Teksqp Blackmailer's Bathhouse

The girls would step out into a misty area, too misty to see very far out, but good enough to make out a large, golden building with a glass dome on top, angular in its design with an almost crystalline sheen. Besides the roof, there didn't appear to be any other windows. From where they'd landed, they could see no one else immediately in sight... If the followed the building around to the west, they'd quickly discover an entrance that acted as a checkpoint, which was, of course, guarded. The guards were both women, dressed in nothing but skinsuits (one red, one blue) and flat masks with the faces of demons engraved on them. The women were standing almost like statues, without saying a word. There weren't any guests coming in at the moment, so it was impossible to tell what their reactions would be to newcomers, in terms of search or questioning. If Aya and Suzume wanted to wait, they might be lucky enough to find a visitor to spy on, or maybe even hitch a ride with.

There appeared to be another entrance on the south side, but that one was locked entirely. It might be possible to open with Fancy's key, but on the other hand, there could be guards stationed right behind it.

A third possible point of entry was through the glass roof... At a distance it all looked like one piece, but judging by the sharp angles that composed its surface, it was likely several glass panes. The girls might be able to drop down that way and avoid guards... but it would be difficult to do it without making a lot of noise.
[Aya and Suzume Transfer From Inky's Homepage.]

The two female ninjas appeared in twin beams of light some distance from the actual bathhouse. Shrouded in mist, they located the headquarters of the Teksqp agent they needed to speak with. They took a moment to scout around the outside of the building and noted the different points of entry. But they were not here to infiltrate, they were here to deliver a message. So the two walked up to the two women guards, striding as if they were on an important mission. They stopped a few feet away.

Aya took a scroll off her belt and presented the rolled parchment to the two guards. The scroll was emblazoned with the seal of the demon-mask of Neo-ShogunMan. Of course, the real Neo-ShogunMan didn't make any such message, but the twins were technically members of the Neo-Shogunate and took the opportunity to pretend to be high-level messengers. Forging a notice that Fancy was now under the protection of the Neo-Shogunate and to leave her alone. But of course in the romanticized flowery prose of a samurai lord.

"We are here to deliver a message from our Honorable and Just Lord, Neo-ShogunMan, to the Teksqp Family." Suzume began in a harolding speech. "We request an audience."
The two doll-like figures moved their heads to face Aya and Suzume. Without warning, loud, booming, male voice erupted from the left-most guard. "Excellent! I will be quite interested to hear what you have to say, in person. Please, enter in and meet me in my quarters," the voice retreated them, with a deep cackle underlining each of his sentences.

The guard each stepped to the side of the ninjas to begin following them in stride while the gate creaked open. The inside of the building was no less opulent or steamed than the outside, with even more if the thick mist shooting out into their faces as the doors opened. Perhaps that was the point of the masks the guards wore?

Several figures passed the girls as they made their way deeper into the bathhouse: more of the skinsuit women, primarily, but also chefs and giant gray navis with welding masks and aprons, wheeling giant cages around (some of which were occupied by stationary figures). No one was speaking much, although the two ninjas could hear choices coming from several of the open doors they passed.

Finally, they reached their destination: a relatively small bathing room behind a golden door. The bath was surrounded by masked women, many either in towels, swimsuits, or full nudity. The one standout figure in the room: a giant, pitch-black navi at the center of the back of the bath. His tremendous gut was half submerged into the water and his thick arms were draped across the bath behind him. His body appeared to be bald and completely hairless, including his head. His deep-set eyes and grinning fans both gleamed yellow... from a distance, his face actually looked like a demonic mask.

The mixture of steam, the claustrophobic gathering of bodies, and the stench coming from the sweaty, overcooked fat of their host was making the room almost intolerable to step inside. "I had heard your Shogun has many beautiful women I'm his employ... I see the rumors were not exaggerated! Splendid... Girls, why not join me in the bath as we discuss our business?" he offered, breathing heavily between each word. A number of good reasons immediately came to mind as to why they wouldn't want to do that...
There was much to see and... smell... in this bathhouse. Suzume bit back some bile and tried to keep up with her sister as they were brought to the head honcho. She almost threw up at the invitation to join him, as it seemed like the most disgusting thing she had ever witnessed up to that point. Thankfully she was able to refrain from pitching forward and depositing her disgust into the bathwater. Aya, however, was much more in control. She bowed to the man in the water.

"I am sorry Sir, but with respect, we are on urgent business and cannot stay for long. We have other jobs to attend too after this one. I hope you understand." Aya straightened up and handed the scroll she was carrying to one of the women attendees. "Our orders were to deliver this message and to bring back your response."

