Description: The Yakuza clans had splintered and reformed as a direct result of the RUMBLE event. Some have been reconsolidated under the Syndicate banner, while others had joined the Akatsuki alliance. But one clan is a holdout. And the Scarlet Dahlia wants to learn more about them, firsthand. Particularly one of their members who was just in a public fight.
The last time the underworld community was this riled up, the sprawling Yamaguchi-gumi clan was splitting apart at the seams, with vicious infighting leaving many clan members dead, or worse. While many of the clans joined the nascent "Crimson Moon" Akatsuki-gumi, the remnants of the dissolved Yamaguchi-gumi rallied behind their leader. And then the leader committed seppuku -- with his second-in-command swearing the clan's allegiance over to the foreigner-riddled Southtown Syndicate.
Not everyone was happy with that decision. And now, the clans are abuzz with talks of more schisms -- more dissents, and more separation. The need for face-to-face meetings has never been stronger. When clan affiliation is unstable, personal connections become key. And that...
That is why Scarlet Dahlia is seated at a small table in the Sleeping Dragon. Aside from the fact that this little hole-in-the-wall is quite possibly her favorite restaurant in Southtown, it is also staffed -- at least partially -- by people she considers loyal. People who won't run off at the mouth if they happen to overhear something. Dahlia's long white overcoat is draped upon a hanger just outside the intimate two-person booth, the logo of the Akatsuki clearly visible on its back. The Akatsuki advisor herself is seated with a view of the front door, but her glass-framed eyes are focused upon the pinnacle of her steepled fingers, seemingly lost in concentration. Her white dress is as pristine as ever, her hair tightly wound into a bun.
And she is humming quietly to herself. Waiting in anticipation for this meeting.
One of the clans that managed to avoid too much attention in the wake of the destruction of the Yamaguchi-gumi is the one a certain Masaaki Himura belongs too, as it ever since the Southtown Syndicate took over nearly the majority of the traditionaly Yakuza controlled crime has been keeping a low-profile and only keeping up their sides of various obligations to other clans . Nobody has been happy with the fact that it occasionaly forced them to work for the Syndicate by proxy as the common opinion amongst the clans old elite is that the good, old days of the Yakuza are over and that they are all finished.
Being raised by exactly those old folks means that Masaaki Himura shared the sentiment and through some of the other old connections to former Yamaguchi-gumi affiliated clans that instead threw their lot in with the Akatsuki-gumi arranged for a meeting to represent... essentially himself for now. That is also the reason why there are two conspicuously inconspicuous black suited Yakuza approaching the Sleeping Dragon at the same time as the Masaaki, as usuall clad in a pristine white suit, himself enters at a brisk pace to get the meeting over with.
The bell attached to the door jingles as Masaaki enters. Immediately before him, a highschool girl with dark blue hair and a red cheongsam bows to him, chirping in the traditional Japanese greeting. "Welcome to the Sleeping Dragon!"
From her table, Dahlia looks up to the new arrival, making a beckoning gesture to him. Her mouth moves as if to say the words, "Himura-san, good evening! Come on over."
And it's like he can hear her words, even though she hasn't raised her voice to cross the dozens of feet separating the two.
The blue-haired hostess, a girl named Saya, is quick to usher the white-suited gentleman over to the Dahlia's table.
Flashing Masaaki a warm smile, Dahlia gestures to the empty seat. "Please, sit. Have you ever eaten here before? I love the Phoenix Claws, myself..." It wouldn't be a huge leap of logic to presume that the Dahlia has a lot to discuss, but it's also clear that food is part of the deal.
Masaaki doesn't waste a moment as he sits down on the indicated seat as he looks around a good long moment. Its obvious that he hasn't been here before.
"In all honesty? Never been here before. I blame the old men for that one, since they usually drag me to particularly traditional Japanese restaurants, ramen shops or to get some steaks. Kobe beef, of course. Kind off stuck." That the 'Phoenix Claws' creep him out is left unsaid, although its implied by a light, but visible cringe at their mention.
Blame the old men for that one, he says. Dahlia's right eyebrow arches upward at the attempt to deflect blame for this man's personal choices of eating establishment, but that is the full extent of her questioning. In one statement, the yakuza advisor has ascertained a portion of the man's personality. Deference to others, respect of the chain of command. Perhaps that deference is only nominal, and that he's just as willing to throw them under the metaphorical bus -- that remains to be seen.
Her silent judgment lasts only an instant, replaced with a silky-smooth smile. "Well, you're in for a treat. What Chinese cuisine lacks in finely marbled beef is more than compensated for by four thousand years of experience in herbal seasoning."
As Saya leaves a menu by the finely-dressed yakuza enforcer, the advisor nods in commisseration -- apparently a pre-arranged signal of some kind. Saya steps away, and Dahlia resumes speaking with a slight smile: "This restaurant specializes in dim sum -- where a variety of fine dishes are brought to the table for our selection and consumption -- but if you're more comfortable with a traditional menu offering, by all means avail yourself. Dinner's on me, so don't worry about the cost."
