Description: Steve, the British Boxer and caretaker of one banchou girl, stumbles into the occult shop of a certain Darkstalker Necromancer. Things are bound to get spooky when Steve asks her to try to look into his past.
They say you can find anything in Chinatown. Frankly, it's much easier to hide anything you want in that part of Southtown--especially if you're into selling more esoteric and 'traditional' sorts of medicine, which had a definite black market. Consuming ground up rhino horn or elephant tusk was essentially the same as ingesting powdered fingernails, but the people selling the idiots, or 'marks' the stuff obviously didn't feel this necessary to repeat.
Off to the side, down an alleyway, is an occult shop--the sign out front in ideograms that likely made no sense to the tourist or foreigner but likely translated to something like 'magical remedy shop and after death salon', at least, that might be what the dictionary would tell you. It was lit up, glowing red, along with a few of those Chinese paper lanterns that made it stand out like an orange-crimson beacon in the night. Apparently the lights were on inside.
The interior, was perhaps like most junk shops one might find around the world--shelves along the walls, cases, strewn with every manner of bullshit imaginable--but there was a definite... morbid bent to it. A cowskull greeted you once you entered, leering at you from the shelf to the right, while there were several jars and bottles filled with what looked like pickled animals, or body parts. A hand could be seen in one. That wasn't real of course... was it?
An L shaped glass case that served as a countertop ran along the right wall, while a few other cases and racks stood across from it, a set of carpeted stairs rising higher up into the building, into darkness. It was dimly lit, but it was definitely /clean/, the scent of industrial strength carpet cleaner could be scented under the funk of incense, and whatever odors of fabrics and chemicals that hung in the air.
There was a lady standing in the center of it, with long straight black hair, and western features, clad in a red high-collared qipao, slit at the thigh--running down to pale legs and a set of matching red high heels. However to the right kind of eyes--chi-using, supernaturally sensitive ones--this person was pretty obviously not from there, or human.
Now that Mitsuru's injuries are mostly adressed, Steve has a good opportunity for some fresh air. Away from the smell of alcahol and cigarettes for at least a little while. Thankfully, he can track the streets with relative safety since his face and bounty hasn't been made public just yet. He is strolling around the streets without any real purpose, just looking at the various shops and people walking around. Eventually, he stumbles on a rather specific part of the city. Chinatown. A place riddled with paper lanterns and chinese characters, the meaning unknown.
After wading through a sea of junk-shops and cheap restaurants, he stumbles on a peculiar looking shop placed in a side-alley. The skulls and well-kept animals immedeatly catches his eyes as he takes a moment to peek through the window. A morbid curiosity make Steve decide to push open the door and take a closer look.
He notices the woman standing in the middle right away. She seems rather..... misplaced in the slew of occult quackery. She looks like she could be a model, but instead she is peddling wares in a corner of chinatown's back-alleys. There feels something a little -odd- about her, but he can't really place it. He pays it no real mind as he gives her a quick nod "I'm uh, just looking around". He walks closer towards the gruesome shelf with jars of flesh. Taking a closer look at the hand while scratching the back of his head. Those can't be real, right?
"Irasshaimase!" The woman explained brightly, though with a somewhat forced tone of excitement or happiness to her voice, as was common with Japanese shopkeepers. The woman glanced over in Steve's direction briefly, casually--before doing a double-take. This was no normal customer, apparently.
"Well heyyy there," suddenly, the woman seemed genuinely excited to have Steve for company, likely upon noticing his Western features, and the fact he wasn't just likely there to buy a charm or some stupid mood rings or crystals. As she turned, a pair of white and gray-lined wings were visible rising up from behind her back, there was a panel of the upper back of the dress embroidered with a set of fastenable flaps to allow them through and close the back of the dress up after. In addition to the black hair, she was sporting long conical bat-like ears, eyes that seemed in the dim light of the shop to be more like a cat's, almost an orangey glowing hue to them. She was wearing makeup, too--ruby red lipstick, fangs jutting over them at the corners of her mouth. The nails were fairly long and of a similar crimson shade.
"What brings you here, stranger?" she set a half-curled hand against her waist, smiling at the man. She likely realized by the look on his face that he could see her for real, and the chi-signatures both of them gave off would likely be noticeable to the other.
