09:19] <Minaplo> Fortunately Caolán was ambling moreso than walking, easy to keep up with, let alone track.
[09:19] <Minaplo> "Thanks." He said as they left the cafeteria. Umbrella up! "Good for digestion, you know."
[09:33] <Sachiko> "Yeah," she said absently. "Can't beat it."-
[09:33] <Sachiko> A minute or so later she regained awareness of her immediate surroundings, glancing around to try and get a sense of where exactly they were headed. The tomephone… she went to put it back in her pocket, then re-evaluated and let it stay in her hand for the time being.
[10:09] <Minaplo> They were heading towards Sophia Court, seemingly, by way of the assembly hall.
[10:12] <Sachiko> Well at least her responsibilities were converging. "So, anything I need to know?"
[10:21] <Minaplo> "Hm. Not yet, but is there anything I need to know? What have your investigations turned up?"
[10:47] <Sachiko> "I have a handful of maybes I can run by you later, but the two people I feel confident pointing out right now are both third years," she said. She didn't whisper given that'd only attract more attention, but she kept her voice low. "There's Kim Jun in 3B. A lot of his stuff is circumstantial - he shares a homeroom with a couple of victims and clubs with a few more. There's enough links to get my attention, but not enough to keep it. Buuuuut he's been asking questions about us. He got sloppy and did it on S-chat which is how I found him, but it turns out he's been doing it plenty offline as well."-
[10:47] <Sachiko> "Caught him watching me a few times, too."-
[10:47] <Sachiko> "Megumi Murakami's the other one. She's in 3A, and what's weird about her… well, I went back through as many of the case reports as I could. She's in way too many of them to be normal. She'll get referenced as a witness, or someone who stumbled on to the victim after the fact or some other sort of secondary player."-
[10:47] <Sachiko> "So I started watching for her, and it's creepy. She's still doing it. She stays in the orbit of a bunch of the people who submitted reports, even the ones who didn't reference her. It doesn't even seem like she's a friend, she's just there."
[11:37] <Minaplo> Caolán grimaced and turned his head away. "Scary. That sounds like the start of a creepy urban legend."
[11:47] <Sachiko> "Yeah. I was expecting to find a few closeted creeps, but this is a bit much."
[12:35] <Minaplo> "What's your gut telling you?"
[01:12] <Sachiko> "Look, I'm reluctant to prejudge," Sachiko said carefully. "There's a lot of people acting odd in the school right now, because stress does weird things to people. But if you want me to make a call right now…"-
[01:12] <Sachiko> "Jun's paying attention to us, but so's most of the school. The average student's looking at us like we're not doing much of anything, though. They're angry, not nervous. He's enough of an outlier to make me pretty confident that he knows something."-
[01:13] <Sachiko> "… And if he knows something I don't think we'll have too hard a time getting it out of him."-
[01:14] <Sachiko> "Murakami's another matter. There's definitely something weird going on there, and the idea that she's keeping tabs on people is one of the least unusual explanations for it."
[06:14] <Minaplo> "Humour me for a moment, what's the most unusual?"
[06:41] <Sachiko> "You ever seen It Follows?" she said with utmost seriousness. "Maybe we're dealing with an It Follows."
[06:46] <Minaplo> "I haven't." Said Caolán, his expression grave, "But it sounds serious. Recap it for me "
[06:59] <Sachiko> "A few people catch a bad case of ghost, and once they've contracted it said ghost or spirit is forever following them at a slow but absolutely steady pace, always disguised as somebody they know. It'll only stop once it kills them, or if they pass it on to someone else."-
[06:59] <Sachiko> She paused for a moment to consider whether she was happy with this theory. "… pretty good movie," she added after a moment.
[07:05] <Minaplo> His eyes widened. "That suggests there's a pandemic of ghosts in Sophia." He said.
[07:05] <Minaplo> "Shit." He frowned in what appeared to be genuine worry. "This is worse than I thought."
[07:15] <Sachiko> "Is this the part where you reveal your training in ghost murder? Don't think you're gonna surprise me, my sister told me all student council presidents get it."
[07:17] <Minaplo> Caolán took out a small manual labelled "Presidents' Handbook". "Hold on, it's in here somewhere."