Dahlia leans back in her seat, lacing her fingers together as she rests her palms on her lap. "Don't be worried. Phoenix Claws are, in all honesty, a fancy name for chicken's feet. Drowned in a delicious sauce, and a bit crunchy, but... not for everyone. That's the best thing about dim sum though -- if you don't like something, you're not beholden to stick with it all night. You are free to change your mind as needed to suit the given situation. If the Mandarin duck of the Han Dynasty is not your speed, then the more modern xiaolongbao of the modern-day Qing Dynasty is always an option. Or, better yet -- sample them all."
She pauses for a moment, tilting her head to better gauge Masaaki's expression. "Isn't that how your clan is faring these days? Sampling the waters, deciding which flavor suits it best?"
Masaaki allready starts to slowly regret having shown up, as just something about Dahlia ticks him off although he doesn't let it show as he looks at the menu. "Essentially. The clan is doing what it has allways done, just not for who they would prefer they would do it for and making sure that nobody too high up the food-chain remembers that we even exist because we really would prefer that we don't either work for the Syndis fulltime or just all end up dead in a back-alley."
Having said that he taps against the menu for a moment though and smirks. "By the way, I'm paying for myself. Out of principle. Besides, I think I allready know what I've allready an idea what I'd like."
The Dahlia's eyes lose a bit of their serpentine luster once she realizes that her attempt at instigating conversation has... maybe not hit the target she'd intended. Her offer to pay for his food were rejected, and her offer to entice him into discussions of historical significance was similarly rebuffed.
She holds up her hands, palms out, breaking into a candid smile. "Sorry, was I selling too hard? Tough habit to break. And hey, I can respect that. Each clan has different motivations in mind, different passions that drive them. This isn't meant to be a meeting where I entice you into joining some grand march for the conquest of the entire world or anything. I just haven't seen you around before. And I like to know what -my- clan can do for yours so that we can move forward with the least resistance possible."
She acknowledges his stated intention of paying for his own meal with a simple and respectful nod of her head. "What will it be? Something more adventurous than plain ramen, I hope? Life's too short, especially in our line of work, to go without sampling the very best."
Not long afterwards, a server -- not Saya, but someone else -- rolls up with a cart of bamboo steamers. Dahlia makes a hand gesture to two of the steamers, and before long, a plate with two steamed pork buns is placed on the table in front of her. It's clear that the waitress could leave any of the dim sum for Masaaki, if he chooses.
Masaaki rolls his eyes for a moment as he makes sure to get himself some 'chun juan' (spring rolls) before he actually bothers to respond. "I'd like to remind you that you are talking with me, not one of the old men. Elaborate speeches... well, I think you can guess the rest. I'm sure the bosses would be all over talking at length with several detours before arriving at the topic at hand, considering that they are all from the time when they could get away with solving matters with long and reasonable speeches which they simply can't anymore today since 'permanent' and 'semi-permanent' solutions are way too popular nowadays."
He crosses his arms and shifts about in his seat to appear a bit taller and smirks. "Also, good thing that you aren't recruiting for the conquest of the world. I'd try my best to nail you to the next best wall if you were before going back home with the suggestion that we all just retire. What my clan needs is someone to actually affiliate themselves that is not the Syndicate. Its to the point that we'd rather disembowel ourselves due to the 'moral' concerns of affiliating with them."
Dahlia smiles patiently, glancing over to the waitress for a moment before waving her away. No, it would seem two qiao long bao will be enough for the slim woman's appetite this evening.
"Well, can you blame me? You're over there in a bang-me suit name-dropping Kobe beef and ramen noodles in the same sentence. What kind of impression did you -want- me to walk away with?"
The Yakuza advisor actually, legitimately, laughs at the thought, before taking a most un-ladylike chomp out of her xiaolongbao. Once she finishes chewing, she notes, "That's... that's kind of adorable, really -- that you think you -could- nail me to a wall. Better men than you have tried. But, really, let's leave the dick-waving to someone who's packing one, hm? You want to get to the point? Here's the point."
Hands flatten against the table. And the smile has vanished.
"Tell me why your clan refuses to work with the Syndicate." No vague promises -- no suggestions. The pretense has been dropped, and right now, Masaaki will find himself looking into the the Dahlia's steel blue eyes.
Masaaki meanwhile doesn't so much as flinch as he just stares back, apparently prefering whats going on over any long speech. "Moral concerns. Too much ethusiasm about the useage of 'permanent' solution, criminal venues we wouldn't even think about joining in on and them having torn the whole way the criminal underworld here used to work to shreds. Besides, in my eyes they are pure evil, the whole bunch. I'm not a nice guy myself when I got a reason not to be, but I have at least some standards. Our whole bunch has them."
Dahlia nods quietly, her posture conveying more emotion than her stone-faced expression. In her experience, each person is different, carrying a different set of assumptions and beliefs. Each person requires their own specific balance of persuasiveness and comradery -- and it's fairly obvious now that Masaaki has a lot of experience with the distinctly no-pretense manner of communication Mild threat -- and simple words.
