7 2

[10:47] <Minaplo> After a quick round of texts and agreements, Hideki made his way to the first convenient out-of-the-way place he could find- a seemingly abandoned clubhouse, musty and littered with light detritus, the old posters peeling off the walls and the windows grimy- and waited for the others to join him.
[10:58] <Dinah> With more than a little bit of annoyance on her face - not at anyone in particular but at the throbbing pain in her temple that still seemed to linger after she fell against the side of the building from the pressure earlier - Dinah found the clubhouse, opening the door to bring a rather smoky smell in with her as she stepped in. Looking to Hideki, she gave the slightest incline of her head as she made her way to a desk, leaning against it and rubbing at her head.
[11:01] <Ai> Ai was wandering in looking, quite grumpy and alarmed, even. She almost went to open her mouth, but… Didn't, instead just sitting at a desk on the opposite end of the row from Dinah's - which if her wrinkling nose was any indication? Was mostly to give the smoke a chance to fade.
[11:03] <Sachiko> Sachiko limped in last, a little more pale than usual and a few minutes late. She pulled the door shut behind her and found her way to a chair, but her attention was focused on Hideki. "Are you alright?"
[11:09] <Hideki> Hideki chuckled. He hadn't been waiting long, but he had removed his blazer and draped it over a dusty chair. His tie had been loosened, and the sleeves of the button-up shirt he wore had been rolled up to his elbows. -
[11:12] <Hideki> "Don't look so worried. It's not like I ran into Black Hat again. But, well… some things went down with the middle schoolers. Schreier, it happened after you left the assembly hall."
[11:13] <Ai> Ai …stared at him, looking alarmed. "Hi-Hi-Hideki that was definitely some major Sea stuff, though. I could feel it. What the hell happened t-to them?!"
[11:16] <Hideki> "You already have an idea, right? You felt it. It was pretty similar to what happened with Asaka."
[11:16] <Dinah> Dinah nodded quietly. Sbe'd barely been halfway through her smoke when the feeling erupted. Crossing her arms across her chest, she waited for the rest of the story.
[11:17] <Sachiko> "I was just down there," Sachiko said. "Something had them riled up, and I take it this is related."
[11:18] <Ai> "…That's more arguments in favor." Ai said. "So you mean to tell us that there's an at least 60-40 on us having the next archetype…?"
[11:23] <Hideki> "There's a lot higher chance of that! I saw it. Just like I did before, with Asaka. One of them - he was just a kid - was ranting at a news camera one minute, and the next minute I'm looking at a guy in a mask ranting the same way." He scowled. "It just showed up for less than a second, but I'm positive that's what we're dealing with here."
[11:26] <Sachiko> "Shit. Okay, that was a little quicker than I hoped…" Sachiko said softly. "Did you get a good look at the kid?"
[11:28] <Ai> "…You. I. …How the hell did the media get all the way in…"
[11:29] <Hideki> blinked, nodding, and opening his mouth to answer Sachiko's question… but Ai's seemed to take him by surprise. -
[11:30] <Hideki> "Come to think of it… how -did- they get in…?"
[11:30] <Ai> Ai frowned. "Y… yeah. It's just they've been camped for weeks! And then r-right when someone messes up, they're there to generate a … a damn heed."
[11:31] <Ai> "You need to tell us what happened. Completely! This sounds like … I dunno. Like someone's trying to manipulate things again." Ai said, ruefully. "Or, even just, would make headway to getting the heed fast."
[11:32] <Sachiko> "I'm not surprised they snuck in somehow. The mood out there's been getting more frustrated by the day, and the school isn't exactly a fortress."
[11:36] <Hideki> folded his arms thoughtfully. "I dunno if they manipulated it on purpose. The questions they were asking before the Archetype stuff were in line with what they've been doing all along. A lot of questions about the protest itself. And they were awfully happy that I was there, because it meant they could ask questions about Kurata, Ji-Hu and Schreier. You guys are popular!"
[11:36] <Sachiko> "… great," Sachiko muttered.
[11:37] <Dinah> "Of course."
[11:38] <Hideki> "Don't worry. I didn't say anything. But. Uh. Here's where things get awkward." -
[11:39] <Hideki> He paced a little bit, and then found a desk to lean against. -
[11:39] <Ai> Ai narrowed her eyes. She wasn't sure if her name not being mentioned was great or not, but… well. This wasn't great news.
