Description: With the Rumble in the Streets Tournament coming to a close, a meeting between the Rumble Committee and the HitBit Board of Directors occurs, to voice some concerns of how the tournament was going.... and to determine the fate of the final rounds of the tournament.
HitBit Incorporated is a highly respected business venture operated by highly respected people who just put a lot of their hopefully respected money into:
- Bringing a successful, widely-acclaimed technology to the masses
- A character called "Hit Bitty"
- A character called "HitBot"
- A combat-oriented robot that seems to be acting on questionably-aggregated combat data
- A fighting tournament that has turned into a lightning rod for criticism of the cushy relationship shared between the yakuza organizations and the government of Japan
All of the above?!
Suffice to say, the board could probably be happier about where their sponsorship dollars are going. It's unquestionable that the Rumble In The Streets tournament is bringing them tons of money, but the -use- of the money is bringing cause for concern. So that's why they've invited the organizers of this tournament, the Rumble Committee themselves, to this conference room on the top floor of their facility in western Southtown.
The conference was scheduled for eight AM on a weekday -- the time most businessmen can agree is "early" without raising questions about their personal work ethic. And, despite this being the HitBit conference room, the Rumble Committee is already seated. And has been, for fifteen minutes. No one even remembers the six individuals being let inside the building, let alone their executive conference room.
As soon as someone else enters the room, all six would stand.
The two Japanese men on either side are wearing dark-tinted eyeglasses and wear corded earpieces -- those look like security guards.
The young woman with shoulderlength auburn hair, wearing a black vest and skirt with a white blouse... that's obviously their administrative assistant, Shoko.
One of the three others has a noticeable stoop, and his suit is neatly-pressed but well-worn. Jin is a bit on the hefty side as well. Despite his apparent wealth of life experiences, his eyes are sharp and alert -- it's clear he could pass as a morning person.
The second of the three businessmen is rail-thin and bookish, with the tint on his glasses less severe than the other. Daisuke's suit, in contrast to his associate's, is pinstriped in grey and in impeccable condition.
The most distinctive of the three, though, is the tall half-Korean. He's suit is impeccable, like Daisuke's, but with a dark navy blue color. Aged about thirty -- the youngest of the three businessmen -- Kyong Su has a commanding presence and sharp eyes. He doesn't approach anything in half-measures; every motion is crisp and intentional, no energy is wasted on meaningless things. He stands at full attention as the HitBit board files into the conference room, only resuming his seat once it appears the room has reached its limit.
"I understand your company is enjoying record profits -- congratulations! It's undoubtedly a testament to your organization' relentless pursuit of perfection." Kyong Su's smile is directed towards each board member who enters.
HitBit Incorporated was ultimately casting itself adrift.
The circumstances of the Rumble In The Streets tournament was the kind of event that could make a company into the Fortune 500, or ruin it for good.
Six for six.
The first was Toshiyuki Kimura, inside director and the President of the Marketing department, a rather plain looking, if thin, Japanese man. Dark circles hang under his eyes, a testament to the chaotic environment that was undergoing the organization. Tatsuhiko Saeki was another inside director, representing Finance and Accounting; a rather round and sweaty man with a thin mustache and a even thinner hairpiece on top. Yoshiaki Shirata rounds out the last of the inside directors, coming from the Product department. He wears a pair of black coke-bottle glasses, and is unfortunately cursed with a pronounced pair of buck teeth and acne that not even modern medicine can fully eliminate. Of the remaining three, there was the only member of the 'outside' directors: A representative of Crazy Zhin's LLC, he was a dressed in what had to be an off-the-rack suit... and a second hand one at that. The man is dark-skinned and somewhat nervous, and his eyes are bloodshot with even darker circles under his eyes. The smell of menthol cigarettes fill the air. Finally, there was the administrative assistant on behalf of HitBit; a young woman with dark hair pulled into a bun, holding a dossier of records, wearing a white blouse and black skirt. And the last one?
And the final one was Lee Chaolan himself.
"Ah! Thank you! Thank you!~" Comes the flamboyant statement from the CEO of Violet Systems, and the elected representative for the majority shareholder of HitBit, Kuma. The round of introductory handshakes come around (except for the representative of Crazy Zhin, who looks around dumbfounded, his hand extended), before the HitBit board takes its seat across from the RUMBLE board. Lee Chaolan himself was in a pure white business suit with a golden tie; it seemed that he was not using the Violet persona at the moment. Or maybe Violet had a different role in the company than Lee Chaolan? It was all... very, very confusing. "HitBit is performing well beyond our investors' expectations! But money isn't everything, sadly. There are some serious concerns we have right now about the direction of both HitBit, and this tournament.... and as I understand, there are serious concerns -you- have right now on the same!" Lee Chaolan held the faintest smirk, as he gestures towards the rest of the board. Immediately, they begin to rummage through their own folders, as Lee then motions to Kyong Su.
"Can you review the agenda, if you please?"
Shoko Shimizu smiles and participates with the introductory bows and handshakes -- curse this unchecked Westernization -- as everyone becomes acquainted. She wears a particularly vapid smile for Lee Chaolan, her eyes twinkling as she looks up into his. He must get that a lot! While each of the six representatives of HitBit's interests is understandably unique, only Lee really stands out to her as someone worth following.
As she and the three Rumble Committee members are seated at the table (the guards, for their parts, simply flatten against the wall like flagposts), her gaze remains affixed upon the silver-haired executive. Shoko places a steno pad on the table, and withdraws ten pieces of paper from it. She then begins walking around the conference table, leaving a piece of paper in front of each person present.
As captivating as Miss Shimizu may be, it's easy to miss her amongst the three more memorable gentlemen of the Rumble Committee. Kyong Su waits until each person receives a copy of the agenda.
"Well, first we will discuss the product marketing as it relates particularly to mascots -- Hit Bitty, Hit Bot, and ComBot. Then, the impact increased security has had upon public perception of the events. From there, we will move on to discuss the combatant attrition rate. And then finally we will address the final stages of the tournament, including prize payouts and financials."