When the black Navi received and broke the seal on the scroll to read it, it would unfurl nicely. The letter would first open up with praising words on the capability of the Mafia and the hope of friendship. Then it would explain that the Shogun knows of the current blackmail on the Navi named Fancy and would appreciate it if the matter with her was dropped completely, as Fancy was now in the employ of the Neo-Shogunate. The Shogun would find this action, of dropping the matter with Fancy entirely, as a token of goodwill towards a mutual peace between the Mafia and the Shogunate. Perhaps as a personal favor to be repaid at a later date.

Aya and Suzume awaited patiently for the Navi to finish reading the letter they made and to give them his reply.
A woman with long, dark hair, a blue demon mask, and a black bikini accepted the scroll, then took it over to the bathhouse's owner and unrolled it quickly. He didn't take the scroll; rather, she bent over to bring it down in front of his face, reaching her arms around his shoulders. The two could see the paper of the scroll becoming damp with the steam of the bath, but the situation was still preferable to him rising out of the water to dry himself before reading it. The glow of his eyes diminished as he squinted to focus on the text. His fat cheeks flapped open into an even bigger grin as he read; a lengthy, purple tongue came out from behind the teeth and licked his spread lips. "Wonderful! Ha ha ha ha! This is truly wonderful!" he guffawed, sounding as if he was scoffing at the offer. His words, however, revealed a more complex reality. "Yes, I'm sorry I had to force your hand like this, girls, but your Shogun has been most adamant in refusing my requests for a meeting. I'm glad to see that he's finally coming around..." he chortled. "This is a good first step. I will drop my blackmail attempts on both your Shogun and Fancy. Peace between our organizations suits me quite well... But I would prefer cooperation! Let's both share our resources generously with one another."

He motioned to another of his servants, who brought him over what looked like, basically, a pristine, white decanter of chocolate pudding. He reached his hand in to grab some, then sucked it off of his fat fingers. "Tell your Shogun I am most honored to accept the terms of this peace agreement, and I will gladly keep in consideration this 'favor' I am owed," the big man continued, striking the 'perhaps' from the equation. "In fact, I would honestly prefer it if I could cash in that favor immediately and ask to see the Shogun in a private meeting, here at my bathhouse. I'm a very gracious host, he'll find, and I can provide him any luxury he might desire during his stay. I would wish to more fully articulate the peace arrangement between our two organizations... The Teksqp and the Neo-Shogun Empire, that is. Please, when you return to him, inquire if such a meeting might be possible," he finished, reaching up with one meaty arm to brush the scroll and its holder out of his face, in the process smearing goopy chocolate on both of them. "He can send me his response at the e-mail address I'm transferring you now."

One of the women took care of that for him, as usual, handing over a data packet. "Now, you girls, I hate to see you leave empty handed! Won't you enjoy my hospitality? Please, join me in the bath," he chuckled again, slapping one palm down hard into the water, as if trying to say "the water's fine," but over-applying the force almost fearsomely. "I'll have my chefs bring you in some fine dishes, the likes of which, respectfully, I doubt your current employer has ever afforded you! Hmhmhm..."

*Received OniMail.DAT*
Well that went better than expected. Though, they would still have some explaining to do when they got back. Suzume tugged on Aya's sleeve as if to speed them along. She definitely didn't want to stay here any more than she could stand. Aya took the hint and bowed to the Oni. "Unfortunately we are under strict time restraints. Perhaps next time."

She stood back up and took the datapacket with the email address. "I shall deliver your message and see to arranging your meeting with our leader, Neo-ShogunMan. He should be more agreeable due to your token of goodwill in dropping the blackmail." And with that she bowed once more before she and Suzume started walking back out the way they came.

Aya also came away with some more intelligence than she expected. Apparently the guy also had blackmail material on Neo-ShogunMan as well. The fact that he would drop both, or that he would even mention the other, spoke volumes about his character. Unless he was doing it on purpose...

Suzume broke Aya out of her contemplations as they eventually arrived where they beamed in. Well, at least they can deliver the good news to Fancy.

[Aya and Suzume Transfer To Inky's Homepage.]
DragonierMan and his ninjas would come upon a familiar, well-lit bath-house, lit amidst a misty terrain with darkness on all sides apart from the house itself. The walls were all fogged glass, forming a dome, and the entrance in front was guarded by the same two puppet women. DragonierMan might be able to announce himself like last time, but there could be ramifications to doing so. On the other hand, he could try going atop the dome to find another way in, or go around to the gate that had been locked last time. There was no sign of the Shogun yet, nor had he been given briefing on where to expect to find the Shogun, so he was going to have to look around the bath-house a bit to find them, one way or another. Once he got inside, Aya and Sume at least may remember the way to the main bath where they'd met the building's owner originally. Ironically, last time, they'd been here to save the Shogun from being blackmailed. At any rate, the first step was to get in.
DragonierMan, Suzume, and Aya appeared from a portal far enough from the bathhouse to not be initially noticed. Drago had been briefed on the way there by the twins, so he knew only the layout that they had seen. As they approached the gleaming and fogged dome, he pointed to the roof and the south entrance. The twins still had Fancy's Key, so one of them could try to see if it still worked on the southern entrance. The twins nodded as Suzume produced the key and floated over to the south gate, while Aya floated up towards the roof. Last time they didn't have the ability to fly. So this time they would be a whole lot stealthier.

