Description: A street-level enforcer with ambition and insecurity has a drink with the Syndicate boss who embodies his definition of power.
The crowd at the Old Line is impressive tonight, out for the fine booze, the local cuisine, and the bluesy, rock fusion being performed on stage this breezy, warm evening. Some rougher sorts seem to be assembling within and without for an entirely different sort of entertainment-- alleyway sparring that only picks up as the hour grows later. Clouds roll somewhat lazily through the sky, languid specters of drifting greyscale vapor reflecting silvery moonlight dully. Okuno would find himself directed personally, by a man at the door, to a VIP booth with a fine view of the stage, and well obscured from the prying eyes of the majority of other patrons.
It's a place of subtle, not infrequent business-- often for the Syndicate. But not one often used by Kain Heinlein. In truth, the man is an enigma in the organization, most of his street operations fronted quite ably by the Martyr of Might... the masked man called Grant. The statuesque young blonde, on the other hand, maintains one of Southtown's finer hotels... and any number of other businesses. It doesn't really matter if Okuno wound up assimilated into the ladder of Kain's arm of the Syndicate, or under a different member of Geese Howard's Inner Circle-- the invitation comes all the same. The sealed note comes through channels familiar enough to speak of someone with clout, yet uniquely enough to perhaps ring unusual.
Of all the directives a SouthSynd enforcer is likely to receive, rarely is it a simple, polite social invite, with accompanying address. Perhaps a trap, perhaps a topic best not even insinuated on paper. Perhaps something else altogether-- like the live house itself, the possibilities are diverse. There are no other figures at the booth Okuno is led to but the lithe blonde in a finely tailored suit of cobalt-trimmed midnight. He sips a pint of one of the finer house drafts stoically, already studying the Yakuza through odd, blood red eyes by the time the enforcer comes into view.
Okuno's Yakuza clan has long been absorbed by the Southtown Syndicate's takeover; despite this he has remained loyal to them and by extension Geese Howard. While he has many faults, disloyalty is not one of them. Nor does he partake in backstabbing. If he wants something, and doesn't like you, he will be very loud about both. A lifetime of being beaten down and beating others down has molded him this way. So when a high ranking Syndicate members extends an invitation, he promptly complies without question.
Okuno wears his usual suit with loud shirt and garish accessories. His simmering anger, always clouding his character, ensures other patrons give him a wide berth just by looks alone. This club, though, is right up his alley. Being a Yakuza means enjoying the perks, and he enjoys them very much. He stops before Kain, hands in his pockets, slouched slightly as he stares through his orange tinted sunglasses at him before taking them off and putting them in the breast pocket of his jacket. He does not quite recognize the man. "Heinlein-san, right?" he asks.
"You're well informed for a soldier." Kain notes with neither apparent pleasure or disdain-- simply observational respect. He pensively sips his drink and then nods to the booth opposite himself at the intimate, circular table. Almost immediately, a waitress pops up to take the new arrival's order. "Whatever you like." Kain invites casually, with a graceful wave of one gloved hand.
Where the Yakuza burns hot, the European is ice. Where Okuno broadcasts his dangerous nature to all around him, Kain's is remarkably subdued. His strength is a quiet thing; controlled, focused, tightly wound around the deceptively deadly capo's fingertips.
Much like Hideki, Heinlein came up in places like this. Earned the attention of powerful warriors in turn... and seized something similarly quietly remarkable within himself. There's no thread of implied treachery to the question Kain asks once the server departs, "Tell me, Hideki Okuno-- what is it //you// want." There's a question within the soft compulsion. It may not be an insidiously menacing thread, but the lithe blonde is, it's hard not to conclude, far more than he might initially appear.
"Hakushu, 12 year," Okuno answers. He takes a seat at the end, positioned so he can still see Heinlein opposite him. He rests an arm over the back of the booth's seat and crosses one leg. "Huh? Askin' me something like that up front?" he remarks. He thinks about it. He also studies Kain, taking the measure of the higher up before him. "I want what anyone in this business wants. Wealth, power, women."
"Would you prefer to speak about the weather?" Kain inquires, arching one brow inquisitively. The German gives a soft chuckle, his words spoken in fluently enunciated, expert Japanese despite his obvious non-native status. His formative years in Southtown are far more memorable than his more distant childhood farther afield. "Perhaps this year's Prime Sporting Event of your choice?" A measure of the dismissive creeps into dulcet tones at the very idea.
"My time is valuable." Kain observes simply, evenly... the intent to discern whether Okuno happens to be worth more of it implicit, rather than uttered. "Power takes many forms, what does it look like in your vision?" Beat. "What is it //for//?" That element: of -far- more interest to the son Geese Howard wishes he had had than them Mets.
"I don't give a fuck what we talk about," Okuno shoots back, gritting his teeth in irritation. He does, at least, give a little more consideration to the question. Well, as deep as someone like him can consider anyway, which isn't too much. "Power is..." He seems to struggle to find the words, which further causes him to feel frustrated. "It's...when you walk in a room and everybody immediately knows not to mess with you. When you don'
't even have to flex to get that message across. When you can swing at an army of dudes and still come out on top...the power that rises you above the regular assholes. That kind of power."
