2014-09-29 - Darkmist Doubts
|Title: Darkmist Doubts|
Gurio Umino is making a scene outside Juuban Public School. Makoto Kino comes across him, and suspicions about a new pesticide company are raised... And what their poison might be doing to both bugs and people.
Juuban Public School
| OOC - IC Date:|
September 29, 2014
Outside Juuban Public School, during whatever free time is available -- potentially even right after school -- a somewhat shoddy podium was set up, mostly consisting of a box, and a big hand-painted sign was set up next to it, proclaiming the very important message 'Support the Kabutomushi!' Someone got creative with the paints and drew depictions of the spoken-of Japanese rhinocerous beetle all along the edges of the sign. And who should be up on the podium? Why a bespectacled youth by the name of Gurio Umino. He is wearing a rhinocerous beetle costume, with a hole on the 'underside' of the beetle head for his face, and clearing his throat noisily.
He lifts a loudspeaker to his mouth and begins explaining what this is all about the people who are mostly gathered out of curiosity, or else passing by while casting looks of 'what the heck' Umino's way. "My fellow students of Juuban Public School!" he begins. "For too long we have overlooked the plight of the noble rhinocerous beetle!" He swings the loudspeaker around from one part of his unwilling audience to another, assaulting people with sound in a different direction. "We have taken for granted their contributions to our society, our culture, and our natural environment, and they are now in DANGER!"
One student dares to raise a hand to get Umino's attention. Beetle boy turns his attention on this audience member, and listens. "Um... I didn't know rhinocerous beetles were on the endangered species list." Umino lifts the loud speaker to his mouth, despite the student in question being like 5 feet away, and blasts the poor guy and those around him with a feedback-heavy reply. "Right you are, Takada-san! But that might change if we don't take steps to prevent the release of new Dark Mist-brand pesticide!"
Umino thankfully turns the speaker phone away from his current victims, who were cringing away and covering their ears, to explain further. "You didn't know? Dark Mist-brand pesticide is a new product being used in our parks that is having strange effects on rhinocerous beetles and also some other animals! No one is really sure what's in it, and I heard that Dark Mist Nature Industries were approved for usage of this poison without an adequate testing period! I have a pet rhinocerous beetle, and Winston Churchill has been acting very strangely ever since I took him for a walk in a park that had been subjected to Dark Mist sprays! He keeps trying to get out of his cage and crawl on my face while I sleep!"
There's probably numerous sweat drops among those unfortunate enough not to get out of the area by now. These switch back to cries of pain and ear-covering when Umino starts banging his speaker phone on the palm of his beetle-gloved hand to emphasize the words, "This! Must! Not! Stand!"
"Dear lord, would you turn that thing off!?" "I think my ears are bleeding!" "Your costume is stupid! Your beetles are stupid! Shut up!"
Tough crowd, huh?
Makoto was only passing by, really, half a dozen things on her mind as she left the school building with her bag in hand... but this kind of a commotion would catch anyone's attention, and even as several other students are beginning to walk away (some of them with eyes rolling), Mako wanders over to see what's going on.
It's possible that she regrets it shortly afterwards, but by then she's already in for it. Oh, dear. Wearing an expression that's part bemusement, part resignation, she makes her way toward the podium. Her presence looming up unexpectedly behind them is enough to make a couple of the louder complainers hastily shut up and find somewhere else to be - most of the rumors have died off by now, but reputation dies hard.
"Um," Makoto ventures, as diplomatically as she can, "Umino-kun...? Maybe you should go a little easier on the megaphone..."
As a primary spreader of those rumors in the past (though not anymore, and he is very regretful of his actions), Gurio might have more reason than most to be nervous about Makoto punching him into outerspace. But he mostly just seems slightly depressed by the lack of support from everyone. He lowers the megaphone and lets his shoulders slump (even if it's not very evident through the beetle carapaced costume) in response to the tall girl's words, and says, "Maybe you're right, Kino-san. But the predicament of the rhinocerous beetle is DIRE! What if I fail to get my message across because I wasn't loud enough? If only those 'Dark Mist' people weren't spraying their poison all over our parks!" Umino hops down off the podium, windmills his arms wildly for a few seconds as he struggles to retain his balance in his costume, and then crouches down with difficulty to pick up a cage off the ground.
Inside is a rather agitated-seeming rhinocerous beetle with gleaming red eyes that keeps fluttering and throwing itself against the bars of its cage. "Every time I think about how many more innocent beetles like Winston Churchill here might be suffering from weird, untested pesticides, it practically just sucks the strength right out of me." As Umino lifts the cage up near his face, and stares into those beady red eyes of the beetle named after the former UK Prime Minister for some reason through his huge swirly glasses, he actually starts wobbling on his feet a bit. It seems he wasn't exaggerating! Though this seems to be a bit too SEVERE for some weird depression-induced loss of strength... As Umino plops down on the ground, setting his beetle cage down next to him, he moans out, "Ohhh... I feel woozy. Maybe some of that poison got on me too."