[07:17] <Minaplo> Flick flick. "Here we go. In case of paranormal malfeasance…"
[07:18] <Sachiko> Sachiko was not-at-all subtly trying to peer at the page as she walked.
[07:30] <Minaplo> Sachiko would get a glimpse of the page, which did indeed contain some words relating to the paranormal, before her gaze was broken- he whapped her on the nose with the edge of it. Not enough to hurt. "Avert your lusty gaze."
[07:30] <Minaplo> Caolán eyed the book, then sighed. "Nothing useful. Make 108 prayers to the shrine on the mountain." He looked up out of the book and frowned. "Since when has that ever helped? If you're going to fight ghosts, you need statues of buddha and lots of qi in your hand. Maybe the shrine would have one, if the Meiji government hadn't forcibly separated Buddhism and Shinto for its nationalist agenda."
[07:30] <Minaplo> Caolán closed the book shut. "Alright, Sachiko. You lure Murakami to a spot, and I'll whittle a sword out of peachwood and beat her to death with it."
[07:37] <Sachiko> "This is just the kind of thoughtful, principled leadership you were elected for."
[07:37] <Minaplo> "Naturally."
[07:39] <Sachiko> "… can't believe you hit me with your ghost book," she added, rubbing her nose.
[07:42] <Minaplo> "It's not a ghost book. It's an important manual on good leadership, made piecemeal over the decades by president after president." Said Caolán.
[07:42] <Minaplo> "I can't believe you suggested an It Follows situation. Of course I've seen it, I just wanted to see if you were going to equate Megumi Murakami to a sexually transmitted ghost in a case like this one."
[07:44] <Sachiko> "… shit," she actually winced with more sincere pain, dropping her hand back to her side. "Look, I only realised that connection after I said it and was trying to course correct."
[07:47] <Minaplo> "You should own it. Wear it proud. It's a good joke, by Ricky Gervais' standards."
[07:52] <Sachiko> "I hate what is happening right now."
[07:54] <Minaplo> Caolán smirked.
[07:54] <Minaplo> "Honestly, thinking about the paranormal angle isn't out of the question. I mean, I don't think it's a paranormal situation, but if people believe it, that might explain motives or connections. This school's a bit of a hotspot for ol' paranormal stories. Lots of urban legends and schoolyard tales, conspiracy theories… Hell, you only need to hear what people say about the 1988 disappearances to-"
[07:54] <Minaplo> He froze. Then he whapped Sachiko again on the head with the book. "That's what's been bugging me. You're a genius!"
[07:57] <Sachiko> She jumped a little bit more than she should've on this second hit. "Gotta be honest, not feeling like a genius right this minute. What's going on?"
[07:58] <Minaplo> "You know how you hear something and you feel a kind of itch on your brain, like something should be connecting but it isn't, and it works at your brain and you can't get your mind off it?"
[07:59] <Sachiko> "Sure."
[08:00] <Minaplo> "When you mentioned Megumi Murakami, I started getting that itch. Especially with how spooky she's acting. It was only when you started talking about her being a ghost that it clicked. It took a minute."
[08:02] <Sachiko> She was nodding slowly and obviously not following, but paying attention. "Ok…"
[08:03] <Minaplo> "Megumi Murakami ran for Student Council President." Said Caolán. "And when that failed she applied to Council to be in charge of minute-taking and records."
[08:11] <Sachiko> "Huh," she muttered, the frown deepening. "Was that this year?"
[08:11] <Minaplo> "Yeah."
[08:12] <Sachiko> "Did you meet her?"
[08:12] <Minaplo> "Briefly."
[08:14] <Sachiko> "… at least it's consistent," she said quietly. "Pretty easy to draw a line between failing to get into the council and siding with the people trying to get rid of the ones who beat her."
[08:19] <Minaplo> "That's true." Said Caolán. "But it was the ghost thing that triggered the real spark. See, Murakami was quiet, but not because she was shy. It's hard to explain. She just seemed kind of intense, I suppose. I passed her over."
[08:19] <Minaplo> "But I just now remembered. The 1988 disappearances- I dunno if you know much about them, but one of the students who went missing was named Rin Murakami."
[08:27] <Sachiko> Sachiko's expression tightened. She checked over her shoulder, which served as a useful excuse to look away.-
[08:27] <Sachiko> "… if it is a relation, and that's a big if, a third year now would've been born more than a decade after the disappearances," she said, but there was an implicit awareness of the 'unless' she was omitting.
