The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 3 - Snooping Unusual

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Description: At the twilight of the gang war, daring spy Max Evory has successfully infiltrated the Syndicate's computer network. With the assistance of MI-6 hacking support, Max snaps British Intelligence into Southtown Syndicate's servers, attempting to hold his position long enough to download a full dossier of SouthSynd's illicit activities. British Intelligence, of course, has nefarious aims, not necessarily seeking the end of Southtown Syndicate, merely using the crime organization for their own international trade needs. But Max will suddenly find himself trapped in the machinations of an outside player who is more than willing to leave a parting gift for her Syndicate enemies.

You can fit so darn many cubicles into that Geese Tower. Most of the floors of Geese Tower are crammed to capacity with cubes, with traditional Japanese business patterns meaning that there's a nearly constant buzz of activity, day or night. It'd be a dreary place, but luckily every ten floors or so there is a break in the pattern, an exercise room or a grand ballroom.

Here on the fiftieth floor, there's hardly any cubicles at all. One quarter of the floor is dedicated to IT support, with keycard readers limiting access to only authorized personnel. Inside, one would find a veritable maze of server racks, cooling units, monitoring equipment, and data storage platters. Every server is spic-and-span, with cables neatly routed and easy to identify -- as if the servers were just purchased a month or less ago. Each server rack is protected by a glass door, and each door is "sealed" with a tamper-resistant sticker showing a caricature of Nagase, the Syndicate's preeminent IT expert. One workstation sits free of the server racks, its monitor gently glowing with a screensaver image, bouncing lazily from one side of the screen to the other.

The rest of the floor is wide open, with plenty of chairs, tables, and more spacious sofas for relaxation. Square columns are spaced at regular intervals, covered with the same white marble tiles that line the spacious floor. Once stepping out of the elevator, it'd be hard to ignore the most stunning feature of this floor, though: light flooding in from windows that provide an unparalleled view of the Southtown skyline in just about every direction. Small stands dispense fresh fruit and drinks off to one end of the floor, making this a great place for just about all the employees to relax.

For the rank-and-file workers here in Geese Tower, this vista is a reminder of just how far they've come. A reward, for busting their tails day in and day out for the glory of the Southtown Syndicate.

And there certainly are a lot of people out here to enjoy it -- workers dressed in light-colored shirts, milling about here and there. Many of them look like they're having a good time, chatting it up as they can before the demands of work pull them back to their cubicle maze. Others seem to be... half-asleep, really: staring vacantly out onto the skyline without any real agenda in mind, or any real interest in talking with anyone at all.

British Intelligence had long suspected that Geese Howard was involved in the types of international criminal activity, particularly throughout the Far East, that made him a dangerous man. The Queen had no business of making such a man an ally at his own discretion, but exploiting his means has always been a goal. All the British have ever needed was the infrastructure of his operations outside of his heavily protected citadel, Southtown. If Max Evory can take advantage of the gang war, under his cover as a Southtown Syndicate mercenary, then British Intelligence has potential assets, red herrings, and leverages all over Eastern Russia, China, Indochina, the Phillipines, and Indonesia, to be exploited out of Oceania. Their desks in Hong Kong, the front entry point from Australia, desperately need the eyes that Max can give them.

Maximilian Evory has never enjoyed the office life, but he's been trained for it since birth, albeit as an executive. His present straits means he's merely more attractive to your average secretary in a gray pencil skirt.

Dressed in a black suit with a black tie and a pair of eyeglasses, Max Evory steps out of an elevator, a security card with a mercenary company logo pinned to his suit. His shorn blond hair has been shaved, and a fake scar is across his face, matching the dead mercenary slain months ago to allow his entry as the man. Under the simple handle, Quarterback, printed as his name, Max Evory tugs his lapels as he strolls into the eminent corridors of Southtown Syndicate's neural cortex, prepared to evacuate the proper data. Across the distant skyline, a helicopter sits atop a roof, his evacuation method. Little does Geese know, one of his window washers left a little surprise of directed explosive putty on a window, the perfect escape for an athletic, acrobatic MI-6 agent.

Max only has one shot at every shot on this mission, from the entry downstairs into the lobby, to the leap out the window onto the rappel cord, over three hundred feet in the air.

The keycard reader offers a plaintive beep, before providing access with a click. Max will have to open the door itself, but at least it's no longer locked, and his credentials appear to check out.