Drago, had striped out of his armor and was wearing his more casual Warrior.GMO. Wearing an open-chest vest with no shirt, to go with his pants and boots, he was wearing mostly common clothing. Like a pearly ghost, he floated over to the western gate that was currently being guarded by two puppet women. He raised his right hand as he approached and gave a grin. "Hello there ladies. Don't suppose Boss Oni is inside? My name is DragonierMan, from the Neo-Shogunate, and I heard Boss Oni was having important business meetings with the Shogun. As an important member of the Shogunate as myself, I'd like to get in on that meeting if possible. Perhaps you two could send the word up the great-vine for me." He gave a chuckle at his terrible wordplay of grapevine.

Meanwhile, Aya had flown up to the top of the fogged dome and was looking for a way inside. It was possible there was a window pane that could be moved without it falling and shattering. If she managed to find such an opening, and were able to move the glass panel without incident, she would slowly descend down into the fog. Using it as cover, she would try to hide behind any object that was large enough to hide behind. There might also be rafters or something she could hide on top of, to prevent those from below to see her. Her main objective at the moment was finding a hiding place where she could observe, to the best of her ability, the comings and goings of anyone in this building. Perhaps she could eventually make a layout for the future.

Suzume floated out of the mists and put her back to the wall several meters from the southern gate. She made her way slowly, stealthily, towards the locked gate, trying hard not to be noticed. If anything moved in the area, she would quickly take to the sky, moving up the wall like a spider. Though, once she got to the gate, she peered through the bars as she slid the key into the lock, watching to make sure there weren't any guards nearby that might notice her. If there were she would back off, but if their weren't, she would slowly turning the key. If the gate unlocked, she would try to open it slowly, without noise. She took a shallow breath from behind her ninja mask, beads of water forming on her brow (though if it was from the hot steam or her own perspiration, one couldn't tell). If the coast was clear, she would then slip in and close the gate, locking it behind her. Then, floating a few inches above the ground so no footsteps could be heard, tried to sneak through the area. She could fly, so if need be, she would hide on the ceiling or in a high dark corner. She could also slip into a closet or unlocked darkened room occasionally, or whatever, to keep hidden.
The ladies at the front gate returned DragonierMan's grin, but not exactly in a pleasant way. The demon masks adorning their faces were permanently frozen in a snarling grin, reminiscent of the one from Oni's own mask. It might occur to DragonierMan, if he thought about it, that the Shogun's looked pretty aggravated by contrast. There was a silence for a moment, where it seemed like the two had not heard him speak at all. Eventually, they answered... or Boss Oni did, rather. His voice came projected from behind the mask of one of them, a jarring effect given that the voice was paired with a woman's body. "One of the subordinates is here? You know my door is open to you at any time but... not right now. It's really not the best time given that I did, after all, request a private, one-on-one meeting with your Shogun. I'm afraid I can't just have you barging in on that. Come back some other time and I'll be happy to free up a bath for you and your girls..." It seemed DragonierMan would need to either bust in past the girls, sneak around, or otherwise, come up with a convincing reason why he needed to join the meeting in progress.

If the guards had seen Aya and Suzume depart, they hid it well, as both girls managed to reach their locations unhampered. Aya would find that the glass roof didn't provide much in the way of sight, as the glass was intensely fogged across every pane. Furthermore, the panes didn't appear to be removable, possibly since whoever designed the building didn't have to worry about convenience in replacement or cleaning in the same way the average person does. The only way to get inside from that avenue would be to break or otherwise bypass the glass. However, there might be a way to remove the fog so she could see inside... the condensation was, however, also on the inside of the glass, so it wouldn't be as simple as wiping it. She might also note that the ceiling seemed much higher than the ground floor rooms. It was possible that even if she broke or penetrated the glass, as long as she could do it quietly, she'd remain hidden. Whoever was inside likely wouldn't catch her by sight.

Suzume would find the back gate unguarded, presumably with the thought that the lock on there was enough. If someone had gone through the trouble to lock this side, one might imagine that Oni cared at least a little bit about his security... though, his living in a glass bathhouse might make one question that presumption. Regardless, the key worked. Suzume would open the door slowly, carefully, so that even if someone noticed, they wouldn't see the perpetrator at least.

