Description: Two entrepreneurial figures of some mysterious aquaintance settle on terms that may see the rise of yet another King of Fighters tournament team. With blessedly no Mignon. Because she's banned. For reasons.
The King of Fighters tournament was fast approaching and the arcane gumshoe, Brandon Malone, had a feeling that something unusual would happen with it so it would pay to keep his ear to the ground as far as event surrounding it were concerned. He had a problem. He needed team mates.
Sure he could seek out fighters not well versed in the occult however it would be pain in the ass explaining what he was doing to a lay person whether it was utilizing his cards or performing rituals. Dealing with arcane fighters would require less explanations which in turn would to less headaches. Plus if need be, they could check over his work. He was not perfect by any means and mistakes happen. Unfortunately Metro City didn't have that much of an occult niche. At most, he'd find some minor ritualists here or there. What few fighting capable mystics Metro City had were hermits.
Brandon decided to tap one of his Southtown connections. He suspected she would be able point him in the direction of any fighting capable mystics if she wasn't one already. She knew the mystic community of not just Southtown but Asia in general better than he did. He asked if they could meet up and she suggested the Hidden Planet Cafe. A location that was public, was neutral ground, and catered to the occult community.
At this moment, the mystical private eye, sips on his tea as he stares at his King of Fighters invitation.
The distinctive and growing growl tapers off transitions into a whine, loud enough its approach could be heard before it even arrived on this block. With an inappropriate amount of additional revving of the engine a car glides into a prominent parking spot. The driver runs it right up to the curb. Flashy and ostentatious yellow the Ferrari makes one last additional roar; a flashy display of finely tuned European craftsmanship before it cut's off and settles down quietly.
The woman who emerges from the car does so in strappy red evening dress, displaying little sense for the time of day. Weaving her way to the shopfront and through the door lightly shading her sunglass adorned eyes with one hand while clutching a pocketbook with the other and looking a little the worse for wear. Tired, or hungover or rumpled? in what might just appear be something designer label. She didn't fit with the image most of the clientele preferred to cultivate about the establishment or themselves.
The grimace that twisted her lips when she passed through the ward placed on and around the premises and the minute and tiny moment of reluctance on her part to do so was at least a little telling.
There was one thing stronger than her disdain for the wards at the moment. The aroma and presence of strong coffee.
Tottering over to the counter in a slightly unsteady gait in high heels and obviously lethargic while paying for her coffee. She draws the sunglasses down her nose away from her eyes long enough to scan the few occupants enjoying their drinks. She was just so 'fashionably late' so he should be here already. Only one or two in the right age range and the others were seemingly already sitting with people. Sitting down in one of the chairs at Brandon's table she makes a show of setting the pocketbook down, erecting the tiny pole with her order number for the server to deliver to the correct table.
"I can see you're growing acquainted with the locals. Have you been waiting long?"
One arm lying flat on the table top while the other props her head up with her head setting into her cupped palm. Genially smiling, arms framing a view of a substantial cleavage. Looking Brandon over, Not at all what she'd expected... someone older for certain. Her general impression was that he presented in a mature and thoughtful manner. Brandon in person; defied her expectations in interesting and pleasing ways.
The tea cup lowers from Brandon's lips just as the sound of the door opening hits his ears. He glances up to be greeted by the appearance of a woman in a red dress that hugged the curves like a race car in the hands of an extremely skilled driver. However, the movements weren't graceful and the hesitation about stepping into a warded location spoke volumes. She knew what she was doing, didn't like relenquishing control, and loved making an entrance even if that entrance seemed admittedly lethargic.
"I've traveled to Southtown, but I've never been /here/ before. Their tea is pretty good."
Something in the back of his mind was screaming, 'This dame was going to be trouble.'
