Historically, Inaba was formerly Yasoinaba, a coal mining town. Over time, it grew from the initial settlement of coal miners into what it is today. Nobody here mines for coal any longer.
A rural town out in the country, tourists praise the air as being clean and the sky cleaner than any of the big cities surrounding it, and the sunsets as absolutely breathtaking. The town goes at its own pace throughout the day. To the average person, there is not much to see out here, with a lack of interesting historical landmarks or, really, even much of anything. Inaba is about as close to being the middle of nowhere as one can get in this part of Japan. A new department store may be the herald of encroaching urbanization.
Recently, the town has fallen on hard times. A major department store's recent opening is seeing smaller businesses fold left and right. A serial murder case grips the attention of the local media. Rumors circulate about how if one watches a turned off TV in one's room at midnight on a raining evening, one will see their soulmate. Bizarre meteorlogical patterns see great amounts of rain followed by thick, choking fog. Some say a local beef skewer stand isn't even using real beef.
Some seem a little too welcoming of the excitement and confusion. Is it just from a change of pace, or is there a sinister truth to all these events?
It was a rather nice day all in all. Sure the weather was a bit cloudly, but the temperature was high and the air felt nice. As nice as it could be for a place where many humans lived at any rate.
Sayaka wanders down the streets in Inaba and looks around. Originally she was supposed to be home and training as usual, but it had gotten to the point where she was getting rather sick of it. At least she found Inaba to be much more quiet than home.
Her eyes notices a familiar path to her right, across the street where she's currently walking. It wasn't difficult to remember what had happened the time she'd been walked down it and fought that duel. Not an experience she cared to repeat. Then again what was the chances of that happening again?
"I wonder how things are going for him anyway..." Mumbles she to herself as she turns her eyes forward again. There hadn't been any words about that one for a while so she assumed he was ok.
Down the streets of Inaba, a motorcycle roars past. Some of the older citizens look on in contempt but most choose to ignore the noise. The particular pitch of the motor had become an unfortunately familiar-sounding noise in Inaba these past few months.
The motorcycle stops outside of Daidara's Metalworks, the rider quick to kick down the kickstand. Mostly keeping to herself, Thora dismounts and curves around to the back of the bike where she had secured several wrapped packages.
Seems like business as usual for Thora. She's a bit more annoyed today for some reason. Certain people knew why but most people just ignored it and gave the disruptive delinquent the wide berth she so desired.
It's been an interesting week for Fumiya Watanabe. He learns of the existance of the supernatural, tries to dig a bit deeper into it, and winds up seeing a friend (?) of his wind up on that Midnight Channel. He thinks. He's still a bit fuzzy on those details, but it seems obvious SOMETHING has happened to Shirou. But, suffice to say, this is not at all how he anticipated things would be when he moved to Inaba.
Keeping all this stuff straight in his head lately causes him to walk with far less of a 'groove' than he normally would (normal for him meaning walking like a cartoonish strutting peacock with attitude), and simply strolls down the streets of Inaba with his hands in his pockets. Even his standard neon clothing seems less bright than it normally would thanks to his sullen attitude. Is it 'guilt' he's feeling over Shirou?
With a long drawn-out sigh he looks up at the clouds, hoping that Thora doesn't have it out for him. Hopefully she doesn't know Fumiya was snooping about the Midnight Channel around Shirou. Hopefully that...
Ping. Babe alert. Fumiya's spirits are lifted as he spots Sayaka, a girl he has yet to meet. A smirk returns to his features and he picks up his pace in order to lay on his 'charms'. Such as they are. "Hey babe, I haven't seen you around Inaba before. Are you new around here or have my eyes just failed in spotting a beauty?"
He senses dread immediately after finishing that sentence. Rather, he heard Thora's motorcycle.
While Sayaka is still pretty much lost in her own thoughts, they're suddenly interrupted as someone speaks to her. She blinks for a second and turns her blue eyes towards Fumiya.