Through the crack in the door, she could see a long hallway, tile with paintings in cases across the walls. There were no drapes or carpet, as such things wouldn't hold up well to the moisture pervading the air. In fact, just opening the gate brought with it a burst of hot steam, like walking into a sauna. The lighting was fairly low, but far preferable to being outside. It looked like there was some kitchen area to the left immediately on the inside, with another area to the right, obscured by another closed door... not locked, seemingly, only closed. The adornments, tile, and wall were all glorious gold. Boss Oni liked to wear his opulence and status on his sleeve, as the girls would likely recall from their last encounter with him.

Just as she might be about to peek inside, a face suddenly peaked out from one side of the doorway. It was another mask, this one belonging to a woman in blue, but otherwise quite similar to those at the front. Thankfully, Suzume darted onto the wall above just in time to avoid being identified. The guard hesitated for a moment, then slowly shut the gate back with a heavy groan. It appeared that this way was less guarded, but as long as masked dolls were inside, they could respond to a breach there. Whether she wanted to try again, this time in another fashion, or otherwise joint he others on another front, was her own decision to make.

If Oni realized that DragonierMan or his girls (or anyone) was trying to breach the bathhouse, the front guards revealed none of that suspicion to DragonierMan. They continued to stand silently, perhaps waiting for his response... or perhaps because standing completely still there was all they ever seemed to do.
DragonierMan looked at the one masked girl who was used as a speaker for Boss Oni. "I see. Well then, perhaps before I leave you can tell me when I can be penciled in." He opened his hands and produced a small pocket-callander and a pen. "I tend to be unreachable a lot of the time. So it would be good to get this in my ledger now than to wait for you to attempt to call on me later," he explained. Then he waited patiently for Boss Oni's reply. It was clear that he wouldn't leave without getting the future invitation first. Also it made a little extra distraction for his girls.

Aya cursed under her breath at her attempted infiltration through the roof's skylight had hit a snag. Thankfully she quickly thought of a solution. She equipped RageClaw2 to her hands and used the sharp claws to begin to cut a hole in the glass. The hope was that she would do it quietly and carefully enough that she could pull the piece of cut glass up and off to the side, letting it rest on the roof, and not let it fall to smash on the ground below. She used both hands to carefully cut two crescent arcs to the north and south, stopping the arcs in a way to leave a few inches of uncut glass to the east and west. As she cut the arcs, she didn't cut straight down, but at an angle. Then, with slow deliberateness, she pushed the northern half and dug her claws into the southern half. Slowly she tried to pry the southern half up while gripping the northern half as it cracked forward. She shifted around, using her flight, so that her northern hand slipped around and the claws sliced through what was left of the uncut eastern glass. She would be then able to pry it up on the western side and slice it off the roof without it falling into the building below.

If she was successful, she would then rest the glass on the roof, on a section of relative stability, then head into the fog below.

Suzume, meanwhile, began carefully sneaking around. If the masked woman returned to the darkened room, she wouldn't follow. If the masked woman didn't go into the dark room, but went somewhere else, then Suzume would peek into the darkened room. Her main goal was to try to find a security room and whatever passed for a locker room/guest room in this place. Somewhere where she could find where the Shogun would be when she wasn't meeting with Boss Oni. Though her primary concern was to avoid detection as best she could while not being able to become invisible.
There was a pause after DragonierMan relayed his response to Boss Oni's proxy. After a short while, the man's voice spoke up again. "Bah! Did you not hear me say I'm in a one-on-one meeting right now?! You're testing my patience! But that said... you clearly have good taste, if you're that eager to bring your girls to my bathhouse. I suppose I respect that. How does tomorrow sound? During the night, of course... the bath is always best at night." The offer was up, but DragonierMan hadn't come here to schedule his next dip...

With meticulous care, Aya managed to cut free a section of the glass roof panel using her claw. From here, she could head into the fog, but there would be no way of seeing for at least a little while after entering, due to the dense fog. She could either choose to clear out some of the thick mist somehow, or otherwise take her chances descending downward. The hole would put her in the middle of the bathhouse, descending from the highest point down, but there was no telling what lay inside, since there was no map or schematic to guide her. The only knowledge she'd have of the inside would be how to enter through the front and go straight to the main bath.

Suzume had slightly better luck this time; opening the gate a crack revealed that the guard was a fair ways down the hallway now with her back turned, either walking to a destination or perhaps patrolling. Either way, Suzume had just enough time to slip by and get through the closed door, which thankfully was not locked. Unfortunately, even a cursory peek into the room would reveal the worst case scenario: it was full of dolls, standing in lines like terracotta soldiers. Investigating that room any further would be hard and there was a good chance she was already spotted, seeing as all of the red, blue, yellow, and green suited women were staring right towards the front of the room, i.e the doorway. She'd have to react quickly. Best case, there was a chance that since she'd only peeked through, she might look like just another visitor. At the very least, there was no immediate noise of being pursued. From her current vantage point, Suzume had the option to either move further up the hall (carefully, so as not to alert the guard) and try either the left or right middle door. She could also escape back out the way she came in and possibly join up with one of the others. Or she could enter the kitchen, though there were sounds of movement in there, which she could tell now that she was a little closer. From here, she could see that there was no roof in this area... so flying above the walls and into the mist was also an option. There was, however, always the chance someone inside one of the rooms would see her doing that.
"Tomorrow night it is. I take my leave for now," DragonierMan said as he received his reply, jotting it down in the notebook. His PET's schedule pinged as the meeting was penciled into the digital calendar. He turned around afterward and walked away from the bathhouse. He continued walking until he was out of sight. However, he didn't leave the Homepage. His work wasn't done.