He smiles, pausing for a moment. Kyong Su's speaking manner is impeccable: he makes eye contact with each person around the room, just enough to make a personal connection with each of the HitBit representatives, and yet never hovering on any person for very long. "Before I proceed further, are there any questions?"
Jin Fujiwara keeps his mouth closed for the proceedings -- in fact, if he weren't -also- wearing a pleasant smile, one might think he never opened his mouth. He does spend more time glancing over the administrative assistant compared to the others.
Daisuke Oda glances between each of the participants, though he seems a bit perplexed by the Crazy Zhin representative -- trying to place where or even if he's seen the man before.
Lee Chaolan always has a twinkle and a smile for women like Shoko Shimizu.
After Lee gives a playful grin and a wink, the introductions are made. As the first agenda item is mentioned, Toshiyuki bows his head, promptly pacing a thumb and index finger in his eyes with one hand. Rubbing his eyes a moment, he seemed to be bracing himself to explain why he has been losing sleep throughout the entire tournament. Yoshiaki even scoffs a bit at Toshiyuki's reaction, as he responds with a nasally whine. "Come on Toshiyuki, don't start crying already!" It seemed that Yoshiaki was ALSO giving the RUMBLE admin assistant a lot of attention as well... with the occassional glance across towards Jin. As the last request of questions come, Lee Chaolan looks around, confident that there wouldn't be any-
Tatsuhiko pipes up, tapping his folder. "Not- Not a question, but I would like to make a note, a statement. N-now I know financials will be discussed by the end, at the end, but I have some concerns I'd like to make, to voice, so if I hear them, I will object, I will- I will bring them up!" The portly man taps the folder a final time, for emphasis. The HitBit admin assistance dilligently takes the note, as the rest of the HitBit team looks at Tatsuhiko. The CFO coughs, covering his mouth with the folder, before adding "That's all." Lee Chaolan laughs a bit, and turns back to face Kyong Su. "Well, with that for
Lee Chaolan tightens his hand into a fist, though the smile on his face doesn't fade. He turns to the side. The Crazy Zhin representative is about to make a question, but adjusts his sleeve instead. "I am just gua..." He begin, speaking in a thick Shanghainese accent as he mumbles through. "I am going to make sure what I own undigified uncl- client. Unclient-gua is represented properly. His interestings aru." The man was sweating suddenly, as Daisuke keeps his attention on him. It would be impossible to recognize this figure. Unless he made a habit of staying up to 3 AM to watch the Crazy Zhin ad slot, where he could be seen dropping one of the priceless Crazy Zhin antiques and cursing within the advertisement. Lee Chaolan stares at him for a moment, smile on his face. And then, he curtly turn back to Kyong Su.
"So you have some concerns about the mascots, is that correct?"
Shoko Shimizu is smiling. Though she is also taking careful and comprehensive notes on her steno pad, she is smiling in spite of the numerous interruptions, for each of the people gathered here is an interesting character. As the administrative assistant for the Rumble In The Streets Committee she has had to keep track of all the opposing forces in both her committee and the HitBit management -- not to mention, with Crazy Zhin's, the Twilight Star, Saikyo Dojo, and numerous other sponsors. It's good to have names to go with faces.
And to the psion, it's even better to have emotional states to go along with them. Lee Chaolan is doing his best to keep smiling, so she's curious to see how long his patience lasts. Crazy Zhin's representative would rather be anywhere else. ANd Yoshiaki...
Well, that's interesting. Shoko dips her chin, nibbling at her lower lip as she continues taking notes of the proceedings. She can tell that the attention's still on her, but... at the moment, she's more worried about Toshiyuki and his crying.
Jin laces his hands together, pensive. Daisuke offers a faint grin and diverts his attention to Lee, being that his gaze seems to have unsettled the Zhin representative.
But it is Kyong Su who speaks, as Shoko keeps her gaze downward. "Yes, we had a few concerns about... the mascots. We assume that a... -significant- amount of budget was invested on the Hit Bitty personality..." He doesn't look directly at Lee for this, but rather, at Toshiyuki.
Daisuke raises his hand, and Kyong Su yields to him. "Yes. Leaving aside the question of whether it was a wise course of action, who in the world had that many HitBit devices at once, and why were they -all- allocated to the same person? I would just like it stated on the record that HitBit's inventory was much, -much- too high at that event for such a gross error to have been made."
Kyong Su finds himself stifling a cough. He leaves an opportunity for response, naturally, but his next question is: "More to point, we have been quite fascinated about this... ComBot unit. I would like to learn more about ComBot, is this a HitBit product or one from one of our other illustrious sponsors? And would it possibly be available for use later in the tournament?"
The Crazy Zhin representative was in fact starting to blush violently.
He didn't want to be here. But he had to be. And because he had to be, he felt like an assclown amongst everyone. He keeps his mouth quiet now, trying to hide in his seat as the Rumble committee voices their concerns on the topic of marketing. As the admin assistant keeps track of the notes, the three directors and Lee kept rapt attention. Pursing their lips, they seemed to be taking in each of the comments and questions carefully. Toshiyuki slowly lowers his forehead down to the table, despair overtaking him.
But it was Tatsuhiko who spoke up first.
"Um, on the note of that." He states, as the folder was already open, and he hasily shuffles out a paper. "Yes, on the budget from the Marketing department; I will note that the significant amount of budget put into the Hit Bitty item was not documented as being invested specifically on the Hit Bitty character." He points to the form, and pulls out a pen from his pocket. Underlining it, he turns it around, and pushes it across the table to Kyong. "As you can see, while we have a sizeable budget put into place on Marketing dedicated to the 'mascot' angle, you'll notice that no cost overruns have come out from our Hit Bitty fiasco. That's because Toshiyuki here has successfully integrated the HitBot and ComBot into the current marketing plan, using the existing budget in place."