[11:44] <Hideki> "The kid who this Archetype stuff happened to… We were having an argument when the cameras showed up. Didn't take too kindly to me being present at a middle-school event, you know? Yoshino, you've met him before."
[11:45] <Ai> For a little bit, Ai just. …Spaced out. As if wracking her brain to try, try to remember. Look, she can't just remember ALL of her social panic attacks instantly. [11:45] <Ai> …but the gears were turning.
[11:45] <Sachiko> Sachiko was watching Hideki very warily all of a sudden.
[11:46] <Hideki> Hideki decided to help Ai! "Kazuhiro 'Karo' Nakajima."
[11:49] <Ai> "'Get beamed'." Ai said. At which point, though? Her eyes narrowed extremely sharp. Like, indeed, a laser might be able to focus down to. "Did you just. Have a fight with your brother. ON FILM. THAT CREATED A FUCKING ARCHETYPE."
[11:51] <Sachiko> "Hey," Sachiko said firmly. "Slow it down a little, Yoshino."-
[11:52] <Sachiko> "… good news is we know who it is, I suppose. Nakajima, you holding up ok?"
[11:53] <Ai> "…It's. I'm. …The kid's gotta have somethiing wrong. …I." She puffed out air hard enough to accidentally whistle. "…We're gonna need everything you got, to make this right. A-a-and we might need to do things you haven't tried with him before, do you understand?"
[11:53] <Ai> "…I'll forgive you, though."
[11:57] <Hideki> "Forgive me…?" Hideki looked around the room with a hint of confusion, and then glanced down again and sighed. "I guess it really was my fault. Fine. I'm not any less angry, though. He was a bigger prick than usual, and then he had to go and manifest an Archetype, just like that."
[11:58] <Ai> "…No." Ai said. "…What I mean is, I sounded like I blamed you, and I'm kinda mad that somehow he's so upset with you? …S… so I mean I'll forgive any… god… mistakes or anything that you thought I was livid about."
[11:59] <Ai> …She did sort of wilt into her chair a bit after that, all the same.
[11:59] <Hideki> "Oh. Well. Thanks. I mean that, genuinely."
[12:00] <Minaplo> [This is a bad scene, Hideki. Sorry, man.] Said Roy.
[12:00] <Sachiko> Sachiko nodded her agreement.
[12:01] <Ai> "It is. …You probably have something to with him getting so mad at you, but. …I think there's something hurt in him for other reasons, that made it this bad?" Ai volunteered. "That's what my uh, warning was about. It's not gonna be easy on you to change how you approach him, I think."
[12:02] <Ai> "…Especially because now that archetype's gonna be feeding raw 'screw you big bro' energy in that has less and less basis in what's going on now." She said with a shifty glance.
[12:06] <Hideki> "I probably shouldn't be approaching him at all, outside of the Dream Theater. I dunno why, but something about me sets him off. There's more, too."
[12:08] <Hideki> "He's claiming to be the leader of the middle-school protests, and the other kids are reacting to it. That's probably what you saw." He glanced at Sachiko.
[12:12] <Sachiko> Sachiko sighed. "Well I'm pretty sure that's not true, right? I've been paying attention and he's never come up."
[12:13] <Hideki> "Yeah, it's total bullshit."
[12:13] <Minaplo> [He probably said it to look cool, right? The problem is, if the protests didn't have a leader before, they do now.]
[12:14] <Sachiko> "And one with an Archetype attached." Sachiko rubbed her face. "What a mess."
[12:15] <Dinah> "Little brothers are just the worst." Dinah sniffed and sighed. "Guess that means we gotta find out who the leader actually was, then."
[12:16] <Ai> "…We need to find out why they did start, I agree." Ai said. "I don't really buy 'suddenly, middle-schoolers are rioting out of political goodness of their hearts', yanno?" A slump onto her desk. "…It's usually hard enough just avoiding bullies, getting used to growing up, …puberty… all that."
[12:19] <Sachiko> "I'm working on it," Sachiko said absently. "With Choi's help. We're pretty sure it's being seeded by older parties in the school, probably by someone who was getting cover for abuses while Asaka was around."