[08:34] <Minaplo> "… That'd be fairly wild." He said, in implicit response.
[08:34] <Minaplo> "It's probably nothing. Maybe a niece or something…"
[08:34] <Sachiko> "Yeah, maybe."
[08:47] <Minaplo> "I think Kim Jun'll be easier to crack."
[08:51] <Sachiko> "Yeah," she said. "Honestly I get the sense that he's easier to crack than most actual eggs."
[08:52] <Minaplo> "…" He eyed Sachiko.
[08:55] <Sachiko> "… look, I'm trying to keep up with the cloak and dagger thing but you need to give me time to get the repartee."
[08:58] <Minaplo> "No, no, it's not that." He took out his phone and queued up a video. The sound of rain and a gentle storm over some soulful jazz. "Repeat what you just said, but in a deeper voice."
[08:59] <Sachiko> "Why am I working with you?"
[08:59] <Minaplo> "Do it. Wait, it's already raining, I'll just have the music." He queued up a version with just the music. "Alright, do it again. It'll be worth it, I promise."
[09:02] <Sachiko> "Oh my god," she raised a hand to her face. "I… uh, get the sense he's easier to crack than an actual egg?"-
[09:02] <Sachiko> She only barely deepened her voice, it was a pretty weak effort. She was faintly red with embarrassment, though.
[09:04] <Minaplo> It was a lacklustre effort, saved only by a roll of thunder halfway through her sentence.
[09:04] <Minaplo> "I can't believe it. You're actually going red. For a moment you were noir incarnate, and now you're just rouge."
[09:07] <Sachiko> She gave him an incredibly dirty look. "Noir is a lot easier to manage when you don't make me repeat myself over a backing track, Choi."
[09:09] <Minaplo> "We do it all the time in the opera, you know."
[09:11] <Sachiko> "Yeah, but that's the classy kind of mockery."
[09:16] <Minaplo> "The real mockery here is that I made you Head of Countermeasures and you can't even do a proper noir voice on command. Here." He pulled back a little, and adjusted his posture, lowering his shoulders and glancing up sullenly out from beneath the brim of his umbrella.
[09:16] <Minaplo> "The rain was icy cold, but Kim? He'd be easier to crack than an egg in boiling water." He said, using his naturally deep voice to its fullest. "I've cracked a few eggs in my time, and each of 'em, no matter how hard they are on the outside? They're yellow underneath."
[09:30] <Sachiko> Sachiko had both hands over her face by the end of it, largely to try and contain her laughter.
[09:31] <Minaplo> "Time to turn up the heat." He said, his voice swelling dramatically. "And finish this game of eggs and soldiers."
[09:32] <Sachiko> "I'm swapping sides, you should be thrown out after all."
[09:33] <Minaplo> "I never thought my partner would betray me like this." He said immediately. "Sold me out to the gutter filth for thirty pieces of Benjamin Franklin. As always, the only thing I can trust in this world is my snubnose, and I don't mean a bulldog."
[09:42] <Sachiko> "You are an intol-" she began, only to suddenly glance around. "Wait, are we just walking aimlessly?"
[09:58] <Minaplo> They were near an alcove in a seemingly random schoolyard alleyway. They could've ended up there by pure chance, but the alcove was on a hill, and as such offered a good vantage of the assembly hall.
[09:58] <Minaplo> "If walking is the intention then it's not aimless, is it?" Caolán cast his gaze down onto the assembly hall below, which was still in uproar. "I don't really know what happened, but it seems like everyone's in a state. Something happened to push the strike into a bit of a riot, maybe. The situation will be contained, and news will spread, but until then chaos will reign, and chaos can be a powerful ally. Order takes some mental load off the human mind, and without it… People fall into patterns that you can see much more easily."
[10:14] <Sachiko> Sachiko broke from staring at the hall to glance down at her tomephone. When she looked back up she'd acquired a significant frown. "So we watch how things shake out? I'd suggest we go after Jun, but we're not going to have enough time before classes start."
[10:22] <Minaplo> "If Jun is onto you being onto him, he'll be more cautious, but right now… He might reveal something he doesn't want us to know."
[01:43] <Sachiko> "Okay, then we should get to him right away," she said. "Easier to make him agree to speak with us when we don't have a teacher running interference and his whole class watching. Can we clear it if he winds up missing some of fourth period?"
