Description: After getting stiffed on a check, one that he really kind of needed, Sol ends up brooding in a bar, only to get a pep talk from an old mentor who points him on the proper path of destruction.
Once one steps through its wide swinging doors, however, they are greeted with an entirely new experience. The term 'spare no expense' was clearly thrown around multiple times during the construction of the interior of this place. Polished marble, elegant hardwood, and gold-trimmed onyx comprise every surface of the floors, counters, and tables giving the place an almost palacial opulence by design. Leather-coated barstools and sofas offer comfortable seating all around the room for the customers, most of which look like they'd be equally at home in a corporate board meeting or a fancy dining hall.
Behind the bar, dozens of shelves are loaded for bear, sporting bottles of almost every kind of fancy liquor that has ever had a label slapped on it. Even some of the lesser brands can be seen in the mix, though their presence is little more than an afterthought, a mere formality for the unlikely occassion that someone of such poor taste might request it. A well-groomed man in a three-piece suit stands behind the counter, idly polishing a glass in his hands with a clean wet rag, ready to serve any customers.
At the moment, only one customer graces the Shanghai's interior with his presence. It being the middle of a working day, very few of its normal customers would want to give the idea that they might be alcoholics, though a handful of still dirty plates on the bar would seem to indicate that a few lunches were had here atleast. Sprawled out across the majority of the large leather sofa, the man who currently inhabits the bar seems to have no such reservations about public opinion.
A lit cigarette dangles from Sol's mouth, thin wisps of dark gray smoke drifting into the air from its tip and his wide nostrils. In one hand, a wide shallow glass filled with some manner of dark brown liquid and the half-melted remnants of a trio of ice cubes rests against the poofy arm of the couch. In the other, what looks like a massive blocky sword is gripped by the handle, dangling idly against the floor.
The towering television mounted in the ceiling infront of him display feed of some local sports game; baseball by the looks of it. Sol appears to be way too into it, kicking his feet on the ground in a rowdy fashion as one of the teams manages to screw up a simple toss to first base.
"Aww, comon! That was in the bag! God damn, Japs, can't play for shit."
That excellent description of the Shanghai Sports Bar & Grill covered all the basics, all of them! Extravagant furniture, the finest wood on the walls, a dapper gentleman in a three-piece suit - this is absolutely the sort of place that only the richest of douchey people would frequent. So direct your attention, please, to the oak-paneled door in one corner of the lounge, to the engraved sign bolted upon it (VIP Lounge), and from there, lower your gaze to the heavy padlock, and its implied suggestion that 12:45 PM is no time for the VIP Lounge to be open.
Strange, then, the way that the door *explodes* open - for about two-inches worth of chain. This startles the stately, suited busboy to jumping, and shocks the bartender and waitress into a sort of wide-eyed, over-the-shoulder stare. The door jolts again, blustered forward by some otherworldly force - and goes nowhere. By now, the employees are starting to glance between one another, panic rising in their eyes. A bold-voiced request, then, from the young bartender - the senior employee, selected for his looks and charm, and on the short ladder to success.
"Yo! There ain't nobody supposed to be in there! VIP's closed! We gotta call the cops, or what?" He's already reaching for the phone -- and stops when there is *movement* from behind that door.
"Dreadfully, extremely sorry. I had presumed the nicest room was your foyer, and now I've locked myself in! Ha! A moment." The voice sounds as though its owner is speaking with a full mouth - and in a moment, an ancient, polished wooden pipe (Engraving: Bat-Wing, ash calligraphy) is extended through the crack in the doorway, smoke billowing merrily from its bowl. The pipe is upended - ashes pour from that bowl, onto the chain, and -through-.
Everything those ashes touch, from chain to floor and basement - vaporized. A tall, gangly-armed man steps from beyond the door, casually rubbing at the ash with one penny-loafered foot. He inclines his head to the staring staff, offers all a prim smile, and resets the pipe in his thin-lipped mouth, moustache quivering with amusement.
"Ease up, boys - it's not every day you get to see a man as old as myself make a fool of himself. Pour me a glass of whatever your finest liquor happens to be, and I'll tip you double the price, make this whole chain-and-bolt fiasco go away." He turns, unconcerned for their answer, headed for the door. He sees Sol sprawled out on the bench over there - his expression twists into a sour sort of condescending frown. He looks from Sol to the TV holding the man's attention, then back to Sol again.