The humming of the server fans is loud, but at least one can get used to it after a minute or so. One other IT tech was already in the room, but it seems he didn't hear Max come in as he's currently engrossed in his task of extricating a stubborn data module from the backup drive.

Through the gaps in the server racks it'd be possible to see people entering and exiting the elevator outside. A Japanese man around five-foot-eight steps out of the elevator, tailed closely by a woman standing about five-foot-five. Both are wearing tailored white shirts and black slacks. And while the woman has a beguiling smile, the man himself seems very, -very- nervous, with hints of perspiration on his brow. His name badge has a curious device attached to the top of it, illuminated with what appears to be a magenta LED. It's not something -every- employee has -- certainly not the one Max has on.

Luckily, only Max has a view of the communal area, through the glass partition separating the IT area from the rest. The IT tech, lost in the labyrinth, wouldn't be able to see past the racks of IT equipment -- even if he -weren't- engrossed in his work.

Max Evory nonchalantly but briskly walks through the Japanese skyscraper, a deliberate kick to his polished shoes to make him appear to be a dominant male fascist, his toe up and his heel down. The heeled step is the proper movement for a modern gangster, the alert to anyone that knows body language that these aren't mere cubicle rats (at least their management teams), and the toe up indicates the fascist inclinations; a corporate mercenary trained to fight.

Max Evory knows just how these machines are structured, thanks to a cargo manifest of the particular machines being used that were installed within ten years, plus a decent errata of machine upgrades and local culture with Southtown's computer technicians, information compiled by the Foreign Office's technical branch.

Maximilian finds just the right machine, and turns to the side. He withdraws a long, narrow metal flat piece from inside his jacket with a reach, and slides it along the machine. The static-charged surface of the rod, as it hums to life, blocks the buffer signal from the hardware's security system, creating a temporary fuzz in an entire node of machines linked to that one.

And then, he turns about, with the security systems blinded, as alerts ping to life, and slides a datajack into an open port, before he slaps a radio transistor contacting a van outside, for the download to begin.

And with that, Max walks away.

The system architecture will be a bit different than records indicate -- one can probably thank Nagase's complete and obsessive restructuring for that. But she didn't throw -everything- out when she rebuilt the entire infrastructure; only the older machines had been ejected from her grand ordered system. And almost all of the security safeguards she'd installed had been software-based, such that anyone with physical access would only need to defeat the commercial, off-the-shelf security mesh that Max knows all too much about.

It's all working like a charm. Right until the IT tech hears the hum and lifts his head up. "H-hey, what... what is that? Who are you, what are you doing here? I--"

And that's when the alarm starts to blare. Not a security alarm -- but a fire alarm, as emergency lights begin to flash all along the corridor to the elevator, and the wail of sirens begins.

"... Shit, um. That's.... that's a fire alarm!" The tech -- lacking in the social graces Max clearly has -- starts to reach for the data jack. "She's gonna -kill- you if she finds out about this. Disconnect it so we can -go!-"

Out on the marble-tiled floor, a good number of the people lounging about spring up from their seats and start piling for the stairwell access. Not the elevator, because of course that's disabled during a fire alarm. People start thundering down the stairs...

But the few dozen people staring listlessly out the window? They don't budge.

And the woman in the white blouse pulls on a black jacket, seating herself within a plush chair with a view of the window. One leg crosses leisurely over the other, as she strokes at her chin. The man stands nervously beside her, as another man in a black suit offers a nod towards the pair.

The woman's beguiling smile begins to fade as her eyes glance over towards the server room. It'd be... difficult to leave the server room without crossing her view, let alone join the mass exodus or make a conspicuous exit through sealed windows.

Max turns his head, slowly, as the fire alarm goes off, looking at the IT tech.

"The only lady that kills me, friend, sits in a much higher chair."

And with that, a fist lashes out for the IT tech's temple, cold cocking him unconscious.

Max Evory steps out of the server room, having discarded his badge. As people throng around the floor, he stares down the woman in the white blouse, slowly loosening his tie. His chin rolls out to the side as he flexes his deep diver's muscles, tugging his collar and unbuttoning it. There's a brief, solid kant to his hips as he readjusts his posture around the vulgar English sailor's trick, before he glides towards her, palms moving towards his sides and fingers slowly curling into tight fists, before loosening into gentleman's fisticuffs.

"I take it that human resources sent you to find a ball of yarn?" he says, halted just inside the lounge entryway.