Toshiyuki actually looks up, eyes wide at Tatsuhiko as if he couldn't even believe he was doing this.
"So as you can see, in terms of budgeting, while it did put the company at risk, in terms of the actually books, Toshiyuki was able to, uh, actually absorb the HitBot marketing angle into the remaining marketing costs. This is not a resounding success mind you, uh, this is more of averting disaster. If we had started with the HitBot marketing angle, we would have gone significantly underbudget, and have had more control to heighten the marketing scheme of HitBot. For example, while our plans for the Hit Bitty anime have fallen through, we are not able to renegotiate for a HitBot/Combot anime. We have, however, gotten some excellent contracts from some very highly reputable doujin artists on some upcoming HitBot/ComBot mangas."
"You know, the creator behind One Piece started out with doujins."
That was the follow up by Yoshiaki, who grins at Shoko as he says it. This had to be an attempt to impress her. Lee Chaolan continues to smile, as Tatsuhiko fills in the important gaps. But he nod towards Daisuke. "A very valid point. Yoshiaki, if you please." The man adjusts his glasses, and nearly seems ready to jump from his seat. "Oh gosh yes, this was a brilliant idea from me, with a masterful execution. You see, we didn't want people to know this, so keep it on the down low here, but we've noticed a huge malfunctoin rate with the HitBit product. We didn't notice it until we wired up Hit Bitty, but afterwards were realized that there was a core defect in the factory design we sent, that was unloading random electrical shocks to the wearers. Toshiyuki put out a good paper tiger that this was the 'users' making the decisions for them, and give guiding shocks, when in reality we have barely any control or idea. We can't even diagnosis when they are defective until they are keyed into the user! It's a disaster!"
Based on Yoshiaki's smile, he must adore disasters.
"So while we subtly got the defective HitBit devices off from circulation, we suddenly had a surplus on them. Come across this homeless dude-" Tatsuhiko clears his throat. "He is not homeless; he does in fact have a residence overseas in Oregon." He smiles towards Kyong Su. "Tax purposes. Very important to keep track of personel!" Yoshiaki brushes it off. "Whatever, this guy seemed eager to put on as many of the devices and call himself HitBot. So we were like, Hit Bitty was failing, why not combined two disasters into one! And you can bug Tatsuhiko about it, you'll notice that we have been keeping under budget. Cause of just how smart I am!" He scratches off a scabbed over acne scar on his face, giving Shoko a wink.
"I have so much blood on my hands."
That was Toshiyuki's response to all of it. "So many lives, so many dreams. I wish someone in the public would call me out on my crimes against humanity. At least then, I would feel a sense of justice." The marketing man buries his face into his hands, as Lee waggles his fingers. "And that leaves your last question! Combot! I must apologize for that; I think we may have not been very open about the whole purposes of the Tournament. I didn't mean to conceal any secondary motives into it!" Lee Chaolan gives a roguish wink, and a charming smile, as he pulls out his folder... a kind of sales pitch document.
"Let me explain what Combot is about."
"Combot is a product from Violet Systems, utilizing the HitBit diagnostic tools. It is not from HitBot directly, and is wholely owned by Violet Systems. This is a business arrangement between HitBit and Violet Systems; based on the understanding between the two organizations; Combot is fully available for limited demonstrations of its martial arts ability learned and analyzed from the HitBit devices attached to the fighters. Can you imagine? Years and years of martial technique drawn in mere weeks, using advanced data mining and data aggregating techiques?" Lee Chaolan pushes it to Kyong Su. "Now before you get worried, As a reminder, we are not keeping any data of the fighters away from the Rumble Committee, this was just using the same data pool you are getting. Due to the nature of the agreement between Violet Systems and HitBit, we had to wait until the public reveal before sharing any of those details."
"And again, I do apologize keeping any secrets from our humble partners!~"
Jin Fujiwara pulls his attention away from the HitBit assistant -- that's how obvious Crazy Zhin's representative is being with his resentfulness. He doesn't say anything right now, but he flashes the man a tight-lipped smile: shorthand for 'Yes, we know you don't want to be here, deal with it.'
Daisuke seems more than impressed at the amount of bookkeeping that took place. Shuffling money from one department to the next to stay within the budget -- he nods with raised eyebrows and muted approval. It'd be un-Japanese to give, like, -applause- or anything, so this is probably as positive a response as Tatsuhiko, Yoshiaki, and Toshiyuki are going to get from the bookish man. "Excellent, that's a great use of the funds and a quite innovative tap of the dojinshi market." He follows Yoshiaki's gaze -- and the subtle coincidence that has Toshiyuki lamenting blood on his hands when there's a crusted scab in Yoshiaki's -- to Miss Shimizu.
Shoko continues flashing a coquettish look back at the director of product marketing, but her pen never really stops moving -- indeed, she writes something on the paper and slides it over to Kyong Su, who until this point seems very pleased with the discussions so far.
As far as Violet Industries' showcase product goes, Kyong Su doesn't seem -terribly- upset about this. They are partners, and even if they'd planned this little venture outside the Rumble Committee's -direct- guidance, it's clear that no harm was done. "That's all fully understandable. We do hope that this venture ends up being quite profitable for all parties involved, whether they be HitBit, Violet Systems, or Crazy Zhin's Discount Emporium." He gives a subtle nod over to the representative as he speaks.
But then Kyong Su taps the steno pad placed before him by Shoko, and slides it back to her. "One point that I want to address before we move on, though -- are you saying that all of the defective HitBit units are removed from circulation now, other than the ones on this 'HitBot' mascot? I just want to be sure, for our records, that the participants are using the latest release of the devices."
Satisfied with the pace of the meeting, he leans back in his chair. "As for the increased security, I am happy to report that during the last week of events, no parties were injured during any of the Rumble events -- it seems the increased expenditures in security have paid off."