Stifling a yawn with covering hand displaying the red lacquered nails she glances down at the cup with only casual interest. Tea didn't quite have the caffeinated kick she needed to start the day, it probably wasn't laced with anything hard enough to strike her interest. It was a hurried start to the day to even make it here 'fashionably late' rather than just ordinarily late. For now she keeps the glasses on, concealing her eyes as she makes a show of glancing at the other customers.
"Hmmn. Why would you after all?"
Small fry mostly. There was more benefit to them in being seen and known. Activities and schedules that wouldn't be seen to be too secretive or threatening to any of the power mongers or paranoid who might squash them out of hand or by reflex.
Posers! Worse still they were stealing her bit with the hiding in plain sight.
"Those who're interested will always make time to sniff around and find out who you are. Not that there's many big fish to startle in these parts."
An unusual accent, definitely not a native or sounding like someone who has spent a lot of time in Japan. Clapping her hands together in front of her she suddenly shifts gear into some bewildering display of sudden enthusiasm as she cheerily asks him direct.
"Do you have one of these cards with you. I've been waiting to have a look at the current version you're using!"
"Granted, I didn't have a chance to stay for much more than a day and I had to be on standby so my tourism was kind of short."
His eyes track to her shades but with her eyes being concealed, he can't track her eye movements and so he pays attention to her instead.
"That's unfortunate because I'm in need of some big fish to attract their attention."
His hand motions are subtle as they seem to brush the leather pouch on his belt disguising his manipulation of his deck. A card appears in his hand, sleight of hand, an act of faux magic to enhance the appearance of the actual magic. He's careful to avoid the Major Arcana cards in his deck. Those are the ones he's most protective of. He lays the Knight of Wands from the Minor Arcana down on the table. It hums with energy however it seems to be restrained by the wards on the cafe.
"Is this one adequate?"
That flair for presentation and performance is appreciated almost as much as the prompt result and response. It was.. uncommon. Trish slips the glasses off, carefully folds and places them beside the bulky leather bound pocketbook. Eyes only for the card she spends the next few seconds staring down at the table as she views it where it lays and then reaches out to slide it closer. Seeing a magic of someone else's design, maybe something new, perhaps something old come again or reimagined. Dissecting small pieces she could easily comprehend with her eyes and looking at how all the component part's and theory might go into such a fabrication.
"Oh! Uhh, thank you. Yes."
Seemingly finally responding to Brandon's offer civilly the waitress setting her coffee down at the table makes her thanks seem a little more ambiguous. She traces out some pattern across the face of the card. Doing nothing but evaluating her own thoughts on how she'd set about constructing something for the same purpose. Formula or prototype. It was in most cases a distinctly personal or revealing experience.
"Fascinating! It's always a pleasure seeing someone's working."
Lifting the large cup of frothy foam tipped coffee to her lips she takes a long draw on the contents. The waterline significantly fallen when she sets it down she goes back to the pocketbook while finally striking up a conversation. As she one thick section of the wallet out slides out a silver hipflask, and she's pouring more than a dash of whiskey into the cup almost topping it right back up.
"A difficult task you've set yourself. Most of the circles I know or have contact with are.. are very- ... 'traditionalist.' They're not receptive to things less than a few hundred years old. Those who've been through Apprenticeships long enough to be vouched for. Everything else- are considered outsiders, or threats like the Novus Orbis Librarium."
The Coffee raised to her lips is savoured more slowly this time. What did he want the attention of a 'big fish' for?
"What do I want the attention of the 'big fish' for? The King of Fighters."
He holds up the invitation for the other mage to see. The seal is legitimate but there's clearly a working on it. Probably because people have been trying to steal his invite. Getting an invite stolen is grounds for disqualification after all. When she has an adequate amount of time to study it, he puts it away.
"Something is telling me that something is going to happen but I need to be on a team. And sure I can find run of the mill fighters but I would need to explain what I'm doing every step of the way. With someone with a more arcane background, either they know, can figure it out, or won't be interested because they have their own way of doing things. And because of that, I can focus on what I need to do to investigate it, if need be."
