Description: Having failed to stop Justice on his own, Sol turns to others like himself, hardened warriors that he might be able to recruit for the bloody work ahead.
[1;34mHeidern drops Heidern's Low Self-Esteem.
OUTER HEAVEN... no wait... the IKARI BASE is abuzz with activity following the unexpected return of the Commanding Officer, Codename: Heidern, earlier in the day. Though his adopted daughter Leona and his most trusted Officers have done their best to maintain discipline and keep people on-track during his abscence, there's little like the sight of the 6'3" uniformed veteran to get these Soldiers of Fortune to stand up straight and double-time it.
Striding his way down the landing bay, the one-eyed 'General' grunts with varying tones of approval or disapproval as he regards the assembled vehicles, along with the men working on them - perhaps a bit slower than he would expect, given the severity of the situation. There's little doubt, the Ikari morale has taken some kind of a hit - he can only hope his own army hasn't been infiltrated by the enemy.
"It's not enough..." he grumbles - recent events obviously have him troubled. Has he been away too long? Have even the deadly and well-trained Ikari Warriors let themselves get comfortable? In a way, Heidern almost blames himself for not being vigilant enough; for not seeing the signs sooner, so that they might have been acted on.
Heidern disguises a look of disappointment as he spins on his heels, turning his back to the various engineers and guards stationed in the area. Holing up the palm of one gloved hand, he brings the other fist smashing down into it with the firm *slap* of leather on leather.
"God damnit... it's not enough," he repeats, more gravelly than the first time. His brow knits in concentration. There has to be SOME way...
For all the action and buzz around the Ikari Base, one soldier amid the chaos is the image of serenity, or at least ennui that is Leona Heidern. She is out of official uniform, in the semi tactical fatigues and the not-tactical top that she has somehow considered workable as civilian wear.
She is waiting for a flight back to Japan. A return to a fight that is ahead of her, and within her, that she knows is back there. She knows the man that has opened something inside of her will be found and she will learn exactly what it is that makes her skin itch and her blood boil. But now, she is steady and calm, and with it a stoic boredom that hides the tumult underneath. She drinks from a bottle of water and looks up at the sky. Her mind rolls over in her head the potential outcomes of her return to Japan. Words from her father in her head. Words from the man she fought. They rolled in her head, never lingering and she hated herself for it
There will be blood.
Argent Merce, renegade economist and currency specialist, has been going over contract bids for days, from almost a dozen sources. United Nations, Japanese Defense Force, British Commonwealth, United States Clandestine Operations, even the Korean Yakuza. He's been hard at work with calculations and risk evaluations, looking at bids and counter-bids between himself and the multitude of other accountants and slick hands talking to him via the satellite communications antenna on base. Expenses, payoffs, risks, required personnel, political fallout, potential casualties, even the future reputation capital from picking one operation or another.
Argent, wearing his fatigues, hurries out of his office, carrying a black satchel under his right arm. He duels with his blade left-handed, despite being right dominant, so his left arm is waving as if he were a British drill sergeant, with his right arm occupied. Having heard that Heidern is back, he looks towards him with his collected documentation, spreadsheets and charts and official offers printed out, plus various international law stipulations from his legal aide in the quartermaster's office.
The steady background drone of bustling workers and whirring machinery finds itself slowly drowned out by the dull rumble of a distant engine. The sound billows from the surrounding jungle without any discernable source, the tall mountains and thick foliage acting as an echo chamber that causes the noise to come from seemingly all directions at once. This auditory illusion begins to fade as the origin of the grumbling roar draws closer and it eventually becomes more obvious that the unexpected visitor is making their way along the winding dusty trail that leads through the trees up to the front gate of the unmarked base.
At last, the guards stationed in the watch towers are finally treated to an unobstructed view of their guest as a large powerful motorcycle tears out of the tree line at a breakneck speed kicking up a veritable storm of dirt in its wake that would make the Roadrunner proud. The sole occupant of the stark red power cruiser turns out to be a man, perhaps in his mid-thirties, dressed in a manner that befits some sort of biker gang member - a sleeveless leather vest, loose pants, heavy boots, and a metric truckload of belts.
The biker approaches the gate without concern, skidding to a halt at what might be the literal last moment possible before the fortified entrance. It takes a few moments for the giant cloud of dust he's kicked up to settle down again by which point he's already dismounted and standing before whatever sort of obstruction might be preventing his entry. Tilting his head up to peer at the guards from behind a pair of large aviator sunglasses, the intruder jerks a thumb at the gate, his expression a faint scowl.