Daisuke raises his hand, and Kyong Su allows him to explain: "As we haven't needed to pay out any -more- funds due to repairs, as we had for the L'Amour bar in week one, we were able to pay for this entirely out of the existing budget."
Kyong Su nods quietly. "Indeed. So the tournament seems to be proceeding apace -- neither our combatants nor our audience members have suffered any grand losses recently. Do you have any questions before we move on to participant attrition?"
It was really a feat of accounting.
Tatsuhiko smiles smugly to himself, his face turning red by the sheer effort. Toshiyuki, however, still kept the same deathly stare into space as he rises up. It was like existing was a full-bodied exercise to him. When Kyong Su makes the question towards the HitBit board, there was a silence. The representative of Crazy Zhin, after meeting the eyes of Jin, just stares down at the table now.
This time, it was Yoshiaki who follows up first.
"Eeeeeh." That was the inspiring response from the director of product. "Mostly? We've kinda screwed up on the shrine maiden chick with the stick. You know, she reminds me a lot of Tomoe from Queen's Blade. I really can get into a miko who can fight really well. Except she uses a staff instead of a katana. She's a really strong character, yeah, I really like her. Tomoe I mean. Ayame's fine; but yeah, I think she was the last one with the defective products, that and the kinda boring ninja girl thing. I can't even remember her name, but she was no Hattori, let me tell you that. I mean she's disqualified right?" Yoshiaki shakes his head. "Why couldn't we have gotten that Mai ninja in there, now she's a fun ninja to watch!"
He gives a wink back towards Shoko again, as if that was the most charming thing he was capable of.
As the mention of the next stage comes, the topic of security comes up. Toshiyuki falls back into despair. The security was... was the reason why he started drinking. Lee Chaolan keeps the air of confidence and neutrality, as he listens to the Rumble team describe about their progress with security. Lee Chaolan steeples his fingers, focusing on each person as they speak. As it comes to the questions of participant attrition, he pauses a moment, obviously thinking of something
But the representative of Crazy Zhin's suddenly sputters.
"Question! I have question! Very important, very urgent!" He pats the top his palms on the folder. "Uncle- Crazy Zhin has very important question! Very important concern!" And Lee Chaolan turns to him, shaking his head. "Now, now, this is on the matter of security, I am sure that it would be best that I-"
"It is about fire!"
Lee Chaolan shuts his eyes. "Yes, we understand there was a fire at your... organization's place." "We make insurance claim! $78.26 in damage! US Dollar!" He states, looking what was actually a napkin. "Very low prices! Its why Crazy Zhin so crazy!" "There were other fires! Other incidents! Whole thing turn up! Very bad! Crazy Zhin have crazy hot fire prices! But other places, not wild discounts!"
"Why security so bad so slow!"
Lee Chaolan narrows his eyes, trying hard to parse the question. In a second, he finally states something in Chinese to the representative. He chatters right back in Mandarin. Lee Chaolan laughs. "Ah! I understand. He needs to understand why security took so much time and money before it got up to standard. Security has done an excellent job in the last round, but what our friend from Crazy Zhin's is trying to understand why it took so long to get there. And frankly, that has been a concern for us as well. I know we talked about this in piecemeal about it, but now that we've sat down, we can get the one answer about the old security crisis, and the cause of it. I mean, Kyong Su;" Lee Chaolan pulls out a roster of the entire tournament matchups.
"What's the percentage of matches in the first, second, and third rounds that had 'incidents?"
Up to this point, Shoko has been on top of the situation. Whenever a topic had been addressed, she was right there taking notes, or providing notes to Kyong Su and the others. She'd even made notes about the demeanor of proud Tatsuhiko and nervous Toshiyuki, annotating context to both situations as best she could surmise. But when Yoshiaki starts ruminating about the roles of Queen's Blade characters as they relate to the competitors, the assistant tilts her head left a few degrees.
The assistant keeps her eyes locked upon Yoshiaki as she pulls out her cellphone. This is a job for Yahoo!
Jin continues smiling in the Crazy Zhin representative's general direction, even as the representative gets more and more agitated. He doesn't understand Chinese, so he's quite grateful to Lee Chaolan for coordinating and translating his thoughts.
It's probably a good thing he chooses to let Kyong Su answer for him, though. The man's hands had been carefully folded in front of him, and they still are -- but his knuckles are turning white.
Kyong Su is unflappable, and his response comes quickly after Lee's request. He taps the desk beside Shoko, who's drawn the chair back to pull up results from her phone. The half-Korean executive continues to explain his rationale, fully confident that his assistant will pull through. "Well, we honestly didn't think we would -need- security beyond a handful of guards. The secrecy of the app was part of the original selling point of this tournament, as you recall, and we felt that the dynamics of being 'raw' and 'unscripted' would have been completely nullified if a battalion of guards was placed around, say, a mall or a busy street corner. Unfortunately, the series of accidents occurred, and we're looking at... hmm, Miss Shimizu, could you--"
"This is -terrible-..." she mumbles under her breath, pulling her phone away from the table as reddish rage crosses her cheeks. She gulps, noticeably.
"I'm sorry, Miss Shimizu, I was just asking about the percentages Mr Chaolan has asked--"
"R-right!" stammers the red-faced Shoko, though she is -glaring- at Yoshiaki all the same as she slips the phone back into a pocket. Embarassed, she flips through papers until she gets to her notes, looking in the margins for her numbers. "The first week, 18% of the events had auxiliary incidents... 15% the second week, and it was down to 8% on the third."
Daisuke looks between Yoshiaki and Shoko, but gives no sign other than a patient, tolerant smile that he has any indication of what just happened.
Kyong Su nods quietly -- impervious to getting upset at the mild interruption. "So there are the numbers. We -do- apologize for the delay in efforts, but it seems we've struck a good balance between the element of surprise and the necessity of security. We cannot fix the past, but we can ensure a smoother ride going forward."
And it seems that 'going forward' is what he wants, but his patient smile is enough to suggest that without needing to actually repeat the phrase.
