Description: Before the dawning of the World Warrior 2023, Shina the leopard speaks with her friend and confidant, Tarmo while in the Welsh seaside.
A warm sun and summer breezes. A pleasant beach side retreat. These are not the things that Jeanne Gado, AKA Shina the Leopard, is experiencing in Great Britain. Rather, a dismal rain that brings rolling low fog curling about the long Welsh pier in the early morning hour is where the mercenary finds herself. There is an exhibition later today, local fighters taking part in a small time tournament. Shina is here to watch and observe. Reports from old contacts had come in about someone resembling her father being in the area. Though she herself has had doubts about finding him. After all, news regarding Zoanthropes has died down since the Ultratech tournament. Even Mother Hanbo has disappeared from Japan. Leaving the merc without much lead in anything. Lead, nor direction.
At least until recently. Now, she looks down at the phone in her hand. It plays a video that Shina has seen a dozen times. A woman in a glittering black dress declaring a challenge to fighters around the world. A challenge that Shina has taken up. It will be a dangerous matter, but the money will help, and perhaps some name recognition on the mercenary circuit. Perhaps even more important she may make a better name for Zoanthropes.
She laughs, bitter in tone. She has thrown her lot toward them, even if she knows her own nature is more akin the Gear work. The experimental creation of her other side. One that, she would be quick to admit, is no real other side. It's just her, with teeth and claw and tail. But here she was now, ready to be the demonstrative face for that kind if she had to be. Who was she kidding? She just wanted a good fight and a thrill. Whatever the public made of her would be ancillary. There were only a few people whose opinions she gave a whit about, anyways.
One of which was the friend she invited along to witness the Llandudno Local. A name she checks on her phone, thumbing over names in her Messages app for the name "Tarmo".
The friend in question did at least respond with enough messages beforehand to show that he was making arrangements to make the trip -- the lifestyle the both of them lead lends pretty easily for travelling abroad, afterall. The more recent messages show that he has arrived in the Welsh town, too.
The creaking of the wood of the pier amidst the rain might be the first thing that alerts Shina to someone approaching, then. It doesn't take long after that -- with someone as large that, even a casual saunter will carry the distance to her pretty quickly. Not long before an enormous mitt of a hand comes slapping against her upper back in a playfully companiable thing. Not hard enough to hurt, but possibly enough to jostle lightly.
"You know," the familiar rumble of the Finn comes then, a quick look revealing the man in his familiar hooded field jacket stood there, looking down to the woman with that usual grin that doesn't seem to discouraged even by the idle rain pattering down upon them. "You make some interesting choices for date spots." His voice playful, maybe just a bit teasing. It's not a statement meant to be taken *entirely* seriously.
"You had less travel than Meifeng would," Shina says, pushing from the railing overlooking the Irish Sea. Her books are heavy on the pier. The morning a quiet one, without the many people who would be around come the time of the fight. She meets Tarmo, hands on her hips, stopping to look him over as he approaches. "And less work to keep you busy."
She shakes her phone for emphasis before slipping it into the cargo pocket of her trousers. "Have you been seeing the video going around? A call for World Warriors?" Her arms cross and her glance slips out toward the ocean, off to the side. "I'm planning on entering this one as well. A new fight may draw the attention of my father."
"Ouch." Tarmo makes an over-dramatic show of wincing and holding his hand over his chest. "Not your first pick, then?" He seems to be in decent-enough spirits anyway, so perhaps he is still just playing around.
His attention is drawn to her phone while she gives a shake to it, but since there's nothing on the screen, he doesn't lean over to take a look. Instead, once she starts explaining herself, he steps over to the safety railing to lean against it with one arm while considering his friend. "I did see it," he offers with a firm nod. "I actually looked into signing up, too. But, well..." He lets out a heavy snort and shakes his head. "Said I didn't qualify for their standards. Whatever the hell that means."
"You need a bigger name," Shina says slapping the back of her hand at Tarmo's chest. "I've been fighting since I was little, and my father's name doesn't hurt either. I never wanted to use it, but a mercenary king means money to some people.
"I think you need to get out and fight more. Face people even bigger than you. I've been to Metro City, I know they exist," Shina laughs, but sincerity flows from her when she adds. "I know you are a strong man. I've seen it. You just need the world to see it as well."
"Sounds like better PR is part of what I need," Tarmo mutters, with just a hint of a huff let out after Shina's hand slaps against his broad chest. "It's not like I'm not getting myself into these things whenever I can. You know how much I like a good tussle." He flashes his teeth right after saying that, too. "One day I wanna go with you again, too."
He turns his gaze off to the side, watching the ocean surface rippling under the weight of raindrops for a moment. "Nevermind me for now, though. You really think you're gonna find your old man if you go throw down on that stage?"
