Description: Trish summons the team leader of the ill-fated Seekers of Mysteries, to see what moves he'll make next and to check on his mental state. Medical assistance wasn't the only service provided. Counsel was offered as well. It remains to be seen what the P.I. will do with it.
Mixed in amongst the small businesses a European townhouse seems a little out of place on the main street. Four stories tall and all a plain white cladding and dated decorative windows made on boxy frames, large shuttered windows thrown open only on the upper levels. Pristine and flawlessly painted it was perhaps a former restaurant or some place that's been converted to purpose a few times in the past.
At street level the Japanese awning across the front of the shop seamlessly blends with those of the more traditional antique store and space for rent either side of it. A white cloth banner hanging down across the front door with 'closed' artfully printed has a second note on a piece of paper safety pinned to the sheet.
B. Please use the driveway <--
An alleyway just a little further down the street.
The sheet declaring the shopfront closed hasn't been taken down in some time. The business obviously not operating as anything special; since the windows are a little dusty and have some hand prints and smudges where people have tried leaning in close and looking in.
Around the back however the building takes up a lot more room, a patch of lawn and some small shrubs with a solitary flower bed. Ever a patio garage under which an ostentatious yet still flashy Ferrari in its namesake yellow sits parked on an angle. Another note taped to the door advises the P.I. that he's looking for the '3rd floor' of the four level building.
For anyone really looking hard and knowing what to look for, some of the wards are obvious and meant to alarm, or scare off intruders. The very bottom floor is disused. Sheets cover most of every piece of furniture and there's a level of abandonment that some of the wards play to. Amplifying suspense and paranoia; that feeling of being watched usually enough to deter. Just harmless precautions as far as wards go to keep away the uninitiated or thieves who might otherwise brazenly progress into areas that might be actually dangerous.
It all started with a message. A request to meet up in Southtown. Brandon Malone's uber pulled up to the front and as soon as he got out thanked the driver as he headed towards the door with relaxed strides. He expected it to be closed but being directed to another entrance? That was strange but she, like himself, was a mystic and he was willing to put up with idiosyncrasy if it wasn't dangerous or ill-spirited.
He follows the arrow to the alleyway around the back but even with him knowing what to look for it makes him paranoid. Not from the wards themselves but people who may follow him in taking advantage of the enclosed nature of the alley.
When he gets out he notices the Ferrari. The same one he noted after their first meeting. He then moves towards the note and reads it before heading into the building. It's easy for him to get distracted by the wards and seeing how they work. He gets part way through devising ways he would go about duplicating and tweaking them before he forces himself to focus on the here and now and the fact that he was invited here.
He continues on, going up the steps until he reaches the third floor.
The sight that greets Brandon as he ascends up to the third level. Is a sudden switch of decor from an area appropriate to the apparent age of the building to that of a modern townhouse? The entire room opened up with the fourth floor occupying only half its original state with spiral staircases ascending into that portion of the loft in two places.
As island bar separates the room into a kitchenette and dining area on the one side from the roomy lounge area, with two matching sofa and art deco tables; an actual bar occupies the far wall and the wall space behind it is packed full of bottles on display and meticulously fronted. The tables in the lounge large enough to accommodate the bizarre mashup of reading material; art and fashion, health and fitness alongside car and boating magazines. Dusty tomes of old fairy stories alongside dog eared medical texts and books of physics and metaphysics.
The sharp and chirpy bellow comes from beside the doorway as a cheerfully pink faced and merrily smiling woman falls into him and hooks an arm around his neck for support. Smelling distinctly of alcohol she chummily seems as though relived to see him and set's the fire-poker back against the wall where it promptly falls over with a clatter. Never mind, she can get that later. The room is full of odd little patches of mess she would get to later.
"Come in, come in!"
Dressed in a fitted dress shirt and striped blue and white pyjama bottoms she not obviously long out of bed. Hair slightly a mess and tangled the buttons on the front of the shirt straining hard while she's leaning into of him.
"I'm amazed... you answered so promptly. Most mages I know are fashionably late by a few months and they're usually not 'daytime' people. Not like you!
If she'd been a little less drunk she might've thought to go get dressed earlier rather than find the fire poker and a good strategic place to stand.
There wasn't even a fireplace.
The change in decor is striking. If there was anything Brandon was expecting, it was not this. As result he tries to reason out why she'd make the first two floors look abandoned and third floor look like this. He would chalk it up to idiosyncrasy once more but his instinct is quoting Shakespeare loudly to him. 'Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.'