"Well, when the incident is murder, you can see why we're a little concerned."
Lee Chaolan's tone is almost half-joking, but he did seem somewhat worried. But as the percentages from the nervous assistant comes, he seems to be relaxing more. Yoshiaki brings up an important detail as well. "Don't forget that of all the incidents, none of them involved HitBit devices. If anything, it's all on the Rumble side of things, so we're fine. Worst comes to worse, we can just bank on that, right Toshiyuki?" The marketing director grunts feebly. As Yoshiaki looks back towards Shoko, he notices that she was... blushing at him? The man blushes himself as he lets out an eyebrow wiggle.
Could love truly bloom in a board meeting?
The representative of Crazy Zhin's scrunches up his face, not fully pleased with the outcome of his question. "I am having more questions, but I will be wait." He says. For someone who didn't seem that interested, he seemed to be focused on one thing in all this: Crazy Zhin. A sobering balance, especially on the HitBit side of things.
"Now, on the subject of the fighter standings, one thing we do want to get ahead of."
Lee Chaolan motions towards the optimistic Toshiyuki who has already brighten this meeting once before. "Oh? what? Oh, right. On the standings, from a marketing perspective, things aren't too bad. Maki and Ayame are in the winner's brackets." Yoshiaki gives an eager nod, before looking at Shoko again, as Toshiyuki continue in his tired monotone. "And we definately have good follow-up marketing angles with them. In your L brackets, we're looking at Alice Nakata, Elise, Pepper, and Gan? I didn't think any of those Gedo High students made it. Still we got some good options on that. The problem that we were discussing was on some of the figures outside the brackets. Skullomania was a huge cult favorite, and of course you got those two governement types; Lita and Daniel, but we only got positive feedback on LIta, and its the..." He looks up from his form, towards Yoshiaki. He seems at a loss of words.
"Well, Lita appeals to a selective crowd, we've noticed."
He continues on, shaking his head. "But we've actually gotten requests to fully bump off Daniel. I mean, I can't understand how this guy gets so many negatives. He gets two attempts on his life, and we actually have people complaining about they were -failed- attempts. That's pretty good overall, we have popular opponents going on. But there is one person missing." He looks towards Lee Chaolan, and the man nods firmly at the marketing director. Toshiyuki shakes his head, and looks towards the Rumble team.
The marketing director looks down at the papers, and back up again, looking unsure how to move forward. "Ryu's missing. And the circumstances are not positive. According to our records, and you should have the same records they are linked. We wouldn't have been concerned, except that he did not return our phone. And with our budget tight as it is, we had an internal audit... and we found something." He pushes five papers towards Kyong Su, his face grim.
"Look here, especially."
He points to what looks like a server log. A mere server log. Yoshiaki pipes up, looking excited. "Basically, the phone disconnects to the Rumble HQ server. Reconnects. Disconnect. Reconnects. But if you notice carefully on the address of the second server? It's not part of the our core servers. In fact, it's offsite, and redirects back into our server. Man in the middle attack. Essentially, all the data between the HitBit server and the onsite systems he has goes through there. Normally, it would be just for the HitBit equipment alone, but since the phone was our equipment, well, it would have to go through our stuff. This attack happened somewhere outside of Machida, and was identifying a link up site for the fight. Normally since it lacks the right headers on the data requests, it would not be recorded in the main logs. But you can see it in the system logs, a fight site was set up. We... privately investigated the site once we realized what happened. And well..." The weaselly man actually frowns now. Frisking into his jacket, he drops a cellphone in a plastic bag, covered with the HItBit emblems. "We found the phone."
"And now, we have no idea where he is."
There is a silence across the HitBit board. Toshiyuki is the first to break the silence. "We suspect something may have happened to Ryu. There is no word out yet, considering his vagrant lifestyle. We didn't think anything of it because of his vagrant lifestyle in fact. We thought he was just wandering. But... with the fact that there was a clear hacking attempt, and the man was drawn to a seperate location, and now he's gone, we are concerned that he might have been kidnapped." Lee Chaolan was looking worried himself now, as he adds to the end.
Whenever Yoshiaki is -not- talking, Shoko glares back at him. She mouths back, "You are a -pig-" with about as much disgust as she can muster without actually using her voice. If she's playing hard to get, she isn't doling out half-measures of it, as she shuffles through her paperwork in as agitated a fashion as she can muster without making an actual sound.
This -is- still a professional meeting, after all.
Daisuke, though, frowned as Yoshiaki attempted to deflect blame onto the Rumble side of the table. He glances to Kyong Su, who then allows him to speak. "What you say is true, but as you have access to all the data -we- do -- as you've recently reminded us -- then clearly your organization would not be able to fully absolve itself of culpability -were- a full and exhaustive investigation to proceed."
Kyong Su nods quietly, though he raises his hand in a pacifying gesture. "Gentlemen, and ladies, we are all partners in this venture. And we shall deal with it as partners do: -together-." He smiles reassuringly -- he's not intending to be forceful, and he certainly isn't as... charismatic as Lee, but he could run a close second.
Jin seems to relax as the Crazy Zhin's representative stands down. He doesn't really have any particular insight to share at the moment... not until Gedo High is mentioned. It's at that point that the laconic Jin actually opens his mouth. Well, kind of -- he speaks, but he doesn't really open his mouth. Gedo is... a curiosity of his. "Gan is from Gedo. The rest were eliminated, yes." It's an intelligible mumble, like someone with a lot of mouth pain might use to speak.
He remains silent, his lips curling into a detached smile, all while Shoko continues to glare at Yoshiaki a glare. But when Daniel is mentioned, he chimes in: "People don't tune into these sorts of things to watch people play patty-cake. The people want a good show." He doesn't press the issue -- he just sort of shrugs, sans conviction, and looks back at Crazy Zhin's representative.
When Ryu is brought up, though, Kyong Su's eyes widen in alarm. It's true -- he glances over to Shoko, who nods back in reply. As Toshiyuki slides the papers towards Kyong Su's, Shoko already has a paper en route at the same time.