"Open up," he growls in a voice like grinding gravel. "I need a word with your boss."
Keeping his fist in his palm, Heidern appears to be made out of stone as he stands tall amidst the hustle and bustle of the Landing Bay. The screech of tools on metal, repairs being made, people shouting orders down the length of the runway, soldiers running into and out of incoming and outgoing transports. Within hours of his return, the C.O. has the Ikari Base running as close to clockwork perfect as can be expected with current morale. As well-trained as these men and women might be, as dedicated to the cause... there is no getting around the fact that recent events have made a REAL impact on the Warriors' morale; something rarely seen since the 1994 surprise attack from 'R'.
Absent-mindedly raising his fist and loosening his hand, Heidern begins to reach up with his index and middle fingers, moving towards the covered eyesocket. And now, there is an even greater threat than the mad Rugal Bernstein posed.
Are they ready? Could they ever hope to be?
Pulling his fingers away from his eye as he spots the frantic money-man out of the corner of his good eye, Heidern does an about-face to face him as he runs up. His disappointed and troubled gaze is gone before anyone might get a glimpse at it, returned to his usual cold, impassive visage. The thousand-yard stare of a man who has seen too many deaths in one lifetime... and knows there are more, many more, to come. "Yes, soldier?" he grumbles roughly, as Argent approaches him waving various papers and dossiers - the C.O. has spent too long in the field or otherwise distracted, it's clear he needs to handle matters with a far more personal touch around here.
Outside the fortified base, the two guards exchange puzzled glances at the sounds of an approaching motorcycle, audible even above the dim of choppers entering and exiting the base high above. As the figure comes into sight, there's some terse muttering between the two, an advance phone call made... and mere seconds after Sol growls out his request - no, his DEMAND - the main, rarely used front entrance to the base begins to open up. Thick steel doors, dozens of feet in height, begin to slowly pull aside. The earth grinds under their weight, but gradually the entrance opens into the main lift. Should give Sol a clear shot right up to the landing bay, several floors up. The guards don't say a weird to the man - his own clothes in stark contract to the uniformed personnel - but simply raise the additional gate, pull apart the fence, and allow the man through.
What was inside her, she had to understand, and moreover she had to control it. Her father talked of no mercy. The man in Japan spoke of blood and rage. She felt it. She hurt others. Was it fated to happen? If so, how could she fight it without damning fate, or without damning herself? She crosses her arms and for all the world looks as though she were contemplating the greater complexities of a lunch order rather than warring in her own mind.
She had come to the conclusion that perhaps while there would be blood. And maybe her enemies deserved no quarter, but if there were others like her, others that might control and contain as she is, did they not deserve the same treatment as she got when she was a child? Maybe the man was gone to it, maybe he just enjoyed it, but the way he spoke there would be others. Perhaps there was room for some small mercies after all.
Introspection is cut short by reality when the engine cuts the air. Leona blinks and leans over the edge of the landing platform. Looking down on the man below, she frowns and crosses her arms. The commander will handle this. After all, that's what the man down below wants. And if he causes trouble, the entirety of his family will come down on him.
Argent Merce gives a rapid salute as he comes to a halt, his thumb down to indicate he's a civilian instead of aligned with his other fingers for a military man. "Hello, sir. We've been getting offers pouring in for this conflict in Japan. Things are going pork pie, and everyone wants us to mop up the gravy." Ignoring the sound and hustle around him, used to being in combat zones in Africa and the tropics and the Latin jungles while working projections, he reaches into his satchel.
Merce produces a glossy black folder from the satchel, opening it up and looking inside. "The risk projection states that anything relating to Heihachi Mishima's bid is the worst thing we could touch, but he's promising us huge profits on a stock option basis. There's something out there that he's got a deep belly for, and he wants it. That's probably what the United Nations is after, and I'm pretty sure, from what the Korean Yakuza is saying, a lot of people want it. The Koreans were our unusual bid, right after Mt. Fuji went nuclear and the ninja villages got revealed."
He looks down farther on the page. "Our best option in terms of casualties, overhead, and public reputation is the United Nations, but we risk a political shift against the America and some factions in Europe related to peacemaking units. I don't know why Armstrong has a hardon against Japan right now, but that Gear thing would make us obselete. And that's why I don't like it." Argent's face twitches, looking back up at Heidern. "This isn't a business where certainty bids you confidence, you know?"
