Description: Someone has unleashed an army of dark stalkers on Southtown - someone who isn't Jedah. Even more frustrating, whoever had the nerve to command these creatures had sent them to strike directly at Duke; or more precisely, at his territory. With a trinket of great value stolen from under his nose, the crime lord has sent his underlings to track it down. Meanwhile, he's going to find out who is behind this affront to his authority by asking a lot of hard questions - starting with one of the few people in town who has the strength to oppose him.
Mishima Tower didn't stand out like a sore thumb in Southtown. From the outside looking in, it looked like just another corporation. Even on the inside, it's boring. No music plays. The suited workers toil in silence, save for the occasional business call. Even then, the employees speak in hushed tones, as if speaking any louder will disturb the meticulous work environment.
Who could guess underneath the building was a secret lab where Darkstalkers were being abducted and brainwashed into soldiers for the Zaibatsu's ruthless chairman, and that same chairman was who Duke was here to see. Heihachi held court -- like any egomaniac -- on the highest floor in the building. The men and women here seemed to know who Duke was, and when Heihachi was told he had entered the building, the chairman even cancelled all his meetings and told his people to send Duke up.
Heihachi himself was in his office, a large expansive space, sitting behind a desk, his chair twisted and turned towards the window. It was quite the view of Southtown, but the old man was in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction.
Duke could guess.
Suspect may be more accurate. But Duke had a very short list of people in the city who would be involved with Darkstalkers, and be a 'master'. It was not Jedah. Next on the list was the pointy-haired individual. A man who he well thought was dead. Well. The Man That Hell Spat Out wouldn't judge on matters of life or death. The only thing that mattered was that Heihachi had returned, and was building power in Southtown. A Darkstalker assault would certainly bring an opportunity for a dying Zaibatsu to be reborn from it's ashes. He would not request an audience.
He would seize it.
Duke's entrance in the building did not require him to check in. He would not even bother to ask what floor he was on. If he was not in, he would wait. It took a while for Duke to reach the top. He waited in the elevator, the dark-skinned man glowering with burning yellow eyes. Duke was dressed in his striking three-piece suit. A red and black overcoat sits on his shoulders, with a red waistcoat underneath, exposing his ripped chest. Black trousers with red cuffings sit as his ankles, with a pair of beetle-black shoes. In one hand was a cane of ebony, with an iron-shod head at the top. A fur coat was over his shoulders. The elevator makes its ring. The doors open. His entrance comes with heavy steps and a piercing tap, every beat of his stride bringing an inevitable pressure into the room. Duke rumbles, as he approaches the desk.
Heihachi's suit looks boring by comparison. It's simple, a white shirt and a red necktie the only color in a sea of expensive black. The old man feels the pressure -- how could he not? His head turns to regard Duke first, and then his chair shifts so that he's completely facing the gangster, one hand lifting to place itself on the desk. His plainer eyes meet those burning yellow ones with a steeliness to them. Still, that hand lifts and gestures to the seat opposite him.
"Burkoff-san," is how he greets Duke. "Please, sit. A man like you doesn't drink tea, I presume. Bourbon, perhaps?" It's as hospitable as the old man can get. Another ally in the criminal underworld would be a boon for Heihachi in his efforts to rebuild the Zaibatsu, and it was the only reason Heihachi could conceive Duke's presence here.
"Yes, thank you."
He doesn't waste words at the offer. He was not here for a partnership. Well, not planned. But business had a steady, inevitable pace to it. Duke removes his coat, hanging it on the back of the seat. Going around it, he clutches his cane, as he eases into the chair. "I apologize for my arupt arrival. The circumstances on the streets have demanded a great deal of my attention. I found an opening. I took it." Duke frowns, looking at his sleeve.
He brushes off some wolf hair.
"You have a very impressive building here, Mishima." Duke rumbles, placing his cane across his lap. He folds his hands before him. Duke's tone was grim, the veneer of polite and class barely shielding the glowing anger of the crime boss. Even eased into his seat, there was pulses of power slithering through his veins, plumes of invisible energy that was shifting around his neck and wrist. "Still, if this is the top floor." Duke rumbles, a cruel smirk forming at the corner of his lips.
"I am surprised that a man of your wealth and taste wouldn't have the tallest building in Southtown."
Duke doesn't get an immediate verbal response from Heihachi, but he does get an audible one. Heihachi's hand curls into a fist -- a fist that clenches so tightly his knuckles crack and whiten. Electrical currents run through his fingers, but the old man closes his eyes and centers himself with a sharp inhale.
"Nakatomi," he instead growls out, and another man, this one standing by the door within the office, steps forward with a bow.
"Bring Burkoff-san some bourbon."
Nakatomi nods and leaves the room quickly, closing the door and giving both men their privacy. Heihachi's chair turns from Duke so he can look out the window again -- right at the tallest building in Southtown -- Geese Tower. His gaze doesn't linger long, his head turning slightly to indicate he's speaking to the gangster.
"I too am surprised. Did your employer send you, Burkoff-san?" He jabs right back.
Duke's grip tightens.
