Description: A shipment of Cruggs seems so innocent. After all, the unholy union of Crocs and Uggs is a somewhat niche item. And yet, the limited run is a prize for the King of Fighters... and more importantly, it is in holding by the Southtown Syndicate. As the leadership audits what it means and who is holding the cargo, Okuno is sent to investigate a Syndicate warehouse that holds several cargo containers of the terrible shoewear. However, a personal meeting at the same site from Geese reveals a rift within the Syndicate, as one of its leaders is suspected of treachery.
Night has fallen on Southtown. Okuno would have received the phonecall earlier in the evening. It was one of the lieutenants of the local boss. Nothing terribly unusual or dire. Something about a shipment of "weird merchandise" related to the King of Fighters tournament that somehow wound up in Syndicate hands. Apparently they are some kind of boot, which may be valuable to collectors? The lieutenant described them as "ugly as shit" but "worth something to somebody" and left it at that.
In any case, Okuno was "asked" to check in on the warehouse (in some far as anyone is ever asked to do something in organized crime.) The warehouse is located in Southtown harbor past a padlocked security fence. From the outside it looks worn and ragged from the sea air and from the occasional storm bringing in high tides. Part of it is still under repair from the chaos involving Mishima and the Gears last year, but otherwise it seems to still be functional. The biggest side of life is that the entry and exit routes are surprisingly clear and clean for a warehouse that allegedly is out of use with its space listed as "for rent." Occasionally the cops swing by, speak to someone in charge, and go on their way without a fuss. No one seems to be on duty tonight, however. At least the lieutenant left Okuno a Syndicate mailbox.
Okuno Hideki, proud Yakuza and even prouder legbreaker. His temper and willingness to throw down at any opportunity has made him respected and feared among his peers, and can usually be found leading a group of his brothers around town, but he is a far cry from his far more successful uncle. Still, when shit needs to get done, he is there to do it.
A sedan rolls up to the warehouse, lights beaming in the darkness of the exterior until it parks just outside the entrance. The doors open. Okuno steps out of the front passenger seat, two other Yakuza goons - one in a red suit and tie, the other wearing a button up shirt and slacks - follow. "Stay with the car and keep the cops away, I'll check out these goddamn boots or whatever," he growls. Hands in his pockets, he approaches the warehouse door and basically kick it open.
The door bangs against the frame and swings with a creak. Dust stirs into the spotlight of one of the harsh, industrial ceiling fixtures that keep the warehouse at least somewhat lit. It's far from sunny, but there's enough of them on to make it noticeably hard for vandals to sneak around with someone seeing them. A trail cut through the dust shows where goods move in and out of the warehouse, at the end of them is a cargo container. Okuno may have the eye to notice that some of the labels have been covered over with waterproof tape and new labels have been applied at some point. Save for the door creaking back closed, there is no noise. No signs of life.
Until the clack of expensive dress shoes can be heard as someone walks across the warehouse.
"Okuno Hideki," says a voice. His voice is deep and heavy, and while his Japanese doesn't quite sound native, it is practiced enough to be a close facsimile. "It's good to see a man who isn't above grunt work."
Geese Howard is dressed in an expensive dark blue suit with a white vest. It is pressed to perfection and his hair is slicked back professionally. He does not seem to have bodyguards with him.
Okuno takes off his sunglasses and puts them into his inner jacket pocket. He sniffs and looks around, studying the containers with a silent scowl. He is just about to wonder what the hell he's going to do next, when he hears the voice.
He whirls around just as Geese presents himself. "Who the hell...how do you know my name?!" Okuno doesn't recognize him at first; it was generally agreed you only saw the big bosses if you screwed up, and so far he hasn't had that happen. But something about the man flashes a spark of recognition. "...wait. You're...you're Geese Howard." He quickly bows. "Boss." Then the formality passes. "What the hell is goin' on? I get called about somethin' for boots, now the Syndicate leader is here?"
"Hah!" The laugh is almost like a short, violent bark. Genuine amusement, but unkind. "I like your spirit." Geese says, crossing his arms over his chest. He continues to pace around, looking Okuno over. It's not like some of the underbosses look down on their subordinates. No, there is a certain attention like a man in the midst of a battle as he sizes up an opponent.