COMBATSYS: Max has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Max              0/-------/-------|

The IT tech falls like a sack of potatoes. Needless to say, he doesn't get to accomplish his mission of preventing the intruder from broadcasting the deep, dark Syndicate secrets to the van outside.

But then, there are more pressing issues. The floor is in a panic, and yet -- it's an ordered panic, as nearly every one of the "awake" employees has already made it to the door.

"A ball of yarn?" The seated woman flashes an inscrutable look, gesturing with an open hand towards the HR director -- that is to say, the man standing right next to her. "Was that supposed to be a joke?"

She offers an exasperated sigh as the door slams shut. Glancing to Max's right, she calls out into the darkness, "Sudo, dear?"

Almost instantly, motion can be heard to Max's right, as a man steps out from behind the columns. He's dressed in a black suit, with appropriately out-of-place sunglasses and a crimson shirt. Sudo raises his fists in a suitable gesture. "Stay where you are, sir..."

The woman nods, tugging sharply at her chin. As she pulls her hand away, her skin ripples and shimmers, parting in waves beneath the track of her nails. And when the skin settles, the scarred face of Scarlet Dahlia is revealed.

"I'd love to play with you -- but we've got a schedule to keep. The show must go on, you see."

The dozens of listless employees turn toward Max in perfect unison. Their eyes are glassy, their expressions as blank as statues. And their namebadges are adorned with the magenta lights just as the HR director's namebadge is. And four of the employees have some sort of headband on -- a camera rig of some sort. With the brand label clearly visible: HITBIT.

Sudo states, insistently with his fists raised -- "Back to the server room, hmm? Nothing for you to see here."

COMBATSYS: Sudo has joined the fight here.

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Sudo             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0              Max

COMBATSYS: Sudo takes no action.

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Sudo             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0              Max

Max Evory looks to his right, as Sudo steps out of the columns amid the office palazzio.

"Is that training, or fear?"

Max slowly removes his eyeglasses, his eyes not adjusting without them, indicating he never needed them. He quietly folds them, in his hands, looking down.

"You'd be apt to understand," he says softly, "That they're the same thing."

He then swerves around with his torso, twisting his trunk as he brings his arm up, then hammers it down, with the glasses in his fist, the narrow beam of iron uniting the tops of the lenses aimed to jam down into Sudo's shoulder.

COMBATSYS: Max successfully hits Sudo with Mind Your Surroundings.
- Power hit! -

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Sudo             0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0              Max

Sudo's response to the query is little more than a fractional rise of his eyebrow. Either he doesn't understand -- or doesn't -care-.

Scarlet Dahlia raises her hand, sweeping a lock of her hair down in front of her face. She adjusts her collar, though instead of loosening a tie, it seems she's making sure it's nice and proper. Seated with her back to the window, she points at one of the HitBit-equipped employees, then makes a hooking gesture with her finger.

On the non-verbal command, the employee turns away from the conflict between Max, and turns himself and his camera onto the Akatsuki leader.

Dahlia makes a snapping gesture at the employee -- and the recording, one can assume, begins.

The first sound recorded, though, would be the sound of Max's glasses slamming into Sudo's well-muscled shoulder. Sure -- Sudo may have thought his shoulder would've been a good defensive tactic against a brutal punch, but not against the nerve strike that actually lances into his shoulder. Sudo's shoes squeak against the tile as he reels backward, one hand clapping to the critical wound as he just about tumbles to the floor. Snarling, he leaps back to his feet. "It's gonna be like that, huh?" he answers in a near-whisper. And then he lunges forward, hoping to slam his -good- shoulder into Max's gut. If he manages to catch hold of him, he'd lift Max up into a fireman's carry, before slamming him bodily into the nearest column!

The scarred woman motions the 'cameraman' forward, away from the noise, as she begins to speak. A manic smile on her face, she begins: "Duke! I came here to talk with you about balancing the ledger today. You know, to keep things -even- between us. But since you were out, I decided to chat with Mr Ienaga, the HR director here instead." She tilts her head sideways, gesturing to the nervous man at her right.

"He's had some -most- valuable insight! Though, I'm not gonna lie -- there's going to be some personnel transfers. And some... terminations."

She flashes a hollow frown at the camera -- as a vacant-eyed employee behind her slaps the suction cup of a circular glass cutter onto the windowpane, and begins to drag the blade around into a circle.