[09:35] <Minaplo> "We… might off Council authority, but the best way to do it would be if we had a sympathetic teacher to cover for us."
[10:57] <Sachiko> "I think I could get Ms. Smithson to okay it."
[12:10] <Minaplo> "Excellent. Keep an eye out for him, then."
[12:10] <Minaplo> After about ten minutes she'd spot Jun's form, slinking through the crowd, a little tall, pretty muscular, short hair, harsh undercut.
[01:02] <Sachiko> "That's our guy," she said, pushing off the wall she'd been leaning on and pointing. "The one trying to sneak through a crowd of middle schoolers a head shorter than him."
[01:13] <Minaplo> "You know, it sounds like you don't have much respect for this beefboy."
[01:19] <Sachiko> She clucked her tongue thoughtfully.-
[01:19] <Sachiko> "… yeah, no I don't," she agreed, already moving in the direction of the entrance. "Come on, let's get this done."
[12:31] <Sachiko> Making their move took a while. Given how agitated the crowd was and the charged nature of its relationship with the Council, wading in thoughtlessly wouldn't do them any favours. So Sachiko and Caolán hung back towards the teachers, tracking Jun as he moved around the centre of the commotion.-
[12:31] <Sachiko> When Jun drifted back out to the edge of the crowd though, it didn't take long for him to feel a gentle tap on his shoulder. Sachiko stood behind him, with Caolán close behind. "Hello, Jun. I'm Sachiko Kurata, and I was hoping we could have a moment of your time to discuss your complaint?"
[12:45] <Minaplo> "Uh…"-
[12:46] <Minaplo> A moment of panic flashed across his face, followes by the dark light of stupid inspiration.
[12:46] <Minaplo> "I'm not Jun! You got me confused with someone else! Classic Japanese, can't tell Koreans apart!"
[12:53] <Sachiko> She gave him a thin smile. "What's your name, homeroom and date of birth then, Mr. Question Mark?"
[02:32] <Minaplo> "No way I'm telling you. Gonna sell my details to a spam account, y'are."
[02:53] <Sachiko> "Don't really need your help. Watch, I can play it for you: Kim Jun, 3-B, twenty-eighth of February."
[02:54] <Minaplo> "Hah. My birthday's on the 25th! Y'must be so embarrassed."
[02:54] <Minaplo> Caolán whistled. "Oh my god."
[02:55] <Sachiko> Sachiko beamed. "Too easy."
[02:55] <Minaplo> "What? Aw, goddamnit."
[02:57] <Sachiko> "Can't tell Koreans apart my ass."-
[02:57] <Sachiko> "Come on, Jim Kun," she said, jerking her head towards the exit. "Let's go talk, we won't keep you for long."
[02:59] <Minaplo> "Or I could run away."
[03:32] <Sachiko> "Sure you could. A little weird that someone who spends so much time railing against us for not listening would run away the instant we tried to, but I guess it's an option. But between you and me?" she leant a little closer and dropped her voice. "That seems a lot more suspicious than just talking to us for ten minutes."
[03:49] <Minaplo> "But you're grilling me like a cop, man! Aw, geez. Fine, whatever…"
[03:52] <Sachiko> She looked back at Caolán. "Do you want to do this in the Council room?"
[03:58] <Minaplo> …-
[03:58] <Minaplo> The Council room was empty when they arrived there with an increasingly nervous Kim Jun.
[04:24] <Sachiko> "So!" she said casually, taking the other side of the table and letting Jun keep the door behind him. "The long and short of it is that we know you've been asking a lot of questions about us, raising concerns, that sort of thing. That's pretty understandable, it's been a chaotic couple of weeks. We were hoping you could run us through things from your point of view, so we can try and work out whether there's something we need to change or address. Is that okay?"
[05:59] <Minaplo> "Where's your katsudon?" Asked Jun.
[05:59] <Minaplo> "Come on." Said Caolán. "We're just trying to talk, Jun. That's all."
[05:59] <Minaplo> Jun sighed. "Yeah, fine."
[06:10] <Sachiko> "Great. Just start wherever you feel most comfortable. Do you want something to drink, by the way?"