Kyong Su's lips press together into a frown, as he lowers his eyes to the table. "You didn't bring this up to me yet," he states coldly.
Daisuke pipes in: "It wasn't confirmed."
Jin frowns, raising his hands to his temples. He mumbles, in his mumbling way: "I told you jerks you should've brought it up to the man."
Shoko keeps her head lowered as she rocks back in her chair. She's done being mad with Yoshiaki -- her face is a mask of anxiety and fear now.
Kyong Su looks up with some concern. He seems mad at his people, and yet, he has difficult choices ahead. He takes a moment to collect his thoughts, and then states, "We'll get some answers on this. We'll approach government as needed, though considering his vagrant status... it will be difficult. We may have results from our fleet of camera drones to go over. But as far as standings are concerned..."
He breathes a slow, solemn sigh, "... it's less of an issue, as standings-wise, his draw and loss should have been enough to disqualify him. The man's life matters more than his phone, or this tournament, of course... but he's got the heart of a lion. And he would want us to continue onward, I'm sure of it."
He looks back at Lee Chaolan with a mild frown. He's clearly got more to say, but for now, withholds it.
A very subtle body language.
Lee Chaolan notices the glance from Kyong to Shoko, though he doesn't show any response to it. Just a little detail to tuck away later; Shoko did her job well, and was the kind of assistant you turn to first. Right now, he had much more important things to consider. The meeting was getting tense on the subject of Ryu. Lee Chaolan had a bit of a personal factor in this; he had a great respect for the fighter, and had hoped to showcase him further in the tournament. When he disappeared, it was jarring. As the exchange comes amongst the Rumble board, he keeps quiet, waiting the dust to settle. When it comes to the end, Lee Chaolan finally steps up to take control back.
It was clear that their butts were sufficiently covered on this.
"Oh, we will both be working together on this, surely." Lee Chaolan states, nodding his head firmly. "The fact that you may have some camera drones in the area can give us an idea what happened. The next course of action is for us to move on. But I need to make another note." He holds up a finger, pointing upwards.
"We need to make sure no word gets out right now."
Lee Chaolan keeps a conspiring tone. "Nobody knows any better right now. As you said, he is a vagrant. The man wanders from place to place, and can disappear for months at a time. Or at least, people will believe it. And for the time being, we want people to believe it. If word got out that a World Warrior was kidnapped at our tournament?" He looks towards Toshiyuki, who gets a faraway look of a man with nothing to lose, and nothing to gain.
"Careers end when that kind of stuff happens."
Lee Chaolan steeples his fingers. "I suspect we have until someone challenges him for his belt, and no one will challenge him for his belt until after the tournament, at least. We both will coordinate on the investigation moving forward, but the tournament must be a priority right now. We have our investors interests at state, after all." Lee Chaolan motions towards the Crazy Zhin rep, who nods his head with emphasis. Lee Chaolan returns his hands into a steeple.
"Is there any other comments or questions we have on fighter attrition, before we move on to the final stages of the tournament?
It would be the lovable Yoshiaki that pipes up again. "Yeah! What is with all those Gedo High students signing up anyways? Not a product question, just a curiousity thing. Was there a memo on a special deal we were running with the school? A promotion or something? Toshiyuki, help me out here, you should have been on top of that shouldn't you have?" Toshiyuki rubs the bridge of his nose. "Normally, yes. But after discussing previously with Jin..." He pauses a moment. "We decided that it would be better suited to his specialty for him to handle all the marketing and relations for Gedo High." Another defeated sigh. Yoshiaki snrks. "Sure, whatever." He cracks, looking back to the worried Shoko. "Well, there is nothing to worry about at all!"
He thrusts a thumb to himself.
Kyong Su regards Lee Chaolan with guarded neutrality as the executive stresses the need to ensure that word does NOT reach the government. As it happens -- Kyong Su had felt the exact same, as had most of the Rumble Committee (even if they didn't communicate it upstream, and thus, will be feeling Kyong Su's wrath soon). His response is a terse nod. "Very well, then. We'll keep you in the loop with the information we find." He then turns an eye to Shoko, who bites her lip and nods her head in reply. It's better than responding to Yoshiaki -- it's easy for -him- to say there's nothing worry about.
As his contribution is brought up, Jin finds himself practically glowing with the praise. However, he's quick to note, "That is actually a very good point! We had been able to leverage contacts with another of our sponsors, the Hibiki Dojo, who had enrolled many of their trainees -- many of whom were underprivileged students of Gedo High. Not many of them survived the battles to the later rounds, but their efforts really seem to have helped the Dojo's recruitment efforts. So it's kind of a Venn diagram of things just generally working in our favor, especially as relates to the youth market we're trying to reach." He smiles a bit more broadly, never having opened his lips beyond a fraction of a centimeter.
Sensing a brief lull, Daisuke takes the opportunity to speak up. "In more recent news, Mary Ryan has forfeited her fight against Pepper, claiming that she, quote, 'did not want to fight a child.' Leaving aside the matter, it did not seem as if there was anything particularly notable about that forfeit -- unlike the case of Ayame and Nagase -both- forfeiting their match."
He turns to a second page of notes, adding: "Nagase, as shown in her fight with Zach Glenn, has demonstrated her technical proficiency in manipulating the livestreams, and it stands to reason that she was unfairly profiting from the instant flow of information throughout the fights. Thereby, when our anti-circumvention measures were deployed in round 3, she was no longer able to cheat -- and we suspect -this- is why she destroyed her HitBit device in an outrage. Ayame, to her credit as a woman of honor, opted out of continuing the battle, and Nagase forfeited. Luckily, we were able to salvage Ayame, paving the way for..." He pointedly looks at Yoshiaki, noting the distress on his colleague's face: "... your, er, dojin outreach effort, Shirata-san."
