Description: For many, the past week has been a horrific nightmare of panic, death, and tragedy. For Heihachi, however, it has been a wealth of fresh opportunities! While his subordinates go about the task of scouring the city for dark stalker subjects to capture for his own devious experiments, the CEO uses his own time to try and expand his influence. Courting favor with the new kid on the block, Heihachi arranges a meeting with one of the noble scions of the Duodecim in order to offer them boons in the hopes of currying favor that he might exploit at a later date.
"And that's the current situation, ma'am."
Katarina frowns, leaning back in her chair, the thick expensive velvet cushions conforming to her slender body. Stretched out before her over the surface of a large table is a map of Southtown, the vast metropolis intricately recreated with shimmering images of light. Each and every building in the city is represented here down to the last detail, a perfect mirror of every nook and cranny; or, more accurately, a reflection of what they looked like when the last round of augur spells were cast. Though the translucent display much resembles a holographic image, it is actually a construct of magical energy, one of the many wonders available to the strange organization known as the Norvis Orbis Librarium.
Many people refer to them as simply 'the Library' but few have the nerve to do it within earshot of anyone who works for them. Not everyone in the NOL is overly sensitive about such things but those who are tend to be quite aggressive in disparaging such flippant disrespect. As a member of the privileged noble elite, the young lieutenant tends to fall among the latter, verging on the edge of zealotry at times. Which is precisely why she's so pissed off right now.
The map lays out a scene that isn't particularly pretty. Though the initial onslaught of monsters has been brought under control there still hasn't been any chances to make a counter assault and begin pushing them back. Dozens if not hundreds of the foul creatures littered the streets as corpses and yet there always seem to be more. And now there's the situation with these wild hooligans running rampant and making matters worse. Even if they could make an attempt to reclaim ground it would just open them up to surprise attacks on their flanks by gangs of bikers. What should have been a gaggle of loose misfits has proven to be annoyingly well organized, clearly receiving orders and tactical advice from the experienced mercenary behind all of this nonsense.
The young woman's eyes narrow slightly, her crimson pupils slowly sweeping across the display to take in all of its various elements. While she is well versed in the art of war, this conflict has thrown all of the rules out of the window in favor of pure chaos. It's obvious to anyone with a functional brain, a depressingly small list of people unfortunately, that this is some sort of a diversion. Anyone with a track record as extensive as the Dragon's would know that there is no possible way for her to successfully control the city. Even if she did manage to defeat all of its defenders, as laughable as that thought is, there would just be more sent in eventually. No, she's after something. Something that, to her frustration, the Intelligence officer can't seem to piece together.
Though her reply is terse and her voice calm and quiet, the clerk standing across the table from Katarina swallows fidgets visibly like a nervous rabbit. Her reputation for being extremely hot and cold with her moods is well known by those stationed at the Southtown headquarters by now. No doubt he fears that her mounting annoyance is likely to earn him some sort of reprimand or at least a earful of her temper.
Instead, she lets out a long sigh and closes her eyes. A hand rises up to her temple, rubbing at the surface of her pale skin with soft white-gloved fingertips as if she might massage away the headache she feels building. While yelling at the intern might be cathartic, it wouldn't be lady-like, nor befitting of a noble such as herself to lose her cool so easily. There is an answer to be found here, she just needs more information to make all of the pieces of this puzzle fit together properly.
"Thank, you corporal. That will be all. You may return to your duties."
Relief washes over the soldier like a wave, his expression betraying his eagerness to vacate the area as quickly as possible. Though Katarina cannot see the look with her eyes closed, she can hear the change in the Worldsong drifting from within his soul, the warbling notes of anxiety and worry relaxing into a softer lilting melody. As always, the taint of the Music Box makes even that sound somehow foul and grimy. A wave of fresh hate and malice attempts to well up from inside of her, urging her to draw her blade and strike the fool down for his incompetence, but as usual she quickly suppresses that desire, the effort of will coming to her almost reflexively at this point.
Offering her a rigid salute, the scout acknowledges her command and turns sharply on his heels, marching out of her office as if she were a drill master watching him like a hawk for some sort of mistake in his form. She couldn't care less how the idiot walked, having already dismissed the lowly grunt from her thoughts the moment she ordered him away. She is about to turn her attention back to the map when the corporal pauses, seeming to remember something.
Sensing the man's hesitation as the sound of his soul returned to a sharp squealing discord, Katarina opens her eyes and lances him through the back with her piercing gaze. He shudders visibly, as if literally skewered, but musters the courage to wheel around and salute her again.
