Description: With the King of Fighters tournament looming on the horizon, the Hitbit corporation is hard at work developing new and more glorious technologies. However, their work has attracted the attention of sweaty costume designer, and tournament enthusiast, Drew Mallard. Find out what happens when Drew comes up against Lee in this zany addition of A Shinobi's Tale!
The Pao Pao Cafe.
A favorite spot for local student, this small, tuckaway cafe sits right by the Southtown Village Mall. A little stuffy, the interior carries neons lights and fake potted plants to give a faux 80s tropical vibe, while the giant plaster dragons gave a stronger eastern vibe against it. In the center of all the tables, a large persian rug was laid out for what was the 'fighting ring'. Richard Meyers, the owner, was a huge fan of martial arts, and of course supported them to the fullest.
Especially since the cafe was an interest of the King of Fighters tournament itself.
"Shoo! Shoo! The cafe is closed for renovations!" Was the words from Lee Chaolan himself. Directing a pair of students hoping for a romantic sneakaway after classes, they are instead turned away by the executive. Normally Lee Chaolan wouldn't sully his hands with such things. But HitBit was one of the forefronts with the King of Fighters tournament, and with the Pao Pao cafe on the shortlist, he wanted to oversee certain renovations themselves. Already, a construction team was active on the site, working hard on the fighting floor. The persian rug was rolled up, and the team was busy setting up -something- above and below. Aways to the side, the tables were all stacked up and cleared as technicians overview several large machines and devices, calibrating and gauging. Lee Chaolan himself rubs his hands together eagerly.
This really was an opportunity of a lifetime.
Gaining access to places you shouldn't be poking around in is a delicate art. Sometimes, stealth is required. Other times, a good head for improv. But the real trick is learning which disguise best suits the job. Too much and you'll stick out like a sore thumb. Too little and you become conspicuously generic.
And the true secret to success is doing your homework.
So it is that Noboru Miyama steps through the front door of the Pao Pao Cafe in a rather odd state of dress. The big shinobi's normally golden brown has been died a rich auburn, while a short red beard hides his cheeks, chin, and neck. A tent-sized grey jean jacket hangs open over a black T-shirt with a colorful red and purple 'Mega Punch Extreme!' logo stretched across his flabby gut. Baggy grey sweat pants hide his legs, with black socks and loafers on his feet. Nothing quite seems to match, but somehow the costume perfectly represents the nerdy mid-twenties artist he is supposed to be.
Hunched slightly forward as if to disguise the fact he is just now slipping through the door, the big red-headed man reaches up with one pudgy hand to nervously adjust his glasses, pushing them up over his bright green eyes. Quickly they flick over his surroundings, taking in the partially assembled machinery, scurrying technicians, and there, Lee Chaolan himself.
Taking in a huffing breath, the sloppily-dressed figure bustles forward toward the table full of tech, face full of excited interest.
It takes a while to notice a man who isn't supposed to be there, in these kinds of things.
As Noboru the artist comes sauntering in, he does so with the kindof conviction that doesn't quite turn heads. Once he starts inspecting the tech, he could see all the calibrations; a lot of infared scans of what seemed to be around the persian rug area, and several biological diagnostics running active statistics right now. Lots of numbers for what seemed to be a scan. But also, a lot of... unsecure laptops as well. The techs seem to start to notice that they were being spied upon, but while they are uncertain of just how to respond to the invader...
A hand comes on Noboru's shoulder.
"Well, you don't seem to be the kind of fellow who is interested in a meal~" Lee Chaolan coos, a firm hand on Noboru's shoulder. A smirk is on his lips, as he peeks a bit over the man's shoulder. Repositioning himself around, he extends his hand out. "My name is Lee Chaolan, I'm the CEO of HitBit Corporation." He singsongs.
"How can I help you, good sir?"
Beneath Lee's hand, the artist's broad shoulder flinches, thick muscles squirming under a thin layer of squishy fat. However, as the executive moves around to stand before him his bright eyes pop wide in surprise behind his delicate spectacles.
"Mr. Lee." The big man breathes in a high, somewhat asthmatic baritone. His bearded cheeks dimple in a big, if somewhat nervous grin, green eyes darting to either side. Everything about him oozes awe and mild trepidation.
