Description: With a list of names from Jubei, Gallon goes seeking the primary name on the list; the champion of Unholy Genesis and Metro City resident Keith Mason AKA Aranha.
Late night in Metro City park and on this particular night the usually dark and eerily quiet park, scarred by the events that took place during the Majigen incident, was now lit by oil drum fire pits and filled with activity as money constantly changed hands as fortunes were made and lost in underground fights. This particular venue had both Darkstalker an human alike moving about. Humans seeking a challenge and Darkstalkers seeking money that they could only get here, not being able to obtain jobs due to attitudes brought on by the Majigen Incident and the Unholy Genesis tournament that came with it.
Aranha, chose to keep to the outskirts. He didn't really feel like fighting right now since this location was a painful reminder of the championship he didn't earn, the prize he didn't want, and the pain and misery that his city never really could seem to heal. As he watches the fights with shades covering hs eyes, he can't help but frown. Just being in this venue was for all intents and purposes, self-inflicted torture.
Eventually one of the runners pass along his winnings. If he's seen them fight before, he can usually have a general idea how a fight will turn out. He was on occasions wrong, but this didn't happen very often on the fights he was willing to bet on.
Metro City and America has been a learning experience. A great deal of insight to be gained on both the potential aim and methodology of Jedah Dohma. Insight onto Darkstalker matters and philosophy from the curious feline Jubei. Though, perhaps more importantly, a list of names that may have greater insights still.
Many of the harder to discover people on Jubei's list will have to be passed along to young Bulleta. She has skills and contacts that he does not and Gallon can accept that his student is better equipped to solve such problems on her own. But in this case, a very important name is local to Metro and one that should be simple enough to find.
And it's in a place where Darkstalkers and humanity mingle. Where fighting happens, but between competitors and personal warriors and not assailants and victims. Not to Gallon, at least. Though he himself is a lurker, skulking along the sides and observing. His goal isn't to compete, that he has been forced into several times. He is here to find and talk.
An eye on the crowds, and being on the outside, he can spy the man he searches for. There is little fanfare, but little subterfuge when he finds his quarry. The werewolf approaches Aranha directly, serious faced, direct and pointed when he speaks in his grumbling accent. "You are the winner of Dohma's tournament," he states, "My name is Gallon, I wish to speak with you."
When he hears someone mention his status as the champion of Dohma's tournament, a look of distaste appears on his face. He felt no need to hide it since his dislike of Dohma and anything associated with him(especially his tournament and the prize for winning) was a matter of public record. He doesn't turn at first, taking a few moments to take a deep breath so he doesn't let his anger get the better of him.
It seems like an eternity before the light-skinned African American finally turns to the source of the voice and peers over his shades with blue glowing eyes. This is the only thing marking him as non human besides his scent to those with a sense of smell beyond that of an average human being. He looks Gallon up and down, sizing him up quickly.
"Yeah. I am," he said with his voice filled with suspicion. "About what?"
His stance and posture shifts to one while not overtly aggressive, it's ready to move be it to make a retreat or to fight. After all, he had no clue whether or not Gallon was one of Jedah's subordinates but he wasn't about to do anything to cause chaos without having any information.
Concern, suspicion, both of these things are what Gallon expects. They are what he approves of. There is no reason to trust, or to give freely to any stranger that passes by. A more open reaction would have put Gallon to suspicion.
Gallon exudes a predatory aura. He stands with a slight hunch, his claws open and long, they scratch at the air with each tense and release of his fingers. And there is, of course, the matter of his teeth. Still, the werewolf's tone is measured if gruff and he makes no overt gesture toward violence.
"Jedah Dohma's tower in Southtown," Gallon explains. "I want to know your insight into it." He looks around at this park, a place still scarred, people still wounded and soured. Darkstalkers and humanity may find common ground, but there are deeper rifts since the theft of the city. "He stole this place outright, I fear he is planning a more subtle invasion."
The werewolf in front of him, at least for the moment, seemed content to talk rather than fight even if the predatory aura, the teeth, and the claws were impossible to ignore. As long as Gallon was willing to talk he was willing to do the same. Aranha had always believed in the philosophy that people were given two eyes and two ears for a reason. To listen and observe two times as much as they speak. So he listens.