"Ah, sorry, ma'am. I just remembered, I was to remind you that your meeting with the businessman begins at three o'clock."
Katarina blinks and then glances up to where a large hand-crafted grandfather clock rested against the wall. Like the rest of the furniture in her office, it is made of some dark lacquered wood, sporting a neatly polished face of ivory with bits of neatly shaped obsidian serving as the hands with shining roman numerals made of pure gold glistening on its surface. Upon seeing the time, she let out a soft curse. Only a few minutes until three. She was so focused on her work that she had nearly forgotten about the appointment entirely.
"Go and see that he is escorted here promptly," she says, earning another salute before the soldier flees from her presence with as much discipline as he can muster.
Waving a hand over the table, she dismissed the map along with all of its tactical data on troop deployments and estimations of enemy forces. No need to be pointlessly careless. Reports on this Mishima character were that he was not to be trusted. The meeting he had requested came at a strangely opportune moment. For all she knows, the information he has could be false. Maybe he's an agent of the enemy and this is an attempt by the Dragon to lure them into an ambush or waste more of their time. Or he could have legitimate intel that might be useful to them.
The question is, why would he want to help them; and, more importantly, what does he want in return?
*** A FEW WEEKS AGO ***
Heihachi had been too late. It was all too easy for the petty old man to immediately blame Burkoff for this, but Mishima filed the imagined slight away for later. For now, he sat in his conference room, his glare on the screen that took up much of the wall. Kira Volkov was giving her speech. The old man wouldn't have known about it if he wasn't pulled out of his meditation by Fujimura, the only woman in Parliament, Heihachi's most elite officers in his private army. She had quickly used the resources afforded to her to form an intelligence network, and as soon as Mishima gave her the name Burkoff gave him, she had been waiting for Kira Volkov to pop up.
"It is an undeniable truth that those with true strength have the power to rule. For too long mankind have relied upon their government to provide that strength, cowering behind your walls and your militaries, content to grow fat and lazy in your ignorance of the dangers that lurk in the darkness. So, citizens of Southtown, I now present to you a question. The very same question that I have been asked every waking moment of my life."
Heihachi was still dressed in his hakama, a robe thrown over his broad shoulders as he sat in the sleek leather chair, his outfit and the state-of-the-art room he sat in a sharp contrast to each other -- and yet it was truly representative of the head of the Zaibatsu. The old man's scowl was slowly fading from his face as he listened to the Dragon speak, and his anger over this information becoming worthless was replaced by rare admiration -- more for the woman's words than the woman herself.
"Are /you/ strong enough? Do you have the will to do what it takes to survive when pushed to the very edge? Will you fight with tooth and nail for your very lives or will you allow yourselves to be swept off the cliffs of oblivion? Who possesses the strength to rule this city: man or monster?!"
By then Heihachi was smiling, and he barked out a laugh, rising to his feet. "The Black Dragon," he entertained her title, nodding towards the screen after the video had ended. "She reminds me of a younger me," he told Fujimura, who remained expressionless as she listened to him ramble. "I want to see how NOL reacts to this information. It will prove her strength -- or their own."
*** PRESENT ***
Heihachi had arrived in a caravan of armored vans -- they roll through the streets and are stopped no doubt by NOL soldiers. The vans open and reveal several heavily armed men in tactical armor, who step out with their hands free and shown so as not to be considered hostile. Heihachi climbs out behind one of the squads in his business suit. He isn't accompanied by any of his officers this time, his intent to go and meet the NOL officer alone. Once he is shown into the office, his eyes take a brief critical glance around, his permanent scowl twitching subtly for whatever reason. His hands clench into fists at is side and he gives a stiff bow towards the noblewoman, but decides to let her speak first.
The convoy is stopped at the exterior of the facility by several guards, all of them very clearly armed, though they choice of weaponry seems slightly out of date. All manner of martial weapons are present from swords and spears to hammers and bows. Antiquated though their form may be, however, each weapon is extremely well made and every one of the azure-suited soldiers holds them as if they were just as dangerous as any gun. If the stories about the NOL wielding the power of literal magic are true then their confidence might not be misplaced.
Upon realizing that Heihachi and his band of soldiers aren't some sort of invasion force sent by the Dragon, the old man is escorted into the base by a pair of the guards. The interior of the Libarium's Southtown headquarters is quite impressive. Despite being a military base, whoever was responsible for its construction found the time to build its halls with style in mind. Massive towering arches and gold-encrusted marble pillars line the foyer in two neat rows. Every dozen steps or so a door is set into the wall on either side, each one standing open and leading off deeper into the facility's neatly arranged corridors.