"I, well. I heard that we were doing some work for the King of Fighters, and, well, I was in the area anyway, and..." Sweat beads across the pudgy man's pale forehead, dampening his longish red hair as he fidgets under the charming grin of Mr. Lee. He makes a valiant effort to keep his smile up, but it flickers a bit uncertainly.
"IJustWantedToTakeAQuickPeek." He finishes in a rush, excitement bubbling up through his voice as the words tumble out of his mouth one atop the other.
It seems that for now, Lee Chaolan has gained the artist's full attention. He pays the technicians that bustle around them no mind, caught up in the wave of personality emanating from the charismatic figure before him.
Lee Chaolan just keeps that neutral smirk going.
It was a mask, not a face of happiness. He was looking over the strange, nerdy man. Some of the bigger, burlier men were coming here too, figuring out if they would need to escort out this man or not. As the burst of excitement comes, Lee Chaolan just tilts his head.
And then, laughs.
"Ha ha ha! Oh, Excellent~" He releases the man, and clasps his hands together. "Well, it seems that the secret is out. Yes, yes, HitBit is involved with the upcoming King of Fighters tournament. We're handling the documentation and... some other things." He leans in to the man, looking up and over him. "You seem like a real fan of fighting. Oh, if Yoshiaki wasn't on a romantic getaway with his girlfriend, I know you both would adore meeting each other. Well, unfortunately, I'm going to have to be your Yoshiaki today." He gives him a wink.
"Maybe you'd like a demonstration to see what we're up to here!"
"Well, actually, Mr. Lee." The artist leans in a bit and lowers his wheezy voice to a conciliatory whisper, "Mr. Yoshiaki is my boss. I'm Drew Mallard. I help with a lot of the, uh, wardrobe replication. It's how I knew what was happening down here. Office gossip." His nervous smile gets a little shakier with those words, posture tense as if expecting punishment for the admission. However, he seems completely unaware of the big men readying to throw him out at a word from their boss.
Lifting his pudgy right hand to his forehead he shakily wipes away sweat, fidgeting all the more with Lee's close proximity. Having his boss touching and leaning around him seems to have put the flabby designer in a rather uncomfortable spot. He reeks of sweat and nerves, with dark stains beginning to form under the arms of his coat.
"Oh, I'm a huge fighting fan sir. The biggest. I have a Sakura poster over the head of my bed. But, well. I'm quite aware of many functions of the bots. I have to insure that their costumes will withstand attacks, or, um, not withstand them appropriately." Swaying on his feet, the wheezy man gasps in a breath, turning his head this way and that to look anywhere but at Lee, "Unless--" His attention snaps back to the CEO with another upsurge of excitement, eyes wide behind his glasses, "Unless you have a new bot." he practically whispers the words.
"Ah, you work for Mr. Yoshiaki!"
Lee nods along, as Drew explains. The man's personal hygiene issues... do not seem to bother Lee Chaolan outwardly. But the subtle actions of the man come as he inches away from the artist. He appreciated the hard work Yoshiaki put in... from a distance. Smiling, he nods his head at the ultimate question from Drew. With that, he gives a flamboyent beckon, as he strides away from the equipment. "Ah ha! Excellent!~"
"Come, come Drew, follow me~"
"We would never have a new Combot without running it past Mr. Yoshiaki first." Lee sooths, as he walks towards the main construction area. "He loves having that personal touch with each and every Combot. I must ask, were you the one who assisted in L.3.3.?" Lee Chaolan asks inquisitively, leading the way to where the clearing was. "I must say, I absolutely was overwhelmed when I saw that nice old lady being escorted by such a likeness!" Picking his feet amongst the wires and the exposed boards, he reaches around the center of the fighting area. "No, no, Drew, we are not looking at a new robot."
"We are looking to an alternative to the HitBit devices~"
"Well, uh, um." Drew stammers, plodding along obediently in Lee's wake as he mops his face with the sleeve of his denim jacket, "I, had some input on the brochure pose for that model, but, um, no direct...No direct work on the costume, I'm afraid."
Showing much less grace than his escort, Drew carefully lifts his feet over the tangle of wires. Reaching out to brace his bulk on one of the wooden boards, he shakes a wire loose from where it had caught on the tip of his loafer, the entire structure wobbling ominously as he uses it to keep his balance.