"No this isn't the first time I've been here, but who are you?" Replies she politely. The first thing that strikes her is the guys clothing. They don't remind her of any fashion she's aware of, but then again she's never been one to follow trends.
A few strands of her black dyed hair falls infront of her face she glances slightly to the side. Is that a motorcycle in the distance?
Pausing, Thora removes her helmet and stretches over, hanging it on one of the handles of her motorcycle. The vehicle would probably get left out there for a few minutes while she moves things around. It was still pretty trippy to Thora, who grew up in various cities, that she could leave it out and not have to worry so much about it being stolen.
After she removes her helmet, she pauses. What was that...smell? Definitely one she hasn't caught before. Gritting her teeth, she forces herself to not jump to conclusions and goes about her business.
Don't think she doesn't notice you though, Fumiya. She could spot that much neon from space.
Nothing? No heavy footsteps? No angry yelling? Thora must not be heading their way then! Maybe she didn't notice Fumiya at all! A thought that would normally bug him, he takes some comfort in right now.
Back to the babe.
"I would say my name doesn't matter, babe, since fate saw fit to have us both meet here today. But I'm Fumiya Watanabe." He lies, he thinks his name DOES matter. But it's all part of the routine. "While we're exchanging names, how about you? What's your story, babe?" Fumiya's impolite familiarity is bound to get him in trouble one of these days. 'Real' trouble, not just playing comic foil to more serious types.
Yeah it had been a motorcycle alright and the driver appeared to be a woman of some sorts. If she had to wager a guess, they were infact just about the same height. Nice to know she wasn't the only tall lady around.
/Hm? Why is she stopping here?/
She turns her gaze back to Fumiya and moves the strands of hair behind her ear. Her shinai bag seems to slide slightly down her shoulder when she does this, but she quickly corrects that as well.
"I am Sayaka Takuma." Answers she politely, seemingly not caring about the impoliteness. It's not like Fumiya could pose much of a threat to her as far as she knows after all.
"And who are you?" Says she to Thora and smiles friendly.
Clearly Fumiya is murder on sight in Thora's book. Right?! Well, he would be if Thora ever catches wind that he's been snooping around for info about the Midnight Channel now after she quite explicitly told him to keep his nose out of it.
On the other hand, perhaps it would just be easier to sit back and let the idiot get his ass handed to him by forces beyond his ken. A burned hand teaches best.
Thora unties her packages from the bike and hefts them over a shoulder quite easily. "That's Fumiya." Thora says dismissively, not even turning around to address Sayaka. It's easy to assume that she's asking that of Fumiya and not her, really. Her eyes do narrow just slightly as she notes the smell as stronger and takes a moment to glance at Sayaka over her shoulder. Great, another tall outsider snooping around. "...where the hell do these people keep coming from." she grumbles under her breath and heads for the Metalworks with her burden.
This isn't progressing too badly. Sayaka hasn't laughed or otherwise acted offended yet. That's all the encouragement Fumiya needs to keep going.
Though Thora's voice stops him before he starts. Dang, was she that close? Really, Thora wouldn't be enough to stop him on any other day from trying to put the moves on another girl, perhaps he really /is/ feeling guilty.
"Hey Thora-babe. Nice of you to introduce me, but I got it handled, thanks." He tries to remain his usual upbeat self. Nothing's wrong here, don't scrutinize it any deeper. "So, Sayaka-babe, do you go to Yasogami? I can't imagine not seeing you there, even if I have only been in Inaba for a few months."
"I was asking you. Watanabe-san has already introduced himself." Replies she politely, still maintaining that friendly smile.
"Yasogami? No I don't go there. I'm a second year student at Gekkoukan in Port Island." Whoever that 'Thora-babe' was, she definitely didn't seem like she had time to talk. Though she did seem to know this Fumiya guy.
"Maybe you've heard of that place?" If he did, she hoped he hadn't heard of the dark hour as well. That place could easily get an unprepared person killed.
"...Kobayashi." She's not going to give her first name to a stranger. Especially if Fumiya's decided to already start using it around her anyway. Hopefully she's not going to recognize it. Kobayashi's pretty common anyway.