"You'd think it were some thirty years ago - me, here, thinking poorly of however drunk you're trying to get. You, there, watching sweaty men grapple for a ball." Slayer settles onto the unoccupied portion of booth near Sol, and makes a grotesque arrangement of too-long limbs folding into some sort of reclined posture. He observes, for a moment.
"Hey, ah, oyaji -- no smoking inside..." The bartender, feeling bold!!
"Make that drink a whole bottle," comments Slayer, whose attention has *not* wavered from Sol. This is like finding an old boot or something.
Old boots are less inclined to be ornery once found than the man that sits across from the dapper gentlemen. Sol's annoyance at being disturbed is written clearly on his features, a beligerent frown creasing the thick lines of his face into something even less pleasant than his usual dismissive glare. The heavy metal band wrapped around his forehead hangs low against thick brows and it casts a shadow over his narrowed eyes as he takes in the sight of someone he hasn't seen for several decades.
Like Slayer, Sol doesn't look as if he's aged a single day in the past half century since the two of them first met. There are a few new scars on his heavily muscled frame, a bit of wear and tear to indicate the kind of life he's been forced to live since he chose to become a mercenary to gain the resouces he needs, but the face beneath them is as youthful and handsome as always.
The look that the old man gives him is returned in kind for several long moments but eventually the merc grunts in reluctant acknowledgement and turns his attention back to the television. The glass of liquor in his hand is brought up and he gulps a large mouthful down in one draw, not even bothering to remove the cigarette first, simply sliding it to one side with a simple twist of his lips.
Slayer's face slackens into something substantially less interested than it had been mere seconds ago - everything about his posture suggests he'd rather have left the way he intended to... but then there's the one lofted eyebrow, one last hope that Sol might have -matured-. He turns to watch the "game", chin supported on a fist. Even the smoke leaving his pipe billows slower, slower, slower, until it starts to waft not *up* but *left*, and closer, closer, closer to Sol's miserable mug, his scowling visage, his--
'...yo.' The smoke resumes its natural lift, and Slayer perks in the slightest.
"Mm." He stares at the TV screen, chews on his pipe, but does not follow the action there. "I had thought you would be out in the Middle East by now. You've been reading the news, haven't you?" Slayer uses his free hand to make a vague gesture towards nothing. "No cameras, infighting, poverty-stricken insurgents who see a helicopter," yes, he pronounces 'helicopter' That Way, "and assume it's the latest, greatest, most underground thing the modern world has been working on. Easy, then, to mask something else, isn't it, F-" Slayer is interrupted by the waiter coming over to the table - he begins a well-practiced table service over some sort of brandy served in a crystal decanter.
Slayer waves a hand when he is offered a glass, and simply nods to Sol. The waiter leaves the two of them alone.
"What are you calling yourself now, anyway?"
The mention of the situation going on elsewhere in the world gets little response out of the mercenary. He's aware of it, naturally, but without someone in such desparate need of aid that they'd reach out to a wild card such as himself his presence would just be suspicious. If something really is going on down there that he needs to check out, either word will make its way back or someone who sees something they shouldn't will panic and he'll get a job offer.
When Slayer almost lets slip with his real name, however, his eyes shift back towards the odd gentleman with a hard edge to them. The waiter's arrival cuts off a biting remark he'd been about to spit out. Instead, he glares at the man until he leaves, then focuses his attention back on his 'guest'.
"...Sol," he says, his voice rumbling like tires on gravel. "Sol Badguy."
The rest of his glass is emptied out with a swift tip and he sets it on the table infront of him meaningfully, the ice rattling from the hard impact. Fresh noise from the television draws his attention back up that way as the crowd goes into wild cheers while a slender Japanese man runs around the bases at breakneck speed.