[12:28] <Minaplo> "Aw man, no. I don't want any drinks." Said Jun, huffing a little. He ran a hand through his short buzz-cut hair. He was tapping one of his legs unconsciously.
[12:28] <Minaplo> "Can't believe I'm in here." He muttered. "Look, it's all really simple, ya know? Protect our girls and overseas kids from the teachers. Do that."
[01:02] <Sachiko> Sachiko noticed the jittering leg, then reached out for one of the legal pads and pens in the centre of the table.-
[01:03] <Sachiko> "… Right." She made a quick note, pursing her lips slightly. "Only from teachers?"
[01:05] <Minaplo> "Uhm."
[01:05] <Minaplo> He frowned. "Well if ya see someone getting their ass kicked by another student you should do something bout that, yeah! But teachers is your job."
[01:48] <Sachiko> Sachiko made another note. "So in your view we should be… leading the charge on the strike? Something like that?"
[02:56] <Minaplo> "Yeah!"
[03:05] <Sachiko> "I see. So Jun, do me a favour. Name me…" She bobbed her head from side to side, thinking, "Let's say two teachers the strike is trying to affect now that Asaka's gone."
[03:06] <Minaplo> "Well, er…" Jun frowned.
[03:06] <Minaplo> "Is the principal a teacher?"
[03:07] <Sachiko> "Afraid not."
[03:14] <Minaplo> "Damnit. You sure?" Jun leaned back in his chair. "Shit, I dunno."
[03:43] <Sachiko> Sachiko shot Caolan a quick look that could be roughly translated as 'Are you seeing this shit?'.-
[03:43] <Sachiko> "There you go, then," she shrugged. "The people striking are angry and they're scared and they have a right to be, but it won't get them what they want. That's the bad news. The good news is Choi and I actually have been helping just like you wanted."-
[03:43] <Sachiko> "So here's a quick question that's kind of related: Why've you been following me, Jun?"
[04:07] <Minaplo> "Haven't been." He said stubbornly.
[04:27] <Sachiko> "Sure you have," she said, leaning down to the bag she'd left there before lunch. After a moment of rustling she emerged with a manilla folder with a thin sheaf of papers inside. She slid it across the table to Jun.-
[04:27] <Sachiko> Inside were a series of hard copy photos with a surprising level of detail and colour. They were a little disorienting to look at, more like looking through a window than staring at a printed picture.-
[04:27] <Sachiko> Each photo was a snap of Jun showing the same absence of talent with stealth that he'd shown back at the strike. Sometimes he was trying to hide around a corner, sometimes trying to blend into a crowd. Each one was dated and timestamped in the top corner.
[04:31] <Minaplo> Caolan whistled. "Nice."
[04:31] <Minaplo> Jun whined. "Aw, goddamnit, seriously? Awwwww. Aw, this always happens."
[04:39] <Sachiko> She squinted at him. "… Okay, it's kind of secondary to my point, but this exact thing always happens to you?"
[06:35] <Minaplo> "No, not… I mean…" He sighed. "I ain't too good at this kinda stuff, am I?"
[07:41] <Sachiko> "I mean… no, not really."
[07:44] <Minaplo> "I tried really hard this year, I promise." Said Jun. "I was gonna keep my head down, stay outta trouble, and just work on my goal. But I gone and got involved and shit and now I'm getting grilled by you guys."
[08:03] <Sachiko> "Look, we're not about to rake you over the coals because you followed me around for a couple of days," Sachiko said. "We have much bigger things to worry about, and I only started because you were lying to my face. If you help us out and then get out of our way, we're not going to have any more problems. That's fair to say, right Choi?"
[09:04] <Minaplo> "Of course." Said Caolan. "There's still time to go straight, you know."
[09:04] <Minaplo> "R-Really?" Said Jun. "I'm not fucked up forever? Wait, you're not just saying that to get on my good side, right?"
[09:16] <Sachiko> "Nope. If this is the worst thing you did and you help us out, I doubt you'll hear from us again," Sachiko said. She reached across the table to take back the folder. "We just need you to run us through who put you up to it, and what they were asking for."
[09:23] <Minaplo> "You mean, like… Following you, all that?"
[09:23] <Sachiko> She nodded.
[05:14] <Minaplo> "I can get, like, witness protection, right?"
[07:58] <Sachiko> "… we're a student council, not the police," she said slowly.