[12:20] <Minaplo> [Hideki. What is Karo good at?]
[12:25] <Hideki> "He spends a lot of time playing video games and building models, i guess. Why?"
[12:25] <Minaplo> [What else?]
[12:26] <Hideki> "Right. We need to figure out how to get in."
[12:26] <Ai> "Yeah. And what … his powers…" Ai suddenly stared. "What kinds of models?"
[12:27] <Hideki> "Little mechs. Gunpla."
[12:28] <Ai> "…'Get beamed'." Ai noted. "And are the video games also all giant robot stuff? Like. Gundam's all, war drama. But if he's into things more for 'cool robots!!!' then… It'd show in his gaming tastes more, yeah?"
[12:29] <Minaplo> [Oh fuck me. Goddamnit Japan.]
[12:30] <Ai> Ai… turned, to where her mind assumed Roy 'should be'. "That's bad."
[12:30] <Minaplo> [We had to bust shit up in a mecha theatre back in 88 and it suuuuucked.]
[12:31] <Ai> "A…aheh… At least you have a nerd… this time…" Ai scratched the back of her neck, but looked at Hideki. You're at the plate, kid.
[12:32] <Minaplo> [Motherfucker, we had a nerd last time!]
[12:32] <Sachiko> "More than one, I'd wager."
[12:32] <Ai> "I meant y-you still do! GOD! Hideki, your go!"
[12:33] <Hideki> snorted with laughter. -
[12:33] <Minaplo> [Nerdy as fuck, all of us.]
[12:33] <Ai> Ai was both blushing brightly… but less upset.
[12:34] <Hideki> "Look… I haven't been paying too much attention to his gaming these days. Mainly because he snaps at me when I try. Seems to like shooting stuff."
[12:35] <Ai> "…That's giving me an idea what his problem is, but… Okay, shooting. …" Ai snapped her fingers, a few times. "Shooting, shooting. How does he act when he plays it? Like. …Hmn. I remember a lot of first-person-shooter players tend to get uh. Loud. And mean. …Especially at his tender age." There was a certain 'I know what I say is terrible' at that last clause.
[12:36] <Minaplo> [God I could own your ass right now but I'm trying to be an adult.]
[12:37] <Ai> "Look, his motivations for playing them are important. Competitive play would possibly imply a completely different Theater, yeah?"
[12:37] <Hideki> "I haven't heard him scream at people. Maybe he plays alone."
[12:38] <Ai> Ai nodded her head. "…I'm getting a bit of a picture now."
[12:38] <Dinah> "Any way that you can sneak into his room and check out his system?"
[12:38] <Minaplo> [Hell yes.]
[12:41] <Ai> Ai had been keeping her head down in thought when she nodded, but raised it up again. "I have a theory. …He wants to be a hero. Like. Leading a noble rebellion. Or fighting an 'evil empire'. Or… whatever. If he's into mecha stuff, shooters but not competitively…" Then her eyes focused. "…And would claim leadership of the movement despite probably not being the leader?"
[12:41] <Ai> She plapped a hand down on her desk. "His theater is that of heroic military rebellion, isn't it?"
[12:42] <Ai> Beat.
[12:41] <Ai> "With 'cool guns and robots and stuff'."
[12:47] <Sachiko> "That makes sense as a starting point. Is there anything else you can tell us about him, Hideki?" Sachiko asked.
[12:48] <Minaplo> [What about his friends?]
[12:48] <Hideki> "Doesn't really talk about friends. He has a roommate he hates, though."
[12:50] <Dinah> "Well, I'm sure we could use that."
[12:50] <Minaplo> [Girl he likes?]
[12:50] <Hideki> shook his head.
[12:51] <Sachiko> "… ok." Sachiko was frowning slightly by this point. "Can you tell us what we're going to see on the Heed, if it is that interview?"
[12:52] <Minaplo> [Does he have any problems with girls in general?]
[12:53] <Ai> Ai was beginning to… sort of stare at, again, the empty space she associated with Roy. "…Is there something I should know, theory-wise, Roy?"
[12:54] <Minaplo> [Asahina tells me that Gundam is a bad place to be a woman in. And most of this team is girls. We get one bad Convention and this could get real fucking ugly.]