Brandon then hears that now familiar voice calling his name. His eyebrow rises. He turns and sees the fire poker in her hand and silently curses himself for his lack of awareness. Someone could've easily cracked his skull wide open if they wanted to. As the poker clatters to the ground, he glances around to confirm his initial once over of the area. No there indeed wasn't a fire place.
"Private Investigator. If I'm late, I'm less likely to get paid."
His eyes drop back to the poker as he speaks once more. "I'm kinda surprised you didn't go with a crowbar or an aluminum bat."
Raising a finger to her lips in a shushing gesture she then moves it to press to Brandon's in an overly familiar and touchy drunk she instead answers.
"Typically made of carbon-steel or aluminium."
Unhooking her arm she stumbles her way into the lounge area and flops down onto one of the couches, picking an empty looking bottle up and peering down the neck deep into the bottle to see if anything remained.
"There's merit in the suggestion, but Iron -or- 'cold iron' as it was sometimes called has other properties which can be useful. It's also rather innocuous as a weapon."
There appears to be enough left in the bottle that she picks a rogue glass tumbler out of one of the piles of books and magazines and sets to pouring herself a drink.
"Don't look so worried! It's not your instincts that have gone or dulled. You were probably trying to filter out the effects of the wards from what you were actually feeling and experiencing."
She gestures into the flat and assumes the most lax display of a host ever in merely beckoning him to take his leave. Crossing her bare legs and sipping at whatever she had poured for herself, a nice rose wine but it had probably been open too long.
"Professionalism is to be commended! but this isn't a pity party or a celebration for the 'Seekers of Mysteries.'"
Thier relationship predated that engagement by some time. The recent ill-fated foray into the King of Fighters tourney was still fresh enough for the feelings to be raw. But Trish had lost little sleep over it. However.
There was much to be seen at the tournament itself that was intriguing besides brutes trading blows for glory and wealth. Before, after and during their match the whole foray was rather exciting and it hadn't been a wasted effort in her estimation.
She lets the words hang there. Where to from here? What did he want to do now? She seems content to just bury her face in her drink and leave him to fill in the gaps.
He laughs at himself, for not thinking about the cold iron as aspect since most of the time his workings tended to be on paper or leather which tended to be lighter and more flexible or wood. His limited use of materials may have colored his perception a bit. However he's silent.
He lets her beckon him into the actual living space and chooses to sit down on the sofa across from her considering his host's relaxed style, he figures he'll be on his feet forever and a half before she indicates he should sit down. He then nods when she indicates that it's neither a pity party or a celebration. A bit of relief that was out of the way early on was felt as far as the investigator was concerned.
That single word was uttered as an echo to hers. There's a moment where ponders it.
"I don't like the fact that there was a copy of me or Ayame out there. I want to go over the waivers once more in case there was something I missed. If there isn't anything to support this, I will see if I can bring a law suit against them. If there is, I'm going to have to be more insidious about possible solutions. Also, I will suggest to our opponent team that they should probably sue them as well."
He rubs his chin as he thinks over even more plans. "Plus, I will need to find out if there is anyway I can identify their recording equipment and if so, I may just decide to use my power directly in those cases. A machine that self destructs is probably going to be of minimal use to them."
Lowering the glass form her lips she starts to give the liquid in the glass a gentle swirl while parsing her thoughts against Brandon's current plan. She would most certainly sued if it were her likeness on display or being mocked with one of those fraudulent copies.
"That's a smart way to hit them where it hurts, assuming you have the funds and time to continue the fight against them long enough."
it also depended on the corporation being ethical enough to not sabotage their opponent or ensure they didn't meet their day in court. She was deliberately dredging up the negative, being confidant in a system not being exploited by her opponents would be naïve. A prolonged sip from the glass as she continues mulling over how she would execute her own counter-attack.
"How to create a case that would force a resolution or settlement immediately? The Miko girl, Ayame could probably build a stronger and more sympathetic case with the public. Based on a <clear> exploitation of her religion by a 'heartless' industry. Using her likeness and talents for entertainment purposes."
Or military applications as they had so learned. Trish digs deep and exhibits some dramatic flair to sell her pitch, such a poor girl to be exploited so. Brandon's case was the weaker one, since his likeness wasn't copied and branded but the imitating of his techniques was worrying. Yet! Going for him, he was perhaps the more dangerous since he had the skills to dig around and build the iron-clad case. Ethically more flexible than a miko would be and with a reputation that wouldn't suffer so if it were tarnished.