Elegant artwork hangs from the walls at regular intervals along with brightly colored flags emroidered with heraldry of the noble houses, though it's doubtful anyone outside of the NOL would recognize the Duodecim's various family crests. Small polished wooden tables sport expensive vases full of fresh flowers and golden candelabras, their tips burning with a ghostly blue flame. Even the floors are covered in rich plush crimson carpet that runs down the middle of the halls. It looks more like a palace than a barracks.
Heihachi's path through the base takes a few minutes, giving her a brief bit of time to admire the scenery. His escort turns down one of the first hallways and leads him to a flight of stairs which they ascend up to the third floor. From there they make several twists and turns through what feels like a maze of corridors until finally coming to a halt in front of a heavy wooden door. Upon announcing their arrival, a soft feminine voice drifts out to answer them, seeming to resonate in the mind rather than be heard by their ears.
"Send him in."
Opening the door reveals a fairly large office, one that almost rivals the size of a wealthy CEO. The interior is just as lavishly decorated as the base, if not more so, sporting several pieces of fancy artwork and masterfully crafted furniture. A massive desk takes up a commanding position at the center of the room, its surface relatively free of the unnecessary debris, save for what appears to be a robust computer station. Towering rows of shelves laden with thick tomes bound in various colors of leather line the rear of the room, their spines etched with golden filigree in a language that is unrecognizable. A piano sits by itself in the back corner, its surface glistening with a coat of fresh polish.
Behind the desk sits a young woman. Her outfit is of a more traditional military style than the extravagant bright blue uniforms of the common soldiers, consisting of a black great coat which largely obscures her build behind thick layers of fabric. Her attire is no less fancy for its conservative design, sporting bright golden highlights in the form of buttons, epaulets, and trim all around the edges. A high collar rises up around her neck, going so far as to obscure the lower half of her face from view so that only her eyes are visible.
It's said that the eyes are windows to the soul, allowing those who stare into the eyes of another to gain a primal understanding of their nature. Should the old man dare to meet the gaze of this strange woman he would find himself in the presence of someone who all but radiates a sort of quiet authority, as if merely being in her presence somehow compels him to give her respect. It is an unnatural feeling, particularly so for a powerful man such as himself, and yet it lingers all the same - a sense of instinctive admiration for this tiny little slip of a woman.
Katarina sits in silence as she takes her first look at the head of Mishima Industries, peering at him across the bridge of her gauntleted fingers. By all accounts the man was old enough to be wearing diapers, yet the figure that stands before her is not some dottering old invalid, but a powerhouse of vigor and will. The Worldsong dips into a deep bass strum of warning but even without its mystical influence she would be able to tell that this man is not someone to be trifled with lightly.
"Heihachi Mishima, was it not?"
The voice that touches his ears is not one which would normally be associated with strength and power. It is wispy and soft, almost whisper-like. Yet despite its gentle quality there is something else that lurks beneath its pleasant surface, a subtle inflection of tone perhaps, that demands attention and obedience in a strangely compelling manner.
The girl leans back in her chair, lowering her hands to the surface of the desk. The angle of her coat shifts enough that he can get a glimpse of her face, pale and pretty, like the veritible waterfall of snow-white hair that hangs down to her waist in shimmering silver lockes. Her appearance is dazzling, enchanting even, made all the more so by the faint smile she offers him as the corner of one lip quirks upwards.
"I am First Lieutenant Katarina Shimotsuki of the Novis Orbis Librarium. I understand you have something of importance you wished to share with us?"
Heihachi does in fact dare to look into the eyes of the woman -- and he finds himself unprepared for the wave of warmth and respect that he suddenly has for her.
He's unable to shake it off for the time being, the old man's permanent scowl fading into a pleasant smile. This expression doesn't belong on his face. It is rare to see Heihachi's eyes twinkle, but they do, and Katarina might find herself being gazed on as if he was a proud grandfather. She reminded him of someone he cares for very deeply; no member of his family, that's for sure. It was the girl who loved his grandson, though admittedly, her hair was much darker than --
Heihachi's thoughts are vanquished by Katarina's question, and he exhales, moving to take a seat. It's a long-suffering sigh, one that Heihachi would typically never do in the presence of someone else. He loosens his scarf, which is made of some sleek fabric that allows it to gleam in the office's light.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant Shimotsuki," the old man says fondly to Katarina, warmth softening the expression of the King of the Iron Fist. "I am afraid that when I put out word that I was looking to give information to Novis Orbis Librarium, Kira Volkov already revealed her identity. I am afraid that is the information I had." He sucks his teeth -- despite the feelings of admiration he has for the young woman, he seems uncharacteristically casual -- it could be that Heihachi doesn't like most people, and this is a truly rare sight to behold.