"We've also got an unusual American clandestine operations contract here, that's the most dangerous one, but the one with the lowest pay. They want piecemeal assets for singular missions. We might get an idea of what's going on, and this one is an option. They're not demanding a monopoly on us. I kept this one secret from the other bidders."
Sol steps into the lift as the gate slides open to grant him entry, offering a single short wave to the tower almost as an afterthought. His expression is one of casual nonchalance as he rides the mechanical lift up to the main floor of the small but well-designed base, one hand in the pocket of his loose-fitting white pants, the other clutching the hilt of a large blocky sword which he holds at his side. Fireseal taps idly against his thigh as he ascends, his apparent slight nervous tick the only outwards indication of the turmoil within.
His encounter with Justice had been a disaster. In one fell swoop, he had confirmed all of his fears about the terrible outcome that would arise if the technology he'd created were ever used by power-hungry fools. The Command Gear, something that he had been trying to sabotage for decades, was everything a shadowy group of authoritarian evil bastards could want. She was fast, powerful, smart, and able to control the lesser Gears with the precision of a master puppeteer. In short, she was bad news.
Even worse, he couldn't stop her. Not alone, atleast. Which is precisely why he was about to do something that had never happened in the some-eighty years since his crusade against the ones who had betrayed him started.
The guards at the top of the elevator receive the same silence that is offered to him, Sol ghosting past them as if they don't even exist, the weapons clutched in their hands posing him no serious threat. He pauses after a few steps to glance around, searching for the object of his interest. Heidern isn't hard to locate even amongst the gaggles of military-uniformed soldiers. Men in power tend to give off certain vibes. Plus, he's the only one sporting the same stone-faced look of someone with too much weight on his shoulders who doesn't want to show it.
"A waste of your time," he grunts, marching up behind the small group of elites as the accountant lays out their current options. His mouth twists upwards at one corner into a grin. "I have a much better offer."
Even with a world of chaos around him, Heidern can't help but glance at his adopted 'daughter' Leona standing off to the side. Truth be told, there's still a sense of concern stemming from their earlier encounter, but... now is not the time, nor the place for such things. She wouldn't want it, and Heidern certainly needs every available asset focusing on the days to come. No, he'll have to look into that himself... he owes her that much.
He doesn't return the salute to Argent - being C.O. affords him such luxuries. Instead, he inclines his head slightly in response, taking a step towards the man as Argent immediately gets down to business. A small twitch of the lips upwards seem to show that Heidern appreciates the professional approach, and he listens to the various pitches intently, resting his chin between his index finger and thumb and staring at the money man while he extensively lists off the contracts available.
Then, at the mention of the United Nations, Heidern's eye narrow sharply at the man - a flash across his face that passes quickly, but is noticeable all the same. Even still, he lets the man finish speaking - taking a moment to interally process the information, and to size the civilian up, before he breathes deeply and opens his mouth to speak in tones that border on harsh.
"I appreciate you can't spin straw into gold," he says roughly, no regards for the general niceties of speech, "But even a man like yourself has to realize money isn't the end-goal here." He pauses to coldly eye the man up and down yet again before he continues, "Maybe you don't. Maybe that's what we pay you for. Doesn't matter; if you think we're going to join the Mad Gear Gang in working for the United Nations, I think you might be due for a stress leave, son."
He stops as a guard runs up to him and whispers something in his ear. There's one single word whispered by Heidern in reply, and the man runs back in the direction from which he came. Heidern quickly brings his eye up to look at Leona in the near-distance, before turning back to Argent.
He gives a rare, inaudible chuckle - shoulders simply rising and falling for a moment - and then he carries on, slightly less harsh than before. "Anyway, we might have an offer more in line with the founding principles of this organization," he says - just seconds before Sol approaches and lets loose his grunted comment. He offers a brief smirk to Merce that disappears by the time he turns to face the one and only Sol Badguy. Whether his arrival was expected, or just a coincidence, Heidern hopes the man offers a more noble alternative. Or at least one not solely focused on money and influence - although both are things the organization could so desperately use.
"Hrmph," he says, gesturing his guards away with a vague wave of his hand, as he gazes as the individual in front of him. Something about strange bedfellows... but all the same, Heiden grunts, "Talk."
Leona had little input to give on the notion of contracts. She had opinions, certainly, but despite being Heidern's daughter, she was still his soldier. She would take the orders that she was given and she would execute them however he sought fit for her. What Argent was talking about was concerning, still, as she wondered if either of those she had fought against and with in Japan were allied to any of the major players. The blond girl, Noel, certainly, but what about the man that boiled her blood?