As the strange lady started talking to him, he takes a closer look. And with that, the illusion seems to shatter. The full range of bat-like darkstalker features coming to light. His expression shifts from friendly to surprised. Looking mesmerized and intimidated by her presence while staring sheepishly towards her. This encounter had just turned a whole lot more interesting.
He answers, speaking slowly with a half-hearted chuckle. "Well, this place really just caught my eye. It certainly stands out." His attention had shifted from the clutter to the bat-lady. He takes instinctive step backwards, he feels like he has to be cautious of his words. "If you don't mind me asking, are you a darkstalker?"
"Aw, is that any way to greet a lady, hon?" Echo grinned at the man, beckoning for him to come closer, further into the shop. "Of course I am, what else would I be," she said fairly casually, gesturing a hand to the shelves. "And you've just happened upon my newest location, I thought Southtown could use a place like this, all my stock has an after-life guarantee," she nodded, as if this was a pleasant, appreciable fact.
"I'm Echo, just a businesswoman, trying to apply a trade, mine just happens to be mysticism--come, you can look around all you like, oh yes," with that Echo bowed her right knee just a bit outwards, showing off quite a bit more of those long white-furred legs from beneath the slitted skirt of the qipao, grinning at him.
"You looking for anything in particular--charm to ward off the dead, realign your feng shui, something of that nature?" she asked, remembering to hang back a little herself and give the man more room if he wanted to move around.
Steve does as she beckoned and stepped further into the shop. "Right, sorry. I've just been a little on-edge recently. My name is Steve, nice to meet you," He pretended to look around the shop. He carefully touches what he assumes to be a fake human skull. But really, he's mostly interested in Echo. In more then one way.
He turned back towards her "After-life? Good to know if I, well, die." He looked flustered and turned his eyes to the orange-lit ceiling. "I can't say I know anything about... mystical stuff like this. I really just walked in on a whim."
Steve looks back at her, and asked the same question one might ask in a restaurant "Do you have anything to recommend?"
"Stephen, hmm? charmed, of course," Echo smiled at the man again, as if she was enjoying a little joke that only she was getting. "It's not often we get people who can use supernatural abilities like yourself around here, or can see folks like me," she nodded a bit to his explanation, apparently not getting anything that resembled a warning sign from him.
"Perhaps--anything in particular bothering you at the moment? Maybe some girl trouble...? living, or otherwise," Echo grinned. "I admit I specialize in the latter--you wouldn't believe how many people want to contact friends or family on the other side," she nodded. "I also do palm and tarot readings, seances--for a price of course... little bit more exciting than a ouija board, though there might be one of those around too--" she leaned over behind a glass case and began digging through some old boxes, there was the sound of things obviously breaking and shattering, which didn't seem to bother her at all.
"Where was it..."
Meanwhile the skull that Steve was carelessly fondling had a strange oddly greasy feeling to it, as if it had not too long ago actually heralded flesh.
Steve tilts his head to the side "Supernatural abilites?" as far as he knows, the only thing supernatural about him is his strength. In a very literal sense. Even as a kid his physical power was far above the average.
Surprisingly, asking for reccomendations might have been a good call. While the cheerful way she speaks about these subject is concerning, her mention of divination stirs a faint, and perhaps foolish hope. While he might not usually believe fortune-tellers and the like, this woman being a darkstalker with supernatural powers does give her claim some more credit. He starts talking with some level of excitement in his voice "I gather that palm-or tarot reading usually is supposed to tell someone's future. But would there be methods to determine ones past? There are certain questions I have concerning mine."
"Yes, you shoot fireballs, don't you?" Echo asked, distractedly, from where she was digging behind the counter. It sounded like she was asking him if he was able to throw a baseball, or had played Jr. Football. Like it was something he was expected to do. Since well, it was. Kinda.
"Your past, huh," Echo leans back up from where she is digging through stuff, apparently having not found the Ouija board box--must've been left back in Metro City, then. "Usually people just want to know what's in store for them, not what they've already seen, or maybe... what they can't remember?" she asks, probingly, walking around the counter and striding up to the man, hips swaying as she saunters over in those red heels.