"I, rm, Mr. Yoshiaki is very particular about the artistic direction of each bot. I know that he appreciates you keeping him, uh, in the know." Having maneuvered his bulk through the treacherous tangle of wires, the sweaty artist scurries after Lee, wide green eyes darting about with open fascination.
"Wow." He breathes, bearded cheeks quivering and pudgy hands scrubbing themselves across the front of his damp shirt, "Mr. Yoshiaki is going to be so pleased with this. The amount of data this will allow..." He trails off, as if giddy with the thought of what this new advancement might entail.
Noboru says, "Spit him out."
And Lee falls silent.
Compared to the clumsy nerd, Lee was almost too graceful. He was a unicorn amongst asses, a butterfly amongst moths. As he nearly brings the whole thing down, a flicker of anger comes over his face. A sheer moment of disgust, the steadily sinks beneath the smirk. "Of course, of course. Drew, can you hold still for a moment?" He idly notes, as he bursts in a flash of speed, surging straight for Drew with nimble precision.
A sudden kick straight for Drew's throat.
The foot doesn't reach it. No, it stops dead short. The speed and control was pinpoint. The body language was... not aggressive at all. "Ah~" He sighs. "Keep... holding... still." The other leg comes around into a roundhouse, falling short of striking the man as he chains into a third and final roundhouse. Each blow was precise, just hinting of where they would hit. Holding his leg in the air, he winds it back, bringing it down again. "It will allow, for starters, the ability to capture a fighter's information and statistics, without the need of invasive devices wired up to them." He answers, responding to the artist's statement. "Come, come Drew, you have to see this." He urges, striding over a clump of wires to the tech equipment.
Once more over the construction it seemed.
It takes great self discipline to master the arts of self defense. To push oneself to the limit and harden the body for combat.
But it takes an altogether greater amount of discipline to be able to turn that instinct off.
%"Hold sti--?" Drew begins to ask, still in the process of hurrying to catch up with Lee. The change of expression seems to have gone completely over his head, his look of nervous excitement morphing into bewildered surprise as a foot suddenly materializes beneath his chin.
The red hair covering Drew's meaty throat bobs.
"Um, sir..." He stammers, holding his quivering bulk as still as possible while the kicks flash in around him. This man clearly has no fighting instinct. No fierce reflexes to accompany his great flabby slab of a body. He practically melts into a relieved puddle when the CEO withdraws his foot a final time and turns to continue the tour.
"Right." The redheaded man gasps, lifting a shaky hand to scrub at his pale face, "Right. That will, certainly help. I mean, um, we have had problems--Of course you would know this--problems in the past where, fighters. Would, uh, fail to put on the hitbit..." His high baritone voice wheezes in excitement and nervous fear as he scurries after Lee. Slowing his pace, he takes extra special care not to trip over anything, looking down past his pudge to aim his feet with care. He has to impress this man, after all. And this might be his only shot to do it!
"Yes, that is what I meant."
Lee Chaolan's tone grows more impatient with the man. He just couldn't stand such a hideous specimin in extended periods of time. And yet, as he brings himself back to the tech equipment, he goes before one of the diagnostics screens. A techinician is already at work, clicking through the screens. Gesturing towards it, Lee Chaolan nods firmly.
"Now, watch Drew."
The screens suddenly shows on it a wireframe of a human next to another human, a flabbier one. Immediately, it surges up, unleashing a kick. Falling short, it follows up with two roundhouses... in the same pattern as before. Lee Chaolan gestures at it. "As you can see, the attack is... perfectly recorded. Ready to be uploaded into a Combot, or, as our partner is more interested in..."
Lee Chaolan clicks a few things on the keyboards. Immediately, a diagnostics spreadsheet opens up. Several numbers flash on the screen, a blur. "What we are working on is being able to quantify a fighter's performance as well. Like as you can see, I am placed in the 4th Ratio here." He points to a number on the screen. "A record, of course, but with this information, we can collect information just how powerful a fighter is, and break down their fighting ability into boxes. And with the King of Fighters group, that is the MOST important thing that HitBit can provide. And in turn." He turns, to smile at Drew.
"We get to capture the most powerful fighters for our own records!"
Drew's mouth hangs open in slack-jawed astonishment, wide green eyes fixed on the flashing monitor.