Shoko flips through her own papers, speaking up as well. She reads quietly, with a timid voice. "Natsu Ayuhara, a student from Gorin High, sustained an injury in a Neo League fight and has been unable to fight. She was able to communicate her formal withdrawal to us in a timely manner. Another fighter, Senna, had entered the tournament, but similarly, was called away due to outside circumstances." She looks over to the representative of Crazy Zhin's, completely by accident(?!), and continues: "As I'm sure some of you are aware, Alisa is not.. entirely human, and seemed to have suffered some ill effects from her fight with... HitBot. We were able to secure return of the HitBit devices from her, but there seems to be no ill will."
It's at this point that Jin interjects again, with a decidedly sour expression. "This leaves us with Duke. As far as we can gather, he was only in it for the insurance claims on L'Amour, because he dropped out of the tournament immediately afterward." He irritably stacks his papers on the conference table, nostrils flaring as he leans back in his chair.
Kyong Su looks about his people, pleased that they have each been able to acquit themselves with some degree of competency. "... Well, that actually segues into our next topic, Jin. Would you care to elaborate on your proposal for the final matchups?"
Jin cracks a wary, toothy smile. "Kyong Su, I am -so- glad you've asked." And it becomes clear why he'd kept his mouth shut before -- each of his teeth are filed to razor points, giving his smile a very sharklike resemblance. It doesn't last long, though, as he remembers his professional environment and dials back on his exuberance, returning to effectively mumbling. "You see, one thing I've noticed is that if you look back at the numbers for each of the videos, the viewer's opinions are clear."
He holds up one sheet of paper, showing a pie chart. "This is the report you all know -- the 'most viral' list that justified the increased focus upon HitBot. These represent people who are viewing the Rumble website while directed from other social media." He points to the biggest sections of pie: "HitBot, ComBot, et cetera."
He sets that piece of paper down, and pulls up another chart. "/This/ chart is the number of -rewatched- videos. Ones where people who were already on the website came back to view again, and again, and again." Singling out the largest wedge, he notes: "Duke versus Ryu, in L'Amour. The titans have left a mark on the tournament, and I think whatever finale we plan needs to meet -this- level of excitement and thrill."
The shark teeth are bared again. "Anyone got a building they need blown up? Hahaha ha... "
Kyong Su frowns, coughing lightly into a balled fist. "While I obviously can't advocate wholesale -destruction- per se, it remains to be said that building destruction seems to have scored well with our viewership, and it's certainly less... detrimental to -plan- for this sort of chaos, rather than indirectly encouraging others to promote it, as our friendly sponsor's representative has noted."
Shoko meekly raises her hand. When acknowledged by Kyong Su, she states, "It wouldn't even need to be a building, per se -- it could even be a ship, or a remote lodge. It could even be a weapons demonstration of some kind. But we don't... exactly have our finger on the pulse of investments of this kind, and the last time we did..."
Jin rolls his eyes, interjecting. "The last time we did, the goodie-two-shoes had to go and stop in mid-battle to go help the 'innocents...'"
Kyong Su folds his hands before him. "... That said. We would appreciate any feedback you may have to offer."
Yoshiaki groans at the mention of Mary Ryan forfeiting. The representative was -staring- at Jin's teeth, jaw slack. The Product director continues to speak. "Not her! She's the woman who looks like Android 18, isn't she. Aaaagh." Comes the complaint. He looks aside to Tatsuhiko, whose stomach moans. "You know, some people say if I shaved my head, I'd look a lot like Krillen. I was even hoping to match Krillen, I mean, Hitbot against Mary Ryan. That would be awesome, especially with the Doujin licenses we have set up. A lot of great artists have a lot of experience Android 18, so they would be great at drawing Mary Ryan!"
Tatsuhiko just stares at Yoshiaki.
"Well, at least we have miko chick, right?"
Tatsuhiko just stares at Yoshiaki.
"Well then, moving forward." Lee adds quickly, as Tatsuhiko just stares. "I think it sounds like the people want a big bang. Well, in terms of logistical additions in terms of munitions and the like, I could see if Violet Systems has any spare materials to provide. You'll never know what sort of things they have lying around, ready to be blown up." "I think Combot would be a fantastic individual to bring in for the final stage. Unfortunately, he is unable to do proper energy attacks. We might be able to showcase the remaining losers brackets to face him off, maybe for a last prize. I'm sure we have budget for an expanded prize, right?" Tatsuhiko nods firmly, his stomach groaning. "With the attrition of fighters, we can definately move some of the semi-final prizes out towards the 'loser's bracket.' We get some of the highest rated fighters to match up against Combot." THere is a muttering from the HitBit side of things. "Oh, and if possible, we might be able to use some of our... other experimental tools to help HitBot out. It's a little secret stuff, but according to Violet Systems, well."
"Lets just say the magic doesn't stop at Combot~"
Lee Chaolan laughs, clapping his hands. "We get some explosions going, we get some of that sheer force destruction going, without putting anybody at risk. Security is still the most important thing here. Does that sound good to everyone?" Everyone on the Hitbit side except the representative nods their heads. "Is there any other comments, any other ideas on what we can do to give the customers they want?" The representative raises his hand, before standing up. His face was red, as he trembles in anger. And finally, he speaks.
"I would say that Crazy Zhin $@#$ your mother!"
Silence fills the room, absolutely silence. The admin assistant's jaw goes slack. Toshiyuki starts to dry heave, as the sheer stress overwhelming him with nausea. Tatsuhiko starts to sweat, his eyes wide. A snrk comes out from Yoshiaki, as he struggles not to laugh. Lee Chaolan continues to smile. The representative does not stop there. "Yes! Crazy Zhin $@#$ your mother! You refusing to set up great fights at Crazy Zhin! All Crazy Zhin fights terrible! You send robot, and robot quits! $@#$ your mother at robot! You send whole bunch kids to fight at Crazy Zhin! Not single one makes finals! All those kids Gedo High! From Saikyo-Kun! $@#$ your mother!" Lee Chaolan's eyes are wide as he keeps smiling at the representative, processing what was happening. The represenative looks at both boards, and shakes his head. "We know you don't want to hear this! Crazy Zhin not care you $@#$ your mother! Crazy Zhin $@#$ your mother! It should be fair that you $@#$ your mother! Until you fix it where finals are at Crazy Zhin? Then Crazy Zhin will keep $@#$ing your mother!" Hands on his hips, he just stares at the entire board.