[08:40] <Minaplo> "Aw, c'mon! Just promise you won't out me as a snitch! Once I blab, I'm gonna light the fuck up like an X-Ray pulsar!"
[08:48] <Sachiko> When the shouting was over Jun'd find Sachiko was watching him very closely, brow ever so slightly furrowed. It took a few seconds of silence for her to reach a decision.-
[08:48] <Sachiko> "… Alright then, but it cuts both way. We won't give you away as long as you don't tell people about us." She extended a hand across the table. "Deal?"
[09:41] <Minaplo> "Like, I can say that you all exist. Right?" He asked nervously.
[09:50] <Sachiko> Sachiko actually grinned a little at that. "Sure you can. Just don't go telling anyone we had this conversation, and if someone says they saw you talking to us you avoid the truth."-
[09:50] <Sachiko> "… and you aren't much of a liar, so try to avoid being asked."
[09:57] <Minaplo> "Okay. Alright." He reached out and took her hand.
[10:05] <Sachiko> It was only a brief contact before Sachiko broke away, more formality than anything.-
[10:05] <Sachiko> "Well that seals it. Congratulations on your witness protection," she said, absently flexing the fingers of her shaking hand with the other. "Now let's hear the rest of it."
[12:29] <Minaplo> "Yeah, okay. Yeah." Jun nodded. "Yeah."
[12:29] <Minaplo> He took a deep breath. "So this was after the stuff with Asaka got big. I was bummed. It was shit, right? You were all there, it was shit." Jun nodded to himself. "So there I was, feeling kinda bummed when this kid asks me, 'hey, you seem down. What's wrong?' I told him that all the crap made me feel crap and I didn't know what to do, so he told me that he'd seen other people feeling the same, that there was this kid who was moping about the stuff, then two other kids heard him moping, then suddenly the three of them were talking and working together to try and change it, and that if I wanted in I oughta talk to someone. So I went and met a dude, who said he repped those three, and that if I wanted to work for them I oughta work with him first. He said the big problem was that the Council knew what was going on but was trying to suppress it."
[01:01] <Sachiko> Hidden from Jun's view (though not Caolán's) by the table, Sachiko's foot started tapping gently as she listened. She kept whatever she was thinking to herself and busied herself making another couple of notes.-
[01:01] <Sachiko> "Did this dude have a name?"
[01:27] <Minaplo> "His name was Sergio."
[01:45] <Sachiko> "And he was a school student? I'm guessing not a middle school one, either."
[01:53] <Minaplo> "Yeah, he was high school."
[01:58] <Sachiko> "Alright. What happened after that?"
[02:07] <Minaplo> "Well he told me what he wanted me to do. Talk to middle schoolers and tell 'em what was up and how the Council was messing up. Then after Asaka resigned, he asked me to start watching you."
[02:20] <Sachiko> "Did he say why?"
[02:29] <Minaplo> "In case you bullied kids into being quiet."
[02:46] <Sachiko> That made her facade of seriousness crack for a moment, just enough to let a bit of laughter slip through. "So did you catch me?"
[02:46] <Minaplo> "I saw you asking a lotta questions."
[03:01] <Sachiko> "Not the same thing," she smiled.-
[03:03] <Sachiko> "Even if I wanted to bury the problem - And I don't - trying to bully people into silence in this atmosphere? It'd be like headbutting a hornet's nest; You might squash a couple, but their buddies would be there to make a new house out of your eye sockets."
[03:08] <Minaplo> Out of the corner of her eye, Sachiko would see Caolan's eyes suddenly light up with glee.
[03:08] <Minaplo> "R… Right." Said Jun, his eyes darting away from Sachiko's face. "That uh, yeah, I getcha."
[03:12] <Sachiko> Her smile widened into a grin. "So you reported back that I was asking questions. Was that the end of it?"
[03:12] <Minaplo> "Yep."
[03:14] <Sachiko> "Right. So your only contact about the business was Sergio…? she asked. "I don't suppose you got his last name, did you? It shouldn't be hard to find, but I may as well check."
[03:15] <Minaplo> "Pozos, yeah. Sergio Pozos."
[03:18] <Sachiko> She noted that down. "Great. Thanks."-
[03:18] <Sachiko> "Okay. If that's all, I think we're done here," she said, glancing to Choi for confirmation. "Is there anything else we might need to know before you go? Anything you noticed about Sergio while you spoke, or who he hung around with? We don't want to bother you again if we can help it."