COMBATSYS: Max blocks Sudo's Fun For All Ages EX.

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Sudo             0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0              Max

Max produces a reptilian snarl across his face at Sudo as the Yakuza falls away from him. It is cold, noiseless, and impersonal.

Max discards the bloodied, crumpled work glasses with a flick of his forearm, and slips into a loose Sambo position. When Sudo comes charging back in, Max slaps his hands on the back of the mobster's shoulders, slamming into a column. He forgoes the worst of the punishment by gripping his thick, long fingers into Sudo's blazer, grunting as he feels the drywall yield behind him.

Max discharges a hand behind him as he kicks out to break the tension of the pin, unlocking his upper body and pushing away from the relief with his hand.

His hand comes down to Sudo's scalp, as he bucks and bicycles his legs to the side to bring Sudo teetering over to the ground. Max is aiming at the floor with his head and shoulders, Sudo meanwhile coming down on the unused shoulder - the same one with the grievous wound.

COMBATSYS: Max successfully hits Sudo with Power Throw.

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Sudo             0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0              Max

Sure, causing collateral damage to a Syndicate building is a nice perk, but it wasn't Sudo's main objective there. Cutting his losses, he lets go of Max and starts to peel away -- but that's when the agent's hand clamps down on his hair, jerking him sideways and to the floor. Sudo hits the ground hard, his spine and legs seizing up for a moment as the nerve strikes against the floor. Grunting, he rolls away like a log, planting his palm on the tile floor as he pushes himself back to his feet.

Dahlia bristles slightly as her man is getting beat up, but she nonetheless continues to mug for the camera. "You really overdid it, you know? I mean, yeah, you caught my tattooed guys, but you really ticked off a lot of the locals with this random inspection bullshit..."

Sudo rolls his arm around in its socket, grimacing. He can tell that Max isn't a pushover when it comes to close-quarters combat. And he's also under pressure from Dahlia to keep from making too much of a disturbance for her broadcast. So he swivels about into a waist-level kick, aimed at catching Max right in the stomach!

COMBATSYS: Max interrupts Strong Kick from Sudo with Dancing Blade.

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Sudo             1/------=/=======|======-\-------\0              Max

Max takes the kick to the stomach and catches it with his left hand, curling his fingers beneath the Achilles and biting his nails into it. He pulls a blade out of the side of his slacks, a black metal affair that butterflies out into shining moon-silk polished blade.

The blade goes down, right into Sudo's thigh, jammed into the quadricep with such fury that Evory nearly gets sexually aroused.

"Sorry, traveler," Max says, before he yanks the blade out with a fast yank and a grunt, before pushing Sudo off the ground with a release of the leg.

"I think your dancing days are over."

As the van gives a go-signal, the data download at the proper decryption point to begin transfer to the local British embassy, the helicopter's rotors begin to beat, and the chopper lifts into the air. It slowly noses about to face the Geese Tower as it rises, before the nose tips down and the machine lifts as it bleats upwards and forwards, heading steadily towards the windowed view from the distance.

A perfect circle of glass is pulled away. Wind immediately starts hissing and snarling through the open aperture, showing for the audience at home just how high up the office floor is.

Mr Ienaga, the HR director, starts pulling at his collar.

"But hey, it's all worth it." Dahlia laces her fingers together, resting her palms atop her crossed leg as she flashes an enthusiastic grin at the 'camera' man's HitBit. "You -did- it! Akatsuki's been kicked out of Honshu, gold star for you!" Her eyebrows lower, as she slips into a more calculating smirk. "Except... you know. The people you -didn't- get rid of. Like me!"

Sudo, meanwhile... has other things on his mind. Like a butterfly knife getting jammed into his thigh, spurting out ruby-red liquid all over the nice black suit, and -probably- onto Max's sleeve. Good thing that Sudo's job doesn't require dancing, one would guess? His sunglasses are knocked off in the exchange, allowing Max to see his knitted forehead and pained eyes. Blood spills onto the slick tile, a stark contrast between dark crimson and ivory white.

As Dahlia speaks to the camera, Ienaga is eyeing the circular aperture with trepidation. His Adam's apple rises once, as he gulps for air. And then, without further reservation, he rushes for the circle and dives through it, as if there were a pool awaiting him a foot below and not the parking lot some fifty floors below.