The man comes up the lift and Leona stops thinking, she has a focus on Sol. Her body loosens up, her foot slides behind her. It's a poor attempt at looking casual when she's really coiling like a serpent and ready to strike. She didn't trust this man, but she didn't trust most. He also radiated power. Not that she feared him, but she knew if she and the other Ikari's weren't quick, a lot of their family would be hurt before they took him down. But no fight happens just yet, there's business deals to make and with it, Leona keeps silent sentinel just behind her CO. A protective daughter of a man far more powerful than really needed her, but still she was there.
Argent looks back at Heidern despite the harsh words, his gaze level under the criticism, his face unconsciously adopting a mimic in his micromovements to Heidern. A father that was a spy once, that hid it from his family, and a son that unknowingly took the same path to displease his father. "Sorry, sir, just looking to the financial longevity of our organization," he says adroitly, before he turns his attention to Sol Badguy. He slips the folder back into the satchel, his right hand then slapping on the black leather bag protectively. He knew what he cared about, not human flesh or fine furs or even greenbacks, just data. He's listening quietly, taking a step to stand at Heidern's right side, and behind, showing Sol the left side of his face with a tilt of his nose outwards from Heidern's flank. A deliberate move to take in the offer on a poor side for persuasion, to act as an impartial consultant.
Straight to business then.
Sol's grin lingers for a few moments at the terse response, already warming up to the leader of the Ikari Warriors. He'd heard plenty about their group over the years as an inevitable part of walking in the same circles but their paths had never crossed until now. Strict, skilled, and professional were the words often bandied about when his name came up and Heidern was certainly giving off those vibes. Normally, Sol wouldn't be terribly keen on dealing with people who are so uptight, but right now he needs someone who might actually stand a chance of being useful to him, not fresh drinking buddies.
The bounty hunter, and ironically the most wanted man on the planet, takes a moment to glance at the various faces of those arrayed around him. He can see the tension present in them, the burning curiosity as to what sort of thing might bring someone like him directly to their home. Some might pause to enjoy that bit of dramatic anticipation but Sol is not a man to waste time or mince words, thus he gets straight to the point.
"As I am sure you're all aware, the United Nations has lost its damn mind. Someone is pulling their strings, the same people who created Justice. I don't know what their goal is - but I do know that monster needs to be stopped."
Sol frowns and fishes a pack of cigarettes from his pants, slipping one into his mouth and setting it ablaze with a small burst of flame that flares up from the tip of his finger. He takes a long drag on the butt and exhales a thick cloud of smoke into the air. The package is replaced in his pocket and the hand goes up to his face, pulling the sunglasses away from his eyes, revealing a pair of golden irises split down the middle by dark black slit pupils like those of a lizard.
"I tried to take her alone. Didn't work out. So I'm going to need some back up on this one."
His attention now firmly off of Argent, who seems to slide behind his back to take in the offer, Heidern appears perfectly confident as he regards the dangerous Sol through one eye. With his daughter Leona at his back, his men milling about, here in the heart of the Ikari Base. His people are safe here, or nowhere at all - and if it's the latter, then all he can do is be prepared to fight to the last. It is, after all, the Ikari way. Even so, he hopes it won't come to that - and gesturing the guards away should be a sign to everyone that he doesn't regard the new arrival as an imminent threat to anyone within the base... despite the sheer amount of power visible to the keen, experienced observations of the C.O.
That one eye shoots down to focus on the cigarette for just a moment, a small grinding of Heidern's teeth as the man lights up... on HIS Hangar... without his permission. He's handed out harsh punishments to some of his disrespectful grunts for less.
But this isn't some grunt; and the military veteran has enough respect for the man addressing him, that he actually waits for him to finish. Then, and only then, does he speak in a steely, determined voice, "Put. That. Out."
Regardless of whether or not the man does, Heidern isn't about to let this exchange devolve over something so petty - as much as it may upset him personally. There is, after all, something greater on the line here. The man who is used to knowing so much about global affairs has found himself blind-sided by recent events, including the obvious subversion of the United Nations. The world Heidern thought he knew, is no more - not for the first time in his life, the one-eyed merceneary has had to deal with grand catastrophes beyond his control.
"We're aware," he say, continuing, as he glances at the men who have slowed to pay attention to the conversation. The harsh gaze of Heidern is enough to hurry most of them back into action - although more than a few linger to listen as soon as his eye is off of them. "I was just telling my colleague here," he grunts, "We're not going to throw in our lot and be puppets. Not for those monsters. Not anymore.."