She seems nonplussed at Fumiya's flirting. It's not because of jealousy, honest! If Fumiya wants to hit on another girl, he can just go right ahead! "...thought I told you not to call me that, Watanabe." With a snort, she disappears into Daidara's.
Minutes pass before she returns so she can move her bike into the alleyway between the Metalworks and the neighboring shop.
True, Thora did tell Fumiya not to call her that. But he's managed to work her down from enraged roaring in his face to slight irritation, it's her own fault for letting up on it. "I thought I said you can call me Fumiya?" He says with an invisible wink from behind his green lensed sunglasses. At least a bit of the tension has lifted now.
"Gekkoukan, huh? Wow, that's interesting. I spent the first part of this school year there, before my folks decided to send me out to Inaba. I grew up in Port Island." Leaning against a telephone pole, Fumiya gives Sayaka another vertical glance. Cute girl, a bit tall but that's alright. "I guess in my brief time there I didn't run into you, that's too bad. But how lucky I am that you decided to come out here after me."
As Thora walks back out Fumiya gives her another glance, but keeps his mouth shut for now. He's currently fighting off the urge to ask her about Shirou, and Sayaka makes a convenient excuse not to.
Nope that woman certainly didn't seem like much of a conversationalist at all. Though now she was certain that the two knew one another one way or the other.
"Are you two friends Watanabe-san?" Asks she curiously and turns her attention back to the man infront of her.
"I transfered to Gekkoukan this year. That's probably why you didn't run into me Watanabe-san and no I did not come out here after anyone. Sorry to disappoint." Odd guy, but not the worst she's seen. Then again she couldn't help but wonder if he'd be so flirty if he knew she had a real katana inside her shinai bag.
Judging by the look Thora gives Fumiya when she returns, it's probably a darn good idea that he's keeping his mouth shut now. If Fumiya assumed that she wasn't already aware of Shirou missing, that'd probably set her off too. Today she was like a little ticking timebomb.
"Something like that." she says shortly, kicking the kickstand aside so she can haul her motorcycle up onto the curb and roll it away. This is done pretty quickly.
When Thora returns, her eyes are already narrowed at Sayaka. "Why are you here."
Would he still be so flirty? That's an interesting question. Fumiya has a history of doing dumb things, so he might be!
"Oh yeah, we're tight." Fumiya answers Sayaka's question a second after Thora does, probably not doing much to increase his standing in her favor. "But that's too bad, everyone's gotta be looking for someone ya know, and you found me today. What brings you out here, anyway, Saya---"
Fumiya doesn't get to finish his sentence as Thora cuts him off by asking the same thing, but much more directly. "Whoa whoa, hey now Thora. You don't need to be rude." Fumiya tries to smooth things over. "She might just be taking a look around during vacation, yeah?"
"Hm?" Sayaka turns her gaze towards Thora when she asks her a question. "Oh I'm simply walking around and enjoying the weather really." And escaping the insane amounts of training she's usually put through, but she couldn't actually tell them that.
It was somewhat funny to hear this Fumiya guy refer to Thora as rude considering how he'd opened this little chat, but she refrained from commenting on it.
"So Watanabe-san here is technically correct in his assumption." If he'd been at Gekkoukan, maybe he knew Shiori, Yuuka, Itsuka, Aigis or any of the others? She was tempted to ask at least.
"...whatever. Just keep your ass out of trouble. We've had enough outsiders making problems for everyone here lately." Fumiya receives a bit of a Knowing Glance from Thora on this one. Really, after what happened last time, can you really blame her?
'Walking around and enjoying the weather' sounds like such a lame excuse. "You two enjoy yourselves." she adds flippantly before turning away to her store.
Definitely not a conversationalist.
Fumiya practically winces. Ouch. Thora being in a bad mood is nothing new, but with everything that has happened lately it's far worse than before. Knowing what's behind it (he thinks) Fumiya feels the pang of that little thing called guilt again.