"You understand me?"
Lee Chaolan leans over to the representative's ear, and mutters something in it. The representive mutters something back into his ear. Lee shakes his head, and mutters something back. A light seems to come over the representative's eyes. Nodding his head, he waves his hand, shaking his head. "Oh! I do not mean $@#$ your mother. I mean to say very upset. Crazy Zhin very upset." He looks around to Lee, and the others. Yoshiaki's face was bright red, as he is literally choking back tears of laughter. "0$@#$ your mother incorrect? I do not understand. Am missing honorifics? Gratefully $@#$ your mother? Humbly $@#$ your mother? Which honorific missing?" Lee Chaolan mutters something to his ear.
Immediately, all the color runs from the representative's face.
He falls into his seat, looking like he had just been shot. "Oh. You very upset now." He mutters dreamily. Lee Chaolan turns back to the board, smiling, as if what just came down didn't happen. "What our esteemed representative of our minority shareholder Crazy Zhin is expressing, is that he is unhappy with the balance of the competitive fights with Crazy Zhin. As noted, most of the fights at Crazy Zhin Discount Outlets have been... substandard; and with the lack of the A-Listers coming from those fights, I can understand how he could be... very upset." He winks to the audience, his smile enduring.
"Maybe we could work out this explosive finish could happen at Crazy Zhin's shopfronts, transport barges, and warehouses?"
Kyong Su raises a hand, looking quietly at Yoshiaki. "I'm... excuse me. Android 18?" He then looks to Lee Chaolan. "Is this another Violet Systems product?"
That's the sound of Shoko's forehead hitting the table, and her hands follow shortly behind it. There may or may not be steamclouds floating out of her ears. She doesn't, in fact, -know- what Android 18 or Krillin are, but she's already guessing that they're also Queen's Blade characters. And just: no.
Daisuke, however, chimes in to Kyong Su. "No, I'm... afraid not. They are characters from a popular manga series from many years ago." He laughs, mirthlessly, as his gaze returns to Yoshiaki.
It's got to be a trick of the light that causes his glasses to gleam as he nudges them up the bridge of his nose.
Kyong Su is either oblivious to his co-committee members' frustration, or just trying very hard to not sell it. But he does pass a confused look at Lee Chaolan -- a look which is steered back into more comfortable technology as the executive addresses the use of Combot and... munitions. Yes. He passes a brief smile back to Jin, who naturally shares in the enthusiasm.
The phrase 'without putting anybody at risk' does draw a raised eyebrow, though. To himself -- and to Shoko, who raises her head from the table -- this seems to be cause for concern. Kyong Su nods quietly, and is all set to answer Lee in the affirmative, when the Crazy Zhin representative starts slinging -that phrase- around like it's a common household greeting.
Well, that happened.
Pong Kyong Su stares blankly back at the Crazy Zhin representative.
Jin Fujiwara stares blankly back at the Crazy Zhin representative.
Daisuke Oda stares blankly back at the Crazy Zhin representative.
Shoko Shimizu, rapidly growing red in the face, stares blankly back at the Crazy Zhin representative.
The two guards even look away from the window to stare blankly back at the Crazy Zhin representative.
It's got to be a language difference. He -can't- be saying that for real. The consensus is... pretty universal, though Shoko's the only one to really act on it, as she props her elbows on the table, resting her temples upon the first two fingers of each hand with a firmly-set jaw.
Kyong Su waits for that to set in. He gives a moment for his team to voice their concerns.
Jin's smile grows broadly. He speaks up, the very moment that Kyong Su is opening his mouth to speak. "Smashing. Let's do it."
Shoko leans back in her chair, folding her arms tightly. There is pretty much no chance of her writing any of this nonsense down at the moment.
"I believe you have the Rumble Committee's full support on this course of action," states Kyong Su, diplomatically.
"... why yes, that's correct."
That was the response from Yoshiaki at the end. Yoshiaki meets Daisuke's gaze with a sense of understanding. His own glasses glint, his attention now shifted fully from Shoko to him. He may have taken a legendary bullet for the admin assistant, based on the LinkedIn and Facebook requests that would come. The invitations to conventions. Half-Joking but dead serious cosplay ideas. Yoshiaki's own fanart collection, that he would love feedback on. His own doushin on the technically tasteful adventures of the Psycho Soldiers band, tenatively called 'Athena and Friends.' Yoshiaki nods knowingly.
He could tell a closet otaku when he could see one.
Tatsuhiko leans back in his chair, his stomach continuing to rumble noisily. "As long as it doesn't affect the budget, I don't see how anything could go wrong." Crazy Zhin's stuff was, in fact, well insured. The representative of Crazy Zhin was still lowering his head, face bright red. He prayed that his uncle wouldn't be TOO upset. Maybe having everything blow up was a good thing? Crazy Zhin was a very understanding uncle, after all. Right? The admin assistant on HitBit's side was in fact writing everything down. But her headshakes made it clear she disapproved of it as much as Shoko, if not more so. Toshiyuki... stops retching, looking absolutely miserable and sick. This project would kill him. It would kill him dead. And that left Lee Chaolan himself. The executive looks at Kyong Su, a smile on his face. And then, he moves. The motion is so sudden, so precise, so powerful, that is might even be recognized instinctively as an attack.
Lee Chaolan flashes a thumbs up at Kyong Su.
The contract was sealed.
Log created on 12:56:44 02/19/2016 by Lee Chaolan, and last modified on 19:55:21 02/23/2016.