He's positively growling by this point, stepping forward confidently to bring himself closer to the infamous individual who finds himself in the Headquarters of the Ikaris. He lowers his voice, so the assembled men can't hear his words, and he leans in...
"Any other time... I'd bring you in myself."
And then, with those words, he leans back and folds his arms over his chest, looking down at the man before him. "I'd hoped we wouldn't have to do this alone. I refuse to sell the souls of every man and woman under me for a paycheque."
He turns his head back, to glance at his daughter and the account, and then utters, "I assume all my comrades agree."
Leona is at her best when it comes to not betraying emotions. She's learned from the best, after all. Still, the words coming from Sol Badguy interest her and her attention is flatly on him. Combined with her staid expression, it looks more that she's looking through him than at him, but she is listening deeply. A created threat, people fighting over something powerful. Whatever was stirred up within her. It was all a part of the same big ball of trouble going on within Japan.
She looks to her father, to gauge his reaction. Dutiful soldier and daughter alike, she's quiet until he speaks. Heidern's opinion let Leona release a breath she has been holding in. And she opts to speak up when she is hinted towards. "This sounds like something that can't be trusted in any hands. Too many people are in danger just by it existing," she states like a woman reading off a grocery list. It's not quite an opinion, but it is a fact given freely and with the intent of suggesting her opinions. Leona's flat, not without tact in the matter.
Argent watches with his typical upper crust Boston flat yet emotive face, his muscles tight until the show of drama at the last statement, face going slack with an unimpressed, evaluating smile.
He turns away to listen to Heidern, before Leona talks. Having weighed everything in his mind, he makes his evaluation. "Logic and necessity state that we don't risk alienating the United States and the European non-governmental organizations, if we can't take one of these major contracts. Charitable donations are going to keep us alive until we can get a major power to take us on as an asset."
He looks at Leona, from behind Heidern's back, before turning his attention to Heidern.
"I'd say this Justice Gear is a sapient life form, that can be manipulated. We're assuming faculties that exist as singular, rational entities, as large organizations composed of multiple actors. Just find the proper point of weakness in the abstract matrix of the United Nations, and solve for the proper variable, with the proper movements. It's just a matter of how much advertising we need around that single handshake that gets the dirk into the rib."
"Are you that blade?" he asks Sol, tilting his chin upwards as his smile becomes more respectful.
Sol's eyebrows raise up slightly at the command to douse his smoke, pushing the heavy metal band on his forehead up a couple of inches. He seems genuinely surprised for a moment by this distaste for something so simple, especially coming from a soldier, but then he remembers who he's dealing with. Right, forgot about that stick wedged up Heidern's backside. With a grunt, he complies, flicking the mostly unused cigarette to the floor and smooshing it under the toe of his boot.
The last of the smoke still in his lungs is exhaled from his nose in a sharp harumph given in reply to the mercenary commander's whispered warning. He has no doubts in his mind that the man would certainly try. Thanks to the truly staggering bounty on his head, courtesy of those same individuals now leading the UN around by the nose, his ability to gather allies has always been rather strained. After the first few attempts turning out precisely as Heidern suggested they would under normal circumstance, Sol had simply resolved to keep himself distant from others, for his own safety and theirs. This is his fight, his mistake to correct, and he'd managed it alone for quite some time. That luxury was no longer feasible to maintain.
Sol's grin returns at Heidern's second more public statement and he shifts his stance slightly to one a little more comfortable, visibly relaxing as a show to anyone who might be watching that there's not going to be any trouble here, today atleast.
"Normally, I'd question the sanity of a bunch of mercs that aren't interested in getting paid... but you, and your paper-pusher, are in luck because I'll be the one footing the bill."
Close to eighty years of secret investments and bounty hunting has left Sol in a rather solid financial situation. With no employees to pay or military hardware to maintain, every last dollar of that has been poured into his various projects, but there's a sizable chunk of it still sitting in a Swiss bank somewhere. Now seems like a good time to break open the piggy bank.
Leona receives an amused grunt from Sol. Understatement of the year. Justice is the kind of thing that alters history and changes the course of mankind - the second coming of the atomic bomb. No one deserves to have that kind of power. Finally, Argent draws his attention with a pile of words that are about ten times too complicated for the situation.
Shaking his head, Sol holds up a hand and says, "Uh, look, don't go getting all cavalier about this. Taking down the UN isn't in the cards, and even if it was, I wouldn't bother. The people behind this would just find a new puppet. Right now, all that matters is stopping Justice. You wanna go play secret agent after that's done, be my guest."
