The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 1 - Offerings Before the Lord

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Description: Geese and Kain discuss the disturbing events unfolding around them, and weigh what to do about Duke and the Dahlia, the double d's of disruption.

Southtown is burning. Blood runs through the streets.

With gang violence at a new high, Geese Howard's control on the city seems to be slipping. Some were questioning the man's leadership, claiming he had gotten soft. For a time, Geese quashed that rumor, in part by tossing the upstart, Duke, from the top of Geese Tower. Duke has survived though, and submitted to Geese's leadership...for what it's worth. His feud with the Akatsuki-gumi has brought war to Southtown in a way that has not been seen in years. Kain certainly has reason to be concerned.

But that is why Geese has invited him to his office. This is a formal invitation; Kain is welcomed to the tower, and all of Geese's men treat Heinlein with the respect he deserves. Only men like Billy Kane and Hein receive this level of deference. Perhaps Duke, as well, but fear is the not the same as deference.

Geese himself sits as his desk in a black and blue suit. His chair is turned to face out over the Southtown skyline as he sips from a clear glass.

Kain has reason to be concerned. But he is not. Chaos is a ladder.

Heinlein has been all but entirely absent from the public eye since his apparent death in the Mortal Kombat tournament; but such reports, it seems, were greatly exaggerated. Kain enters Geese Tower resplendent in custom tailored white and crimson from out of Italy, graceful and unhurried, cool as ice-- as is his somewhat ironic reputation. Kain's territory has been locked down by Grant and his men, his operations defended with extreme prejudice whether harried by Duke's men or those of the roused Yakuza.

Kain's demeanor scarcely shifts as he strides into Howard's office, stoic and subtly bemused as he clasps his fingers loosely as it his back and casts his own gaze on the vista enjoyed by Geese. Wordless, statuesque, the spark of a forge twinkling in his crimson eyes.

"Kain," Geese says without casting a glance toward him. "It's beautiful, isn't it? This city. To think how far it's come. I brought order and prosperity to this city after crawling out of its gutters." The kingpin raises his hand, dismissing some of his guards to stand aside. This is a private meeting.

"But Duke's vendetta with the Dahlia threatens to destroy all that. Once again, his ambition outstrips his caution. Fool!" Geese's anger snaps briefly with a jerk of his head, but then Geese turns his chair to face Kain.

"But I'm sure you know why I called you here. You've seen what Duke has drug my organization into. You have always been wise beyond your years."

It's interesting, how often when people claim to have brought order or prosperity, they're speaking from a very particular perspective. Kain smiles a deceptively dangerous, soft smile. "The view is most impressive." The words are both unhesitant, and carefully weighed; a knack the young capo possesses to both assuage and question his boss' perspective in the same breath. And with utmost politesse.

Heinlein considers the situation with the same calm, surgical precision. "Duke had to have known he could be starting a war on two fronts." Kain posits simply. "His reach may outstrip his grasp but to take such an action capriciously would be idiotic." Beat. "Duke is not an idiot. To my mind two likelihoods exist."

Kain strides nearer the desk, and nearer an adjacent window, his attention still largely on the city, rather than the deadly Howard. "Duke anticipates you will move the bulk of our Organization to support him and supplant the Dahlia, taking the net gains and amplifying his gambit..." Another pause, alongside a low, deep breath, as Kain frowns lightly, "Or he has other allies bringing power and resources beyond Duke's to bear in the inevitable crucible."

Geese continues to look over the city. His city, as he sees it. He raises his glass and takes another slow drink. When he lowers it, his rests his chin on his other hand.

"Duke forces me to settle his feud, or risk bowing my head to the Dahlia." Geese hmphs. It's a short, wordless exhalation. "Shrewd, for a barking dog who has stretched his leash so far already." Geese raises a hand, working his fingers slowly. Clenching a fist, then releasing it. "You give him a lot of credit, Kain, but maybe I'll give him too much chain with my time at World Warrior."

Geese rises, standing up and setting the glass down on his desk. His hand goes in his pocket as he paces before the window.