"Pity." Kain observes it without great import, again-- merely stoic consideration. It's perhaps somewhat damnably inscrutable of him, but that is how the Kain do. A thoughtful nod follows Okuno's assertions, and again the crimelord considers the Yakuza evenly with those darkly burning, crimson eyes. "Yet you project anger, carry yourself in a way to assert that message actively." Heinlein's tone remains matter-of-fact, rather than condescending; even as he bluntly notes arguable flaws in the enforcer. We are what we are.
".. You are a soldier in that army, not its director." The too-calm pyromancer drinks from his glass smoothly, punctuating the thought with a precision-targeted, "Does this make you powerless? How will you rise above rage, become more than a cog in a powerful machine?"
Or does that collective might, efficient purpose create its own variant of power and accomplishment-- Kain withholds judgement. It's for Okuno to say, just now. The server drops off the Yakuza's vice of choice and fades just as quickly, consciously heedless of the conversation, spoken barely loud enough to be fully heard over the music. That Kain holds the Hideki's description of power in the palm of his deceptively elegant hand is also not proactively posited.
Okuno pounds a fist on the table. "IT AIN'T THE SAME!" he yells, eyes bugging out briefly. "You...I can already tell...you project power, but you don't even need to act like it. You just..ARE. That cool attitude...but I know, I know you got the power I'm talking about!" He grits his teeth, roughly taking his drink from the approaching waitress and taking a drink. He breathes out, nostrils flaring. "...I been getting my ass kicked lately. From all kinds of freaks. You know how much crazy shit there is out there? I thought I knew everything...but I don't know SHIT about power and it PISSES ME OFF!"
He slams the drink on the table. It is miraculous how easily he can work himself up. "Damn it. I couldn't even beat the shit out of that thief I went after! I started learning martial arts, thinking I could get a leg up from all the other goons out there. But it just made me a target for bigger fish. I need, I need to train. I need to keep fighting."
"I //do// know." Kain replies simply, enigmatically. All kinds of wild and crazy shit in the universe, indeed. That, and much of what Okuno says is largely on the mark. "You might project power that way, but the perception of others is only one aspect to control." Kain speaks with a measure of experience, even if he's scarcely sharing his own detailed course with the Yakuza, just now.
"And as you say, it is a method that invites challenge. Fear is a tenuous leash; rage erodes patience, and fogs purpose." Heinlein is young, perhaps younger than Hideki, but he speaks with authority. The street is a different experience with or without a vastly divergent experience for those within versus without ancient, formidable organizations.
Or perhaps Kain simply has stronger instincts for his following statement, "Power demands purpose, simple terror of being weak and wanting is not enough. Every human animal in its final moments, at the least, typically has that much. Vision, not paranoia. This place often swarms with those who think as you do, all aggression and ire, but in the end a puffed chest will not save your life; nor actualize your vision."
"So what the hell do I do?" Okuno asks. Kain's words seem to have settled him down somewhat, in that he's trying to give it serious thought and thinking deeply takes a lot of effort for him, diverting processing power away from his temper, so to speak. His brow furrows as he takes another drink. "...I can get chicks and booze and drugs any day. But I want somethin' more than that. I need to break out to the next level."
"Distractions. Bread and circuses." Kain posits steadily, confidently. "Opiates to placate the masses, trading away their time and agency like rats obsessing over the pleasure lever." It's forward-- more direct than Kain might typically be on this point. But the Yakuza asked, and in their line of business? They're inherently on the margins to begin with. It just takes a little step farther for something truly anarchic.
"But you are missing the most important point-- I might demand you act, but it is not for me, not for anyone to dictate purpose. //You// must find that strength. Lest you not wish to carry out another's whim, and they casually destroy you for it."
Kain speaks it like it's an unfortunate but scarcely unheard of reality; a fact of life. To some, it's the most traumatic and memorable moment of their life; to Heinlein, it's Monday. "Prove it to yourself, first. Step out the door and bleed to overcome your ilk. Or ignore me." Kain smiles coolly, too evenly, subtly mechanical in its painted perfection. "And suffer worse than any of them can inflict."
"What's with that look?" Okuno demands, at Kain's smile. "I ain't afraid to bleed. If that's what it takes...fine. I don't care what it takes." He finishes his drink with a mighty swig. "Ahh...but now I gotta ask. Why ask me this stuff? You got some kinda angle?"
"Sometimes, it is essential to bleed; others, the prelude to death." Kain's smile slightens subtle as he takes a draught of his drink in turn. "Of course I have an angle. As I said, those without one are listless or reactionary, more often than not. But we're not there yet, Hideki. You've taken the first steps into a different sort of competition, only time will tell if you have the discipline and vision to rise above the rank and file, or would be better served recontextualizing your perception of success and contentment. I won't bother to wish you luck." Determination and grit will take one far further, in Heinlein's estimation.
Okuno ponders this some more, then snorts. "Better wish I get plenty of skulls to crack, then," he says firmly. He stands up and adjusts his collar. "...thanks for the drink, Heinlein-san."
Log created on 17:50:34 06/28/2019 by Kain, and last modified on 05:40:24 06/29/2019.