berlin_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Inkvestigations
Synopsis Berlin and Squeaks follow a lead on the mysterious cryptographer.
Date December 15, 2018

Yamagato Park

The lesser fancy apartment complex.

The apartment complex that Berlin has brought Squeaks to is not the lush and luxurious Cresting Wave apartments, but something far more understated. Berlin checks the address before starting up the elevator to the correct floor. "I'm not sure what to say," she says to her companion, "we didn't exactly find her. Not all of her." And really, she's not here to reassure the family, but to investigate. So, she hopes Squeaks has a better bedside manner, so to speak, than she does.

If there's something that's right to say, it's probably one of those things that Squeaks doesn't know. “I never did anything like this before,” she answers quietly. Finding things isn't the same as talking to people about those things. And Berlin is right, they’ve only found pieces so far, and clues about other pieces.

As the button is pushed to send the elevator to the right floor, the teen tilts her head to look at the floor counter. “Maybe just… what we do know? About the marks and the codes and we're still looking.” But not the bad stuff, that they might be running out of time. It's on her mind, but she doesn't say it even now.

"We found some of her cryptography, we've been studying it. We should be careful about mentioning her power, in case she was keeping it to herself." Berlin is particularly sensitive to that topic. One never knows. "Since I'm Wolfhound, I told you I'd help you look into her disappearance."

This is, as they say, the official story.

She checks the address one more time, just to be sure, before she approaches the door to knock. "We'll just see what they can tell us that might help."

Berlin had a good reason to be concerned about it, as registration was slightly different for Yamagato employees and residents. They didn’t need to have the markers on their wrists, after all. They had a lot of different rules.

There’s only a moment of silence before the door suddenly flies open. Only at first it might seem there’s no one there, if they don’t look down. A young girl, shorter than Squeaks, stands with dark hair hanging past her shoulders and wearing what looks like a robe of some kind, almost like she didn’t want to stop wearing the yukata that she’d bought for the Festival. The sleeves hang down past her wrists. She’s also a few years younger than Squeaks.


For a moment, Berlin and Squeaks feel something stir. For Squeaks it’s as if the ink on her arm went liquid for a moment, for Berlin it’s a strain of energy, like someone trying to wake, or the sick fighting to breathe. It doesn’t last long.

“Oh,” the girl says in a soft voice of surprise. “Are you lost?” At least she’s speaking English, but she sounds as if she’s convinced, looking between them. She appears intelligent, and not the least bit shy, from the way she just yanked open the door.

As the plan is laid out, Squeaks’ head nods along with it. That all sounds right, as far as she can tell, just like out of a Nancy Drew story. She looks at Berlin, then at the door when the woman knocks on it. “Found cryptography and studying it,” she repeats in a whisper, just to be sure it stays in her head. “Found cryptography, studying it.”

The teenager’s eyes go wide as the door opens, partially surprised by the suddenness of it. But they also stay wide and she grabs hold of her marked arm. She wouldn’t stop the ink-lady from going home if that’s what she’s doing but the sensation is unexpected. “No,” she answers the younger girl’s question in a tone that sounds like a question of her own.

She adjusts her arms so she’s hugging herself instead of gripping her arm, it looks more normal, and really looks at the kid who’s standing in the doorway. “Hi. We were… we found some codes and things and…” Squeaks darts a look up at Berlin. “We’ve been studying them. A lot.”

Berlin smiles at Squeaks' attempt to stick with the story and nods before clarifying. "Sorry to drop in on you unannounced," she says, putting a hand on Squeaks' shoulder, "I'm Officer Beckett, with Wolfhound. My friend brought some cryptography to my attention. We're pretty sure it's Ms. Kobayashi's work. We discovered she went missing and we thought I could offer to help the case."

There's a pause before she thinks to add, "Is your uncle here? We'd like to speak to you both, if that's alright."

The mention of codes and things makes the young girl’s interest level perk up a little. While she had already been interested it seemed more so as she raised up in height a little, almost as if she was pushing up on the slippers she wore on her feet. As they continue, though, she settles back down and bobs into a bow to the Officer of Wolfhound. No doubt that she must be too young here. “Oh, yes, yes he is— “

Then they hear a bunch of Japanese coming from inside, almost half-frustrated sounding. No matter the language barriers, emotion could still be heard and that didn’t change too much between languages. The man who appears behind the girl is younger than they might have thought. He’s probably not even thirty by appearances and he stops speaking as soon as he sees them, a frown pressing his lips together. He mutters something again in Japanese before looking back at them. “What you want?” His English isn’t very clear, heavily accented.

“They’re asking about mom’s work,” the young girl says, but he gives her another sharp look like she should not have been speaking.