[12:55] <Hideki> "I don't… Ji-Hu can probably tell you more about that. He actually talks to her about stuff, while I have to scrounge around for information like a detective. Maybe he even asks her for advice."
[12:55] <Ai> Ai nodded. "…Actually." She began.
[12:56] <Ai> "When I met him alongside Hideki? There was a bad first impression. I panicked. …But uh." She looked at Hideki. "I'm gonna list bad stuff you did, okay? That's your warning." -
[12:56] <Hideki> "Not the time," he said promptly.
[12:58] <Ai> "Nothing so terrible, but sure." She said. "What I'll say is I understood him and we were almost getting along before we parted ways. If he hates girls, I don't count as one apparently. …And with Ji-Hu…" She shook her head. "If we're gonna get killed off or whatever, it's gonna be subconscious tropes."
[12:58] <Ai> Beat. "As in I don't think he hates girls."
[12:58] <Minaplo> [A nice change of pace.]
[01:00] <Sachiko> Sachiko had watched that exchange very closely. "Mm. Small victories."
[01:01] <Ai> …Ai looked at Sachiko briefly.
[01:02] <Minaplo> [Look. There'll be time to dissect stuff. This is all kind of raw right now and it's sensitive. Let's focus on concrete stuff. Lkke the fact that we're gonna need that Heed. Which means we're gonna need to rob a reporter.]
[01:02] <Dinah> "Ain't the first time."
[01:03] <Hideki> "The reporter gave me her business card. Wait, what?" he glanced at Dinah.
[01:04] <Dinah> She sniffed. "Paparazzi back home. Had to take more than a couple cameras from 'em. Told one I was gonna shove the next one up his ass. Didn't see him after that."
[01:05] <Sachiko> "We don't necessarily have to rob her," Sachiko said. "We just need to make a better offer than video of some kid playing at being a mastermind."
[01:05] <Ai> "Okay, I'll take that one." Ai said. …And… Looked to Dinah, taking a second to… to almost brighten. Only to go more uncertain when Sachiko spoke up. "Oh my god. Are we going to toe dangerously close to opsec…?~"
[01:05] <Ai> That was a very sing-songy 'uncertain', Ai.
[01:07] <Sachiko> "Eh. She's after a juicy story on the school's drama, and that might be doable."
[01:08] <Minaplo> [We should probably do it fast, noting that if we act too obviously it'll reflect on all of us, because Dinah-Sachiko-Hideki is a known quantity now. If we wait it'll mean breaking into a corporate office.]
[01:08] <Minaplo> [Bribery could work too, sure…]
[01:08] <Ai> "…And we have other reasons to go fast." Ai said, realizing she… probably should.
[01:09] <Minaplo> [Nice.]
[01:10] <Ai> "What? I mean that Adrien's gonna be gunning for the heed, archetype, and egg now." Ai narrowed her eyes again. "What did you think I meant, huh?"
[01:11] <Minaplo> [Oh shit, good point. We need to ask Adrien about this…]
[01:11] <Dinah> Dinah frowned a little more, for obvious reasons, crossing her arms across her chest again. "Anyone in public when the Archetype thing went down? See anyone else that looked affected by it?"
[01:13] <Sachiko> "I was in the cafeteria and didn't see anything notable. Took me a second to check, though."
[01:13] <Hideki> "We were surrounded by people. I don't think anyone else saw it, though. They didn't react like they did. But they did start rallying around Karo suddenly. It was weird."
[01:14] <Ai> "Same, I was with Reiko and Shizeng in the cafeteria too. …They uh, kinda noticed my reaction but I played it off." But she looked to Hideki. "…Do you think that's some kind of archetype… utility power? Like my bond-sight?"
[01:15] <Dinah> She clicked her tongue and grumbled a little to that. "Guess we can't be that lucky. We know Adrien's got one partner at least. Gotta assume they were affected by this shit the same as we were."
[01:17] <Minaplo> [That's the thing. Miasma can rewrite reality. Archetypes manipulate it, and all that attention feeds them. He's caught their attention hard and he'll keep it until it's over. He is going to turn into what he says he is… The leader.]