He turned around and looked at the dome in the distance. One hand came up and cupped his ear. <Status report,> he commanded in his mind.

Aya had entered the thick fog from the roof. She descended slowly, barely able to see more than a hands-breath away. She oriented herself horizontal in the air, parallel to where she thought the ground was. She hugged the curve of the roof down, just a few inches away, almost as she was being lowered down the inside of the dome attached to invisible cables. The instant she could see anything she would stop. It would be best if she remained hidden as best she could in the cloud. She could navigate as long as she could see anything to orient her.

After a few moments of descent, she heard a voice in her head. She slowed even more as she reached up to her own ear and talked through her mind. <Aya here. I have infiltrated through the roof and am currently descending into the main complex. I am still not sure where I am. Nothing more to report. How you doing sis?>

<I am in somewhat of a pickle,> Suzume said in her thoughts as she quickly moved past the door. She had only peeked in momentarily, so her chances of being caught were minimized. Hopefully, they didn't see her well enough and thought that she was just another guest. <There is a whole room of those creepy dolls by the southern entrance. I only peeked for a moment, so they might not have seen me. They are all lifeless an-,>

<Focus!> Aya interrupted.

<Ack, sorry. I'm at the southern entrance near the kitchens. There isn't any roof here so I feel exposed.>

<Then use that to your advantage,> Aya commented. <Peek over the walls to get your bearings. I can't see you from my position yet, so I can't guide you. Just try to find a changing room or something. I'll meet you there.>

<Roger that. Suzume out,> Suzume said as she turned to the wall and floated up enough to grasp the edge. She continued to float, as well as pull herself, until her eyes came up over the lip. She turned in a full circle, and her eyes darted about, as she surveyed as much as she could see around her. Hopefully, she would see everything she needed to before she was seen. The best part about flying without a roof though is that if a guard came up a section nearby, she could duck behind a wall, or quickly fly over another wall and not be where she was for when they came to the section she was previously in. The main concern is that there would be too many guards active simultaneously and there wouldn't be an opening to hide in.

Her goal was to see if there were any changing or shower rooms nearby that she could duck into. If necessary she could disguise herself in towels or bathrobes.
"Hrmmmmgh," Boss Oni's voice responded to DragonierMan, like a sort of snarl. On one hand, that was just the way the mafioso's guttural voice always sounded. On the other hand, it was hard not to assume he'd expected a little more advance notice. "Very well. Safe travels." The masked women stood perfectly still, not seeming to watch as he retreated far enough away to stay out of sight, but keep an eye on the dome.


On Aya's side, the further down she lowered herself, the better her visibility would be through the fog, though presumably, the less her cloud cover would become. It seemed that entering through the highest point of the dome had put her over the hallway that Suzume had entered as well, but also provided her a slight view into each of the other rooms. She'd see a dark room with tall cages and a sort of gallery, two rooms that Suzume had yet to lay eyes on, which were immediately to the left and right upon entering through the main gate. She'd see another dark room, which, from this angle, would be hard to tell anything about, but she could infer it was the room full of women she'd heard of earlier. She'd also see a kitchen area, identifiable by the glow of a fire inside and several high shelves along the walls. It looked like a series of narrow, tiled walls was on the right center. Judging by other curtain rods hanging, it might have showers of some kind. Most importantly, she'd spy a large, single room on the opposite side, the left center... the walls were ivory white and even damper than the rest of the bath-house, but what really mattered was the voice of the bath-house's owner coming from inside, chortling genially. That was probably where the meeting was taking place.

Suzume would probably spot Aya as she raised herself upward. Other than that, the first room she'd get a look at was the kitchen. Inside, a mountainous gray navi, clad from head to toe in a skinsuit with a large, worker's apron over the front, was carrying around dishes of strange, bubbling brown liquid, which ran over the sides and onto the floors. It was a very, very messy kitchen, though the mess seemed somehow confined only to the kitchen. It was likely because the women in the masks served the dishes while he only prepared them. There were many cooking implements inside, although the large, several-decker oven on one side appeared to be the only tool getting much use at the moment. The room was orange colored and rather dark. The cook was also wearing a welding mask, on closer inspection, which seemed out of place.