"Or maybe he's called help from elsewhere. You've heard he had to be freed from NOL custody? Those aristocrats aren't the champions of the law they make themselves out to be." Geese smirks, perhaps amused at his own joke. "But what do you think, Kain? I'm certain you've stayed busy while I was abroad."

"Duke hates the Dahlia. Perhaps the Dahlia hates Duke." It seems likely enough to Kain. Duke isn't precisely the most likable fellow-- to most, at least. Heinlein always got on well enough with the other capo. "My first step would be to arrange contact with the woman and find out where she stands; and what she knows about these ambitions."

Kain turns his crimson eyes on Geese, a hint of doubt in them. "Open new avenues of business, chafe your subordinant, and consolidate the power brought to bear against Duke in the short term. Either he's brought to heel or replaced." Heinlein shrugs, like it's little difference in the end.

"Or you back his play, dominate these Yakuza, and send me to burn the Dahlia alive instead of currying her favor. Anything else makes us weaker while doing nothing to address this new enmity and potential debt of blood and gold." As far as the Novus Orbis Librarium, Kain's smile grows slowly. "How many authorities are exactly what they wish to appear to be?" The German lets out a low chuckle. "Every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners, saints."

"I trust that woman even less than I trust Duke," Geese says coolly, rolling his neck slightly. "Duke is at least predicable. The man is driven by hate and ambition. The Dahlia..." Geese furrows his brow. "Who knows?" The Syndicate kingpin continues to pace, moving along the window with his hands folded behind himself. "Maybe she is overwhelmed, but only a fool makes his decisions on wishful thinking."

Geese stops again, turning his head to look at Kain. "There are too many forces at play here for simple concidence. While I was away Volkov set up her casino with her war dogs and those monsters she's been collecting from whatever hell she's been in." Geese's expression is full of disdain, but he keeps speaking. "And there's movement in Sunshine City and Mexico...enough that the UN has a 'task force' now to curb it. It reeks of NESTS, or worse. All this now, as Duke brings us to's either poor timing, or far too convenient for someone.

"That understanding would be an important first step." Kain observes coolly. Everyone wants something, especially a woman as ambitious as the Dahlia. "Whatever else she's after, it's safe to assume strong animosity for Duke and the organization he's running. Whether that includes us is, really, up to you."

Kain smiles slowly, the gesture largely hidden as he steps the rest of the distance towards the large windows, scanning the city thoughtfully as he lifts a gloved hand to his chin. "It is almost certainly not a coincidence. A move like this... all but requires contingencies. Alliances." If Heinlein knows just who Duke made his pact with so long ago, he doesn't share it now. Kain seems fairly certain of his supposition, however. "Poor timing for some; convenient for others."

"Yes," Geese seconds. "There are too many unknowns," Geese says, "and I do not like unknowns, Kain. You know this well." Geese's gaze returns to the window, but his presence is heavy. Dour. "Some of the old families still see me as 'gaijin'. They would rather die than submit to a foreigner. Unless the Dahlia has them in check, they will not stop with Duke."

With a steady clack of his boots, Geese moves to the far window, putting his hand on the glass. "Perhaps I have been too soft. World Warrior kept me away too long, and our enemies have grown bold in my absence."

Geese steps back across the room, returning to his chair. He plants his hand firmly on its back, his other in his pocket "And we do not know what those forces across the Pacific will do next. They have not come to parle, so we can only expect the worst."

When Geese offers little but echo of their unknowns, Kain proffers his own way forward. "I can seek out the Dahlia and... get a sense of her desires and disposition." the statuesque blonde youth offers smoothly. "I expect I know what Duke will say, but he should be all the easier to locate." Though Heinlein is decidedly less certain how Howard wishes to proceed with the... headstrong captain.

A small smirk crosses Kain's austere features, "You are a gaijin." he observes simply. Despite the Boss' considerable Yabo.

"As am I." He seems to take neither pride nor consternation in that. It is what it is. "We are masters in this land or any other not by birth, but by might." Indeed, that dark conduit pulses as strongly as ever within the notable prodigy; perhaps more than ever.