Grunting in agreement with his daughter's opinion, Heidern is in full-on hard-ass C.O. mode, not able to show his approval with her quick apprisal of the situation. Heidern himself gets the sense they've seen simply the opening salvos in a far greater conflict to come; one the Ikaris owe it to the world, to themselves, to try and prevent... or if not, put themselves between the threat and more civilian lives.
There was a time in the Ikari Warriors when Argent's pleas and statistical analysis would have fell on friendlier, more receptive ears. He's certainly not incorrect in that backing Sol's play might put the very organization at risk financially and politically - they'll no doubt make some powerful enemies - but to secure the continued financial backing of the United Nations would pose an existential threat to the very principles he's shaped the group around... and what's more, to the very spirits of every soldier serving under him.
The entire situation seems untenable... it has the air of the end times. And if that's the case... if they're all to die as heroes or bow before monsters, he will lead the march into their deaths himself - he owes the Ikaris that much for all they've fought through. He won't see everything the Ikaris once stood for subverted and destroyed.
He mutters, as an aside, to Argent - "Logic and necessity? In case you haven't been paying attention, the world isn't exactly operating by logic and necessity anymore. If we keep thinking like THAT, we'll lose more than our goddamn funding. Trust me on that."
Turning back to Sol, he changes his tone to something only slightly more diplomatic - he still obviously has nothing but personal enmity towards the notorious individual... but practicality calls for a more subtle approach than what Heidern might usually take. At least he put out the cigarette - something Heidern honestly didn't expect, but even Ralf and Clark know to ask before lighting up... at least, when Heidern is around. It's all part of the mercenary General act - it keeps the men in line, and it keeps his reputation where he needs it to be to operate such a unique organization.
He takes a moment to consider the man's statement. So he is the pragmatic sort - something Heidern can understand well enough himself given his years on the battlefield and his experience fighting groups like 'R' and Shadaloo. He knows these things can't just be destroyed and scattered to the wind.
"They'll always find a way," he responds in agreement to the men pulling the strings, his glance turning downwards for just a moment before he looks around at the assembled engineers, pilots, and guards in the Hangar - a large amount of which are obviously paying attention to the exchange. He turns back to Sol, and smirks, "And we'll always be here. To do what's necessary. To go where we're needed."
"You have a plan, kid?"
While Argent has a more logical and economical place to argue from, Leona simply has what she sees as the reality of the situation. Sitting back may be safe for now. Not involving with powerful enemies can be useful, but to her, it was the equivalent of fighting without aggression or intent. One could only stay on the back foot for so long until overwhelmed. Without some form of aggression, or forward motion, or anything, then those potential enemies would eventually come for the Ikari anyways. Anger now or later, and when they were potentially distracted by a number of others just seemed prudent. But it wasn't her spot to talk on the matter. She wasn't going to plan. And more, Argent said other things that had Leona thinking.
Justice was sapient. Leona may have been listening to Sol and Heidern, but she watches Argent from the corner of her eyes, thinking on that. A sapient weapon. Out for destruction and blood. This was something Leona wasn't able to shake from her mind. Something of sympathy starts to coil inside of Leona's stomach.
Her attention snaps back to Heidern and Sol at the talk of a plan, she should listen to this. The curiosity over Justice would have to wait. But now she could only see more import in taking her out. There was something to be said about there being more than one kind of mercy.
Argent produces a faint tick of his head to the left with an upward purse of his lower lip, admitting his deficit in this present situation. He raises his right hand and runs it through his long blond hair, tucking his right locks behind his ear. Listening to Sol Badguy for his plan, he pulls his satchel up to chest level and flips the black flap open, leafing around through the files inside.
He pulls forth a matte red folder, the type he uses to file sensitive data in. He breaks a seal on outer corners of each edge, opening it. As he listens to the matters being discussed, he prepares out a series of spreadsheets, all data on the various regional commodity markets related to military machines of each major power that he's received a bid from. Moving glossy sheets around inside the folder into the order he prefers, he fiddles about as the others speak, with his prepared folio of dirty tricks at the ready.
Sol's shrugs, grinning again. Being referred to as 'kid' by a man half his age is pretty amusing - but then the number of people who know what he really is can be counted on one hand. One of the perks of being transformed into a weapon of fused magic and technology is that he hardly seems to age, if at all, his altered cells constantly replicating and healing him at a rate that is beyond belief for anyone not educated in the baffling power of Magic Particle Theory.