Dahlia looks back with a wince -- watching the bare window for a few moments wordlessly. From her seated position, she won't be able to see when Ienaga impacts the pavement... but the helicopter might. When she turns back to the camera, it's with an overwrought, melodramatic frown.

"... I guess he didn't want to be the one to break the bad news."

Sudo could just lie there and let Max escape. But he was given an order, and that order was to keep Max off camera as much as possible. Gritting his teeth, he pushes back to his feet. He clenches his fists tight, chasing away the pain he's feeling elsewhere. And he rushes forward, pistoning his fists at Max in a flurry of punches, aimed at driving him back to the glass-walled server room. Should he manage to connect, he'd seek to grab hold of him by the shoulder and the hip, lifting him off the floor -- and then -slamming- him through the glass partition!

COMBATSYS: Max just-defends Sudo's Big Top Bash!

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Sudo             0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0              Max

Max swings his butterfly knife around, blood flickering across the room in tiny droplets, before he slides it away in its sheath behind his belt. One smooth, practiced, blind motion.

As Sudo comes in again, Max backpedals rapidly and tosses the blows aside with his hands and forearms, catching, deflecting, and twisting about, before his back is against the server room's glass wall.

As Max is sent flying through it, he rolls to his feet, and his Walther has come from its ankle holster, to his hand. From a kneeling position, he discharges several rounds at Sudo, the gunshots cracking throughout the floor and echoing across the building's stairwells.

COMBATSYS: Max successfully hits Sudo with You Know My Name.
~~ Alluring Hit! ~~

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Sudo             0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0              Max

"I kinda lost track of how many Akatsuki folks you took out, Duke. It was a -lot-... But I'm pretty sure Toshi from Accounts Payable was keeping track of all the hit contracts..." Dahlia looks over to her left, gesturing to a man who is walking dully and emotionlessly towards the circular aperture. "Toshi, you got a count for me?"

Toshi quietly climbs through the window, first with one leg, then the other. *fwoop*

Dahlia turns back to the camera with a shrug. "... On second thought, Toshi, you got a point. To hell with the numbers, right?"

Glass shatters -- which can only barely be heard in the background of the HitBit cameras. Sudo clenches his teeth as he pulls back in anticipation. He sees the gun whip out -- and he curls his arms up to defend against it. It's not going to do a -whole- lot against a pistol round though -- let alone the several that got fired at him. Bullets whistle past, searing into his arms, into his chest -- each shot serving to stagger the enforcer backwards another step.

By this point, Dahlia's mental commands coerce the gathered workers into a nice, orderly line. One by one, the men and women begin filing through -- and Dahlia pivots, framing the shot nicely for the viewpoint camera. A stray bullet whistles out, shattering a second window to the atmosphere -- and yet, she only flinches for an instant. Dahlia's hands clasp tightly as she nods into the camera, continuing on as if she wasn't interrupted. "Damn, I feel for you. I lost an accountant. A really good one, with a great head for numbers. Daisuke Oda's death is on you, Duke -- but hey..." She gestures with an open hand as one man crawls out the window, then a young woman. "... At least he won't be the only death on your conscience, right?"

Sudo is practically -seething- with rage. Not only hasn't he landed a solid hit against the MI6 operative, but his coat is holding him back. With an irritable grunt, he peels himself out of the bloodied blazer, tossing it aside to reveal the red button-down shirt underneath. Rolling his neck left and right, he prepares himself -- and then launches forward sharply, ignoring the pain as he tears into a one-two punch, before following up with a powerful uppercut -- aimed at plowing Max squarely into a server rack!

COMBATSYS: Max dodges Sudo's A Thrill A Minute EX.

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Sudo             0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0              Max

Max holsters his pistol by his ankle, and rises to his feet, advancing with his arms down to meet the charging Akatsuki enforcer.

Max's hand slaps down onto the fist as he pivots to turn the arm aside and across Sudo's middle to unbalance him, before releasing and slapping the other down and inwards to bend him forward.

And as the uppercut comes, Max jukes backwards with a hop off his toes, the knuckles narrowly grazing past his chin, and as he tips his head, his nose.

And then, comes a swing at Sudo's jaw with a right cross, before a rabbit punch to the floating rib with his left hand, and finally a thrusting punch directed at Sudo's nose from a charge.

COMBATSYS: Sudo blocks Max's Three of a Kind.