"Usually somewhat expensive if you want me to converse with spirits to do so, but I think your case, Stevey, there might be something we can arrange, aheh..." she is grinning at the man again, one of those long ivory fangs hanging over her lower lip, looking the man over.
"Ahem, well, follow me--and we'll see about the answers for your questions..." she proceeded up the red carpeted stairs to the upper, rear level.
Steve decided to brush off the fireball comment, alas, much to his dismay Steve cannot shoot fireballs. He never tried and has no idea where to begin. But, more importantly. Could this actually work? He can't help but feel hopeful as he looks at the alluring bat-woman. "You're right. What I can't remember." A cold shiver runs down his neck as she moves closer "Arrange something...?" That was a strange thing to mention, what would she want except money? "But, thank you Echo. I don't think I'd be able to pay the full price anyways."
Breathe in. Breathe out. The boxer feels nervous. Almost scared. Will it work? And even if it works, what will he find? Something mundane, something fascinating? He swallows deeply as he starts walking into the unknown, otherwise known the second floor of a shady china-town occult shop
"You didn't roll up here in a porsche, from the sound, so no, I didn't think you could afford it," Echo shook her head, unless Steve was some kind of middle eastern millionaire going on holiday in Japan, for whatever reason. He didn't quite look the part. She'd bring Steve into the upstairs parlor to a large rectangular table that had a few chairs and a sheet over it, the latter of which she removed with a flourish. Yep, there was indeed a crystal ball under there.
"There was supposed to be another business up here, at one point--but I had the wall knocked through and turned it into an apartment," she she pulled out a chair for herself and her guest, sitting down at the head of the table. "You will forgive me if the table isn't traditionally round, I have a proper one back in Metro, but round carved oaken tables are a bit more difficult to find in Glorious Nippon," The chairs, to their credit, seemed to be of some kind of hardwood, dark and finished smooth with faux leather seats.
From her side she produced what looked like a hand carved snow globe and set it before her, as well as picking up a very slender and pointy black metallic dagger from the side of the table itself, idly toying with it. "You wouldn't believe the trouble getting things like /this/ through customs are... So, Steve, how far back are we going?"
From the sound of it, his guess was right. People really pay obscene amounts of money for this stuff. "A crystal ball, huh? Pretty classic." He said, half-jokingly. He sits down on the soft leather, edge of his seat. Not getting- or not able to get fully comfortable. The black dagger doesn't exactly help relief the tension. He rests his arms on the -not round- table, leaning over uncomfortably far as he peers into the crystal ball. "Lets see here. I lack any memory before I went to the orphange. That'd mean.... 17 years. Can you go back that far?" He spoke before pulling his eyes away from the crystal eyes and to Echo. He said "So, how is this going to happen exactly? I certainly hope it doesn't involve that dagger.."
"It's a piece of glass," Echo answered without delay, and to the blade she toyed with in her hand, handling it one might a toy. "And that is a letter opener," she grinned at him. "You must understand that not all the things you might see are things you might necessarily /want to/, you understand," she put the knife down and instead picked up the snow globe, she shook it gently once, and it did a snow globe's old trick--the white motes inside swirling around inside like a gentle snowfall over what looked like a little house.
If Steve were to focus on it, he might begin to notice that it wasn't just any sort of cottage, it was a gingerbread house--one with white frosted roof and brown walls, a little path carved out in front of it, beckoning you to this little house beyond the world where reality had fled and time was a myth.
And if he stared longer, he'd notice the shutter of one of the windows being drawn back by a white, pallid hand. From inside the dark interior of the house a face stared back at him. One clown white, with hideously red lips. A face that would never see sunshine or blue skies again.
It was his own face.
Steve feels a little foolish about being nervous about a letter opener. "I understand." he quietly responds as he peers into the globe again. As the inside starts moving, it has a hypnotic effect on Steve. He silently stares into the snowy landscape. This wasn't bad, somewhat soothing, actually.
He slowly leans further and further forward, until a more terrifying sight comes in view. In this vision, he looks awful. Sick, what is this supposed to mean? He recoils back a bit as his breathing starts to quicken. "How in the..." He feels nauseous, but keeps intently staring into the globe.