"However, I have not come empty-handed. The Zaibatsu has experience in dealing with these manners -- we were the vanguard for humanity during the Gears War," the old man boasts. He's jovial -- he's never jovial, and it is probably a tragedy that no Mishima or employee of his are here to see him in this condition. "I am willing to give the Librarium any support it needs to help end this conflict in as expedious a manner as possible." Heihachi had originally came here with the intention of mocking NOL's efforts and parading himself as the devil-you-know savior, but he couldn't deny he liked Katarina.
At least for now. "The Zaibatsu are in the process of developing weapons that will ensure a more rapid and effective response the next time we find ourselves infested with these abominations," Mishima continues, leaning back in his seat and growing more comfortable by the moment. "Helping you in your mission is the very least I could do -- I owe it to myself and my city."
Even as enchanted by her as Heihachi is, when he says the words for "my city", there's no missing the claim that Southtown is in fact his city. It's a bold and ludicrous claim, but perhaps there was a point a case could be made for it.
Katarina listens to the old man as he lays out his reasons for coming. Her head tilts forward slightly as he speaks, as if interested in what he has to say, but the true reason for her shift in posture is to hide her mouth from view again so that he cannot see the faint smile shift into a smug smirk behind her collar.
Though this is the first time that she has encountered Heihachi, her unique gift allows her to see into his very soul and hear it as a sort of music. The Worldsong, she calls it, an ancient and primal force of the universe into which all living things are woven. Though every person sounds quite different there are always commonalities that stand out. Certain emotions have a distinct feel to them, perhaps an upbeat tone for love or enthusiam or a low bass strumming for displeasure or sadness. Whatever it might manifest as, the magic gives her unrivaled knowledge about anyone who steps into her presence, even going so far as to let her know when a person is lying. It isn't mind-reading, per se, more like the world's most advanced polygraph. A useful tool to have when gathering intelligence and dealing with potentially hostile visitors who might wish to mislead her.
As such, she can tell that the saccharine praise heaped upon her is not something that rings in harmony with his soul. To call the man's true nature dark would be a vast understatement. Had she not borne witness to the purity of malice that is the essence of a true god with her mystical sight she might have even been a little intimidated by the darkness that fills the old goat. Instead, she is all the more amused to see such a powerful being so easily befuddled by her magical charms.
Katarina's voice remains soft and gentle, revealing none of the snark present in her smirk.
So, he's looking to ingratiate himself into the Librarium's favor. A wise move, though she highly doubts that his intentions are nearly as noble as he would like to claim. In all likelihood, this snake sees an opportunity to earn an easy alliance, one which he will no doubt attempt to exploit for his own ends in the long term.
Perhaps he believes support from the NOL will allow him to develop these weapons he speaks of without being harassed by the local government. Claiming a defense contract meant to support the Japanese people would certainly win him plenty of clout, particularly after an incident such as this attack. Or it could be that he wishes to have assets in place able to respond more quickly to the sorts of trouble that the NOL is called upon to regulate. Rogue magicians and magical artifacts falling into the hands of a man like him would certainly not be to anyone's benefit except Heihachi's.
Katarina presses her lips together thoughtfully as she ponders how best to respond to this situation. Rejecting him outright could earn the NOL another enemy and, as much as she hates to admit it, they're already up their neck in the amount of trouble they can handle. A powerful corporation like Mishima that is capable of manufacturing weapons on par with Gears isn't someone that she'd like to arbitrarily piss off. On the other hand, allowing this leech to sink its teeth into their skin during a moment of weakness could prove detrimental in other more subtle ways. Not that she believes for an instant that he could wrest power away from the true master of this world but handling this properly might earn her a bit of recognition from the Imperator by saving her from having to bother with such petty concerns in the first place.
"I find this idea somewhat intriguing. Tell me more about these weapons."