Sol's remarkably hard to talk to, but this level of taciturn bullshit is remarkable. Slayer's already stroking at his chin, eyes wandering between the TV (boring), the bartender and waitress flirting (contrite), and Sol (frustratingly silent). It's the third option that draws his eye further - where others might notice a sort of extremely obvious "don't talk to me" vibe from the gruff, boulder-shouldered fighter, Slayer goes back a little further. The vampire's warm eyes shine, his lips curl into a predatory smile, the cat with the cream. "Sol" isn't normally this dispassionate, unfocused. There's typically a luster in those eyes, an animalistic, feral tension in his neck, his jaw. Even the smell of the man's blood is off...
Sol's remarkably hard to talk to, but this level of taciturn bullshit is outstanding. Slayer's already stroking at his chin, eyes wandering between the TV (boring), the bartender and waitress flirting (contrite), and Sol (frustratingly silent). It's the third option that draws his eye further - where others might notice a sort of extremely obvious "don't talk to me" vibe from the gruff, boulder-shouldered fighter, Slayer goes back a little further. The vampire's warm eyes shine, his lips curl into a predatory smile, the cat with the cream. "Sol" isn't normally this dispassionate, unfocused. There's typically a luster in those eyes, an animalistic, feral tension in his neck, his jaw. Even the smell of the man's blood is off...
"In almost every culture on this planet, "Sol", chance reunions with an old friend are considered good omens. Especially," the vampire contends, tone taking on a harsh point, "When one has so few friends as *you* do. You're hardly the man who walked away from me all those years ago- the wind has left your sails, the fire's out of your eyes!! Ah, but it brings to mind poetry..."
Please. Don't let him start.
Luckily for everybody, Slayer has had his attention gripped by the bottle beside Sol's emptied glass. He leans forward to pour the "younger" man a glass of brandy, and leaves it for Sol to drink. "You aren't nearly so inspiring when you're moping in a bar," he comments. "What happened to the passions guiding your hand earlier?"
It isn't until the alcohol fills his cup that Sol responds to any of the dapper gentleman's insinuations regarding his state of mind. Leaning forward, he snatches the glass up almost before the bottle is even pulled back and the dark brown liquid vanishes down his gullet in a single exaggerated gulp.
The merc exhales gruffly and leans back into the cushions of the sofa, wiping his face with the back of one muscled forearm. He stares at the television for another long moment as if he plans to just flat out ignore his old 'friend'. He's not sure if that term even really applies here. Certainly the two of them have some history together; some ten years or so of it. But when he could have used the help of someone with Slayer's talents all those years ago the man had left him to his own devices just as suddenly as he had appeared.
After a pregnant pause, however, he turns to glance at Slayer, mulling something over. It's practically written all over his face that he wants to say something but the words seem to be escaping him. Eventually, he shifts his weight, leaning forward so as to bring his face closer to the old man in a conspiratorial manner and speaks in a grim voice.
"...I found Jesus."
Slayer couldn't seem less concerned about Sol's personal obstacle course, and contents himself with enjoying his pipe while the other man obsesses over the economy of language. Slayer's managed to exhale an animated flying bat - his favored motif - when Sol finally *does* speak up, and it's enough to cause the vampire to cough, his conjuration to veer into a corkscrewing spiral before dissipating against the oak of the table. Once he's recovered, he leans forward, one scarecrow arm bent on a knee, fist supporting his chin. A snort appears as a plume of smoke leaving his nostrils.
"Jesus? You of all people. We both know that religion is just a means to an end-- so tell me more, Sol." Slayer resets the pipe in his mouth, and settles back in his seat. "When you had walked away from me -- I remember the very day! You were an icon of vengeance, a man armed to the teeth with the technique, the power to accomplish his goals, to right the wrongs done to him! And now..." He pulls the pipe from his mouth, gestures to the bar as a whole, hand trailing smoke.
"I'm afraid you must elaborate." Slayer's gaze meets Sol's, amused, if nothing else. "Religion is, at worst, a smart man's means to regulating the stupid man, and a stupid man's excuse to passivity. I'd have to pretend I've never known you, unless there's something I'm missing...?"
"Hmm. That does sound like me. Fuck it, who wants to go to Heaven anyways? Glad we got that sorted."r
Sol leans back in his seat again and shrugs, grinning like an idiot. Maybe the joke was funnier in his head. Whatever haze of stoic silence had beset him until now seems to lift and he pours another drink, this time nursing it properly. The television roars with fresh noise from the ball game but he doesn't bother looking for more than a moment or two.