"Hey, careful--!" Makoto's expression is quickly swept with dismay as Umino wobbles; she's not quite close enough to manage to provide any support, but she hurries over and kneels down near both Umino and the beetle's cage, regarding her classmate with genuine concern now. "Are you okay?"
Well, no, clearly he is not okay, not if he's having a dizzy spell out of nowhere. "Maybe you should go to the nurse's office," Mako suggests. As she says it, she glances down at the unfortunate Winston Churchill. Dark Mist, huh... it occurs to her to wonder what the chances are that this could be some kind of weird Dark Kingdom plot.
Probably not very high. But even ruling out that prospect, what Umino's describing does sound kind of sketchy... "Would you tell me more about this Dark Mist stuff?" Makoto asks, looking back up to regard Umino with an expression of absolute sincerity. Maybe it's nothing - it's probably nothing - but it can't hurt anything to check into it a little.
Gurio finds that suggestion to be highly logical. "The nurse's office is a great idea! I should head over there right away. Maybe they can get a sample off of Winston Churchill and examine it in their lab!" He may be a bit more woozy than he thought if he thinks the nurse's office has a forensic laboratory or something. Despite his enthusiasm for this idea, the combination of weird loss of energy and the awkward claw-like things extending out over the backs of his hands, are giving him a hard time getting up off the ground. After struggling a bit, he instead just settles back on the ground. "Actually, maybe I'll wait here until I feel a bit better."
Someone showing interest in the subject of that mysterious Dark Mist pesticide and its impact on the REAL victims, the noble rhinocerous beetle, perks him right up though! "Oh, from what I heard, Dark Mist Nature Industries use some kind of weird flower as the base for their new pesticide!" He raises a beetle-y appendage to try to lift his glasses so that they gleam dramatically but winds up nearly stabbing himself in the face instead. He puts his hands back in his lap. "They're marketting it as a safe all-natural solution to insect problems, but they won't even say what's in it. I think that's pretty suspicious! Almost as suspicious as local officials approving the usage of this pesticide in the first place! This company only appeared about a week ago, or so I heard! How could they get permission that fast?"
Umino leans in close, looks from one side to the other, and then cups a beetle-appendage to one side of his mouth, as he whispers, "And from what I've seen, I don't think it's even killing any REAL pests. It's just making all the insects exposed act weird! Aggressive towards people, even!" Umino leans back again, and starts to get to his feet once more, recovered enough to do THAT much at least. Once he succeeds, he says tearily, "Winston Churchill is the most even-tempered beetle I know, but ever since he was exposed to Dark Mist pesticide, he has been highly agitated! It's not fair! He doesn't deserve this!" Umino tries to wipe the tears from his eyes, but winds up having to just rub his face back and forth on the back of his beetle appendage. He sniffs loudly and then mutters, "I should really get out of this costume..."
Makoto listens patiently through the entire explanation, and in spite of herself and the ridiculousness of kneeling here on the ground listening to Gurio Umino - in a bettle costume! - talking conspiracy theories, she slowly begins to frown. "Some kind of weird flower?" she echoes in a thoughtful murmur, but doesn't otherwise interrupt, just waits until he's through. "That does sound pretty suspicious..."
Ignoring Umino's struggles with his entirely impractical costume, Mako settles back a little and thinks for a moment. "Which parks were they spraying this stuff in?" she asks presently, looking down at the bettle cage again. This time she leans down a little more for a closer look, even reaches out a hand with index finger extended - not quite trying to poke her fingertip between the bars of the cage or anything, that would be a bit too much even for Mako - as though to see how the rhinocerous beetle reacts to the attention. "Maybe I could go and take a look around."
"We were in Ueno Park when it happened," Gurio supplies readily. Winston Churchill flutters around in his cage when the finger is poked, but he doesn't succeed in doing anything violent. Instead he eventually sets down and locks glistening red eyes with Makoto. If she doesn't break her gaze, then after a few seconds, she might start to experience weakness herself! It's a disturbing feeling, like warmth and sensation are just filtering away somewhere else. But maybe she'll decide not to get into a staring contest with a bug and miss out on that unpleasantness. Either way, Umino seems to think Makoto is admiring his prized beetle and proudly declares, "We've been together for his entire life as a beetle so far! Four months! I was working on teaching him how to roll a coin but he won't listen anymore. It's almost like he's a different beetle!"
Umino sighs and says, "Well, good luck with your investigation, Kino-san! Thanks a lot for listening, and can you please let me know if you find out anything? I should really get to the nurse's office before I have another dizzy spell!"
--okay, that's kind of creepy. Makoto doesn't keep eye contact with the beetle for very long, but even the short duration is enough to begin making her skin crawl, and she rather hastily looks away and returns her attention to the insect's owner.
"I will," she promises, rising to her feet and offering a hand down to help Umino back up. In that ungainly costume, it kind of seems like he might need it. "Be careful on your way to the nurse's office, all right?"
Mako waits until Umino is safely on his way, and then she collects her school bag and heaves a sigh. Is she really doing this? Yes, she supposes she is.
"...good thing I didn't have anything else planned this afternoon," she says wryly to herself as she sets off.