"I expected nothing less," Geese says with an arrogant smirk. Perhaps he was waiting for Kain to volunteer. Could it be this was a test of Kain's intitiative? A biding of time to see if his loyalty had wavered in Geese's absence?

"I'll concern myself with Duke for now. In the meantime, the Dahlia is yours. You have the restraint that Duke lacks, but I have no doubts you can do what's needed if the time comes."

Geese leans back in his seat slightly. "Yes," he says, "and in this, you and I understand something Krauser still fails to see." Geese's expression darkens. Did he not confront Krauser recently? "But it's of no importance. As you say, what matters is power. We need to understand where Dahlia has found enough to think she can win."

"Krauser is a truly formidable creature shackled to the edifice of a dead world." Kain replies without hesitation, but some tangible undercurrent of regret. "At once a paradoxical cautionary tale... and titan." If he's aware of Geese's long rivalry with his mighty half-brother, he pays it no mind at all. "Our own beliefs and traditions must be adaptable to, as you say, do all that is necessary."

Kain considers his mission a moment, observing, "It's possible the Dahlia acts not from perceived superiority, but due to some other impetus." Duke has a way of instigating such things; and as Howard also believes, he's clearly not alone in this. "This will be an interesting challenge." That's one way to look at things; deceptively blaise'. " I have grown only stronger in your absence; I hope the inverse is equally true."

Geese's eyes narrow as Kain speaks of Krauser. The injuries from the final Kaiser Wave and Krauser's unexpected power still hold true. Worse still he must bear the injury to his pride to have come that far and still not tasted victory against his oldest foe.

"Yes," Geese says suddenly. "She may be cornered, but she lacks that desperation. Perhaps it will come with time. I refuse to be in the dark until then.

But Kain's last statement provokes a raised eyebrow from Geese. "Heh." The Syndicate kingpin smiles. "World Warrior was a worthy crucible for me to reforge my edge," he says, "Don't tell me that you doubt me now, Kain?"

Kain hooks one gloved thumb in his jacket pocket and turns lithely halfway towards facing Geese, turning his crimson gaze to the elder master. "Doubt has nothing to do with it." Kain observes bluntly, coolly. "But you are not the only one tested and reforged in our time apart." A slow smile, without humor, spreads darkly across the pyromancer's features.

"Had circumstances been only slightly different, I too would have been in your way on the path to being called World Warrior." There's obvious arrogance to the content of the words, but no anger or hubris evident in Kain's tone. To him, it is a matter of fact, a challenge that Geese Howard has only begun to realize.

Geese chuckles. It is a sinister, haughty laugh, but such is Geese's way. "I look forward to seeing your progress soon, Kain," he says. "Perhaps when this business is settled, I can test your progress personally."

Geese lifts his chin, looking at Kain. "And you would have been as formidable opponent as any." Geese rests his arms on the sides of his chair, lowering his head again. "But for now, there's business to attend to. I await your report on the Dahila. Maybe you can use it to test the results of your training, if the Akatsuki-gumi prove troublesome."

"Of course. I'll endeavour to make things as expedient as possible." Nothing shows through in Kain's tone but polite deference. Obedience. "Do keep me informed as to our posture towards Duke and his forces."

Kain chuckles softly, light and airy. "If the Akatsuki-gumi or their Dahlia can put my abilities to the test, this excursion will be doubly interesting." The observation is made with confidence, and an absence of fear; there is a possibility they might be too much for Kain, for Grant to handle. But the German sincerely doubts it. "If there is nothing else?"

"You will be updated if it changes," Geese says, leaning back further in his chair. He takes his glass once more and sips from it. "That will be all, Kain. I expect a strong showing from you." There's that arrogant smirk again. "And I know that you don't take my expectations lightly."

"There are some things that never change." Kain rebutts gently. Any implication he needs to prove his strength is brushed aside; his power is what it is. What it will be.

Whatever form that ambition takes, a man like Geese Howard is never to be taken lightly. Politely inclining his head, Heinlein turns to stalk gracefully from the Tower, refined beast that he is.

Log created on 22:17:55 07/12/2018 by Kain, and last modified on 23:32:49 07/17/2018.