That obviously wasn't where she needed to be, so Suzume might scooch further to the right. Doing so would allow her to see inside the main bath, where the fog was thickest of all in the house. Even with the thick fog, it was possible to make out two large figures. One, standing up from the bath, was clearly Boss Oni, based on his girth and his pitch-black skin, which was hard to miss even in the mist. Thankfully, as he lifted himself out of the bath with great effort, most of his features were obscured. "I'll return with refreshments," he cooed; Suzume managed to hear that much, but couldn't hear if there was a response. The other figure would grab her attention as well: Neo-ShogunMan, sitting in meditation nearby, but not inside, the bath. It looked like there was also one other figure in the bath, though it was hard to make out who they were from this distance.

They might want to take more time to understand the situation, or they might want to "strike while the iron was hot" and enter the room as soon as Oni exited it. The bath-house seemed to shake as the fat man moved to the wall opposite Suzume and grabbed a towel, wrapping it beneath his huge gut. Suzume would likely want to drop down behind the wall, possibly even in the kitchen, to be less visible as he moved to the door and walked out. Then again, for what they were going to do, now might be a decent time to try to convince Oni to be on their side... Subduing Neo-ShogunMan could be easier with Oni's support. Of course, that was assuming he found the coup agreeable to begin with.
<I see the Shogun,> Suzume stated in her mind as she moved over to look into a steam-shrouded room. <She is with Oni in a white-tiled room. I am on the other side of the wall. And Oni is moving towards my position,> she continued. Aya peered through the fog and moved to try to be over the thickest shroud of the white-tiled main bath. <I am moving to be over the location as I speak. It might be prudent to make for the steam as well,> Aya added through the internal link. Suzume nodded a little and waited until Oni left the white-tiled room, then hopped the wall into the foggy room, hanging off the wall like a spider. She then, hugging the wall up, rose silently into the cloud-cover above.

<I will head to the top of the dome and await your extraction. Take your time and observe the situation. We don't want the Shogun to disappear too quickly or Oni will get suspicious. We need to wait it out and strike when they are close to being done,> DragonierMan said as he began to rise into the sky. He would make sure he was high above the dome's height before he flew towards the dome. <Sending coordinates to where my infiltration point in the roof was,> Aya said as a marker appeared in Drago's vision. A waypoint to guide him towards the hole in the glass roof. If he made it to the roof without incident, he would drop down from the sky, and alight on the roof near the hole to wait. Meanwhile, the twins were trying to find a good spot to hide within the heavy steam, somewhere where they couldn't really be seen from what was going on below, but could at least hear what was going on below. This would probably blind them to what was going on below beyond any big moving shapes.

And then they waited.
One advantage of the hiding place the girls had spoken was that Oni had no real reason to look up at his ceiling, so even if they were not quite invisible there, they were safe as long as they were somewhere no one would look. The big man lumbered slowly, oh so slowly, out of the room, clad only in a lower body towel, which covered him short even though it would be large enough to wrap around most of an average person's body. Presumably, he had free reign to walk around his own place naked without upsetting anyone. Well, other than the girls, perhaps, but he had no idea they were there.

DragonierMan came to join them, while Boss Oni was out of the room. They remained up there until Boss Oni returned. Even once Boss Oni returned, the shape of Neo-ShogunMan's armor stayed right where it was. From the best hiding spots, it wasn't possible to hear their whole conversation, but they were able to pick up bits and pieces...

"So what you want... Teksqp... cooperation, necessarily, but... range of movement..." the big man's voice began, very distinct.

A woman's voice came up next... reaching back into his memories, DragonierMan would remember it as Hime's. "You're misunderstanding... don't need... all I've actually got to have... technologies that can help us to-"

"Hm hm hm! Well that's something I'll have to pull... acquire, but I'd be willing to... if you were to offer me..."

"No, I believe we're... arrangement is sufficient, so... do is keep the current..." There was a large splash next, making it hard to understand what came next. It seemed Boss Oni had moved significantly in the bath. "I said I'm done! Why can't you just be like... like you used to be!" Hime's voice finished, loudly. Hime quickly moved out of the bath and over to her armor.

"Wait, you! I am the same man! Are you judging me?! I'll have you subdued!" Oni bellowed. It sounded like if DragonierMan and crew waited any longer, they were going to risk, at the very least, Hime leaving, if she or Oni didn't end up fighting instead. From their angle, the ninjas and DragonierMan would see several of the masked guards beginning to march towards the bath, down the hallway.
DragonierMan floated down to join the two girls as they listened in on the conversation below. They couldn't hear every word, but they heard enough that the general flow of the conversation was understood. What shocked the three was that it wasn't the Shogun who was supposed to be in the bath with Boss Oni, but Hime. However, the Shogun's armor was right there near her. Putting two-and-two together meant that the only explanation was that Hime was Neo-ShogunMan! What's more, she seemed to have some sort of history with Boss Oni. That was something, among many other things, to ask about when they were done extracting her from the area.