"Those awful boots are trash. It will take a miracle for someone to turn a profit on them." Geese says, glancing at them only briefly before turning his head in disgust.
"But even shit in a silver box is useful as a diversion. There are ears everywhere in my organization." Geese turns to look unflinchingly at Okuno.
"Tell me, why are you here? What do you want from the Syndicate?"
Okuno curls his lip into a sneer briefly as Geese sizes him up. His gold teeth are prominent. "I'm here because you absorbed my clan," he replies as bluntly as possible. "Some guys here didn't like it. Didn't like some gaijin running the show." He says this completely without fear, now looking at Geese as if probing a reaction. "...but I don't bitch out and run just because of a change in management. That ain't how a Yakuza is supposed to fuckin' operate. So, here I am. What I want..."
He rubs his chin. "...I want a shitload of money, and status. I wanna keep climbin' the ranks."
"Heh," Geese says. "Good. That sort of gumption is what my organization needs. Bootlickers and backbiting dogs are easy to come by." Geese doesn't even raise an eyebrow at the call of gaijin. Perhaps he's heard it before.
And when Okuno explains what he wants, Geese smirks. "Brutally honest. Good." Geese rolls his shoulder slightly, uncrossing his arms. "Ambition will get you far here, but watch that your ambitions don't overstep your ability." Geese paces around again, sliding a hand into his pocket.
"I'll reward your honesty by being straight to the point. I called you here because I need someone unrecognizable. A man on the street who won't draw attention." Geese's eyes narrow. "Duke Burkoff is a traitor. He tried to usurp me, and apparently tossing him off Geese Tower was not enough to bring him to heel."
Okuno's brow furrows at that. "What? Duke Burkoff. THE Duke Burkoff." Okuno has heard of this man by reputation, none of it nice. He was always jealous of that strength. "So what, you want me to kill him?"
"Hah!" It's that biting laugh again. "Duke is a monster of a man. Even a small army of men might not be able to best him. No, I need you to continue being a legbreaker. You understand how our organization works. Work for the underbosses and keep tabs on them. See where their loyalities lie. If a war breaks out, I need to know who I can trust and who is expendable."
Geese continues to pace. "But this is also a time where we can't show weakness. The Scarlet Dahlia is not done, and her 'Akatsuki' will make its move if they perceive weakness. We cannot flinch."
Okuno grunts, but the terms seem fair to him. "Keep my eyes open, right...easy. What about the Akatsuki?"
"The same applies. You are free to remind the people of Southtown that the Syndicate rules, but remember we have standards. Duke Burkoff would let his men run wild, but I appreciate order. We bring stability to this city where others are too weak to do so."
Geese folds his arms again. "But tell me. Do you fight?"
"Goddamn right I fight. It's why I even became a Yakuza," Okuno boasts, thumping his chest. "I live for beating the shit out of people."
"Then you should go far here." Geese smirks. "Perhaps I'll test your skill for myself later. For now, I have another assignment for you."
Geese turns around to face Okuno again. "Someone stole an antique ritual dagger from a new museum exhibit. It may be something of value to me if it was worth stealing." Geese rolls his neck. "Even if not, the thief needs to be taught the way of the world here."
The prospect of fighting Geese Howard does not seem like a great time to Okuno, but he files that for later. Don't want to look weak, now. "...so track him down, kick his ass, get the dagger back? Got it."
"Good." Geese says. "That will do for now. I expect to hear from you soon." Geese slides a hand into his pocket again. "If your colleagues ask, you had to chase off a vagrant. Choose who you trust carefully."
Okuno sniffs and nods. "I get it. You'll hear from me eventually, boss. Just remember who it is that's helpin' you out." He turns to leave.
"Heh. Faithful service is duly rewarded in the Syndicate." Geese affirms, his shoes tapping across the cement as he heads the opposite direction.
Log created on 19:49:47 06/07/2019 by Geese, and last modified on 23:11:50 06/07/2019.