Of course he's not about to /stop/ sticking his nose into these matters, but there has to be some way to do that without getting Thora so cheesed off.
When she turns away Fumiya rubs the back of his head sheepishly, as many guys tend to do in these situations. "Sorry Sayaka-babe. She has a bit of a temper, but she's alright. Really." The socially clumsy Fumiya is probably the last person qualified to clean up after Thora, but he feels it's better than staying quiet.
Wow talk about being rude. If anything this woman had probably earned medals for it. That was at least Sayaka's impressions of her so far.
"Your friend isn't very nice..." Says she and turns her attention back to Fumiya. This was the first time she'd ever met someone from Inaba that she'd consider rude. Well second time technically. Fumiya had the honor of being the first if one were to be exact.
"I'll have to take your word for it Watanabe-san. You know her after all so I'm certain you're correct." Sayaka tilts her head slightly. She isn't quite sure if she believes that statement.
Fumiya's assumptions would be right on the money today. Hell, Thora's not even sure why Shirou got dragged along into this other than the fact that he was obviously trying to investigate this on his own too. Fumiya might not be far behind. Deep down inside, Thora's pretty sure she won't be able to prevent him from being thrown in too if the sights fall on him.
If Thora hears Sayaka, she gives no indication and simply disappears into the shop.
Despite the fact that Sayaka is a girl that seems perfectly willing (?) to talk to him, Fumiya remains fixated on Thora as she walks into the Metalworks. The part of him that wants to go out with the ladies and /doesn't/ want to get beaten up by Thora tells him to stay. But a tiny voice that has gotten considerably louder is telling him talk to her about it directly and take his lumps as they come. This SHOULD be an easy decision, right?
"Sorry Sayaka-babe, I really would love to stay and chat, but I gotta check up on something. Maybe we'll run into each other again someday." He turns back and flashes a grin, before turning to follow Thora inside.
This.... this is probably going to hurt.
She didn't know what was up with those two, but it wasn't her place to snoop around. Besides she didn't have a good reason to do so. Instead she just shrugged slightly as Fumiya left and continued forward. It was after all a very good day today!
Fumiya will have to push the door open to follow. Awaiting him inside....
...is Daidara standing at the counter. If Fumiya looks behind him, he'll see Thora unpacking what appear to be several bars of iron from brown paper packages. Clearly the thing that she was sent to get for her errand by Daidara. She doesn't notice Fumiya yet but Daidara does.
All the old shopkeeper can really do is cringe at the neon but nonetheless give him a respectful nod hello.
Wow, neat store. Fumiya actually hasn't gone inside Daidara yet, despite it being pointed out to him on his first day in Inaba. He's actually surprised to see that it sells weapons, just as he was told. He thought it was an exaggeration!
He nods back to Daidara, and tries to be as inconspicuous as possible. "Juuuuust need to talk to your... um... employee?" He's pretty sure Thora works here, Osamu mentioned something like that awhile ago. He inches his way as far into the back as he can go, as far as Daidara would stop him (if he does).
He makes sure the old man isn't listening, and speaks as low as he can muster. "Listen Thora, I know you don't want to talk to me about this, but I'm worried about Shirou. Did something happen to him?"
The moment Thora hears Fumiya's voice, her back stiffens, one hand squeezing tightly around a nice fat iron bar. She doesn't turn around just yet. Daidara speaks up. "Don't get too close, it's dangerous back there for those not familiar with...the art."
Thora growls softly and slowly turns around to look down at That 80s Kid. "This is one of these things that you shouldn't be pokin' around, Fumiya." Judging by the almost pained tone of her voice, the answer is definitely 'yes, something's happened to Shirou'. "Didn't I tell you that before."
Fumiya might notice something rather unusual about the large teenager right now. She actually seems to be shaking a little, or at least her grip upon the iron bar is unsteady. It's a good warning sign for Fumiya as it illustrates how upset she is right now.