[01:19] <Ai> "…Of course." Ai said. "So. It looks like top priority is Heed and theater access. Followed by the usual investigation. Followed by…" An almost helpless shrug. "Slowing down the strike, maybe. Or downplaying his role as leader."
[01:19] <Ai> "Basically slowing down the attention flow, somehow, without it backfiring."
[01:21] <Dinah> "The way I see it, if we find out who was pulling the strings and expose them somehow, he loses a lot of steam, right? Since everyone knows he was lying about it, then."
[01:22] <Sachiko> "Reality manipulation aside, yeah," she said. "And I might be able to get us there, just not sure how quickly I can do it."
[01:25] <Hideki> "Even if the leader investigation is slow-going, working through his Dream Theater like the last time will help. If it works out the way it did with Asaka, maybe he'll lose his influence and just confess to not leading it on his own."
[01:26] <Minaplo> [I'm not so sure if that's the angle we wanna play.]
[01:27] <Ai> "…The Puer Et…whatever. Finding it in someone much younger should be notionally possible still, but in Asaka's case he… had a lot to atone for, and his backup… would've wanted to." She admitted. "Or, do you have a thought there, Roy?"
[01:42] <Minaplo> [We might be able to find ways to weaken him in the real world, but remember that whilst heeds empower Archetypes they do so through attention. Archetypes use that attention to get powerful enough to hijack their creator, -but-, never forget what a Shadow is: repression and denial. If we try and shove someone else in as the true leader and sideline Karo, all we'll be doing is denying him in front of an audience.]
[01:45] <Sachiko> "Hm, that's a good point." Sachiko frowned. "So… should stall the work I'm doing with the Council until we get this handled?"
[01:48] <Ai> "…Right." Ai said. "…You should stall before pulling the trigger, I think." Ai noted. "…If we could just remove the point for the movement, that'd be a lot better than defusing, based on this point?"
[01:48] <Minaplo> [No. Keep doing it but don't reveal it.]
[01:48] <Ai> "…Yeah."
[01:49] <Sachiko> "Alright," she said, though she didn't exactly look happy about it.
[01:50] <Minaplo> [Maybe defusing the movement… Interesting idea…]
[01:51] <Ai> Ai suddenly blinked. "…What if we found a healthy way for him to win. …And yet win in a 'now what' way?" And she did a little finger gesture, not unlike a snap. "That's a question that tends to reach to the core of supervillains and rebels-(nearly)-without-a-cause."
[01:52] <Ai> "…Or would that somehow encourage the archetype and/or drive it ballistic…" She then realized, her mien drooping.
[01:52] <Dinah> "It might just make him look for something else to do. Maybe even send him after Hideki somehow."
[01:53] <Minaplo> [It -could- work. We need more research and we need to know what Karo's issues are in depth.]
[01:55] <Hideki> "…I wonder what winning would look like in this case. It seems more likely that the school would target the so-called leader of the rebellion with expulsion instead of working with him."
[01:59] <Ai> "We DO need more research." Ai said. "It was a spitball, anyway. Let's… not burn too much time on its results until we uh. Have the data?"
[02:00] <Dinah> "They might try that if they get desperate. But they'd just end up turning him into a Martyr." She shrugged and stood up from the desk she was leaning against, looking a little uncomfortable. "So they'd just make our job that much harder on top of everything else."
[02:03] <Ai> "Yeah. It's also projecting very, very far ahead. And very in-depth on what the school WILL do instead of what it MIGHT. …Erm. Regardless, I was trying to be hypothetical, a-aheh." Ai looked away, sheepishly.
[02:07] <Sachiko> "So, gameplan," Sachiko said. "Like Ai said, Heed and research are what we need to get access to the new Theatre. I can try acquiring the former, and if Ji-Hu is a good first step for research maybe Hideki should take point."-
[02:08] <Sachiko> "Yoshino, would you be ok with helping him with that?"
[02:12] <Ai> She slowly nodded. "…I think that should be okay, with Ji-Hu especially."
[02:15] <Sachiko> "Ok-…" she paused, frowning again.-
[02:15] <Sachiko> "Sorry, Nakajima. I should probably be letting you dictate what you're comfortable with on this, so if I'm stepping on your toes here let me know."
