The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 1 - I'm Afraid He's Back

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Description: Charlie drops a Dictator-sized bombshell when he and Chun-Li meet to touch base regarding the various fires breaking out across Sunshine City.

The rush of a train above, the sound of people below. Music playing, hawkers hawking, people moving here and there in a rush of vibrant sunny life. Tourists and locals alike flocking in Sunshine City. The namesake star shining down above it all. Bright and warm with only an oceanside breeze to keep it cool and refreshing. A near paradise of high-energy living.

All of it wrapped in and ignoring the seedy ring closing about the bright gem of a city. Those inside unaware or uncaring of the corruption and danger.

Charlie Nash is out decidedly not enjoying the sun and the city as he waits for his contact from Interpol to arrive. His phone, small in his broad hand, holds a wealth of information on the latest leads and findings coming in from all over the world. Rising tides on both sides of the Pacific and rumbles from Sunshine City to Mexico has turned this half of the world into a ring of fire. And one that may yet grow worse.

But that's just why Charlie does what he does, to put out those fires and to bring a swift and hopefully final justice to the criminals that threaten the life and color of places like Sunshine City.

He adjusts his glasses, slips his phone into the breast pocket of his vest, and lifts a brightly colored citrus protein smoothie to take a sip. It was only a matter of time before his contact arrives, and he could still enjoy the gorgeous afternoon for what it is before the dour clouds of his duty return.

Chun-Li arrives a few minutes late and casts a small, apologetic smile towards the Major during her jogging approach. The smoothie earns a briefly mournful look; she /certainly/ didn't have enough time to brave the summer lines at a juice shop after spending far longer than intended - and nowhere near as long as /needed/ - poring over documents from potentially Shadaloo-aligned shipping companies.

The life of an Interpol agent is full of sacrifices great and small.

"Major Nash," she greets with a broadening smile and a brisk wave once she's close enough to not need to yell. The raised hand smoothly falls, offered towards Charlie's empty hand.

The Interpol investigator originally came to Sunshine City because Duke was in the middle of a business transaction there, and she'd gotten it in her head to draw him into a title match/public interrogation. While the enforcer was victorious and mostly circumspect, his mere presence and the little bit he /did/ let slip was enough to keep her in the States, wading through the taint flooding the city. Between keeping on top of the Syndicate's activities, assisting local law enforcement with gang violence, and trying to look into the mystery of Shadaloo's interest in stealing children, 'paradise' is the last word she'd find to describe her past few weeks.

"Thanks for meeting me. How are you holding up out here?"

Sunlight glinting off his glasses, Charlie raises his head when he picks out the approaching Interpol Agent. His lips draw thin, but his dramatic and stoic appearance is undercut by the long and slow drink of his colorful, fruit-colored, refreshing beverage.

"Chun-Li," he says post-drink, and taking her hand with a firm and steady grip. "Clever tactics and methods with Duke Burkoff," he praises, smiling and taking his hand back. "Please, take a seat. You look like you've been running."

But business is business and there's a terrible cost to the information that the Task Force has managed to acquire. "We're not, we've lost several of our own recently, and a few reports from overseas of other powerful fighters." He shakes his head. "I would've bet that Krauser and his tournament meant he was planning something, but the reality is worse."

Charlie pulls his phone from his pocket and flicks through his files. He turns it to Chun-Li and shows her the familiar insignia of The Dictator himself. "I'm afraid he's back. I was on that Island with him, I thought the one positive from that tournament was the end of his reign. I was wrong."

After sharing firmly gripped greetings, Chun-Li settles in across from the Major, folds her hands on the table, and leans in a little. "It would've been a little /more/ clever if I were a champion right now," she ruefully says. Or if it wasn't directly responsible for multiplying her workload.

The woman's eyes widen when Charlie proceeds to transition right into business-- not because of the wholly appreciated shift from small talk to what actually matters, but, because, well.

He's lost several of his own, and then some.

Even before the implications of that statement fully register, it's a bombshell: with Ryuji Yamazaki on the loose and the Syndicate engaged in-- /something/-- besides, the possibility of grave injuries - even deaths - among the ranks is hardly distant. She's in the process of drawing in a bracing breath, nodding firmly, and contemplating the effects of a Task Force that's noticably diminished just weeks into its existence, then Charlie shows her a picture.

And all of the air's sucked out of her in an instant.