He leans in atakes on a softer tone. "Most of the people I run into in Metro City are ritualists at the most and don't have what it takes to handle themselves in a fight. Especially with martial artists. The ones who do, don't want anything to do with other practitioners."
The King of Fighters. It was hardly a Mortal Kombat scenario where the fate of the world was the purse and prize yet Brandon seemed to have a stake in either the outcome or events going on. There was little-to-nil overlap between the makeup of the groups she knew of who would be interested in physical combat and mage or witchcraft.
It all shows in Trish's demeanour. Confusion as to the motive and the request; a creasing and furrowing of the brow the cup isn't lowered far from her lips.
"Well, we're as a group more or less reclusive and largely kind of bookish. I don't imagine there's many mages who'd want to fight hand-to-hand, unprepared in a small and isolating environment full of people watching their every move. It's not so long ago people like us were burned alive, hung or drowned."
Sometimes all three, and many in the community were old enough to have first-hand accounts of those times. She set's the cup down and makes a show of moving it aside, just a little so it is no longer between the two of them.
"Someone hand to hand combat trained. That's a sticking point. Any that are? Probably only as a last resort when all else has failed. It's the weakest of our muscles to flex and one of the worst options to be left with. There are always outliers and exceptions but they're much harder to find in a pinch."
He could maybe hire mercenaries who'd keep their mouth and eyes shut for the right price but she wanted him to understand just how exceptional and unusual his request seemed at first glance. He wasn't asking her personally was he?
"Is this some kind of personal request or are you looking for ..funding?"
Brandon nods as she speaks. She's already confirming stuff that he already knows in those few moments. But there are things that she mentions that also give him perspective as to why his search failed in Metro City. Metro City, New York isn't that far from Salem, Massachusetts.
"It's true that it's a sticking point but that is also why I've mainly confined my search to fighting meccas Metro City and here. The myticists in those particular cities probably would have to develop that type of skill as necessity because there is a major gathering of fighters, some of whom turn to crime. However what I believe would be going for us here is that there is a different culture here than there would be in the United States. My problem is however my network isn't as strong here. You do have the connections."
He rubs his chin as he thinks of the profile of the types of people he would be looking for. And as they come to mind he speaks almost in a stream of consciousness.
"I'd probably be looking for someone relatively young or unconventional. Since their thinking would probably be unorthodox enough that they'd go along with it. Someone who is driven to prove themselves or is willing to experiment in using their magic on the fly and use it as a learning experience. Or possibly we could seek out those who use their skills with tracking since that inevitably leads them to needing to use their abilities for combat."
He takes a sip of tea as he tries to think of more. He isn't quite able to but he seems content with that.
"It isn't really about funding. And in fact that may be something I could use to entice prospective team mates. That prize money could buy a lot of research material, or magical components. If you know anybody who those descriptors apply to could you send them my way? And if any those descriptors apply to you, I guess you could call it a personal request."
One eye having drifted closed she leans more heavily onto her upraised arm, canting her head at an angle which sends a ripple through the waves of long golden blonde while she's silently taking in the synopsis of events. Wheels starting to turn as she digests and begins an analysis of what amounts to goals; but no real mention of a substantive motive to get involved. Maybe she was missing it, it didn't compute to her personally.
Write it off as Passion's of the Young perhaps or a nose for trouble? That would be answered in future.
"My my! I'm flattered that you think I'm young."
She suddenly takes the question off in a completely new direction after he asks if she knows anyone who might fit his requirements. She fair wiggles in her seat in an awkward display of embarrassment covering her mouth with her hand as though a fan. Having fun, perhaps toying with Brandon or maybe not she seems to be hardly taking the discussion too seriously at first glance. When she slides her chair closer to the table she leans in much closer than before but the attitude changes as she leans right in.
"A fifth or a half, or even a whole of a prize that's not enough to motivate them in the first place. Not many would be interested; a few /are/ young or impetuous enough to be swayed. As for me.."