And charmed Heihachi is. Her terse but gentle replies are enough to keep the old man under her power, even as the Worldsong gloomily reveals the nature of this crazy old man's wickedness. She's got him figured out in most ways -- support from the NOL will mean more freedom to pursue his projects. Heihachi didn't know much about the occult yet (he was still learning, much to his chagrin) but he did know that if he could secure an alliance with NOL he might get access to more information about the power his wife and child wield.
Despite that, Heihachi doesn't play all his cards early, changing the subject smoothly off his weapons for now. Instead, eyes twinkling and kind smile on Katarina, he asks, "Has NOL at all responded to the challenge made by the Black Dragon?" His demeanor doesn't shift, but it might be possible he's asking an entirely rhetorical question -- he may know about the assault the NOL made on the Dragon's Den. If he does, his face gives away nothing, but the question she has been asked might speak volumes.
"Volkov is a mercenary, you know. I have been in the private security business for a very long time -- a warrior recgonizes another warrior when he sees one," the old man goes on to explain himself, while he maintains eye contact with the NOL officer, unaware still of the effect she has on him. "I have my concerns at how well your... swordsmen will be able to handle armed and trained soldiers." The Worldsong's gloomy notes might chime Katarina that despie his warmth towards her, his intentions haven't changed. Still, it was a strange worry to bring up, whether it's genuine or not -- Heihachi himself has a reputation for fighting unarmed against even the most deadliest of weapons.
The enchantress's poker face remains immaculate in the face of the question - what he can see of it at least. Behind her collar, the young lieutenant's mouth twists into a sour scowl that she manages to keep from touching her eyes.
The devastating loss of Librarium assets to the Dragon's well-laid trap rankled her deeply. Not because she gives a shit about any of the lives that were lost, they're all replaceable - common soldiers are called common for a reason, after all - but because it makes the organization as a whole look bad. The Imperator had specially created the NOL to serve her divine purposes. Anything that stood in the way of achieving the goddess's goals, whatever they might be, would absolutely not be tolerated. If the fools hadn't gotten themselves killed, she might very well have done it herself after such an embarrassing display.
Despite her annoyance, Katarina doesn't miss the way that her enthralled guest dances around the question. Even when made magically pliable it seems that he isn't so easy to pin down. Shelving that line of questioning for the moment, she plays along with his topic switch and does a bit of dodging of her own.
"The Librarium has the situation well in hand. Rest assured, this 'Dragon' and the scum that she has enlisted into her employ will regret raising their hands against any city under the protection of Her Majesty, the Imperator."
Whether Heihachi's comment about the efficacy of the Librarium's soldiers and weaponry was meant to rile up a response, the soldier can't help but feel a personal slight in the insinuation that the soldiers of the Imperator are lacking in some way. Without even rising to her feet, the slender woman holds a hand up and mutters a soft word that he cannot understand. The air above her palm shimmers for a moment before condensing in a flash of light and faint humming music, like wind chimes tinkling in a summer breeze.
Katarina levels the long curved silver saber now clasped firmly in her hand at the businessman, tapping him on the shoulder with the flat of the blade. The weapon hums with buzzing power at every brief touch, sending warbling vibrations through his bones and more musical chimes into the air. Her head tilts back to let him see her smile once again, as friendly and relaxed as before, though there is a glint of something more malicious in her eyes now.
"While they might not take the form of more 'modern' weaponry, I guarantee that the ars wielded by our soldiers are more than capable of cutting down a few thugs with delusions of grandeur."
Her Majesty, the Imperator. Heihachi's expression twists and for a moment the warmth in him fades. He doesn't quite understand why the title bothers him, and he regards the enchantress for a moment before her compulsion on him regains its hold, and that warmth returns to his face. When she summons the blade, the surprise on his face is poorly hidden -- he hasn't seen such magic before, and his eyes drift over the saber. He doesn't try to move from underneath it, instead watching it with bemusement.
"...An impressive trick," Heihachi decides to comment on the matter, looking from blade up towards the First Lieutenant's face, studying her features while maintaining his own pleasant smile. Usually he would try to match her maliciousness with her own, but she still reminded him of the girl. "Regardless, it appears to me the Black Dragon has more her own magic tricks. How else would she be able to control the Darkstalkers so easily?" The old man's bushy brows rise. "The Gears War has made our weapons capable of puncturing through the hardest materials, and our research development team never stops working."
He wasn't done yet. "Were she a mere delusional thug, the situation would have ended by now, Lieutenant," Heihachi reasons. "There is more to it than that -- let us help you. How long do you expect to hold this place? How long will it take for reinforcements to get here?" Mishima gestures broadly in the direction of the door. "I have manpower and resources." That hand clenches into a fist, and then Heihachi goes on to say something typical for a man like him.