"I agree with your direction of thought but I feel you're not taking the problem by the throat. You saw the number of robots on display for an 'exhibition' of the things. An army can't be easy to hide."
Trish hadn't really cared much for the things at the time. But they were obviously for testing purposes and sale. Exposing the existence, purpose and dealings behind such a clandestine sale as well as whom they were for sale to. It would be ruinous if revealed alongside a lawsuit a poor girl had publically lodged and was fighting. The look on Ayame's face when she had seen all those Xeroxed copies walking around the arena.
"I would - expose them, perhaps. Before he's ready to go public with the things and get your friend starting with the lawsuit. You'd need to start leaking what you find just before her lawsuit becomes known."
%Play the strongest cards at your disposal. Ayame was a strong piece if she could be convinced to play.
As Trish talks Brandon lips curl into a smile. If one were to liken their roles in planning this action to comic book artists, Brandon's role would be a penciller, giving the initial form and giving an indication of what appearance the end result would be. Trish ends up taking on the inker role, defining the form and giving it depth and tweaking it as necessary. She gives him things to think about as well as state some things he was already thinking about but never mentioned since he was really on the outline phase.
"I do like having Ayame as the main case especially because of the religious exploitation since it would play well in Japan, but I also like them having to deal with multiple fighters coming forward at the about the same time."
The army not easy to hide part was one of the few things he didn't think about. But she was right people would have to know and tongues were either already loose or could be loosened with the right motivation.
"Exposing them would be an excellent idea, figuring out the when may be difficult but totally worth it if it's pulled off. Another reason I think it may be a good idea to follow up Ayame's suit with others is look at the other teams in the tournament. Team USA has Ken Masters and Brian Battler in it who can bring to bear lots money into it. Sonic Assault has two of their military fighters in this. You think the US goverment is going to let anyone else get their hands on someone with equal levels to their skill and training? Granted, they're just as likely to buy them all up and try to manuever them into an exclusivity contract with their particular likenesses. Both Team Sunshine and Psycho Soldiers have idols which mean they likely can also bring money to bear and have a fan base that would spread the story like wildfire and eat them up in public opinion."
Trish raises her glass in a salute. She couldn't really fault the ambition or the logic. She hadn't paid any attention to the makeup of the tournament and was surprised to hear about military fighters, International attention as well Japan also would explode with the star power popular idols could bring. This whole thing was shaping up to be a much larger powder keg than she could have ever imagined. How likely was it to reach settlement rather than just explode.
"It sounds like you have a concrete goal; One that should fell even the largest of foes. The strategy hinges on... how you get a hold on the information you need."
In that, he was the expert. Scrying or divination arts weren't her forte and it would be completely inadmissible and damaging beyond belief in a court case. Conventional means were necessary and she really hadn't been paying that much attention to the names of the folks buying or selling.
Draining the glass Trish slams it down on the table-top then goes back to lounging. She seems pleased but inwardly she gives the impression she was casting judgement. He wasn't ready to learn anything more just yet, he was a man on a mission and his attention and passions were diverted in that direction.
Being hurt and wronged maybe brought out his drive, it's a far cry from the hurt and despondent man that was trying to take responsibility for their teams loss and injury. He'd even justified using more of that absurd level of power to harm himself as a positive since the disposable machines replicating him would be wasteful.
Had he no sense for how valuable he was?
"Well, don't go blowing yourself up!! I'm here to patch up your wounds as you need me, at a fair rate. Unless you're asking me for more help? I seem to recall signing on for the duration of the King of Fighters tournament when I agreed to work with you."
The pricing rules still applied, and now there was no chance of a purse and pay-out at the end of the timeframe. Though a dim chance there was a lawsuit, and if managed to bankrupt that company then Brandon might not even get his payment after all that.
The strategy does hinge on how he gets the information he needs, indeed. When he hears her say that, he can't help but feel that there deeper meaning behind those words. A gentle reminder to be careful in how he collects the evidence. It was something he already thought about but still because of the careful way she put it, it was completely unoffensive. He could only nod in agreement.
He lets her finish her drink, remaining quiet the entire time. Meanwhile, he's pondering the next step. He definitely had a starting point. Lee Chaolan was a public figure and as a result was someone he could research right away. The other two, they might present a problem. Plus he considered the fact that the early elimination might've been a blessing in disguise. It gave him more freedom to act than if he was in the tourney.