"As you can see," Echo gives the snow globe a shake and the horrifying image inside it disappears. "That was one possible outcome for you, one where the undead welcome your company," Echo glances over to Steve, tilting her head, as if to make sure he wants to continue. "It can be a sobering experience to invision one's own corpse, however I am more dulled to their appearance. There was a time when my kind were welcomed in more polite society, necromancers, that is--though that time has long passed," she clucked her tongue.
"Now, for your answers..." she shook the globe again, and this time more strange things appeared. A blonde woman's face--golden bangs hung over the side of her cheek. Echo stared passively into the globe along with Steve--assuming he dared look now, as if trying to divine the globes portents. This was not an almighty or all-seeing vessel, this could tell minor things, whatever it could, apparently.
Cells writhed together inside the globe like a test tube, causing the bat woman to tilt her head again the opposite way, staring oddly. The image of the writhing microscopic entities faded after a while, giving way to the logo of the Mishima Zaibatsu. Then that too, faded.
A necromancer? The undead-summoning kind? They exist? Questions were racing through his mind as he tried to get the image of his rotting corpse out of his head. He put a hand on his face as he takes a few seconds to calm down. "Alright, I'm ready." He can't judge if Echo is trustworthy or not. "Necromancer" has a very sinister undertone to it, but he also can't afford to pass up on this opportunity.
He starts to peer back into the globe, and a pretty, blonde woman appears in sight. He has never seen her before, but she looks somewhat familiar. The eye color, hair color, nose, she looked a little like -him-. He has little time to process this information however, as a new image comes in sight. A logo. A logo that is unfamiliar at first, but Steve realises he has seen it before. the Mishima Zaibatsu.
Then, the image fades. And Steve just sits there confused, silent, around a rectangular table with a mysterious bat-lady he met 30 minutes ago. Desperately hoping for more to show up in the globe.
"Correct," Echo replied without looking back at Steve, her eyes instead focused on the snow globe, which wasn't producing anymore answers. She shook it once--and the snow inside whirled around, showing blackness.
"It doesn't look like anything else is appearing for me... do you know who the blonde woman was?" Echo finally lifted her eyes away from the glass sphere in her hand. "Old flame, maybe? Blondes though, yeesh..." she was teasing Steve a little on his taste of women, if so--perhaps also due to the fact Echo was anything but blonde.
"Also not sure about the... other portents--were you perhaps involved in anything involving bacteria?" she raises a brow. There is some comedy there that likely neither of which will know.
"That's really all there is huh? Damn." Steve weakly slammed his fist on the table, no energy to really get angry. "It's so little." He looks down at the table "I.. I have no idea who the woman is. But, perhaps a relative of mine? Some of her features look familiar."
He crosses his arms on the table and buries his head in them, ignoring the teasing before mumbling "I just- I dont know. Bacteria? The Zaibatsu? How do those things even relate?" He sits there in silence for almost a minute before composing himself. Looking back up at Echo "Sorry if i seem ungrateful, it's- i still have so many questions without any answers."
"I'm a necromancer, not a fortune teller," Echo shot back, though not quite in the same cadence as DeForest Kelley in his famous doctor role. "My ability to divine things is limited, sometimes I must consult the spirits--but if they aren't willing to speak, well..." she shrugs. "Same thing with dealing with an unwilling spirit in a revivification--not everyone wants to come back, and leaving this world is not as scary as it sounds," Echo sighed. "This world is pain, along with it's earthly pleasures, some people and secrets just want to stay dead," she went on, shrugging a bit flatly. She perhaps realized she was being a bit too harsh or catty here, and relented, softening her tone.
"It... can be a difficult concept for some. This lady could perhaps be a relative of yours, the other things, well..." she cleared her throat. "Do you know anything about Heihachi Mishima? He's kind of a scary old man," she leaned back in the chair, this might be where one would light up a cigarette, if they were a smoker.
He took her explanation. Trying to understand, but not being fully able to. The one thing that was clear, is that he won't get new information. "I.. don't really get it. But I think this world is a amazing place. There's many great and interesting people to meet." He said, perhaps with naive optimism."I mean, I don't think I'd be able to meet an attractive bat-lady necromancer in the afterlife."