Some of the warmth creeps back into the conversation as she feigns thinking about it some more before plainly adding.
"It's not my strong suit so I don't know how strong my 'help' would be. My cooperation however wouldn't come cheap. My share of the prize money, (just common sense) but I also want something else! ... That you can afford! Don't worry about that. You have magic to spare don't you? You want to borrow my power and help - Likewise I might want your help or some mana you can spare."
There was little room for charity or nobility of purpose in the discussion and she wasn't planning on taking a loss in ANY form in this exchange. The higher the price got in blood, coin or power the more she'd charge when Brandon's bill came due.
"It's only fair, since you're asking me to expend my own for you."
The change in demeanor makes him wonder if he suddenly made a deal with the devil. However, in for a penny, in for pound. He begins to consider what the words of the spell weaver sitting across the table from him. He realizes that he has to be careful how he words his response to her. If there was one thing he learned as a detective it was that terms to agreements could leave you in a situation that forced a person to take actions that could ruin them.
"They way I see it, we need at least one more person on our theoretical team. If you manage to point me in the direction of one more person, I'll give you your share of and a third of my prize money. If you find another person beyond that first you'll get the entirety of my share in addition to yours, as a finders fee. In addition, if I manage to get hired for a King of Fighters related investigation job you get thirty percent of that action. As for the help or mana aspects, I would have no problem providing either as long as it doesnt't compromize my morals."
He came across as confident, the phasing was firm in regard to his conditions and it causes her smile to broaden. Suitably wary or suspicious as to her motives she could still work with; he continued the negotiations and laid down some rather ambiguous conditions where he might refuse later on.
She was tempted to tease with requests just to find out where the boundaries of those morals were. But there was business to be done and that came before fun.
"I'd be tempted to hire someone to round out our team with skills we don't possess. Like - taking a lot of damage... but it's more a problem of sorting through the small selection of people who'd work with us in this. There /are/ the Beart sisters. I could probably pay the one of them off with a tray of cupcakes."
Going back to the pocketbook she removes a plain black and unbranded smartphone, both thumbs tapping away as she sends out a text. A bleep after a few seconds which she replies to and the exchange continues for a few seconds.
"... Yet it seems that one is banned from this particular tournament. I-I don't even know how she could have managed that. There's still Ninon Beart but by reputation she's the shrewdest of the pair by /far\."
Even if the Beart brat was interested she'd probably weasel a high price for her participation out of the lad so other options would have to be less interested in pure profit.
"I seem to recall there was a yogi of some kind making a name for himself in the 'fighting circuit' he might be receptive to you."
He probably would not be to her. The way she says Fighting Circuit is off, serves her right for trying out the hip new terms the kid's seemed to use today. There probably wasn't much chance they could cheaply pick up a ringer who'd secure them an easier route to victory.
"I can make some inquiries and see who is receptive. The problem being I gather you'd like to be participating in this tournament rather than one in a few years' time."
Brandon took out his cellphone, then pulled a stylus out, and started to write some notes of his own based on her potential list. In particular, he noted Ninon Beart. He didn't mind shrewd in fact, shrewd could be very useful in the tournament. The yogi is set aside for later research as well.
He touches the stylus to his chin for just a moment as other possibilities come to mind. He saves his notes before switching over to google. He did remember some possibilities as well. And he brings a list of belt holders on wikipedia.
"Well there's a former Champion level belt holder who is a Native American Shaman. He never actually lost his title in a fight but rather when they reorganized the belts because apparently, he disappeared."
He then scrolls down a bit farther and then brings up the Master belt listings. He stares for a moment.
"Then under current belt holders at the Master level, the Blue champion is while granted is primarily a sword and assorted weaponry user she does utilize seals which also make her an intriguing possibility. And I also recall something about a recent tournament being won by a staff wielding shrine maiden who could also be a possibility."
He shrugs and then goes back to his note pad app and adds that information as well.