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Sudo             0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0              Max

One of the workers with a HitBit strapped to his head is about to launch himself through the circle. And Dahlia leans forward with wide eyes, sliding forward a small tablet computer she'd been keeping beside her seat. It just so happens to be a video feed of the designated worker's camera. "Hey, Duke, I got a question for you. Do you ever wonder what's going through the minds of these people as they plummet to their certain doom?" She holds up the tablet -- and the video feed Duke has would likely switch over to show the tablet's view on full screen, as a number of crimson splotches on the parking lot grow larger and larger.

Dahlia cackles with manic glee, a few moments later as the tablet camera shudders to an eerie halt. "In this case it was... the HitBit! Hahaha!"

Sudo can appreciate the agent's reholstering of the gun, but that doesn't mean he's going to just stop fighting! He seems -- aggravated, really, that Max is able to avoid him so expertly. But by this point, with all his nerves on fire and his body aching, he's found his inner zen. The heat of battle is where Sudo thrives -- and this time, he's able to bend his elbow, interposing his forearm into the path of the first cross. He's able to catch the rabbit punch with an open palm. And the thrusting punch is met by swiveling his better shoulder into the blow, knocking it aside.

"Seriously, though, Duke -- an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. This is just business! You took action, and there's -consequences- to those actions. My folks just wanted to live out their lives, but you put a swift end to them. I'm actually being -way- more merciful than you were..."

The line comes to an abrupt halt, as the man in front suddenly lurches to a halt. His fists are balled, as he digs in his heels. He starts to shout -- but Dahlia raises her hand, "Wait. Wait. You're a -feisty- one...!"

As the man's eyes blink open, and he turns to Dahlia's sudden show of compassion. He looks back at her, shaking his head in consternation. This is -wrong-. He doesn't -want- to be compelled into committing suicide.

She looks apologetic. For just a moment longer. And then she abruptly shoves her hand forward, bowling the man over with a powerful shockwave of telekinetic force, the fringes of the effect tinged with magenta radiance as his body is hurled through a third pane of glass.

Dahlia looks back to the camera, as the line begins to move faster -- taking full advantage of the new opening. "BZZZT. The show must go on!"

And the line marches onward -- faster than before, with the new opening allowing a more efficient workflow.

Sudo balls his fists again. He shuffles to the left -- and then barrels forward again with an underhanded punch to the gut. If he manages to connect he'd follow through with a haymaker to the side of the head, aiming to lay Max out flat! "Hrrrnnnngh!"

COMBATSYS: Max interrupts Strong Punch from Sudo with Cobra Headbutt.

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Sudo             0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0              Max

Max Evory places his palms on Sudo as his combination is deflected, and pushes away with a shove, his arms up briefly as he reorients his trunk as his muscled trunk pertains to his limbs.

As Sudo returns to the fray, his fist crams its way into Max's stomach, a deep, low grunt coming from Max as he splashes spit from between his teeth and out his lips in a fine white haze of mist. As the haymaker comes, however, Max slams it aside with his forearm and charges forward, snapping his skull into Sudo's teeth. He slams his forehead right into the snarling man's pearly whites, smashing them with a downward batter combined with a ram charge.

The fire alarm keeps blinking away in the background; Dahlia had managed to disable the alarm horns remotely as soon as the emergency door slammed shut. Though, oddly, that door is cracked open now...

"So let me make something -crystal- clear, Duke. You can keep up this childish war -- or you can put an end to this. Right here, and right now, with us both at a stalemate. While you were stripping shirts off the backs of innocent people, other groups were moving in on -your- territory. Not mine, -yours-. So, fun times ahead for you folks -- because without -my- help, =you= get to deal with kicking out the trespassers all by your lonesome. Wasn't -this- a fun little experiment?"

Sudo reels backwards with a bonecrunching grunt, several teeth loosened by the jarring impact. He staggers backward, teetering on the brink of falling to the floor, but manages to pull himself forward -- a bloodied hand slapping down onto the marble tile.

The emergency door flies open abruptly. And from it bursts a salaryman with a briefcase in his arms. The line -- now a very short line -- steps back, allowing the salaryman to soar blindly through an open window.

Dahlia reels backwards, with a sickened expression on her face -- though, that softens after a moment. "Oh... Ouch." She turns to the camera, with sober sincerity. "That guy wasn't on my list. Kinda sweet, in a sad way. Fell behind on his mortgage after pooling everything towards getting a V-Gage for his kid." A moment of silence. "Hope he's got a good life insurance plan."