"Thank you for continuing to provide your assistance be it healng or general assistance. I'll let you know if I have anything you could help with. And in the meanwhile I'll keep my eye on the other fights. They may provide clues as well."
Being thanked for doing nothing unless she was asked directly and paid accordingly in the end. It's what she did. Her mouth quirks up at the corner in a half-smile and one eye drift's closed in an unmistakeable wink
"Well it's nice to know you aren't going to go rushing into anything. There was an ulterior motive to asking you to come here in person."
Her primary motive was to see what kind of shape he was in after their last meeting. Reaching across to and patting at the couch cushion's she eventually lifts one of them with a frown. Shifting in her seat and feeling down the side of the armrest she pulls out a tiny little hard covered notebook. Edges of the cover blunted and at the corners peeling away with age into fans of discoloured paper that made up the cardboard.
Trish lobs it toward Brandon with indifference to the thing, the pages all held in like a tiny ring binder and its contents in various state of repair. Effort had at one point been made to tape up tears and pages coming lose, mop up stains and rewrite segments that were fading. But it was full of scrawled sigil and glyphs with words written below them that weren't in any language he may have ever seen before.
"If you have time enough for reading it's at least a primer on some of the steps I just glossed over in my books. Nowadays it might be called 'utamahou' or song magic, at least in these parts. It's very old, but it's an interesting study of frequency, wave and notes that can be used in magic."
It was older than most languages but it had progressed too far and forgotten its own root and meaning. She gives no shits about the fate of the notebook. Sometimes she thinks she put more stock in going back through the book with a red pen and correcting mistakes.
"There's not that many individual symbols to learn, as you dig deeper it starts to become a little more like math in its expression and art in its execution."
There were other things he was thanking her for that helped him. Counsel, being a sounding board, both things that had value as well as far as he was concerned. On a subconscious level, he was thankful the fact that she also was checking in on him and where his head space was. Not that he would realize it until later when he has a chance to contemplate it later.
As that notebook moves a lazy arc in his direction, he reaches out to snatch it then glancing down at it for a moment as she explained the contents of the notebook and it would make for an interesting read once he had time again. Now that he thought about it, Ayame might have some interest in reading it as well. She was playing music when he first met her.
"Like math in its expression but art in its execution, huh? Much like I've heard about the study of music."
He rises to his feet with notebook in hand taking a moment to glance at it before looking at Trish. "Will this be included in the services rendered column, Miss Horne?"
No matter what her answer is, he's already including it and it will show when he pays his debt.
Trish quirks her head with the question as to price for service... how much was the notepad worth to her now? A lock of hair falling into her face starts her out of the contemplation and breaks her eye contact with the book. It was worthless in her current studies and only a reminder of where she had started.
"It's an old thing I don't have much use for anymore. Pay me for it what you think you've gotten out of it. It's only as important and valuable as what you can take away from it."
There was no advantage in giving it away for free after all even if she had no more use for it.
Right there on the inside cover was her most recent pen name, L. Horne. There might be a few odd notes she'd scrawled away in there when she was using other names but she hadn't had cause to even really open the cover in ages. The thought only occurs when he calls her by her most recent pen and screen name.
"It's fine. You can call me Lena. Calling a beautiful lady like me Miss Horne in a familiar tone might seem scandalous."
Or make her feel old. Teasing even while making to half fill her glass with what little remained in the bottle seen earlier. She stands with the glass in hand and displays some form of disappointment he was throwing out signs of departing.
"Aww, you're leaving already? The night is still early!"
The afternoon sun outside was beyond its peak but night was still a few hours off. She'd have to amuse herself with a night on the town on the town since it was a day off; she had no intention of going into the clinic tonight.
"I guess that's how things have to be done isn't it. Give me an update on how it's progressing at some stage."
She wished him luck in deciphering what was contained in that book. Like him, she'd struggled through without actually hearing anyone speak or sing utamahou and been able to find her own voice which got her started down this path. His magic was so unique and foreign to her all she could do was offer a primer on the first steps she had taken and see how he took to it. If he had to bend his own magic's to suit her style of teaching, she might damage or inhibit his potential, and then she'd never get to see it.
"Just don't drop in unattended. I don't regularly disarm the second floor."
What the hell had she even set up in this house and how dangerous it was only she knew. But standing there cradling her glass in the crook of her arm, messy hair and most improperly dressed for company she still manages to inject a real sense for how perilous it might be not to heed that advice.
Log created on 20:28:56 06/23/2016 by Brandon, and last modified on 22:30:37 06/24/2016.