Angry voices, even when they're coming from out of sight, are something to be worried about. And even though she understands no Japanese at all, Squeaks understands the tone being used. She drops her shoulders, so Berlin would have to reach to keep her in place, and slinks backward a step. She might have even taken another so she could scuttle down the hall to the elevators they'd ridden, but then the girl returns with her uncle.

The teen flicks a look down the hallway — retreat is still an option — then angles a side-eyeing stare at the man in the doorway. “I found some of her codes,” she explains carefully. “I… I’ve been working on deciphering. She knows lots of different kinds.” It's supposed to be a compliment, even with her tone being more matter of fact.

Berlin doesn't try to keep Squeaks in place, but rather, lets her move to where she is more comfortable. Whether or not that would include a rush to the elevator, hopefully they don't have to find out.

"My friend's interest in her work led us to find out she went missing," Berlin repeats, for her brother. "I was telling your niece, I'm an officer in Wolfhound and I thought I could look into her case and see if new eyes would help." The man's demeanor doesn't seem to inspire her to be more forthcoming about the situation. "I'm hoping either of you can help me. If you saw anything strange around the time she disappeared. Heard anything. Anything out of the ordinary could help."

There's a pause before she flicks her gaze to the daughter. "If you want to see her work, or what we've deciphered, we meet at the Doyle Memorial Library some afternoons."

With her uncle now present, the girl’s lips press together as if to keep from speaking, but she’s listening intently from the way she watches them. She can keep up with everything they are saying quite well, but her uncle doesn’t look to have quite the same capabilities.

But it seems he understood who Berlin said she was, and her offer, because he quickly responds, in clipped tones, “Yamagato take care of it. No need outside help. Goodbye.” Apparently he is even less forthcoming than Berlin, because he’s already closing the door.

But as he does the young girl looks up and nods at them, giving them a silent indication that she really did understand that last part. And the nod might well be her response to it.

“But — ” Squeaks’ protest cuts off with a flinch as the door is abruptly closed. Her head turns and eyes squint to be almost shut, and she seriously side-eyes the doorknob. Maybe it’s to blame, or she’s thinking of trying to knock on the door again. She doesn’t move though, and after a second, she looks from the apartment that’s now completely hidden, to Berlin. “It was a good idea,” she offers, more questioning than statement.

The teenager eyeballs the door again, for another couple of seconds. It’s probably not going to get them anywhere, trying again. So, shrugging, she turns away to walk to the elevators. “We need more ideas, I think. But I don’t know yet. Maybe just keep looking other places.”

Berlin watches the door close, leaning back a little and blinking once or twice. She looks over at Squeaks, giving her a reassuring smile. "Don't worry. That's only a first step. People don't like to talk about uncomfortable subjects. It takes time. Plus," she says, putting a hand on the younger girl's back and directing her toward the elevator, "I think her daughter will be more open to talking to us. We just have to find a moment without her uncle." Which she tried to set up, of course. "Plus, we should tell her about her mother. Maybe we can find a way for them to communicate."

On that front, Berlin is firm.

“Maybe,” Squeaks agrees of the girl in the apartment. “But her uncle was really mad at us.” Her shoulders push up, shrugging, then drop again so she can push the button for the elevator. “Maybe you’re right, but I hope that kid doesn’t get in trouble for us bothering them.”

Her finger finds the button and pushes it again, just because she can. It isn’t going to call the elevator any faster. “I never tried asking the journal anything, except by talking when it was gathering ink. I wonder if…” The young teen tilts her head and looks up at Berlin. “Maybe we could write notes in it and that’s how her daughter could talk? I never wanted to write in it. It might ruin things or hurt the ink-lady. But… it could work?”

"I get the sense her uncle is always mad." For Berlin, it puts him in the category of person of interest. Someone to look at a little closer. "She'll be okay," she adds, "chances are, he's just tired of people poking around."

She chuckles when Squeaks pushes the button again, her head shaking gently. "I don't think it would hurt her so long as you're not writing over the ink in the book. It's worth a try, right? We could ask her what she remembers. She could speak to her daughter." When the elevator arrives, she gestures Squeaks in first, holding the door open with a hand like she suspects it might not stay very long on its own. "I'll see if Yamagato security will talk to me about what they've found out. Maybe we can find out where the rest of her is."

“Maybe it would be easier too.” Squeaks’ wonderings still come out loud as she walks into the elevator. It's easier to wonder about the journal than worry about the girl and her uncle. Her finger trails over the panel until it touches the one for the ground floor. Then it presses just once, and she looks up at Berlin.

“Do you think Yamagato would talk?” She always found the organization to be kind of quiet and keep to themselves. “I mean… I haven't looked for news about it, and people sometimes go missing and it's missed anyway, but I never heard of a code-lady gone missing.”

Berlin leans back against the wall as they head down. "It's hard to predict if another organization will be happy to help out a fellow investigator or if they'll disapprove of someone walking into their case. I don't know which Yamagato will be, but I plan on finding out."

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