"I'm not sure those three will hear me out but if I can get in contact with them it won't hurt to try to talk them... More than likely."
Those seemed like strong contenders and since she wasn't the financier spending her own coin she wasn't bearing a responsibility to bring this in under a budget. The stronger they were the better.
"Experienced and already powerful or recognized? They'd be of tremendous help. They must be both if they're currently holding ..master ..belts."
She had no idea! This wasn't her forte, if they were strong enough to win events or things which earned them recognition then that was auspicious. Brandon was the authority in this regard so she just makes a pass with her hand and goes back to the coffee in one free hand and set's the phone aside.
"Well, since we've already set terms between us. I'll extend the offer of help We won't make any profit from the tournament if we lose? So I'll bankroll the team to some limited extent with the same terms. The more you're willing to spend; the more it will wind up costing. You might be able to entice one or more of those girls to help if you have some room to haggle. You'd just need to keep some receipts and be very careful how much you're spending."
She's just slightly cheery as she was enjoying the coffee and the company. The offer was surely tempting to Brandon and might help gather a strong enough team to make a real showing. The bill however would be delivered to him at the end of the day.
When she offers to partially bankroll the team he's subjected to a cocktail of emotions. Part of it relief and part of it was caution. He does welcome the assistance but it was tempered by the need to keep himself from being too far into debt with her.
"I definitely welcome your assistance in that matter but hopefully, I won't have to force you to dig too far into your purse. Between the advance on the investigation I received and the purse I received from my two fights in the Killer Instinct tournament I should be able to also contribute a fair amount to the fund as well."
He picks up his cup of tea once more and puts it to his lips to take yet another sip. He then puts it on the table and slides it away from him as he glances at his phone.
"Of course. Keeping receipts is necessary. And who knows? I may be even able to defray some of the costs by including it on expenses if I end up getting hired during the tournament."
So, it was acceptable to him at least at first and he thought it was less likely he'd have to dip into the fund she provided. That was fine, and it made a lot of sense for him to at least try it this way. An offer freely made had been accepted then so-
"So it's more like a combined sponsorship then. More like partners in this then it seems."
She offers her hand to shake to seal the arrangement before she can get back to her beverage. Lacquered and polished nails, unblemished white skin both smaller than his and very warm to the touch. Not the hands of someone who was used to doing a hard days labour or anything repetitive enough to develop calluses.
"We'll just keep trying until we fill out the whole roster of... Pardon my enthusiasm. How many are we even looking for?"
As she offers her hand, Brandon extends his own hand in return to seal the deal with a hand shake. Her blemish free skin is contrasted against his knuckles which are covered with scars from a life before he discovered magic and calluses on the tips of his index and middle fingers from from manipulating his cards. His nails trimmed short and neatly filed since long nails would probably get in the way of his ability to utilize his cards.
"We need a minimum of three people. Two people per team each fight with a reserve. The maximum size for a roster would be five."
He glances at the now empty cup and folds his hands now at a loss as to what to do with them. He hears the door open as one of the patrons leave and is just as quickly replaced before he returns his attention to his current company.
He had some ideas about where to start looking for the other 'fellow' teammates and his hands certainly told a story all their own. Scars and calluses were usually more telling about character and work ethic than words could be. Her interest in the grip betrayed by a glimpse down at the handshake.
"The more talent we can find the better. I'm probably more useful to have around on the side-lines and helping to finance the endeavour. It's been a awhile since my last fistfight."
If it came to a hand to hand with someone intensely trained where she couldn't hope to maybe get very lucky with a knife or a good crack to the temple with a rock.
"I will have to try and shake some of the rust off so I don't embarrass myself. Here's to making a strong showing!"
Pitched like it were a gag she seemed to be taking what she had said rather seriously. Trish makes an effort to smile, she had her own ideas about how to try and quickly polish her skills before her life or reputation was on the line.
Log created on 19:34:25 05/13/2016 by Trish, and last modified on 12:22:49 05/23/2016.