He pushes his shades as he mentally digests the werewolf's words. If Aranha wasn't willing to call Gallon an ally, he was able to count him as someone with a common enemy unless he was trying to play him for a fool. Unfortunately, Aranha wasn't familiar enough with werewolf physiology to even attempt to read tells off of him.
"If that was his first move, it might have worked and I might've believed him," Aranha states matter of factly. "However, I saw some of the stuff he tried to pull when this part of the city got pulled into Majigen. He talked about those being pulled in as being his subjects. He used his control of the physics of Majigen to turn a Metro City opera house into a pancake and crushing whoever was holed up in it to paste. And the thing I can't help but find odd about it was rumors that the person who smoothed the path to obtaining permits for the 'Embassy,' was someone who had a stake in the opera house."
Hard to read, a matter of fact when you have a distinctly lupine face. Though, truth being what it is, Gallon is capable of a great deal of expressions should he want to. It lays mostly in that he is a stoic and fairly grumpy man who simply isn't prone to making a great deal of expressions.
But Aranha's words create something akin to a smile on Gallon's end. He nods along to the answer, eyes closing, humming with agreement. The words he expected, and specific enough to not sound like a pitch from a man in the pocket of a demon lord.
"So you admit then that you are suspicious of the soft hand of Jedah Dohma?" he questions, eyes opening, yellow, bestial, but clever and sharp as a razor blade. "If he's so powerful, why the ruse?"
A single eyebrow raises in response to the question placed in front of him. His face is an open book turned to the page of incredulous expression since his dislike for Jedah was no secret. "Suspicious ain't even a half of it, daw..." He pauses, as if realizing the slang term might not be well received by present company. "... homie. I wouldn't trust him as far as I could drool."
As for the second question, that requires a bit more thought and possibly a deeper examination of the fight he had engaged alongside Munin, Eunha(an opponent he had faced in the tournament), and Ryu Hayabusa against Jedah and his minions created by his once living enemy Fio Tessitore.
"The reason behind the ruse was because the first play was a failure. The True Champion conceded in the most idiotic way possible while the one who would end up with the title was unconscious. The champion who would obtain the title openly rejecting him turning the tournament into a farce. The fact that he was taken down in his own domain because he drew the attention of humans that while individually couldn't handle him there but would probably be better able to fight him on an even keel in this realm."
He stops to think for a moment as a new possibility enters his mind.
"Another possibility is that he's doing this because humanity as a collective have short memory spans. Think about it. You have places in the southern United States named after military and political figures from the Confederacy, ignoring the fact that they were racists and/or traitors. You have holocaust deniers. If he waits long enough, and behaves for long enough, human beings as collective will forget what he had done to this city."
The list wasn't enough, or clear enough. This man mentions true champion, not himself, and that draws a deal of scrutiny from the eyes of Gallon. A sharp claw at his chin, Gallon makes a growling hum of thought and consideration. This changes things. This changes things considerably.
"If you are not the champion, then who is?" he asks, "By your opinions." He dips his fingers into the sash at his waist, pulls out the folded piece of paper from Jubei, and he offers it toward Aranha. "Is my information accurate?"
If there are more, more potential enemies of Dohma, this would prove a boon indeed. Perhaps this push from his student was what he needed after all, something to drive him. The fury of the beast was doing little kept hidden and constrained. That was not growth, he had insight to himself, but so little to stoke his fires, to pass the limits that kept him bound in his lupine form.
A second suggestion from Aranha snaps Gallon from his internalization. He nods. "Perhaps. But I am more concerned for his reasoning for moving in this way." A look to Aranha, eyes narrowing, his lip twitches to show a hint of the fangs. An angry thought, the beast wants to howl at upcoming blood and there are thoughts of a weaker than suggested Jedah Dohma. Something ancestral calls to werewolf to hunt. "With Dohma in Southtown, will you remain here among the wounded and scarred?"
"The finals for the tournament was a three-way between Howard Rust Jr., some guy who denied he was a fighter until a change came over him causing his posture and personality to change, and myself. We fought and for whatever reason the fighter with multiple personality disorder decided he had grudge with me and wanted my death and so my main focus was on him. I put him down but the fight had taken a toll on me and I couldn't take down Rust as well. While I was unconscious, Rust threw the fight. I have no words to describe this stupidity so video will have to do."