There is a faint groaning sound, as Duke's bones and flesh strain under the pressure of his own hands. The jab was well noted. Duke too looks out to the tower, eyes narrowing. "I have no employer to answer to in my business, Mishima." Duke growls, eyes burning in contempt. "You very well know my business is in the art trade. Fine portraits. Statues. Artifacts." Duke turns his head, his neck cracking from the force as his body tightens. "Certainly, customs and trades can be concerned about the transport of goods into the country. But everything... is above... the table." Duke's nostrils flare, as he exhales deeply.
"What line of work is the Zaibatsu into these days, Mishima?"
Heihachi allows himself a smile. They're so rare these days. The smile fades as quickly as it came, and Heihachi's chair shifted slightly to the side, his eyes settling on the computer monitor at his desk.
Whatever he sees there, it's clear it doesn't make him any happier. His eyes drift towards Duke, set in a glare now, but his glare is nowhere near as unsettling as the gangster's glowing gaze. "The Zaibatsu has already perfected arms manufacturing," he boldly claims. "Now we are involving ourselves in genetic research, to bolster our great nation's military."
Heihachi's hand remains closed into a fist, and it rises off the table before falling on it again, the sound firm, but nothing too aggressive. "The Zaibatsu is the business of war, Burkoff-san. So you must understand that it strikes one as odd an above table art-dealer would be here, fraternizing with the likes of me."
"Southtown has long endured the Zaibatsu's business, Mishima."
Duke growls, unclasping his hands. There is blood on them. His hands are smooth. He grips his cane, turning it in his hands. "Even now, when we think of monsters running through the streets of Southtown, we can only thank you for it. But we don't have to imagine it now, do we." Duke grabs the cane in his hand. He gestures to the window. "Abominations murdering women and children in the streets. It just... reeks of an old man's ambitions." Duke brings his cane to his side, easing the un-shod tip on the ground. Duke seems to doing everything to keep himself from exploding right into Heihachi right now. His jaw tight. Teeth gritted.
"Are we looking at the fruits of your new business on the streets right now, Heihachi."
The door opens and Nakatomi -- the gentleman from before -- steps inside. He feels the immense pressure coming off of Duke, and he's just in time to see Heihachi's scowl grow even further, electricity crackling through the old man's fingertips.
The door closes behind Nakatomi after he steps OUT of the office instead, pouring a glass of bourbon in the top floor's lobby for himself with a trembling hand and bleary eyes. It's been a long week.
"I warned the world of the dangers of the abominations, did I not? The world did not listen. Instead it forced me into drastic action. And now it all comes tumbling down, and who do you accuse?" Mishima may have permanently etched this scowl onto his face, but his emotions could be read through the rising rage and volume in his voice. "I have nothing to do with those beasts running amok. No -- this is not my doing." The old man visibly relaxes, and he leans back in his seat, his eyes staring at his hand. "Do not worry yourself, Burkoff-san," he growls, voice dripping with condescension. "The Zaibatsu will take those monsters off the street. Southtown will be safe again."
One thing is for certain, made so obvious by his tone, his words: Heihachi is up to something.
"Take them off the street and into your pocket."
Duke bellows, as he finally surges to his feet. Violet-crimson flames burst over his body, an aura of raw anger exploding around him. Leaning forward, he seemed all but ready to rip away the desk, and settle the fight right now. "I know your kind. Your precious son Lee Chaolan agreed to protect the world from Darkstalkers, while profiting from their research. I know you are up to something, Mishima!" Duke snarls, fist tight on his cane. There is a moment of tension.
And then, with the volcano finished with it's outrage, he sinks back into his chair.
He doesn't relax, relax is not the correct word. He gives a deep breath, as the fire around him quells. "You are an arrogant, ruthless man. And looking for allies. If this was your doing... you'd have offer me a crown to secure the city. And here I am, with nothing but a defense, and words of comfort." Duke rolls his neck, cracking it. "Security is... important for the art business, as you well know. Southtown must be safe again. And if you are honest about your greed... there is one other to blame." Duke brings a thumb to his chin, touching his beard.
"Kira Volkov of the Black Dragons."
When Duke rises to his feet, so does Heihachi, superhumanly spry despite his advanced years. He glares at the crime boss but doesn't interrupt him at all. Electric currents run throughout his body in erratic flickers, but they fizzle out as Duke's own fire extinguishes. The old man doesn't sit immediately when the Russian does, his fists planting themselves knuckle-first onto the desk's surface before his slow descent into his seat. He doesn't deny he's up to something, and when Duke names Southtown's current adversary, Heihachi leans back in his seat once more, a hand coming up to loosen his necktie. "And why, pray tell, are you not there, insulting her in her place of business, hmm? Why do you suspect this woman? What ties does she have to the Darkstalkers?"
It's a series of questions, and while they are spoken coldly, intrigue was etched across Mishima's iron scowl.
Duke's smoldering fury was sitting as embers now.
He holds up three fingers. "There are three individuals I know of in this city, who would have the means and scale to execute a volume of Darkstalkers. The first is Jedah, in that accursed tower. To unleash an army of Darkstalkers at this time, however, would be an act of war beyond our mortal realm. I'm satisified to believe he is not the cause of this." Duke gives a smirk, forehead furrowed sinisterly. "As for why I am here first..." He holds up a hand, palm flat downwards to the floor.