Drago opened up the silent, mental communicator again. <I'm going to BlinderEffect: Blind 1 + To-All-Clause
Accuracy: S
Description: A flash of light blinds all, even you. This reduces all affected character's accuracy by 50%.
Duration: Once
Element: Null
Special: Affects entire field.
Trader Rank: C
the area. You two refresh and bind Hime, then head for home. I will grab the armor,>
he said as he pulled forth a small grenade-shaped device. Suzume and Aya brought out the faintly glowing rope and stretched it between them. <Roger that.>


With that, Drago primed the device and then let it drop. As it just exited the cloud of steam, it exploded in a blinding flash of light. Drago and the girls folded their wings and dived. The three used their patented signatures to heal and remove the blinding effect so they could see for the next few seconds. They didn't need to heal, but they felt quite refreshed regardless. Suzume and Aya swept out of the cloud of steam towards Hime, and began to circle her with the rope. Suzume flew clockwise around Hime, and Aya moved counterclockwise. When they got a good binding on her, Suzume tied the final knot, while Aya bound her mouth with another scrap of cloth. Hime's words would come out muffled if she were to scream after the binding was done. Then the twins grabbed her from both sides, spread their wings, and took off toward the ceiling hole.

Drago meanwhile took the moment of blinding light to try to grab as much of the Shogun's armor as he could, tossing it into one of his loot sacks. He then spread his wings and took off for home before Boss Oni could recover, the sack of armor over his shoulder like a reverse Santa. The dragons sped through the steamy air and attempted to exit the building with their ill-gotten gains in tow. If they managed to have pulled off the heist, they quickly flew up and away from the bathhouse, trying to gain considerable distance before they exited the Homepage.

Although this was the best-case scenario, that everything they envisioned worked as plan. It was possible that things didn't go as swimmingly as they thought.
Things became chaotic quickly as Hime was targeted by DragonierMan's ninjas, their capture attempt beginning by dropping a blinding flashbomb into the room. It was hard to tell if it got her, but it certainly got Boss Oni. "Braaaah! What was that?! You'll pay for attacking me in my own bath!" he growled, thrashing around noisily in the water. The first couple of dolls who'd entered the room were holding still as well, either being blinded or otherwise unable to guide themselves while Boss Oni was.

When the girls managed to get closer to Hime, it became clear she was blinded as well, given how her yellow eyes were squinted painfully. She was also stark naked, and rather well built, slender but with some definition befitting a martial artist, which DragonierMan at least might appreciate if he was nearby. She was still trudging towards the exit, but the two ninjas managed to get two chains wrapped around her legs to stop that movement. As if now realizing what was happening, Hime grabbed hold of the two chains and pulled them hard, breaking the chains free of the hands of each girl (but thankfully, not breaking the chains themselves). The chains remained around her thighs, however, and her coordination was not such yet that she could figure out how to get free of those. Obviously, gagging her wasn't quite a possibility yet.

As it turned out, tossing the armor into a loot sack would be impossible. Not only was it extremely unwieldy, but it didn't actually separate; on closer inspection, the whole thing was plated on top of a cloth suit that was padded to hold a shape. It was really more like a robotic shell that it was armor. The back was currently opened, revealing a cockpit that one could step inside, though only by lifting their legs high. It'd probably even fit an adult male... the legs would keep the illusion of remaining the same height, but the length of the arms and legs appeared to be adjustable by some mechanism inside. There would be more time to investigate that later.

The chains around her legs alone would prevent Hime (or the Shogun, if DragonierMan preferred to think of her that way) from jacking out, but they only had the simplest wrap made so far, and those were the only chains they'd brought. Either the girls or DragonierMan himself were going to need to get a hold on those chains again and resume the capture, but the Shogun was deceptively physically powerful, so much so that one had to wonder if the armor was more of a handicap than a help in battle. Hime still had her eyes squinted, but her fists were clenched, as though waiting to lash out at anyone closing in, rather than struggling with the chains. She'd probably have a hard time gathering those up before she got her sight back regardless.

In a moment of bitter irony, DragonierMan would receive a personal message:

Quote (NeoShogunMan)

Need help, under attack at central bath of Boss Oni's bath-house. I've notified just you and Yasu. Top secret. Please come with only the two of you.
Well that could have gone better.

Hime was apparently stronger than she looked. Her armor was also a lot heavier than it looked. It made one wonder why she has a mechanized suit when she was so strong already. It wouldn't be super hard for her to just have bulky armor on. Anyways, DragonierMan had been put in a bad situation. He hoped he could have gotten both Hime and the ShogunArmor out all at once, but plans had to be adaptable. They could always get the armor from Boss Oni later, assuming they could get away with Hime without Boss Oni finding out who it was that just attacked them. As such, Drago would have to help Suzume and Aya get Hime out of there now.