"Together, we will be unstoppable!"
The blade withdraws as Katarina pulls her hand away, dismissing the conjured weapon back into the aether with a gentle wave. She maintains her smile despite having an act of pure magical finesse that few could ever dream of pulling off called a 'trick'. It isn't his fault that he's so ignorant of the power that ars possess. It is a fairly well kept secret, after all. The Librarium has worked hard to keep every source of magical power they can get their hands on under control. The less people know about its true capabilities the better.
The discord that he feels upon being confronted with the Imperator's title is far more concerning. By now it's quite obvious that this man shares much in common with the Dragon. But, while she still struggles to understand what it is the mercenary seeks to gain, Heihachi's motivations are crystal clear. Power, control, influence. The same thing every tyrant desires so that they may one day become the sole ruler of everything within their domain.
Fool. He doesn't know that he competes with a literal god, a being who could snuff out his very existence with the barest of efforts. Yet, the Imperator has chosen to take the path of diplomacy thus far and so, as her greatest admirer and disciple, Katarina will follow her example. She cannot understand why the mighty beings she serves have chosen to remain hidden but she must assume there is good cause.
"There may be some truth to that," the lieutenant says, leaning back in her plush chair. "She has proven annoyingly... resourceful."
The woman becomes silent for several seconds as she feigns indecision, pretending to think things over, though her choice has already been made. Best not to look too eager for his assistance. After a long pause, she inclines her head to Heihachi in acquiescence.
"Very well. I will allow you to commit a token force to the front lines for now. Should your assistance prove valuable, I'm sure my superiors will be amenable to a more formal relationship."
Normally the businessman in Heihachi would be already trying to extort resources out of the NOL once Katarina agrees to allow the Tekken Force to lend assistance. The compulsion prevents him from doing so however, and the old man instead drifts backwards back into his seat, studying Katarina with those twinkling eyes and smiling back at her.
"You will find the Tekken Force your most capable soldiers," the old man boasts once more. The Worldsong might play some more discordant notes -- Heihachi may be overselling the competence of the Tekken Force right now. Indeed he was -- after the Gears War only the personal units of Parliament members Fujimura and Higashi haven proven to be worth a damn. It's part of why he was here -- the more allies the old man has, the easier it will be to rebuild his Zaibatsu. While he was still wealthy beyond belief, the Zaibatsu itself had suffered greatly expending resources for the war, but little by little, Heihachi planned to rebuild -- no, not just rebuild, but expand.
"I would not advise an attack on the Dragon's Den yet," Heihachi decides to switch the conversation to tactics instead. "Surely the Black Dragon will see any such attack coming -- why else would she be so bold as to invite everyone to her? Has the NOL investigated her? Found out any former identities of clients? Allies? Does she have ties to the Makai and Dohma? These are all pertinent questions, yes?"
Katarina returns the smile with her eyes, keeping her face hidden behind the collar.
"I look forward to being impressed."
There is some truth to that statement. Having competent allies is rarely a bad thing, particularly during times of uncertainty. A powerful military is often the most potent deterrent to enemy action even without any battles having to be fought. And there is another angle to this alliance that has only just occurred to her. Considering how well-received the assistance Mishima had given the Japanese defenses was by its citizens, the Librarium could certainly benefit from some of that positive PR by associating themselves with a national hero.
As the topic switches back to the matter at hand, the young woman tilts her head to the side to peer at the screen of her computer terminal. An image of the reprehensible cur responsible for the nightmare of the past couple weeks still lingers on the screen, her mug shot surrounded by dozens of lines of data. As it so happened, it had been Katarina herself who was tasked with investigating the origins of Kira and there was much to be learned, though little of substance to be gained from that knowledge.
"There is a great deal of data, yet, to my frustration, none of it is particularly useful."
She considers how much of what she has learned to share with Heihachi. Nothing in her files seems like it could cause any trouble for the NOL and he might very well have resources better suited to digging up this kind of information.
"The earliest records that I have been able to locate indicate that Kira Volkov was a former member of the KGB. Her files are heavily redacted for some reason, making it difficult to trace the woman's origins or activities. However, it seems that after a few years in their service she decided to go rogue and stole several pieces of military equipment along with fellow KGB operatives and fled to Africa to set up her mercenary company - the Dragoons."
Katarina sighs and props her elbows up on the desk, resting her chin on her hands.