While the Dahlia listens, her xiaolongbao remain as they are -- one untouched, the other lying on the saucer in its half-consumed state. Her hands -- their knuckles having turned white for the moment -- relax as she leans back in her seat. Talking about the state of the world -- well, there's no place for that now. Masaaki has the mic -- and the Dahlia asks the questions.
"Tell me, then. Hypothetical situation. Clan brother goes for a shakedown, three of his brothers in tow. Store owner and his employees decides they're not going to play ball. Clan brother slips up... defends himself, accidentally knocks the owner into next week with a severe head aneurysm, killing him. Employees dogpile the brother -- and then all hell breaks loose. Brothers walk away, employees dead on the street. You speak of standards. What's the reaction?"
Masaaki may not have realized he signed up for a pop quiz.
Masaakis stare doesn't eaase up at any moment as he simply listens to the question. "The accidental killing? He can consider himself beaten into next week and would've a lot to make up for. Dead people draw attention, ruins business and besides... you don't kill the weak. Heck, would still get the benefit of the doubt due to it having been an accident. Massacring everyone else in the location? They can all consider themselves beaten into next year, kicked out or what do I know what else. Dogpiling or not, there is a difference between a group of people who wreck people for a living and some poor shmucks in some store."
As the waitress returns with a plate of chun juan for Masaaki, the stone-faced Dahlia continues listening to Masaaki's explanation of exactly how the miscreants would be dealt with. Dead people draw attention, and ruin business - but most importantly, it's a crime against honor.
The stone face cracks, as the Dahlia gives a lopsided half-smile in response. "Exactly. I think we're in full agreement. It's a fine line. The family is not a collection of -thugs-. We respect others, and in turn, they respect us. Stand up for us."
She pauses for a moment, waiting to see if Masaaki responds favorably to that -particular- line of questioning, while she takes a second bite of her xiaolongbao.
Dabbing her mouth with a napkin, she resumes. "I know you don't care for the fluffy talk. You cut to the heart of the matter -- it is all about mutual respect. My family hopes to bring that back to the world -- to Japan, in particular. Not to command, but to move forward as a people. And as long as respect goes both ways..."
Dahlia spreads her hands wide, as a fair smile spreads across her face. "I think we'll get along just fine. However your family chooses to proceed."
The Enforcer just stares for another moment at Dahlia for he groans audibly and just decides to get in a few bites of his spring rolls to prevent himself from getting even more cranky, although it doesn't stop him from piping up again after a moment though. "Well, honorable behaviour is important. You mess up, you bear the consequences. You cross a line, we will make you bear the consequences if we have to. It would make the wrong impression on the public if we wouldn't act according to some guidelines."
With that said he pauses for a moment to get another bite in and grab a napkin, before he resumes. "After all we Yakuza like to claim that we are concerned with service to the community, symphathy for outcasts, honor and justice. I mean, most clans have even their whole personal ethics plastered on a wall in their offices and talk about the ninkyodo although admittedly not that many left who actually live up to it or even bother to claim that they have any ehtics and standards. My clan meanwhile tries to, aside from the whole deal about making money in less than legal ways and even then we at the very least offer protection, policing and respect as long as we are respected as well. Syndicate meanwhile? No standards. At all."
It seems that, now that the two are on the same page, that Masaaki is preaching to the choir. If the Dahlia has an opposing viewpoint, it is not obvious in her faint smile, or in the agreeable way in which she nods her head. He admits that his clan operates around the law; in any other place this would be an uncomfortable statement to make, but the Sleeping Dragon is an island of safety in a town made of ears.
"Agreed. Even when the world begins to fall apart, it is absolutely necessary for us to maintain our ideals and standards. Failure to do so is to hand our enemies the weapon to kill us."
A moment is spared for the rest of her first xiaolongbao to be finished off, in appropriately polite fashion. If the Dahlia was upset before, the mood would seem to have passed.
I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet with you today, Himura-san." Her eyes twinkle with just the slightest glow of friendship; the experienced negotiator is cautious not to lay it on -too- thickly. "I needn't occupy any more of your precious time. Do not feel rushed; you and your brothers are more than safe here."
So she -did- notice the other two from Masaaki's clan, somehow.
With a wrinkle of her nose and a cordial smile, the Dahlia rises from the table. She wraps the uneaten xiaolongbao in a paper napkin, draping her overcoat over one arm. "If you have need of any assistance -- particularly to keep the Syndicate in line, do not hesitate to ask for our help."
A moment later, a business card is flung from the Dahlia's hand. It sails across the space between the Dahlia and Masaaki, and flutters down to the tabletop in front of him. The name -- Scarlet Dahlia. The business - Tohoku Development Interest.
And with a graceful nod of her head, the Dahlia moves as if to leave Masaaki in peace with his spring rolls.
Log created on 09:21:43 06/28/2017 by Honoka, and last modified on 17:34:11 06/28/2017.