Aranha pulls out his cellphone, brings up FightTube, and then brings up a video of the last moments of the Finals in Jedah's tournament
The vampire spreads out his arm in a wide, showy gesture, as if commanding the poor future meal-- I mean humans - to understand who they should be thanking for sparing them.
Putting the pipe back through the toolbelt, he kneels down to Aranha and acts fast, tying... something around one of his legs. He looks over his shoulder... hey, they're really close to the border, where that fence is. Beyond the fence...
"He who will continue to represent your pathetic, cowering selves, which I say with all due respect... Howaa---"
"Ah, he's still kicking me! In the shin! Ow. Hell of a fighter!" Says Howard Rust, Jr., calling out with one hand.
With the other, he is totally and obviously manipulating a string tied around Aranha's foot to 'kick' him in the shin. Over half of them miss. The vampire falls speechless.
"...What are you doing?"
"Getting kicked in the shin, yep," he says all too calmly with a smile, "wait, I mean, ow, ow, ow." It is convincing no one. At all.
"He is... not," the vampire disapproves.
"Yes he is! See, his foot is moving. Right there!" He continues to tug the string over and over, fruitlessly.
"What is your angle?"
"Getting kicked in the shin!"
They are at an impasse.
"You are not getting kicked in the shin. You are victorious, and are most obviously, I am sorry to say, making a giant fool of yourself."
"Hmm. Maybe you're right," Howard looks off to the side, free hand to his face.
"Aaaaah he just kicked me so hard he knocked me through the feeeence!" He says as he pulls the string in a way the foot clearly misses and launches himself at the fence.
It holds. He tries a few more times. The vampire facepalms, and accidentally leaves claw marks in his forehead. He's new to the vampirism thing, forgetting about that.
"Now you're not even trying to preten--"
"HIS KICKS ARE SO FAST THEY'RE INVISIBLE! OW OW OW OW OW OW."
The vampire disapproves, as he looks away. Then, he realizes an issue. The camera stopped pointing at them.
"Camera," the vampire sneers, "over there!!"
Howard acts fast, using what tools he has in his belt - there are plenty - to work through the fence. Chain link sections, wire cut. Boards with nails, quickly removed with the prying end. Just enough to make an opening.
"Our WINNER, who is being as big a FOOL as they come, of which the world of cowards and complacent SHEEP will soon see..."
The camera pans over to see... Aranha, laying there. Rust is nowhere to be found. Except for a hand in the shot.
"We can see your hand!"
"Oh, sorry," says Rust, as it disappears. Wait, what's he holding onto?
"Despite his best attempts, the winner is clearly--"
"Aaaaaaaaah I'm falling to my death aaaaaaah," this is even worse, and horribly acted, "he kicked me so hard I am to fall into the depths aaaaaaaah"
The vampire goes silent again. He looks into the camera, sadly, as though an immortal who is defeated. And also has claw marks in his face, because of the ill-advised facepalm.
"Oh, I give up. Yes, yes, Aranha... magically won by not kicking one of the survivors into the sea of blood, I have eternity to live and it is better spent not associating with... PEOPLE... of that calibur."
"And that's how I 'won' the title."
The shades that Aranha was wearing do nothing to hide the humiliation and shame of having won in that fashion. To have a title and have no say in how he won it. His fist curls up into a tight ball, drawing blood with a tinge of something unnatural in it. He lets the hand go relaxed and because he's not active, the self-inflicted wound suddenly heals.
"To this day, most fight commentators don't take me seriously."
Such an interesting and intriguing tale of victories given and the shame that follows. It is, though, not a bit of why Gallon was here to speak with the man. But clearly this was important and so Gallon waits it out, watches and hums at points he finds appropriate. His nostrils flare when he smells the blood. The beast wakes, Gallon's eyes seek the wound. He knows that kind of healing. The way it smells. The way a body reacts to it. He knows it very well.
But physical wounds are a single type and oftentimes the lesser type.