"I've been busy. So have 'they'."
Ah, the ominious 'they'. He, ofcourse, is referring to the organization funding the Gear Project, whom he has been hunting since his decision to be the prototype and their decision to be backstabbing assholes.
"Work has been scarce lately. Had a contract but the guy was a prick and stiffed my bill."
"Have they, now?" Slayer's reference to the Gear Project and its backers is oblique enough to be respectful to Sol - it's a big enough deal that Slayer couldn't possibly ignore it, but the fact that he's letting Sol fill him in implies, at the very least, that he's abstaining from intervention out of respect for his one-time protege. Or maybe it's simply that he has bigger fish to fry. Slayer teases his moustache for a moment, and considers the ceiling, expression pensive.
Slayer's attention flitters to the bartender and waitress once again - they've separated for now, but that's where it's easiest to spy the truth. Fleeting glances, the covert smiles for one's own benefit, poorly-suppressed ecstasy from proximity alone... it's fresh love, a chemical high that certainly leaves its mark on the blood. Once upon a time, Slayer would have been paying attention with more than just the two senses - sight, smell - but once upon a time, Slayer would hardly be hanging about in the daytime.
Creatures of darkness hardly get to appreciate the benefits of the light.
Newly considerate of Sol's situation, Slayer's gaze becomes more sympathetic, his features soften. "It is good you've kept busy with other pursuits-- vengeance has a habit of burning through a man's very essence. Life is too rich to be ignored. I'd hate for you to be on your deathbed, to look back and see only... Them. If you'd like, I'll look into it as well--" 'I'll hold your hand', "but for now, somebody actually disrespected you THAT greatly? I worry for them..."
The mercenary grunts again - his favorite method of communication apparently. Those 'other pursuits' are little more than means to an end. A war is coming. He doesn't know when or where the gates of Hell are going to get kicked open but there's only one destination that the world is going to end up at if he can't find some way to stop the Gears from being mass produced.
Ofcourse, kicking the shit out of a bunch of dirtbag insurgents in the Congo or clearing out a nest of terrorists in the Middle East from time to time had certain entertainment value. His work has taken him to just about every God-forsaken shit-can what calls itself a settlement on the planet, places where common decency and respect for life are concepts that got lost somewhere along the way. It's a good way to remind himself what the world could be if his worst fears ever came to pass. Revenge is motivation enough but a little grease to make it go down easier never hurts.
"Yeah... some mongoloid in a suit. Guy was a real character. If he'd had a mustache I'd have expected him to be twirling it. Pretty tough too." He takes a sip of the brandy and rolls the shoulder of his other arm, still clutching the sword in hand. "Can't let that slide though. Word gets out that not paying is an option and I'll be eating my jacket before too long."
Commenting on 'moustache twirling' nets Sol a pointed exaggeration of Slayer's naturally aristocratic features - his expression grows flat, his lips downturn from a frown to a scowl, and the vampire fixes his counterpart with a look that could kill. Sure, the conversation involves world powers and dances on the edge of impending apocalypse, but priorities must be kept and highlighted - Slayer will not have a mustachioed gentleman's character insulted!
"Hmm. Yes." Slayer's tone is hardly considerate of what Sol's been saying - for all of the man's rare conversation, Slayer's attention has wandered *away* from Badguy's conversation, and to some twenty seconds in the past. Just what *has* the Organization been up to? Are they still in cahoots with those high-level politicians about that thing with the Council? Why hasn't he heard about any of it? Where *have* the latest Gear experiments been? Surely they wouldn't stop...
"Hmmm..." Slayer's gazing off into the middle distance, and taps his pipe against his bottom lip, thoughtful to the point of absolute disrespect. This is an old personality trait, an obnoxious one, and an absolute *tell*. He's not likely to let Sol pursue his own ends on this Gears thing.
Mankind simply wouldn't be as capricious or entertaining were it to lose its "innocence".
"A suit, you say? Executives typically forfeit character for end-result... but you say he's strong? Hm. I agree. On your pride, you need to correct this wrong."