[03:29] <Sachiko> "… If you had any info on the kid that pointed you to Sergio, that'd be helpful as well."
[03:32] <Minaplo> "I only ever really met Sergio when he was alone, and I was busy watching you guys. As for that kid? Uhhhhhhhh. What was his name? Shit. Oh, oops, I keep swearing. He was a big lad, like, 'hot pot solo' kinda boy, bad spots on his face… Katsuki, I think. That's his family name. Don't know his given."
[03:36] <Sachiko> "Do you have any idea of his grade?"
[03:36] <Minaplo> "High schooler, I guess."
[03:40] <Sachiko> "Okay, we can narrow it down from there. That's helpful, thank you Jun."-
[03:40] <Sachiko> She put her pen down and straightened up. "Alright, you can head back to class if you want. We'll make sure you're cleared for being late, and we'll try not to bother you again so long as you keep to our deal. Sound fair?"
[03:42] <Minaplo> "Can I ask something first?"
[03:43] <Sachiko> "Sure."
[03:43] <Minaplo> "I got played, didn't I?"
[03:55] <Sachiko> Her expression softened a little. "… yeah."-
[03:55] <Sachiko> "If you ask me your heart was in the right place, though. The Asaka situation was shit, and it should make people angry," she said. "Anger's easy to misdirect or misuse, that's all."
[04:14] <Minaplo> "Yeah, you're right, but damnit, that's bullshit. I really, really- just this year, I'd- augh, I can't ever do it right, can I?" Kim Jun grumbled. "Yeah, I'm gonna go…"
[04:19] <Sachiko> "Alright. If it helps you feel better, if we can solve this whole situation you'll have helped us do it," Sachiko said. "We'll try and make sure it wasn't a waste."-
[04:19] <Sachiko> "Good luck with your year. There's still a lot of it left, so keep your head up."
[04:20] <Minaplo> "Thanks." Said Jun. He slouched out.
[04:20] <Minaplo> "Well well." Caolan folded his arms. "Who knew you were such an interrogator?"
[04:25] <Sachiko> "And you thought noir-on-command was key component," she said brightly. "Turns out I'm a lady of many skills, just not that one."
[04:32] <Minaplo> "We can remedy that."
[04:33] <Sachiko> "Yeah, but then why would I need you, Mr. Silent Observer?"
[04:36] <Minaplo> "I think you'll find that I, too, have many skills."
[04:37] <Sachiko> "I'm sure that's hypothetically true."
[04:38] <Minaplo> "You had things handled. Don't be such a lemon."
[04:40] <Sachiko> She snickered as she checked her notes.-
[04:40] <Sachiko> "Well, we have a couple of new leads and I don't think Jun's likely to alert people on purpose."
[04:42] <Minaplo> "Agreed. Katsuki and Pozos… I don't know much about either of them."
[04:45] <Sachiko> "So you've heard the names before?"
[04:46] <Minaplo> "Only in passing. Class records, exam results, that kind of thing."
[04:47] <Sachiko> "Well, that's something. Some part of me thought we were going to find no mention of them on the student directory," she said. It was tough to tell whether she was being serious.
[04:48] <Minaplo> "That would be something. 'There's no record of any such students here.' 'Impossible! Perhaps the records are incomplete?'"
[04:49] <Sachiko> "See? At least we're on the same page here."
[04:56] <Minaplo> "Definitely a ghosty problem, that."
[05:01] <Sachiko> She chuckled.-
[05:01] <Sachiko> "… I'm trying not to be mad that a good portion of the school blames us for this mess," she said after a few moments. "Can't say I've been entirely successful."
[05:02] <Minaplo> "People are angry at the administration." Said Caolan. "At the moment we're a part of that, but…" He shrugged. "Someone is trying to single us out, the Council, for blame. That means we're being targeted specifically, and I'm not sure why."
[05:08] <Sachiko> "I'd say it was a power grab, but that'd rely on the Council having actual power to grab. We've got a bit, but for all this effort…?" she frowned. "It almost has to be personal."
[05:56] <Minaplo> "That sounds possible. Unless?" He took out his manual and eyed it seriously. "They want this…?"

~Fin~

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