"After that, things get far more difficult to trace. There are a number of reports of criminal activities from various African governments. Several warrants and bounties. Suggestions of connection to the black market slave trade. There are no obvious patterns of movement or activity that might suggest a base of operations, though until recently she remained primarily in Africa, venturing out very rarely, likely to fulfill mercenary contracts."
Kira's activities in Africa might be why the Dragoons and the Tekken Force never crossed paths. The old man had wanted to go to Africa plenty of times to try and acquire some new animals, but life got in the way. Heihachi gets a little sentimental as Katarina continues to brief him on Volkov. If she were born with Heihachi's resources, she might've been something grand, the old man supposed. He had spent a good portion of his life out in warzones. The old man was as comfortable with an assault rifle as he was with karate chopping people. Still, there's no way out for her, is there? Sometimes candles burn too bright.
"I do wonder what Volkov plans to do when this ends," the old man confesses. "Whether or not she succeeds, there must be an exit strategy -- and exit strategies can be vulnerabilities in and of themselves." His fingers steeple. "Had I the authorization and personnel, I would have tried to infiltrate her organization -- or at least see if the agent would be able to make it out alive."
His moustache twitches, and he gives Katarina that warm smile she's compelled out of him. "I have many private military contacts across the globe. Perhaps they have worked with her in the past. I will try and see what I can dig up, Lieutenant."
Katarina smiles faintly again and inclines her head to the old man in acknowledgement.
"That would be appreciated. Any information we can collect on this criminal's activities may shed some light on her reasons for taking such drastic actions. I don't believe for an instant that this blather about testing the resolve of humanity is actually true. A woman like her cares about nothing but their own power and profit. There's something she's after here. We just need to know what."
But Heihachi does bring up a good point. The mercenary will have planned for her eventual retreat once this shell game she's playing is finally exposed. Considering the extensive plans she has laid thus far, it stands to reason that there will be an equally well-prepared counter-measure to ensure that her capture is avoided. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, as the NOL along with local authorities could simply cover any possible method of egress from the area. But the cunning bitch clearly accounted for that by tying up the majority of their forces, whittling away at their numbers with an early surprise attack while also forcing them to commit to a defensive holding action.
"Our first priority must be to drive off the remaining dark stalkers so that our forces can move freely. Until we reclaim control of the city, Volkov has free reign to pursue whatever goal she has in mind. After that, we will need to find a way to deal with the defenses that she has in place."
She doesn't outright mention the shield as doing so would draw attention towards the failed assault that revealed its presence. It seems logical enough to assume that a mercenary would be prepared for a counter strike on her base of operations, especially after goading everyone so blatantly. If only the brass had consulted Intelligence before sending all of their reserve troops on a foolish head-on assault, this embarrassment could have been avoided. It didn't take a great deal of investigation to unearth what would likely have been a very important fact.
"I have been told that one of the power plants in the abandoned parts of the city is showing unusual signs of activity still. Seeing as no one has tried to contact the authorities from within, it stands to reason that her forces have taken control of the facility and are using its power for their own needs. Reclaiming or destroying that plant will be crucial to launching a successful assault on the casino."
"The power-plant will undoubtedly be well guarded, or at the very least difficult to recapture," Heihachi muses thoughtfully. "Normally I would have the manpower to seize control immediately, but I've already spread my forces due to a few contracts with some private citizens." After all, the old man has to get paid. Mishima and Volkov have that in common -- power and profit. "I suggest an assault outside as a diversion while a strike team uses the chaos to slip in and finish things off. I'll find the right people for the job, Lieutenant. Leave it to me."
Whether or not the attack was a success, there'd be more information to be had. After all, Heihachi had no desire for this conflict to end so quickly -- he will let NOL decide the pace and hopefully remain competent enough to have their trust, but the longer this went on, the more subjects he would have for testing on. Still, he liked Katarina, though he couldn't really put his thumb on why. He wanted to see her succeed in this.
"I will need a more direct way to contact you."
That the power plant will no doubt be heavily guarded is obvious. The question is what kind of defenses the mercenary has in store for them. Thus far she has displayed command over a wide variety of threats. Dark stalkers, human gangsters, trained mercenaries, extremely advanced technology. There's no telling what she will have at her disposal in order to slow the assault down.