Shina slips her hands into her pockets, stepping backward and turning to lean herself against the safety railing. She keeps her focus away from Tarmo and his question. As if she could ignore the doubt that lingers despite her overall optimistic attitude in her search. "I don't know if I'm going to find him. But the world Warrior circuit will put me in circles that he may run in. That may have run in with him."
She closes her eyes to feel the sea wind blow. She knows it's perhaps a pointless endeavor. She knows it's flawed reasoning. "What I saw in the bunker. The truth of that Liberation Front. It will stay with me. I need to know if that is where my father stands. I cannot believe he would do so, but I cannot be certain otherwise."
"I see." The usual jovialness isn't entirely present on Tarmo, now, with him listening to Shina. There's something more contemplative instead. His gaze has left the ocean by now, to focus entirely on her instead, with his brows subtly furrowed. "... I suppose not knowing one way or the other would be worse in the long run," he mutters. "I might not be much of a philosopher or anything, but... That's how I think I would feel about it anyway, if it was me."
Pushing sidelong from the railing just enough that he can reach with one large hand, then, he gives the blonde woman a squeeze to the shoulder while her eyes are still closed. "Hey. Come whatever might, I'll be cheering on for ya, yeah?"
Shina's fingertips dig at the railing as Tarmo's hand settles on her shoulder. A deep breath that rolls through her shoulder ends in a shaking head and a look from the sea to Tarmo. "I'm not one for philosophy. I'm a combatant. I'm just following the fight until I get what I get."
The grin is present, but not honest. "I'd rather be fighting you. Next time you'll make them allow you the fight." She slaps the railing and pushing up to a full posture. "I know what you've fought before. How you've fought. You aren't far from that level."
A thrumming buzz cuts the moment, and Shina reaches down into her cargo pocket. A look, a quirk of her lip. "I have my first opponent."
A rumbling laugh from Tarmo, and a playful slap given to her shoulder before his hand pulls away. "Yeah, you and me both. Guess that's why I like ya so much." Her words right after just make the large man grin all the wider, and his eyes to sparkle. "Hey, you always know how to find me, Spikes, anytime you wanna have a go. But I'll make sure to be there next time there's the chance, huh?"
The telltale buzz of Shina's phone is not missed by him, either. He doesn't say anything at first, but he does quirk a thick brow while watching her patiently. And with the declaration from her, his lips quirk again with visible interest. "Oh yeah? Who is it?" He goes on to ask, and he's already shuffling over to try and peer at her phone over her shoulder, in an effort to get a sneak peek for himself on what is awaiting her. "Anyone I know?"
Shina turns the phone around to show Tarmo. "Swordswoman, by the looks of it. Named Baiken. Looking at her record, she's something else. I'm in for a tough fight," She explains. "She's got a couple good showings." The phone gets put away, Shina's hand reaches for the back of her neck, claws slicking out to prick at her skin. "I'll have my work cut out for me."
She laughs, this carries more warmth than her earlier grin. The thought is infectious. So is the love of competition. "I think I need some tea. Now that I've got a fight ahead of me, I can focus on myself. And myself says I haven't had breakfast yet."
"That right..." The name doesn't seem to be one that the finn recognizes, judging from his tone of voice and the subtle headtilt that comes while he studies the information on the phone's screen while it's still there on display. He leans back out of Shina's personal space once she's done away with the phone again, only to flash his teeth down at her. "Bah. None of that. You go and kick her ass, ya hear?"
With breakfast brought up, though, he turns to standing besides his friend, and gives an encouraging slap of his hand to her upper back. "Yeah, alright. If ya really wanna brave british cuisine, I can offer some moral support for you with that too."
Shina hunches her shoulders against that slap. She inclines her chin and nods, a passing of anxiety over her father and the upcoming fight. "I will tolerate it for the tea," the Frenchwoman says, valiantly standing in the face of her cultural opposition to the Island nation.
"Do you remember the gunmen we tracked down in Southtown?" she asks, strolling along the boardwalk, hands in her pockets. "Their boss, I was tracking her, has disappeared from the grid. The Darkstalker fight ring seems to have vanished from that neighborhood."
"I can't comment on the tea," claims Tarmo, pulling his hand back after Shina's recovered from the weight of his wide-palmed slap to stick both into the pockets of his jacket. "I go with coffee usually, afterall." How so very stereotypically finnish of him.
The massive finn's choice in beverages put aside, he trails along besides Shina casually enough, seeming at ease enough by now to adjust the stride of his longer legs to match with her own pace. "I remember," he offers to her question with a quick nod, glancing sidelong to her while she explains the situation. "...Nnnhh. Entirely? Is it because of some anti-Darkstalker sentiment? Southtown's basically the fighting capital of the world so it sounds kind of odd otherwise..."
Shina's tongue juts out at the idea of the bitter coffee. "None for me, thank you," she says. It is far from her preference.