Sudo has a knife, as well. And when he thunders forward, he aims to swing it in an upward, diagonal slash across Max's chest. He'd then seek to ram the handle of the knife down upon his head, before bringing his knee up, pistoning repeatedly in the stomach! "HRNNNNGH!"

COMBATSYS: Max just-defends Sudo's Come One Come All!

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Sudo             0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0              Max

Max rubs spittle from his mouth with the back of his sleeve, before he flicks his wrist and straightens his jacket and the shirt beneath it.

He slides his foot back and leans away ffrom the knife, the tip of the blade taking his shirt but not his body, and then as the knife comes down, Max twists about on his dress shoes to bring his arm up to block the pommel strike at the wrist. He grabs the offending arm, and as the knee comes up towards his stomach, he slaps his hand down on it to press it even in terms of force, before he snatches at it before it can retreat.

Then, with a mighty heft, Max Evory attempts to pick Sudo up over his head, and sending him sailing across the room in a mighty power bomb, towards a bank of cubicles.

COMBATSYS: Sudo dodges Max's Quantum of Solace.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Sudo             0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0              Max

The line marches onward. The last three people take their final step into the abyssal heights, as Dahlia claps her hands together with a sense of finality. Of the workers, only the cameraperson remains -- and it's to him that Dahlia flashes a smile. "Don't worry, Duke. I've only shown you a -fraction- of the employees you'll find on the parking lot below. These are people -you- failed to look out for. People -you- put in danger when you decided to jerk around someone like -me-."

Dahlia reaches her hand out towards the cameraperson. And, all of a sudden, the cameraperson is dragged forward bodily. He falls forward toward the seated Dahlia, his neck fitting securely into her grasping palm. She begins to tighten her grip. Vital signs -- aspiration pressure, heartbeat, perspiration -- fluctuate on the periphery of the HitBit display as the murderous Dahlia begins to choke the life out of the last remaining worker.

She smiles up into the camera, her face distorted by the close proximity of the HitBit's wide-angle lens. "Shunsuke here is just about to retire, Duke. He's got tickets to Euro Disneyland with his family tomorrow."

She shakes her head, offering a pantomimed sigh as she looks down, away from the camera. And then with a burst of telekinetic force, she hucks him over her shoulder, out the window.

"Bon voyage!"

Sudo stares with alarm at Max, mouth gaping open as the MI6 agent manages yet again to completely dismantle his all-or-nothing attack. Each and every strike of his, deflected with the utmost of dexterity.

He sucks in his breath -- and he draws back sharply. Max's grappling attempt whips just past him, so close that Sudo can feel the fiery intensity pricking at the loose hairs on his chin. But no -- there will be no grab -- Sudo leaps backward, breathing out a quick and silent prayer.

But as Sudo leaps backwards, so too does he drop low to his feet. He's no acrobat -- but he's spent plenty of time defending acrobats. He knows what the human body is capable of. And he leaps into the air, whipping himself around. He's determined to put the entirety of his weight into one overwhelming payload of force -- and whip it around towards Max in a dropkick!

Dahlia -- for her part, pops her neck from one side then the other. Drawing in her breath, she folds her hands on her knee -- and watches.

"You're not bad," she comments, as the whuff-whuff-whuff of the helicopters draws near. "But I'm afraid you're -next- to go out that window, my friend."

COMBATSYS: Max fails to interrupt Diving Kick from Sudo with Parkour Tackle.
- Power fail! -

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Sudo             0/-------/-------|=====--\-------\0              Max

Maximilian Evory goes dashing at Sudo in response to Sudo's own attack, leaping into the air with a tackle forward to meet the incoming dropkick.

And then, it happens.

There's a sudden collision in midair, and Max is flipped about by Sudo's own proper planning and Max's adrenaline, sending Max spinning to the side, and to the ground.

Max swings across the bloody sterile floor and into a wall, dazed and confused from the failure of his plan.

He shakes as he lurches into an upright position against the wall, spitting up blood as he feels his rib stab with pain. He gingerly touches it, wincing.

All of the known intel on Scarlet Dahlia suggests that her leg suffered a complete fracture. She should be completely unable to walk, and indeed, she's been spotted in surveillance footage riding around in a fancy electric wheelchair. And yet -- here she sits, either unwilling or unable to rise from her seat. Watching in faint amusement.