"Do you much care how commentators think?" Gallon asks. He snorts, derisive of the thought. "I've been chased from home by gawkers. Humans who wish to see a beast fight their chosen. They are nothing to care for." Easy words when he isn't being enraged by them currently.
"If you're bothered by that title, by this shame," Gallon says, taking a step away from Aranha, looking to the lights of the city around him. "If you wish to see who you are, or could be, there is perhaps answers yet in Southtown."
A sharp look from the wolf. "Do you take yourself seriously?"
The Dancing Spider continues to observe Gallon as he both goes through the story and the video and even the werewolf's reactions when he had released his balled fist. He's not exactly certain how useful this information will be but information is information and he'll never know when he'll need it to obtain more useful information later.
"I'm bothered by the title because I still feel it wasn't mine to claim. I'm bothered by the title because it was used to justify attacking someone close to me who had nothing to do with it in order to try to bring me in line. I'm bothered by the title because it came with a prize that forced a change on me that I didn't want and I feel nauseated by the fact that I might not have lived through my last televised fight if wasn't for said," he says before practically spitting the final word out, "prize."
He takes a deep breath as he looks around at the barren and scarred land surrounding them as money continues to be won and lost at this venue.
"I'd like to think I knew who I was and what I could be before I changed. Now, I don't know and I doubt I'll find my answers in Southtown. I killed the one responsible for my changes in her makeshift lab in another realm. I'll still go back to Southtown, though. I just go back to Metro City when I feel I need to return to my roots."
Money may be won and lost, the surface motivations are clear, but as Gallon looks around he sees more than that. He feels more than that. He is driven by his situation, but the situation itself is not the sole motivator. Locked in a lupine form or not, he is a fighter and he seeks the strength and focus that challenges give him. And around him, he sees very familiar things.
But the way Aranha talks. Brave enough to show vulnerability, familiar enough in basic situation, it's different enough to cause Gallon to rankle and his lip to quiver. A hint of fang.
"I was human once," Gallon prefaces a simple truth, "It was no gift that made me what I am." He looks away from the city now, yellow eyes, beast's eyes look at the man. "You are nothing but what you do, as are all men."
"But tell me," Gallon's voice is low, rumbling, concerned and slow. It covers the beast that speaks, growling out words that man can understand. "Are your roots buried in the soil of self-pity?"
In Gallon, Aranha can see a kindred spirit in that they both were once human before circumstances changed that. Honestly, Aranha didn't really have to go far for that since his sister had likewise been changed by the very same darkstalker scientist that he had been. The only difference was he was fighting capable before Fio Tessitore got her hands on him and his sister didn't become a fighter until after.
Aranha lets Gallon continue which leads into the question asked of him. That question makes Aranha realize that his words were misinterpreted. It wasn't coming from a place of self pity but truth.
"When I said my roots, I meant my stomping ground. It reminds me of what I was and of my struggles that I've overcame through my own hard work and not through someone else deciding to play god with my body."
He pauses to look down at his hands. This time, he's thinking about his words in an attempt to make sure he's understood.
"The reason I said I didn't know what I am or what I could be is the darkstalker responsible for my change had a history of changing the biology of her subjects to a whole variety of things. I don't what she injected me with. I don't know if I'm done changing or if my body is still changing. I don't know if I've had my life span extended by it or if if this transformation is going to eventually kill me. I also said I know I won't find my answers in Southtown since Jedah wasn't that closely involved with her work and the only one who could answer that question is the creature who injected me. And like I said, she's dead."
Gallon's eyes close, he inhales deeply and his nostrils flare with the slow and centering exhalation. In and out, he breathes slowly and concentrates on Aranha's words. There is much going on around them, sounds and blood and sweat and stimulation, it's beginning to wear on the werewolf. He is more comfortable away and isolated. He can focus and learn more from someone in a fight under the crisp moon.
Here there is too much. Too many sounds and smells and too many eyes to learn, it would taint anything he could see. Especially from a young man he sees as putting so much weight on face and the influence of others.
It's that realization that opens Gallon's eyes so that he may once more look at the young man with his aloof, distant gaze. Arms crossed, standing tall, no stoop to his posture.
"What is it that you /do/ know?" he questions.