Which is precisely why she's willing to even entertain the idea of allowing Heihachi's forces to infiltrate the facility without supervision. While it might be possible that there is only light resistance and the power plant is merely meant to waste more of their time, it's equally possible that something particularly nasty is waiting for them inside of such an obvious target. If Mishima wants to risk his men instead of the servants of the Imperator, who is she to argue?
"Very well," she says, revealing her delicate smile again. "I will see that your request reaches the appropriate ears. As for contacting me, I'm afraid that direct lines of communication are generally out of the question. However, I can provide you with a number to the receptionist of the Intelligence office. They will take any non-sensitive information you wish to pass along over the phone or notify me as soon as possible if you desire a meeting."
Opening one of the drawers on her desk, Katarina withdraws a small note card and an honest-to-god bottle of ink with a quill pen. Taking up the fancy writing utensil, she quickly writes out a series of characters and numbers in astonishingly elegant caligraphy. The words 'Novis Orbis Librarium Intelligence Office' are spelled out, the kanji formed so perfectly that they look to have been lifted from an ancient Japanese tome. Below that she lists a phone number in equally flowing handwriting, then offers the card up to the old man.
"Here you are. Mind the ink, it takes a minute to dry."
Any other time Heihachi would have been offended -- but still the compulsion persists, and he takes the card and looks it over, holding it for the time being. "I am hurt, Lieutenant," he says instead, though there's no real heat or hurt in his voice. "I thought we were getting along." The Worldsong might have revealed that Mishima was still hiding things from Katarina, but the effectiveness of the compulsion can't be denied. Regardless, whether the 'appropriate ears' authorized it or not, the power plant was now on Heihachi's list.
Still, now that the meeting was dying down, Heihachi couldn't help but feel he was walking out of this empty-handed. The information regarding the power plant was good, and in truth Heihachi wasn't planning on sending his best men there anyway. Regardless, he puts those thoughts aside and gives the card a few shakes. "It was truly a pleasure meeting you, Lieutenant. If there is anything you need from me," he notes, rising to his feet and giving her a stiff bow, "Do not hesitate."
Katarina likewise rises from her chair offering a bow in return. She puts all of her study into Japanese etiquette to good use and makes sure to match the angle of Heihachi's body so as to indicate that they both stand on equal footing. Such an idea is laughable, of course, but there's no need to be overt in her disdain for the power-hungry mongrel begging for scraps at her table and ruin all of the positive energy that her magic has created between them.
"Likewise. And don't take being handed off to my secretary as an insult. I simply spend too much time in the field to be reliably contacted by standard means. Cellphones are a security risk so I don't carry one most of the time."
The other reason is that she has no need for one. The magical technology of the Librarium allows for easy communication across the entire globe that has no need of satellites or telephone lines or anything else that might be jammed, severed, or tapped into by enemy forces. They aren't infallible but, outside of a few rogue elements, no one in the world yet has the knowledge of how to foul them up.
"If you have any questions or come across further information, don't hesistate to contact us. I'll respond to you as soon as I can."
Heihachi is none the wiser. He hadn't brought anyone with him either. Heihachi is the kind of man that, should he ever find out, would want to seek vengeance in some fashion, however petty. He was also the type who would try to better resist such influence again. Unfortunately for Heihachi he had no real way of finding out either. No, Heihachi was smiling, that twinkle in his eyes while he clasps his hands behind his back. "
I won't hesitate," he promises, and it sounds genuine, both from him and the Worldsong.
He takes his leave shortly after, likely being escorted off the grounds to his caravan. Once he's outside her presence, the warmth drains from him near instantly, though he likely doesn't perceive the change himself. He's all business again.
Katarina remains standing, her hands clasped behind her back in a relaxted military posture, until the old man wanders out of her office. Her eyes narrow in amusement, her lips twisting into a far more expressive grin once he's gone.
That had gone as well as she could have hoped. The exploits of Heihachi Mishima are quite well known and his prowess as a fighter had made her curious about whether or not her enchantments would actually affect him. Those with the iron discipline to rise through the ranks of martial combatants tended to be harder to manipulate, but he had succumbed to her magic without even realizing. Perhaps his age has affected his mind.
Whatever the case, she was clearly the victor in their little exchange. She had promised basically nothing in exchange for gaining the assistance of a powerful private military contractor. Of course, the old snake would almost certainly be planning to exploit their new relationship just as thoroughly as she did. She'd just have to make sure to stay one step ahead of him. Fortunately, as a member of the Intelligence division, she was well trained to do just that.
Log created on 20:10:39 05/18/2020 by Katarina, and last modified on 21:04:13 05/19/2020.