"Does," He pauses to breathe in heavily and lick his lips, hands still scrubbing furiously at the front of his now soaking wet T-shirt, "Does Mr. Yoshiaki know about this? I. I need to tell him at once. This is great news." His eyes blink, watering a bit as he begins to turn away from Lee's presentation, loafers scuffing across the ground as he hurries back toward the tangled mess of cords.
"Thank you, Mr. Lee. Thank you sir." He babbles, looking back over his shoulder as he blunders forward, hand lifting to frantically adjust his glasses. "I. I, huh, need to go at once."
The idle acknowledgement comes with only half attention as Lee continues to click through. "And if we compare to you, well, we can see... hmmmmmmmm" The scuffling of feet come, but Lee Chaolan doesn't turn away. "MMmmmmmm...." He continues. Something had his attention. He focuses on the muscle patterns, the build of Drew. The frame. The -statistics-, the spikes in adrenaline. He wouldn't have noticed it before, but... Lee Chaolan finally turns away from the computer, turning towards Drew. "Oh, Drew, it's the strangest thing." He begins, crossing his arms with that smirk.
"You have an -awfully- incredible build for someone working for Yoshiaki~"
"That is, um, quite strange." Drew stammers, half turned to glance over his shoulder at Lee. His wheezy voice is just as high and faltering as ever, eyes wide, cheeks quivering.
His pudgy hands scrub nervously on his T-shirt, shoulders hunched forward so that his jean jacket closes loosely around them...
And then he trips.
Feet becoming tangled in the mass of electrical cords, Drew lets out a surprised gasp. Green eyes widen yet further as he stumbles, ankles helplessly entwined, and begins to fall heavily forward. But instead of impacting the ground face-first, he tucks forward and hits shoulder first in a heavy tumble. Rolling forward, he gives a mighty yank on the cords tangled around his ankles. Hellishly dense muscles surge and flex beneath the layers of false fat padding his body, and cords are either torn free from their sockets or else used as makeshift tethers to drag machines forward into their technicians with horrible grinding scrapes.
But the worst of it comes when his tumble bowls him squarely into one of the wooden support beams.
Using his body like a fleshy wrecking ball, Drew/Noboru crashes through the support beam, causing the entire structure to groan and tremble unsteadily. Only then does he jerk his feet apart, snapping the wires that entangle him, and hurl himself upward to his feet. There is nothing graceful about the motion. it is brutal and muscular, as if he were simply shouldering the universe out of his god damn way.
Turning then, Noboru glances back across the wreckage toward Lee and tilts his shaggy head to one side. His green eyes stare, cold and impassive, as he withdraws both hands from beneath his coat. Each big paw palms a fist-sized sack of soft grey cloth. His thumbs jerk, pulling thin lines of material from their tops.
The bags begin to smoke.
The ninja drops them at his feet.
The world seems to slow as he flexes his knees, then hurls himself backward, passing beneath the scanners as he executes an effortless standing long jump of at least 20 feet, shoulders hammering into an outside window, glass exploding outward as he tumbles into the street beyond.
Behind, lying happily beneath the trembling wooden supports of the new and improved scanning technology, two grey cloth sacks fizzle and smoke...
Above all other secrets of the shinobi arts of disguise, one must know the art of the exit plan. It is a skill that Noboru executes, explosively.
Lee Chaolan pulls away from the screen, as Drew begins his retreat.
The moment he trips, and falls into a tumble, the executive was lunging. Rushing forward in a blaze of speed, he deftly moves through the chaos. Support beams were crashing down, equipment was collapsing, and the explosions were coming BEFORE the smoke bombs went off. Lee Chaolan was nearly upon Drew as the bags come down, a lashing kick coming out.
The assault comes through the smoke, as the relentless offense scatters the smoke around far too early. The broken glass revealed the means of escape. Lee Chaolan, however, was still smirking, still smiling. Turning around, he looks at the damage that was unleashed by a single man. They lost a day of work from this, the sparking equipment and the broken support beams. It would be a wash. But the executive approaches the monitor from before, now cracked with scrolling CRT corruptions. Lifting it up, he focuses on the last bit of data, on the fighter that was here. He shakes his head.
"Seems that curiousity is drawing some cats~"
Log created on 14:45:17 05/28/2016 by Noboru, and last modified on 15:04:55 05/31/2016.