While Aranha would agree with Gallon that there was too much going on, their ways of dealing with it is completely different though that might be a case where having trained rather than enhanced senses works in his favor. He looks at it as a challenge to mentally catalog as much information as possible. His main focus, however, is on his conversation partner.
He can see the way Gallon breathes and considering that the werewolf had told him he was once human, it was enough context to realize the cadence was one of someone trying to center themself. That, combined with the lupine physiology, allowed Aranha to determine that Gallon might be going through sensory overload.
"Information is currency and my price is I want to know how you plan on using this information."
Even still Aranha is going to move away from the activity and indicate Gallon should follow, so that the sensory overload effect is somewhat reduced.
There is a great deal going on. The sensory load is difficult and troubling. But that is not all that troubles Gallon.
He follows the man when indicated, stooping then, an almost lope of a gait. Showing more beast than man in his posture. Subverting himself as it seemed that talking to the American directly made him cagey. But all the same, Gallon huffs and speaks a clearer motive to his question.
"I don't plan on using anything you could tell me. You just seem a man who knows little of himself. And while you talk of groping in the dark, I want you to speak about what it is you do know."
Aranha had been assuming this was supposed to be a conversation about Jedah and so when Gallon turns the conversation towards him with the assumption that he doesn't know himself, the former cat burglar raises an eye brow above the the shades that he wears to hide one of the main visible feature of his changes. A frown forms on his face.
"I know that I'm still as much myself here, he pauses to tap his temple with his index finger before moving it to his chest before continuing, "and here as I ever was... At least for now. I still value my freedom of thought and choice which is why I probably would've made a horrible champion for Jedah Dohma anyway. And I still value my freedom to choose my destiny which was the main thing that pissed me off about Rust throwing the fight and puppeteering my unconscious body. Because it wasn't /me/ choosing my destiny. It was a thing that pissed me off about Jedah's hackjob arachno limbed minion trying to use someone close to me strong arm me into staying to 'receive my prize.' It was the same thing that pissed me off when that same hackjob lab jockey injected me with some of her random ass bullshit that changed me during a different tournament while the world was blissfully ignorant of the fact that they were close to losing /their/ freedom to choose their destiny."
He turns away and begins to take a few steps away from Gallon. This time, he's not indicating he should follow.
"So with a transformation that I have no context for what it's supposed to do, I have no indication where those changes are leading, and I have to deal with the potential for further change to take place whether it's in within this year, month, week, or the next second. So considering all of that, I think I can be forgiven for not knowing my eventual capabilities that well when my body is in a constant state of fucking flux."
Aranha takes a few more steps away from Gallon before growling out the words to the werewolf, "Don't assume that just because I'm uncertain about where my biological changes are going doesn't mean I don't know myself."
Crossed armed Gallon listens. His features remain hard. He looks at the man who talks a great deal at odds with his actions. He sees something in the young man, but he growls to himself and shakes his head. "I am not your teacher," he admits.
A turn, he doesn't care to follow Aranha. Metro City itself has given him pause and information beyond what he had hoped for. If the other man was more important to the goings on, then perhaps it would be better for Bulleta to speak. She was better at dealing with humans.
"If you are so confident in knowing what you are, you would not go into the unknown with the fear you do," he says, starting to walk away. "Jedah Dohma is planning annihilation. He has visited your home, he has destroyed others. I have had my own home destroyed. I do not wish to see it happen to humanity, nor do I wish them more reason to hate my kind."
He stops a fair distance away. "You cannot choose what comes upon you in life, only how you may react. I have presented the reality. Bind yourself to your roots, or not, the choice is yours."
With that, the wolf turns to dash away into the dark of night. Underneath a moon above, and a skyline filled with man-made stars.
"You're an awfully presumptuous motherfucker for someone who had only just met me."
This conversation has pissed him off. It forced him to go over things that he wasn't in the mood to talk about at that moment. More aggravating in his mind was the fact that his annoyance and anger was being read as fear and that his attempts to explain that falling on surprisingly deaf ears considering that he had always assumed that werewolves had good hearing.
With his night ruined, he's not exactly inclined to stay here. He's made enough money tonight. And so, he continues to walk to his apartment in Metro City.
Log created on 12:16:53 04/09/2019 by Gallon, and last modified on 10:27:11 04/17/2019.