"Strategizing isn't how I do things. I just keep swinging until the thing infront of me falls down. Unfortunately, Justice is a little harder to knock over than I was anticipating. That's where you come in."
Heidern's seem what weapons can do in the hands of men. A weapon that can think? That lives and breathes, and will no doubt learn to hate, or fear, or become obsessed? No amount of funding, from any source, could allow the C.O. to sleep at night - not with something like that on the loose. Not even subdued and left in the hands of 'responsible individuals'. Most of the people in the room have, at some point, seem what 'responsible people' do with power - and they've seen the suffering that comes alongside with it. Despite their desire for a paycheque, the atmosphere in the Hangar is almost electric - it's been a while since the Ikaris had a real cause, a worthy cause, to fight for.
"Good thinking," the tall General says with calm tones - just shortly before, he'd been grumbling that the Ikaris aren't capable of doing what's necessary alone. People and groups he'd come to rely on for assistance have proven less reliable than usual - the very foundations upon which the power structure rest, have been subverted. And now, he finds himself going into 'business' with the most wanted man on the planet. He almost allows himself a momentary smirk at that, remembering when Rugal Bernstein was the most wanted man on the planet - how times have changed. "How about you leave the planning to the professionals?"
"BUT; you know more about this thing than we do. First-hand knowledge. We need to debrief you, ASAP, to find out what you know."
He moves his gaze around the room, turning his body as he does to look over his men and women. The brave souls who've fought and lost in service to something greater than themselves. "We all die for something," he grunts, his voice growing louder as more of the men working around him begin to put down their tools and listen intently - hanging on every word coming out of the C.O.'s mouth. He rarely speaks so loudly except to bark orders, so when he raises his voice to speak they listen as second nature. "We all need to accept that much. What don't die, are the principles we've LIVED for. I'll burn this place to the ground MYSELF before I live a day knowing I stood by and did NOTHING," he says, his one eye looking at the various guards, engineers and pilots - his booming voice echoing around the Hangar bar.
"And if we die tomorrow, we won't die for MONEY. For POWER. We'll die for HONOR. Because HONOR is FOREVER."
There's a brief cheer from most of the assembled soldiers, although a few of the more hesitant share glances between each other - truth be told, Heidern has no idea to what degree his OWN organization has been subverted, and so he subtly watches the reactions of his soldiers. And then, he reaches out one hand to offer to Sol. The bounty hunter may not appreciate the concepts Heidern is talking about, but it seems to have boosted the sagging morale - for the moment.
Leona's chin lifts as she listens to Heidern speak. She agrees with him. Not just as soldier to CO. Not as daughter to father. She shares his goal. She knows what will happen will be bloody, will hurt her and many others. Though she refuses to be the one to let others get hurt.
With the change in mood, Leona adopts a more casual posture. Her shoulders relax, she squares her feet, and her arms cross behind her back. And when she watches the offer of a handshake, she smiles. If the most ghost of a smile to ever exist.
Argent listens to Heidern's speech, having placed several glossy sheets atop his red folder, the folio now shut. Unlike the rest of the grunts, he's unmoved, only women and children moving him, and the data that represents the new lives that he can create giving him that power. His first field in mercenary outfits was agricultural logistics and support, after all. And just like a defense attorney defending you for a DUI, you want one that's been a prosecutor for several themselves.
"Points of potential plan of action, sirs," he says, looking to Heidern, then Sol, then Leona. "If you, Mister Badguy, can't take down Justice, then logic dictates we do not engage directly immediately. Extra firepower won't help you on this one, we're special forces - a regular infantry force would be even less equipped, I think you're expecting something bloody out of a scalpel here."
He takes a clipping step out to face Heidern from the side, now level with him, Sol Badguy on his right, and Leona in his field of vision. "The United Nations is supporting the Justice Gear. She is a weapons platform, so she requires command and control. These targets she can't pick on her own. So, we locate the command and control location." He points at Leona. "Then, we evaluate civilian and military logistics." He points his thumb at himself. "Agriculture, too violent in the public eye to attack. Irrigation, too costly to repair, everyone starves. Forcing the command and control point into rationing, easily done. We want to hit their diesel supply, that's large trucking." He sweeps his arm at the gathered soldiers. "Population isn't ready for a hit on the base where the commander is." He points at Heidern.
"The target comes back in, has to defend her command and control, you get a psychological advantage that translates into restraint." He points at Sol. "Then, Mr. Badguy, you have the military advantage."