"I apologize for not giving you my -full- attention. But consider that you -have- it now. Who are you? Who are you working for? And what are you doing here?"

Even with his plummeting kick, Sudo is on the verge of collapsing to the floor, himself. He stands, shakily. The wounds have certainly taken their toll on him -- and yet, he balls his fists, as if he's about to continue fighting--

"Sudo, let him answer...!" She finds that she has to raise her voice to be heard over the chop of the helicopter blades. As Sudo stands down, she continues: "I want to hear this. If the nice man gives us a nice answer, perhaps we can let him go."

Dahlia gestures towards the window. "It's not -everyone- who has a helicopter escort, after all. Don't make me look up makes and models, that's such a tedious chore...!"

The embattled enforcer widens his stance. And blinking the flecked blood out of his eyes, he focuses intensely upon the fallen agent in front of him. Ready for the fight to resume -- but holding his position as requested.

COMBATSYS: Sudo focuses on his next action.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Sudo             0/-------/-------|=====--\-------\0              Max

Max climbs to his feet with a pump of his palm on his knee, knuckles curled, and tightens his tie in a haphazard manner.

"I'm just a janitor, Miss Dahlia," comes Evory's reply in his British brogue, a little thicker with the shot to the rib he took, his abdominals clenching his torso downwards and putting his thick shoulders forward.

"Geese Howard has created a mess, and here you are, lapping up shit."

And at that, there's an explosion of four charges, directly behind the Scarlet Dahlia, glass shattering into tiny pieces as the entire window blows and the wind whips in from outside.

Max goes running forward, directly at her, as a rappel rope with a twisted series of horizontal hand and foot holds, hangs beneath the helicopter outside. It's just her between Max, and that tether line that will extract him.

Behind Max, there's an explosion, as the static-rod blocking the computer security feed into his radio jack data download device, is flipped onto an overload circuit, and showers of sparks shoot from protected servers, one by one, trailing his silhouette as his runs forward.

COMBATSYS: Max focuses on his next action.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Sudo             0/-------/-------|=====--\-------\0              Max

COMBATSYS: Honoka has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Max              0/-------/--=====|-------\-------\0             Sudo
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |======-\-------\0           Honoka

Dahlia breaks into laughter at the ludicrous statement of her antagonist's occupation. But her amusement turns into cold malice as heroic bravado gives way to a simplistic curse.

She doesn't get the opportunity to respond to that, though, as the glass pane behind her explodes just as she's beginning to open her mouth. Irritably, she shuts her eyes as fragments of safety glass pepper into her long locks of hair, raining down upon the finely-upholstered chair.

"Was that -really- necessary!?" she shouts over the thunderous roar of the helicopter's blades. And just to -vent- her frustration, her hand flicks outwards at Max. Tendrils of purple energy stretch out, like wisps of a spider's webbing, seeking to entwine themselves around Max's arm. If she manages to entangle him, she'd calmly redirect his momentum in a different direction -- slamming him against a window that had not yet been shattered. And this time, her intention is -not- to break the glass, but rather to keep him immobilized long enough for her to continue her interrogation...

COMBATSYS: Max just-defends Honoka's Kohumumatki!

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Max              0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0             Sudo
                                  >  ////////////////////////////  ]
                                  |======-\-------\0           Honoka

Max puts up his arm, as the purple tendril reaches out for him, and lets it entwine.

And instead of taking the swing, he charges right into the energy-tentacle, slamming his shoulder into the Yakuza, before he twists about and snaps away with a rugby maneuver.

Keeping his inertia with fast footwork, he then jumps out of the window, his hand sailing out in hope.

He catches the very last support on the bottom, swinging with a kick of his legs as he bends his knees up, before his other hand claps on. He growls as he pulls himself up, and as he finds the first foothold in desperate time, the helicopter kicks away from the building, pulling him to safety.

Meanwhile, at the British Embassy...

"It seems our friend Geese Howard here, has a secret."

"Praytell, Finnicker?"

"Mum, he's not behind any of this larceny. What we thought was a carefully organized operation, is just a horde of gangsters betraying each other."

"Then why not the lady in the tower?"

"When one cat wants a tomcat, mum, she's scarce to be around the house."

A woman pats the MI-5 computer analyst reviewing the data on the shoulder, before she quietly exits the command center.

Log created on 09:24:24 10/17/2018 by Honoka, and last modified on 17:50:34 10/17/2018.