Drago sent a reply to both NeoShogunMan and Yasu:

Quote (DragonierMan)

On my way to assist. This should be over soon.

So Drago flew at Hime from her front, while Suzume went high and Aya went low from behind. The three tried to tackle her, Drago and Suzume going for her arms, while Aya went for the chains at her legs, trying to trip her up. If they managed to get a hold, they would try to continue the binding as they all three tried to lift Hime into the air, heading for the roof. Silencing her would be secondary to getting her arms and legs bound. She was strong and they would struggle, but she was still temporarily blind and disoriented, and they outnumbered her. It would be a hard fight to get under control and out of the bathhouse before Boss Oni acted. But they had to put everything on the line now or they would fail.

Why couldn't anything be easy?

Drago also sent a personal message to Yasu alone, as he struggled to capture Hime:

Quote (DragonierMan)

Hime is stronger than she looks. We got a blinding drop on her, but she is not in custody yet. Standby.
Yasu's response was quick. It might be interesting to know if she was also speaking to Hime now, but if she was, there was no indication as to what she was saying.

Quote (Yasu)

Do not fail, DragonierMan. If we lose control of the situation now, we won't get another chance.

Nothing helpful was in the message, but at least it didn't sound like Yasu had cold feet about the plan. That was a good thing, because DragonierMan was in deep on this now. Hime's eye-sight would slowly be returning to her and with DragonierMan at the front, his identity wouldn't stay hidden much longer. Oni, in the mean time, was still stumbling around in the foggy central bath, so it wasn't likely he was getting a great look at the situation. The soldiers hadn't started advancing again yet, but that would likely change once Oni got his own vision back.

For now, the DragonierMan and Suzume each got a hold of an arm; that wouldn't be too difficult, since, strong as she might be, she was currently robbed of her vision. Just as importantly, Aya seized the chains around Hime's legs to stop her from either freeing herself or moving. Sure enough, there was little Hime could do to stop herself from being tripped and falling to the wet bath-house floor, landing on her knees and hunching forward.

Struggling on the floor, she lashed her wet, white hair around. She wanted to push back up to her feet, but without the leverage of either her lower legs or her arms, doing so was impossible. "Who are you? What do you want?" she asked, her voice proud, but also rueful. It was clear that she wanted to negotiate or even talk her captors out of their attack, but without being able to see them or knowing anything about them, she had no idea where to start. "You must release me!" she warned them. DragonierMan had a tight hold on her arm, but she managed to yank her other arm in a bit. Once it was close enough, she headbutted Suzume hard, which would cause the SP to see stars herself. It was a no-holds-barred blow, but it also was surprisingly not a chip attack or even a lethal move. Hime either didn't have access to weapons right now or otherwise wasn't using them. Still, DragonierMan would see Hime had essentially freed up that arm now and would need to react. Aya still had a good position, unseen from behind and holding the chains, so she'd need to react quickly as well.

"You there! Whoever you are!" Oni growled groggily, managing to push himself up so that his tremendous gut cleared the side of the bath's low wall. "Apprehend her and bring her to me! I'll reward you!" Bringing Hime to Oni hadn't been part of the deal, of course, but it might be worth considering what the big man would be willing to do for someone he was indebted to.
They were losing control of the situation quickly. As such DragonierMan had one recourse, the use of chips to subdue her. He hoped he didn't delete her in the process. <Scatter!> he yelled into his mind-link. The twins jumped away from Hime, Suzume holding a hand to her bruised head, and took to the air in a mad dash as Drago brought to bear WoodPowder2Damage: 90 + Medium Grass Terrain Change + Confusion + Cone Attack
Accuracy: C
Description: Blast up to 4 enemies with a cone of miasma breath. Changes terrain to Grass and causes confusion on contact.
Duration: Once
Element: Wood
Trader Rank: C
. The gassy cone exhaled from his mouth and was aimed to only strike Hime, sprouting lush green grass all around her, and altering her perceptions. Inhaling so much noxious poisonous gas would do a number on the Shogun's body, but should have been just enough damage to make her succumb without deleting her. If the confusion being forced upon her held for the length of the blindness, causing her aches and coughing and not fighting back, then she should be easier to kidnap.

<Now!> he commanded again. The three hurled themselves at the Shogun again. As they tried binding her again and dragged her to to her feet, Drago delivered a punch to Hime's gut without chips or buster, hoping to further throw her off with a sudden jab in the ribs to take her breath away. Aya and Suzume scrambled through the pain to yank Hime's arms behind her and finish the binding of her arms and legs behind her back. Then if they could "jack-out" with her in tow through the opening in the dome they created, they would transfer to the Shogun Camp area they left from. If they couldn't, they would try to fly out first.