Argent looks up at Heidern, eyebrows up. "Thoughts, sir?"
Sol watches the impassioned speech with a neutral expression, his own gaze sweeping over the assembled soldiers and support personnel impassively. The cheers wash over him filling the air with a collective display of camaraderie and enthusiasm, but like Heidern, he does not fail to spot the looks of uncertainty mixed among the smiles.
Honor. Sol lets out a soft grunt of derision that is drowned out by the noise. A platitude offered to fools with delusions of moral righteousness, an illusionary promise of favorable judgement to the souls that offer their lives at its altar. He had long ago learned the value of things like honor, righteousness, and justice, and the only thing he's ever seen that currency used to purchase is blood.
The bounty hunter's slitted eyes scan the faces around him, lingering on each for a brief instant. Honor would not save these men and women from what he was asking of them. Justice is a weapon of unparalled power, a titan at the forefront of a mighty host. She would crush these soldiers without hesitation or mercy. There was a time when that thought might have bothered him, when the idea of using others to accomplish his own ends knowing it would result in their demise would have given him pause, but that time is long past. There is no true honor or justice to be found in this world, only the cold hard truth that whoever wins will be the one that dictates the path mankind will take. And so, he will lead these warriors to their doom, so that the world might be free of Justice.
Sol's hand extends to take that of the one-eyed commander, his grip firm and steady as he meets Heidern's gaze without the slightest hint of hesistation, his smirk returning. While he might not believe in the same things that the old mercenary does, Sol does believe in the power of the inspiration those empty words might bring to his troops. Let him have his speeches, so long as it gets results.
"You're wrong," he says before the commander can respond, disengaging from Heidern and turning to frown at Argent once again. This guy is starting to get on his nerves, making all sorts of claims like he knows exactly what's going on when his head is buried in the sand. "Justice is a Command Gear. She doesn't need guidance or orders to make decisions. Her job is to control the Gears under her umbrella all at once. Her mind is a biological super computer altered to handle thousands of lines of communication and logic at the same time. There isn't any convenient facility you can blow up to rob her of that and even if there was we don't have time to siege them out."
Sol digs into his pocket and withdraws a piece of paper which he hands to Heidern. It turns out to be a pamplet, one of those recently scattered about Southtown, marking the major city as the site of a new attack that might happen at any time.
"Things are getting hot in a hurry. We don't have a lot of time. Our only option is to hit Justice, hard and fast, and take her out before that weapon of hers can kill anyone else."
Narrowing his eye as he grips Sol's hand firmly, the lanky C.O. whispers quickly and silently, "If you betray us, I'll kill you myself. 'Friend'." Even still, his face remains neutral as he completes the handshake and takes a step back to consider the exchange his fellow Ikaris and the infamous bounty hunter.
His gaze turns over his shoulders, also, to watch the reactions of the two behind him. Leona's is predictable - she's the woman he raised, as always, and knows what's worth fighting and dying for. What's more, she'll face whatever comes - Heidern has faith in this, regardless of... troubling developments. The other man? As smart as he is, as useful as his knowledge might be, he's met men obsessed with 'funding' and politics before. He might be a valuable asset, but the local events worldwide have Heidern wondering about even his own men.
He turns his neck to speak to the intelligent, data-obsessed accountant who has suddenly stepped to his side, "Hrmph" he grunts in consideration. Though he appreciates the cold professionalism of the man - and his eye for the little details - there's a certain cold rationality in him... something that Heiden once might have shared, before his entire life was torn asunder and reassembled in a quest for justice.
"I just said, I'M not standing by and watching this happen - anyone who wants out now, is free to sit this one out. We don't need anyone who doesn't believe in the NECESSITY of what we have to do," he says, raising his voice to be sure the crowd hears him, before quieting it to speak more directly to Argent, "How long to locate Command and Control? Weeks? Months? And what happens in the meantime? You're not wrong; it'll be bloody. And I WILL need you and the rest of the intel team here looking; for unusually large food and fuel shipments - big movements in remote areas. Logistics. Planning."
He focuses back on Sol, though he's still talking primarily to the insistent money-man, "We need thinkers, son. And if I die, we'll need people to carry on the fight. But I'm going. And I'm taking whoever will come with me."
Looking down at the pamphlet, he considers the information, then scowls and crumples it. He speaks straight at Sol. "You came to the right place, Sol Badbuy. You might have found the last decent men and women left on this godforsaken planet."
Log created on 18:44:42 10/28/2017 by Sol Badguy, and last modified on 22:43:14 10/28/2017.