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[X] Go to the safehouse
“Junko can handle herself.” You answer. “She’ll figure something out. All I can do is get Ruukoto out.”
You imagine Caleb sighing as he prepares his nerve. “Roger that. I’ll go cover her.”
Next, you pry open the drain and slip into the tunnel. It’s even more cramped than the Kappa vents, but at least it’s another layer of safety between you and the Tengu.
The next few minutes are spent squeezing through the rough-hewn and dank passage. You try to keep Ruukoto from scraping against the rock while keeping an eye out for the promised safehouse.
A trail of identical gouges left on the walls leads you to an otherwise inconspicuous patch of wall that rings hollow when you rap your knuckles against it.
Silence persists for a moment before the false wall shakes and slides backwards to reveal a mousy Tengu waving at you.
“Come on in, Charlotte.” She says with an eager smile. “I’m ‘Clamshell’.”
“How’d you know it was me before opening the wall?” You ask, sizing her up.
She takes a flip phone from a pouch and proudly holds it up for you to see. “I have a talent for scrying. Of course I checked to see who it was!” It’s outdated but clearly well cared for and cherished, with a number of charms dangling from it.
Well, that explains her pseudonym. Anyways, it doesn’t look like there are any electronic or heat signatures unaccounted for in the room, and Clamshell doesn’t strike you as much of a physical threat. You shimmy through the doorway and allow her to close it.
There’s not much in this room aside from two vaguely seat-ish rocks and a trapdoor that you would guess leads to the Underground. The only source of light is an electric lantern of Kappa make.
“I’m so happy to finally meet you.” She enthuses. “I mean, I’d have preferred meeting all three of you at once, and in nicer conditions than this hole in the ground, but this is big either way. I’m Hatate, by the way.”
“Right. You know, Hatate, you haven’t mentioned why you were so eager to help us and Nitori’s crew break into that bunker.” You say, not returning her enthusiasm.
“Well, obviously I couldn’t just thoughtograph what was inside, or else I would have been able to blow the lid on the robotics project myself. Unlike Aya, I can just boss around a few wolves to do the grunt work whenever-
“Hatate.” You interrupt, taking a deep breath. “I’ve had a very long day. Please, what did you want to accomplish by looking in that facility, and why should I trust you any further?”
“Hey, I could have just snitched you out to Aya, but I went out of my way to keep her away.” She replies, taken aback. “I didn’t know what the Kappa were doing there, but if they went through all that trouble to bury it, I knew I needed to figure out what it was.”
“I’ve seen that attitude cause a lot of damage in the Outside world.” You say, lowering your voice. “Did you have a plan if the Kappa were right to seal the place?”
She shrugs. “I knew that was a risk, but I figured that meant you guys were the right people to send in.”
“You weren’t wrong.” You sit back and sigh. “So, why are you going behind the back of the rest of the Tengu to help us trespass? If you say newspaper material I might actually barbeque you.”
“Well, yeah, but not just for newspaper stuff.” She admits somewhat sheepishly before recovering her bravado. “I’m committed to finding the truth and making it known.”
“Oh?” You raise an eyebrow.
Hatate nods. “If something would be destroyed by revealing the truth, then it should be destroyed, no matter what. That’s what I believe in, above all else. Besides, everything turned out alright, didn’t it? Nitori and her team all made it out, and so did you.”
“What we did today-.” You sigh. “There’s going to be consequences. I don’t know what, exactly, but I’m not looking forward to it.”
“Can you elaborate?”
“No.” Even referencing Yukari seems unwise.
Fortunately, Hatate doesn’t press the issue despite her obvious disappointment.
“Tell you what.” You offer. “I’ll give you whatever non-sensitive information I can, and you figure out how to get my friends and I out of the Mountain.”
“I don’t suppose that robot has any recordings or other data I could have?” She asks, indicating Ruukoto.
“I’ll see what there is.” You say, plugging into the least-melted port you can find. “In the meanwhile, could you figure out what’s going on with my buddies?”
“Yeah. I actually have some pics already, but the thing about thoughtography is that it takes a while to develop.” Hatate explains. “There’s a time lag, basically.”
“Right. So what did you see?”
“Uh...” She consults her phone. “The lady in green- Junko was facing down Aya and a security wolfpack, but she seems pretty calm. It doesn’t look like things are going to get violent. She’s got another robot strapped to her as well.”
You curse as you try to parse useable files from the corrupt memory banks. “Playing with people’s expectations is her thing.”
At least she still has Mimi. “What are her chances of getting away?”
“Pretty low.” Hatate replies. “Aya uses the newspaper thing mostly as a cover for her intelligence work. She’s pretty high up on the hierarchy.”
“Great. I kind of got the feeling there was more to her than that... How about Caleb? The guy with the rifle and gasmask?”
“Looks like he was watching from some distance away. Too far to directly intervene, but the wolves make it too risky to get closer.”
You steady your breathing. You know Junko and Caleb. Each of you have come out on top of worse odds. They can figure something out.
A particularly intact file catches your attention, and a cursory inspection reveals no sensitive data.
“Hey, Hatate. I found something you might like.” You call her over. “Take a look.”
She pockets her own phone as you both settle down to observe the recording.
“I... I didn’t think...” Hatate is at a loss for words. She gulps. “How did she even end up down there? Poor thing...”
“Ask Nitori.” You answer, your voice a little too calm. “It seems like she passed Ruukoto to the other Kappa.”
Hatate dwells on the scene as she copies the files to her phone. “People should see this. Those Kappa sowed the seeds of their own failure and tried to flee rather than face the harvest.” Her face hardens. “Well, they’ve finally run out of excuses to cower behind-”
Her soliloquy is interrupted by a buzz from her phone. “Ah, another thoughtograph developed.” She says, opening the image. Let me take a look- oh. Uhhhhhhh...”
You cautiously lean over.
Yuuka is standing off against a group of Tengu at least three times the size of the force surrounding Junko, and from their body language, the guards aren’t comforted by the numbers advantage. She’s holding a gleaming scythe in a relaxed, familiar stance. Her hair now comes down to her shoulders instead of her chin, and she’s smiling at the Tengu in her way. Even through Hatate’s phone screen, the expression chills you to your bones.
[ ] Head to the Underground
[ ] Deal with Yuuka
[ ] Other