On the matter of the investigation, Shina shakes her head. "The yakuza doesn't care about the Darkstalkers. I think it's the Librarians. She's afraid. And afraid her hit on us didn't work out. So wherever she is, I think she's hiding and planning. Avoiding looking bad." Shina doesn't approve of that kind of fear, but she knows where it comes from, that shame of embarrassment. "I wanted to just warn you."
"It's okay," Tarmo assures Shina, drawing one hand from his pockets to give a consoling pat onto her shoulder, apparently over her own preference in beverages. "We can still be friends."
The Finn grunts while he considers the person behind the apparent assassination attempt, however. "So it's... A mix of a genuine threat and just... what? Running away from shame?" The large man might have run into his own share of less-than-legal fighting venues in his time, but clearly he is not particularly knowledgeable about the fine minutae of the underworld and organized crime.
When the blonde mentions she wanted to warn him, however? He suddenly gets an utterly mischievous grin on his features, and he throws an arm around the woman's shoulders in an overly friendly gesture, all while the hand on the same arm turns to give a teasing ruffle over her spiky hair. "Awww, you were worrying about me, Spikes? Guess you really care, huh?"
Pulled close against the Finnish man, Shina looks up with a shocked expression at the gesture. "Yes, I do care for my friends and allies. You put yourself into harms way for me. I can't overlook that!" She squirms out of the arm and pushes aside before running her fingers through her hair.
The walk takes the two down to the far end of the long pier. All the way down where food, and fighting, will eventually happen. A place with a cart for hot drinks in small, expensive paper cups. A place that Shina stops at, and flits through her phone. "You want to cover this? I'll pay you back if I can manage to overcome Baiken."
The Finn can't help but laugh with obvious amusement while the frenchwoman is squirming her way out of his hold, clearly getting some kind of kick out of her reaction. "So easy."
On the approach for the cart, Shina's request brings Tarmo's brow quirking slightly, before a shrug rolls his boulder-sized boulders along underneaht his jacket. "Sure. Gives me even more reason to be rootin' for you, huh?" And just like that, he's digging his wallet out, as he steps up to the cart. "Coffee, black. And--" He jerks a thick thumb back towards Shina. "Whatever she asks for."
"Just the breakfast, honey," Shina says, off hand in ordering as her attention is still on her phone. "Just finalizing my travel. I have to go back to Southtown for this fight. Sorry if this is short notice."
She puts the phone back into her pocket and crosses her arms. "Hopefully the next time there is a big tournament, you will be able to enter yourself. How did the last one go, anyways? Which one was it again?"
"It's fine, I get it," Tarmo assures Shina, while he takes up a freshly-poured paper cup of coffee... poured from what is probably not-that-fresh pot of coffee. Stepping out of the way to clear the way for Shina to get her breakfast, he blows once on the coffee, before taking a little sip. "If you win I'll be expecting a celebration party right after though, you hear?"
He winces a bit at her questions afterwards, hiding for a brief second behind the cup. "...Mmmh. No big ones for me for a bit, honestly. I mean, I've been in the Neo League, but I guess the last big one for me would be..." He thinks for a bit, and grimaces a bit. "Rising Star. The one where they had me fight against two schoolgirs. ...The other one was a robot too, though. And had missile launchers."
Robots with missile launchers. Well Shina had that in common with Tarmo. She looks thoughtful for a moment, thinking to that day in India. A cramped ops room. Explosions and a combat robot designed to capture Zoanthropes. Used on her. And that schoolkid with a sword. That weirdo was after Darkstalkers. Shina's eyes slip closed and she takes a deep breath. They open when she reaches for her cup. "If I win, we will see. World Warrior isn't elimination. I'm not sure what happens if I win or lose. I believe just points."
She blows a gentle breath over her tea before sipping. "If it is points, then I will already be on my way to my next challenge regardless of the outcome. I will not be without training. Which means if you wish to keep up with me, you will have to keep up with me." Shina sips again and looks up at the tall man. "Are you willing to put in the work? If not, I can certainly find Meifeng."
Both of Tarmo's brows shoot up noticably over Shina's particular choice of words. "So... I got competition for your attentions, do I?"
The tall Finn considers the coffee in his massive mitt of a hand, and takes a good, long sip of it. Draining the paper cup's contents entirely of the heated beverage, before his attention fully lowers back onto Shina again, with a satisfied breath flowing out.
"Yeah," he says first, with a smile much smaller than his usual grin. More sincere, perhaps. "I'm gonna keep on chasing you." His other hand lifts up in a fist left hovering in front of her, knuckles held towards her. "Promise."
The grin that grows on Shina's face is a genuine one. "Of course there's competition," she says. A hand goes to her hip and she rests on her back foot. "And you gotta keep pushing me forward. Or else I'll leave you in the dust."
Her fist thumps against the raised knuckles before her. "Promise."
Log created on 12:12:41 09/02/2023 by Shina, and last modified on 05:43:31 09/16/2023.