"Burkhoff..." She quickly breathes in and out, narrowing her eyes upon the insignia. "Burkhoff mentioned - taunted me about - Shadaloo having something to do with that busload of kids that disappeared at the border last month. Psychic kids, on a field trip-- ah."

Her eyes close for a moment.

Calculations begin to adjust.

"What do we mean by 'lost'," she asks, just to be sure-- just to rip the bandage off and hear it aloud, "and how many are we talking about? /Who/ are we talking about?" Her eyes open afterwards.

"Where is he?" she wonders in a voice that's long since been overtaken by a steely chill.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm sorry for your loss," Charlie tells the woman, looking at her over the rim of his glasses. "I'd like your focus to be on the task at hand."

"That's not saying I wouldn't like to try my own hand at that belt should you win it," he adds with a smile. He isn't a man beyond competition when the world isn't in such dire straights.

The phone returns back to Charlie's pocket. "Exactly where that train of thought is going," Charlie informs with a dire solemnity. "Sergei Dragunov, of Interpol, is one of the missing. As is one of my own, Cassandra Cage. There are also reports of Zach Glenn, a bit of a knight errant, but a good and dangerous man, is also among the missing. And those are just the knowns." The words fall, leaden, and Charlie takes his glasses off when he looks sharp toward Chun-Li.

"If I knew where he was, rest assure that you would be on the spearhead. But all we have right now are leads. But they start here," Charlie explains, the moment of heat and danger in his voice fades to his cool and focused steadiness. "We're striking back, and I'll send you the information on your part of the team by tonight. I still need to finalize my initial strike team for my own efforts."

Charlie slips his glasses back on. "What do you think of trains?"

That'll make for a wonderful update to Dragunov's file.

Sergei Dragunov, Cassandra Cage, Zach Glenn... Chun-Li tenses with each name, holds them tight in her memory, and resolves to do some digging into not just their whereabouts, but /them/.

The people who've already fallen before Shadaloo's resurgence-- the ones they /know/ of.

"... of course," she quietly utters when Charlie tells her there's no location on the Dictator. The nods for the rest are perfunctory; her hands, folded upon the table, coil and clench against one another. "I've been looking where can, on my end, but it's been..."

'What do you think of trains?'

A faint grimace passes over the detective's features.

"I've spent an /awful/ lot of time at the local trainyard," she lowly says. Brown eyes flick down; her hands loosen. "Duke. Ryuji Yamazaki... you know about Yamazaki, don't you? They were shipping him off to the kind of hole you /put/ people like him in, but when his train pulled into that yard... they weren't ready. He could've gotten out at any time, but he chose /here/. He practically had people /waiting/ to lay down cover fire and drag him to safety after I subdued him. The Syndicate's /busy/ here... and Vega's /alive/."

The inspector slowly breathes in and out, seeking calm. Focus, if nothing else-- /anything/ to balance out the anger and frustration boiling uselessly within.

"I'm getting increasingly less wild about trains, but that's alright. I'll manage."

Just like she manages to summon a small smile for the Major.

"I'll just think about finding a belt for you to not win from me," she teases in an effort to distract - however lightly, however temporarily - from the grave matter before them, "and the mission ought to fly right by."

Charlie seems, if anything, brightened by the word that Chun-Li is grown so intimately familiar with the local rail service. He smiles, nodding along with each word of Chun-Li's explanation. "Take that anger. Use it. Because if you're that familiar with things here, then you'll be perfect to keep inspecting things. Each time you're there is a jab and they can't keep up their defense forever."

He sips his fruit drink and puts it back when he's finally found a smile in Chun-Li's fervor. "We have a long way to go. I'm taking a small team into a suspect facility. We have others investigating further leads. A multi-pronged assault to dislodge and disrupt. This time he won't slip away. I promise you that."

"I intend to."

Charlie's suggestion earns a firm nod and low, sober voice. After he finishes overviewing his side of things, she nods again while saying, "Whatever they're shipping in - just spit-balling, trains and all - I'll do my best to get a sample of."

A beat.

"Or liberate," she adds, voice falling even lower. "Thank you for the... information," she goes with, over 'news'. "He should've /stayed/ gone, but-- at least /this/ way, maybe we'll get a chance to see him go, with our own eyes. Maybe we'll get to be /sure/."

Log created on 20:52:38 07/28/2018 by Chun-Li, and last modified on 11:30:07 07/29/2018.