Fumiya gives a polite nod to the old guy. He doesn't really want to do anything to tick off the gruff-looking owner of this weapon store. Though he's far more worried about Thora than any of the equipment.
Fumiya sighs. "I'm too stubborn for my own good, I guess." He doesn't actually like to upset Thora, for all his messing around. But while it is clear that this is something that's been affecting her, and it is pretty dangerous, he's already stuck his nose in too deep. Besides that, he's just too curious a person to let it go. Shirou is actually a tertiary reason for this, but he's been enough of a friend(ish) that Fumiya can't help but be worried about him, and wants to know what really happened.
"Look, all I know is that I saw him on that Midnight Channel thing that I heard rumors of at school. This was a few nights after I saw that same big foriegn dude on it after whatever it was happened to him." He still can't believe he saw someone get thrown into a TV. It's crazy. "Plus there's that other kid, I only ever met him once, but the point is that something must've happened. Look, I'll square with you, while I was spinning my wheels getting nowhere looking into this I ran into Shirou. He was already looking into it too..."
Don't like upsetting her?! Could have fooled Thora, really, what with his insistance on calling her 'Thora-babe'. No matter how many times she tells him not to. "Yer gonna regret that one day, Fumiya." she bristles, muscles tensing which, thanks to her sleevless shirt, Fumiya can see pretty clearly.
She grits her teeth, looking pained as opposed to angry. "I saw him too, Fumiya. ...he sent me a text message that night. Before he disappeared. I know he was poking his head into it."
She turns around and slams the bar down back on the pile, creating an extremely sharp CLANG. "I should have told him not to get involved more, I should have pushed him away, but I didn't, and now he's in there too. Now he's...no."
She clenches a trembling fist, glaring at it. "No, I'm going to get him back." Slowly, she turns around to glare at Fumiya. "...what's your deal, are you actually trying to help with this? Because I can't let you. We've had people like you help and now they're..." she lowers her voice, "...shadow-possessed. We're not going to let that happen to anymore people."
Thora would totally know what Fumiya meant if she just mellowed out a little. That's how he thinks about it anyway.
Fumiya is a little relieved to learn that Thora already knew Shirou was poking into it. It makes him feel a little less guilty (and a little less like he's in imminent danger) at least. "Hey, with some guys the more you tell them to stay out of something the more they want to get involved." He says in an, admittedly, poor attempt to lighten the mood.
Her final question causes him to pause for a second. "Well, maybe I do want to help?" Rather, he'd be ok with helping out, but he really just wants to know more about this supernatural stuff. "So, what, do you seriously expect anyone to ignore it after seeing all this? I'm already involved, so you can work with me or against me. Either way I can't go back to before I found out."
Deciding its best to leave well enough alone, before he stupidly gets Thora /really/ angry in a store lined with weapons, he turns to head out. "I already said I can take care of myself. But I'd be able to do a better job if I knew more of what this was about, is all."
"You're not helping your case, Fumiya." Thora growls, taking a step towards him. On the bright side, she's not carrying any blunt pieces of metal that she could smash Fumiya's skull in with! On the other hand...she really doesn't need a blunt piece of metal in hand to pull that off.
His answer to her inquiry, however, was kind of unexpected. She's not the kind of person that actually considers helping others unless there was a large personal gain involved. In fact, this was the case with Thora attending to most of the dungeons she's come across. "Damnit Fumiya." she growls angrily and takes another step towards him, shoulders hunching. "I've told you enough." Another step.
Fumiya might want to start leaving faster now.
Fumiya... is leaving. It's clear he won't get anything more out of Thora. At least not today. Maybe he can try again in a few days, hopefully if something can be done for Shirou that might put her in a more favorable mood. He'll just have to keep looking into this on his own, though the leads that he can follow at this point are dwindling.
For now he just makes his exit without another word. As he leaves he can't help but wonder the same thing Thora keeps questioning him, why /does/ he keep sticking his nose in her business? Even before finding out about supernatural mind-monsters. He has to admit, things were a lot more fun before they got complicated like this, but there's no going back now.