[02:16] <Hideki> shook his head. -
[02:16] <Hideki> "No, it's fine. We need starting points, and these are good ones."
[02:21] <Sachiko> "Alright," she nodded. "Just let me know if there's an issue."-
[02:21] <Sachiko> "So while you research that I can see about getting the Heed from our reporter friends. Schreier… if we needed you to give an interview, would you be able to do that without it being a problem?"
[02:25] <Dinah> "Define 'problem'."
[02:27] <Sachiko> "Without creating a headline about how you broke a reporter's jaw."
[02:27] <Dinah> "I usually go for the arms."
[02:27] <Sachiko> "You know what I mean."
[02:28] <Dinah> "Yeah, yeah." She rolled her shoulders a little, rubbing her head again. "I think I can manage."
[02:29] <Ai> "Honestly." Ai noted. "Her making headlines about breaking things is actually somewhat what they expect. She'd actually help opsec if anyone ELSE associated with the team stays out of the story." Beat. "…In moderation."
[02:29] <Ai> Ai smirked, shrugging too-broadly. "Sometimes your bad stereotype makes a great deception~"
[02:31] <Dinah> "I can play it by ear." She held her arms out, as if to say, 'it's whatever', though she did look at Hideki. "How punchable are they?"
[02:33] <Hideki> "The camera guy looks more way punchable than the reporter. That said, are we going for bribes, or are we going to draw them out and steal stuff from their office while they're distracted? Or both?"
[02:35] <Ai> "Hmm…" Ai held her chin, deep in thought. "… …I think we need to scope them out and quickly figure out the quietest angle. If we bribe 'em and fail, it's going to be even worse for us than a failed robbery?"
[02:35] <Ai> "…On level of 'worse' around getting the Heed."
[02:38] <Sachiko> "It's not really bribery, per se. It's more quid pro quo," she shrugged. "The reporter was asking about us? Well she can have the interview if we can get that tape back. Because if we know your brother isn't the real mastermind I'd imagine they do, and they know it won't get them all that far."
[02:39] <Sachiko> "And it's nothing nefarious. Our dormmate wants to avoid an embarrassing tape of his brother going public, and we're stepping in to try and make that happen. Easy."
[02:40] <Ai> Ai rolled back a bit more in her seat, de-chinning her hand. "…Yep. We just need to give them a good price. That sounds, honestly, like a job for you two." She gestured to Sachiko and Dinah. "Experience, you know?"
[02:42] <Sachiko> "Mhmm."
[02:43] <Dinah> "Yeah. Like I said, we'll see how it goes."
[02:48] <Hideki> "Hm. Thank you both. I feel bad that all this is putting you in a weird situation…"
[02:51] <Ai> Ai resumed a more normal posture. "…We'll live. And honestly? It's awkward as hell but at least we're allegedly right on top of this the instant it hits? 'more archetypes' is inevitable. Being right there for them forming, isn't."
[02:54] <Sachiko> Sachiko gave Hideki a quick smile. "Yeah, we have a couple of advantages here, at least as far as information gathering goes."
[02:58] <Hideki> "Better than the last time, at least," Hideki agreed, smiling back. "Should we call the meeting? Let people get back to class?"
[03:02] <Sachiko> "Yeah, I think we have enough to go on, so long as nobody has other questions."
[03:02] <Ai> "…I'm good?" Ai said, already shifting in her seat.
[03:04] <Dinah> "I think we got it all settled, yeah."
[03:06] <Hideki> "Alright. Everyone should get going, then. Yoshino, I'll ask Ji-Hu to work out a time to meet, and I'll text it to you before we all go home."
[03:08] <Dinah> "I'll need that reporter's info. Maybe I'll look her up before we meet up."
[03:09] <Sachiko> "Oh right, yes. You said she gave you a business card?"
[03:11] <Hideki> Hideki slipped the card out of his pocket and handed it over to Dinah.
[03:13] <Dinah> Taking it, she looked at the info and then nodded, pulling out her phone to slip it behind the case so she could look it up later.
[03:18] <Sachiko> "Alright," Sachiko stood up. "Everyone stay in touch so we all know what's being done and what's been found. Hopefully we can get to the Theater within the next week."
[03:18] <Ai> Ai nodded, standing up. "…Sure thing."

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