"But i'm getting a little sidetracked. The only things i know about Heihachi Mishima is what everyone knows. He's the leader of Mishima Zaibatsu, and he's known to be especially ruthless. I never had any reason to look into them, well, until now." Steve is glad she's asking questions. It helps him work out the information with a bit more clarity. "Oh and, another part of the mystery..." As he's saying this, he slowly starts to roll up the left sleeve of his Hoodie.
A large scar slowly on his left arm slowly comes to view. It runs all the way from his shoulder to his hand, shaped like a grotesque thunderbolt, and slightly bulges out the skin. "...I've had this scar my entire life, it might have to do with whatever happened."
"You might be surprised," Echo said a little smarmy, before giving him a look like 'really?' at the flirt, but smiled anyway, trying to comfort the man, perhaps. Perhaps a tricky thing to do, when you looked like a giant humanoid bat with huge ears, fangs, wings, the whole deal.
"You could have been part of his operation at some point, he /does/ use private security," she eyed him a little more gravely. "They're not like security guards at a mall, or even armed ones at a bank--these would be mercenaries, professional hired soldiers," she shook her head. "This is fast getting into murky, dangerous territory, and I haven't even been paid yet," she gave a bit of a cold chuckle. "Well, not that I asked youf or any for a demonstration," she muttered, in a 'to be fair' sort of tone.
"Oh, you always had it? hmm... that's a little more odd... maybe they put you together from scraps, like the mad doctor in that ghost story Mary Shelley wrote," she shrugged. "There /are/ worse things," she sounds as if she's had experience with how terrible they could be.
Strangely enough, Echo's presence is comforting, it's at least better then having no-one to talk to about this. And she apperently knows more about the Zaibatsu then Steve does. "I doubt it. I have a clear memory of the last 14 years." He sighs deeply "And I already have a large target on my back as is. I can't exactly afford the ire of another corporation..."
"It certainly would be something if I turned out to be some... Frankenstein's monster." He brushes this off as a joke, but was it supposed to be? "Anyways, you're right. You haven't been payed yet. I don't have anything to give except myself." There is a brief silence before he Hastily clarifies "Uh, i mean, if you ever need something done i might be able to assist. I'd like to think of myself as a relatively competent person."
"Well, memories... could be implanted, technically," Echo exhales through her teeth, as if this is another touchy subject. "There are ways to do that magically... or via more technological means, as baser as some could be--some human doctors have even attempted such through sedation and therapy," the bat had crossed her legs and made herself comfortable, chatting about these things as if they were interesting parlor talk. "I would have liked to pick that Cameron man's brain about some of them..." she looked back up at Steve, realizing this was also not helpful nor relevant to him.
"You get used to being a monster, dear," she said from a place of... some experience on the matter. "I've always been like this, and my people's standards of beauty and other societal norms are not the same--human women look fairly strange and lacking something, to me--as I'm sure I do to them," she grinned.
"Hmm... you'll go out for drinks with me then," she smiles, rising from her seat at the table, pocketing her hand-carved snowglobe. "And maybe later we can get a BITE to eat," she said this, deliberately opening her mouth wider as she spoke and working her jaws so he'd be keenly aware of the fang-like incisor teeth she possessed. Of course, she also gave him a wink and laughed afterwards. So apparently she was joking. Probably.
Today has been crazy. Implanted memories? Necromancy? It will take some time for Steve to fully wrap his head around all this. And he's oddly tired from all the revelations. "I.. don't want to believe that. But if you say so it's not out of the question." He said with a somber tone. "You obviously know your way around magic."
"Wait- what do you- drinks?" The sudden carefree suggestion had him flustered as he stumbles his way through the conversation. "I mean, yeah. Totally, drinks sound good. Right now?" He nervously chuckles along her joke, but those -are- some sharp fangs. Steve stands up as he, or they, prepare to leave. But not before another /very/ awkward flirt. "In my eyes you aren't a monster. Or lacking"
"So, drinks. Where would you like to go?"
Log created on 11:46:26 02/27/2020 by Echo, and last modified on 14:19:30 02/28/2020.