"Checking in order of tower sizes."
Duke steeples his fingers before him. "I will tell you what I know about Kira. She is an arrogant woman. Untrustworthy, two-faced. She has long pretended to be working to protect mankind, to kill monsters and destroy them. She has set up a casino in our city, the Dragon's Den Casino. With tame Darkstalker entertainment. All above the table." Duke shakes his head, his yellow eyes turning to burn a gaze into the floor.
"You see how little she cares to hide her true intentions."
"In reality, she's been has been working with Lord Dohma, capturing Darkstalkers to use as slaves, weapons, and... personal pleasures. She's been operating it as a business for a number of years now. She has been supposed to be restrained in unleashing these creatures on the street, and communicative of her motives. INstead, I have been robbed of my artwork by monsters." Duke nods firmly, looking back at Heihachi. "I wish to have my property returned. She is a reckless woman."
"Would you not agree?"
Heihachi listens to the larger man intently. His mouth twists downward at the verbal stab, but he ignores it in favor of the information being given to him. When the briefing is over, he rises to his feet after drumming the fingers of one hand on the edge of his desk, a hand lifting up to stroke his moustache in thought.
"Such boldness from her, if she is indeed responsible for all of this," admits the old man, turning towards the window to look out at Southtown once more. His head shifts slightly to the side so he can flick his gaze between the outside and Duke more easily.
"Let us say I send forces to the Dragon's Den, their objective to retrieve this stolen property of yours," the old man hypothesizes, watching Duke sidelong with sharp intensity. "What does the Zaibatsu get in exchange?"
Duke rumbles, raising a finger. "If she is responsible." Duke returns to his strategic finger steeple. "I have played this game a long time; it could be a false flag, in order to distract us from the real enemy. We cannot go in guns blazing, and raze it to the ground. It is expensive to me, and certainly expensive to you. Not worth either of our whiles, especially if we aren't certain." He shakes one hand, and his head. "No, not yet, we shouldn't beat down the door. But that doesn't mean we can't manipulate." Duke gestures out the window.
"Tell me, Heihachi, who else have you noticed plaguing the streets of Southtown, other than the monsters?"
"If," Heihachi agrees. "The thought has crossed my mind that she perhaps has lost control of these creatures. Still -- I was under the impression you had narrowed your suspect list down. You do seem more informed than I would have imagined."
It's a compliment and a barb both from the Mishima, and when Duke asks his question, the old man's brow furrows even deeper, eyes shifting down to the streets as if it might help him see what it is the yellow-eyed man sees.
"Idealists. Moralizers. The weak citizenry unable to defend themselves, rightfully culled out of our society," is his cruel guess.
The flare of energy over Duke revealed he considered the barb more than the praise.
"With evidence." Duke idles, as he untenses. "I have to always keep in mind that the Scarlet Dahlia and her allies aren't making an elaborate ruse to return to this city. The unseen, unknown enemies are always the most dangerous foes in this world. But no, I do not speak of the weak." Duke shakes his head.
"I speak of those who defend the weak."
"It's the idealists and the moralizers I am speaking of. Do gooders. Self proclaimed heroes. And of course, the NOL. Soldiers of self-righteous causes, seeking to inspire hope and justice while bringing their boots upon the face of the populace." Duke gestures to Heihachi, and then, himself.
"And standing between honest businessmen and their prizes"
Duke touches the tip of his nose. "If they were to be guided to the right target, then the risk would be on them, not us. Let them sacrifice themselves to stop that wicked Kira and her Dragoons. And if Kira was innocent?" Duke gives a diabolical sneer.
"Then we have one less risk to deal with in the city. "
A muscle in Heihachi's jaw twitches in an effort to get him to smile. That little muscle fails, but Heihachi's eyes brighten, and he eyes Duke aside.
"The Zaibatsu will offer NOL its assistance. It will provide them with some of the intelligence you gave me, unless you have some other means of getting the information to them." The old man's hands unfurl from his back and clench into fists while he stares out the window. "Once the smoke settles do what you will with everything else, but the Darkstalkers are mine."
Then Heihachi's eyes shift up to where the window reflects Duke.
"This... cooperation is a sign of good faith. For both our sakes, let us quell any thoughts of betrayal. I am sure neither of us will enjoy the consequences."
Duke was more than happy to let Heihachi contact them
Duke had his own contacts with the NOL. He has no interest in reaching out to them, however. Last time he met, he was obliterated from this reality. So when Heihachi makes his suggestion?
Duke empathically agrees.
"Let them do all the heavy work. I will work through the... art world, with some of the artists on the streets. It is not hard to send some people on wild geese chases" of course, the nature of betrayal comes up. Duke rises from his chair. "There is nothing to worry about, Heihachi. It is just business." The crime boss narrows his yellow eyes.
"Now where is that bourbon?"
Log created on 13:56:14 04/08/2020 by Duke, and last modified on 21:56:32 04/09/2020.