If Sol notices the displeasure displayed at his choice of words - he does - as if they were a deliberate jab at the elder gentlemen - they were - then he doesn't let it show. A minor bit of payback for the jabbing earlier. Who says he doesn't have friends? Okay, pretty the massive void of anyone willing to go near him without a good reason does. But fuck you, old man.
One would think a man with a century old revenge-boner would be a lot more fiery and passionate but the youthful-looking merc is as cool a customer as they come. He should play poker or something. It'd probably pay more than this shit.
A fresh cigarette is fished out of his pants pocket and he stuffs the butt into his mouth which sponatenously combusts at the tip a moment later. Dragons. Buncha show offs.
Slayer's distraction doesn't go unnoticed either. Sol frowns but doesn't say anything. Yet. Senility is a hell of a thing.
"Pride," he snorts. "Ain't got shit to do with it. Just bad business."
Slayer's eyes flit from Sol to the staff, and then to the windows on the bar's exterior. He's become extremely thoughtful, it's true - gone are the glib pokes and prods from earlier, replaced with rumination and *consideration*. Slayer puffs on his pipe, restless, thoughtful.
The world is in a poor place, governed by the megalomaniacal urges of the hidden few, while the masses are defenseless, cattle to be herded. Slayer's already seeing the deadening of the collective inspiration -- mass-media is a terrible thing when it comes to cultivating creativity.
So far as bad business is concerned... Where has the Assassin's Guild been? When he'd left it last, its mission remained the same as always - eliminate those whose hunger for power overwhelmed their desire for progress. Now... well. Certainly, none of these political monsters have been assassinated! Not even one! And if they HAD, if men were being eliminated every DAY and these were merely the best remainders... Without a word, Slayer stands, and turns to Sol - he ducks into a low bow, and offers the gruff man a charming, devilish smile. While he sets a stack of large bills on the table, he speaks:
"Well, "Sol". I think you've given me much to think about -- I apologize that I haven't been able to do the same for you." He shrugs, standing, straightening his tie. "I fear I've been getting... *lazy*. Nonetheless, consider - saying you're going to do something is one thing. Doing it is another. A man who simply makes threats isn't worth respect --" Slayer finishes straightening his tie, and indicates the bar as a whole. "...Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and re-enter the world! You are young!" Slayer starts making his way back to the V.I.P. Lounge. Employees are staring at him.
The vampire looks over his shoulder on his way to the closed-off area.
"You've got one month, "Sol Badguy". One month to address things with your businessman, AND to figure out something salient about that organization. A proper gentleman would never step on another man's toes, but if you're not even willing to step forward..." Slayer walks up the stairs, shutting the door behind him.
"Hey, man, your friend, uh--" The waiter looks to Sol, then to the stairs, then back to Sol.
"Consider it a gentlemanly wager~" Slayer's disembodied voice echoes from the rafters!
The waiter shuts right the hell up, startled.
Sol turns his head and spits on the floor in the direction that the fancy gentlemen had left. Damned old coot, always thinking he knows it all. Frustrating as all Hell. Even more so because the bastard is right.
His gaze shifts to the money. A pretty decent wad, even by the merc's standards. Gambling isn't his style, he's not dumb enough to make bets he can't win, and charity for someone able bodied such as himself is just pathetic; but a job - now that he can do.
"Speaking my language now," he says, apparently to the thin air from which the voice emenated. The rest of the brandy in Sol's glass vanishes down his throat and the money into his jacket as he rises. The bottle comes along for the ride too. He doesn't leave a tip. Stuck up pricks probably get paid too much already.
Stepping out into the daylight once more, Sol lifts a hand to his chin and rubs it thoughtfully. The job offer from that prick had come through one of his exterior contacts - a guy who knows a guy. Tracking down the origins wouldn't be easy. Or cheap. Hell, if his suspicions are correct, it might cost more than the original contract was even worth. Still, he's not about to let the old man get up in his business. That ship has sailed and besides, he'd just be doing it to annoy him.
The first order of business, however, will be to get a shave and shower. A man's gotta have standards, after all. After that...
Someone is going to find out why Sol Badguy is on the short list of people in the world who are not to be fucked with.
Log created on 05:29:39 12/20/2014 by Sol Badguy, and last modified on 19:15:03 12/23/2014.