Description: If there's one commonality binding murderers and criminal overlords together, it's their mutual love and respect for Lightning Spangles.
Fundraisers are a wonderful opportunity to wine and dine with the upper-crust echelons of society. And while political fundraisers can be polarizing and potentially damaging to a contributor's career, this evening's pretty cut and dried... because who -wouldn't- want to donate money for the care of orphans? It's a win-win for nearly everyone involved. On top of the unparalleled networking opportunities, making a charitable donation looks good for everyone.
Especially the Lightning Spangles franchise -- which has seen more than its fair share of negative publicity as of late. Fortunately for many, the main "involvement" of Lightning Spangles is the name of the fundraiser, taking place in a fancy steakhouse just outside the city limits of Nagano, Japan. Oh, and someone managed to get life-sized cardboard cutouts, rendered in manga-style art, of each of the major Spangles personas: Pepper Green, Jezebel Faiblesse, Hayley Bretherton, Honoka Kawamoto.
Despite the cartoon character cutouts, it was a big, fancy dinner for well-to-do adults. Several speeches were made, and plenty of overpriced food was consumed. For -charity-, people.
And it just wouldn't be a Spangles event without some sort of awkward hook-up going on outside the venue doors. In this case, two of the well-to-do attendees. One would be identified as Assemblyman Shuji Imada -- a local representative for the Nagano area. One of the staunchest conservatives in the Diet, the strong timbre of pro-military rhetoric frequently places him at odds with the assembly.
Which makes his association with Shizue Murano, author of a HitBit Educator programme about "Shakushain's Rebellion" a little unusual -- considering the entire point of the VR programme was to teach highschoolers about the -dangers- of military overreach. But one with knowledge of the respective backgrounds can likely assume that Miss Murano hasn't exactly been forthright about her reasons for being here -- let alone the reason she's tracing fingers through the assemblyman's bangs.
She's playing things coy, though -- teasing, but never really giving the assemblyman purchase. Leading him on, with a calculated brush of the side of her hand here, a coquettish wink there, and little else but expectations for their -next- date to go more smoothly. And their session is mercifully short -- for not only is the assemblyman fairly intoxicated, he also seems to be increasingly lethargic. Perhaps even sleepy. Enough so that, even without hearing her words, it'd be easy to assume she's telling him to get some rest, as she pats him sharply on the back, walking him to his car and its exceedingly patient driver.
Imada rolls the window down. And the woman -- dressed in a navy blue blazer and matching skirt, with a light beige blouse -- leans in through the window, pressing her cheek against his for a conspiratory whisper. Languidly, she leans away from the car, twiddling her fingers in a lazy wave as the car putters away.
And so, Shizue Murano finds herself more or less alone in the parking lot, with a wry grin plastered on her face. And for the moment, she seems to be lost in thought, her gaze glassy as she watches the car drive off into the mountains. Her own ride, such as it is, is a black minivan parked on the far end of the lot. The detail-oriented might understand that the vehicle is associated not with Shizue or with Hitbit, but rather the shadowy Akatsuki yakuza clan. For Miss Murano is just one of -many- aliases held by the crime boss known as Scarlet Dahlia.
"I wonder if they're satisfied? The money put toward this? To pay this? To dance and play and make a show of helping the less fortunate. It would be galling if it weren't so audacious."
A blonde American sits, watching people across parking lot. He talks to the man sat beside him. His name is Whitney Saulder, though sometimes he has other people use it for him. Many of those people are dead and buried in shallow holes somewhere in remote places or quietly rotting away in locked apartments with a few months of rent prepaid.
He smokes a cigarette, held in an overhand fashion, covering much of his face when he takes a long, slow drag of the burning tobacco. From time to time, he flits the ash on the floor between his legs. "Why doesn't this anger people more? I see the reason why to do it? You want to enjoy yourself, masses appreciate the front of a good cause, you gain respect and you line your pockets with donations and connections. Those are reasons. But those people, the ones who buy into the story, the ones that need the lie to continue? How are they so taken by this fatuous clowning?"
The man shakes his head, he feels a headache coming on. His teeth itch. He smokes. "I don't know which to loathe more. The ones who lie, or the ones who believe despite seeing the lie in front of their faces." A flick of the ash to the floor. He looks toward the door. He watches a woman and a man. A liar and a mark. Whitney Saulder doesn't feel like most people, that he knows, but something is disappointing about what he watches. He would describe it more accurately as an annoyance that runs in his stomach. Akin to bad food. But he surmises the emotion is similar to what others describe.
"I appreciate your listening, friend," Whitney tells the man next to him. He puts his hand on the mans shoulder. The man stares off into space, his eyes red, his throat red, his face pale and purpling.
He opens the door to the van and steps out onto the pavement. Gently, he shuts the door behind him. His clothing is rumpled, but a suit nonetheless, perhaps someone that's gotten a bit too lush, or a boorish American who parties harder and more embarrassingly or whatever thin veneer of a cover Whitney would offer to those that existed in the narrow band of not worth it to kill, not worth it to converse with.
He flicks his cigarette to the side while taking his long and steady walk toward the woman who watches the car drive off. When he speaks, his voice is low and honeyed, resonantly carrying with it a molasses mirth at the situation he's been watching unfold.
"Death becomes you."
The parking lot -looks- empty, but of course it is not. There are any number of drivers present, waiting out of sight and out of mind for this well-to-do shindig to start wrapping up. So many souls for the psychic to keep track of -- or passively ignore as background noise. What difference does it make if random people see a happenstance hookup? That's what the disguise is for, after all: earth tones and a shorter bob cut are -not- ones associated with her Dahlia persona. That, and of course, she's ambulating just fine, unaided by a wheelchair of any sort. What does she have to worry about, here in the open?
A van door shuts, ever so quietly. Lustre returns to her gaze, as the spell woven between herself and the assemblyman dissipates. Sleeping aids will take hold soon, and then his last waking memories will dominate his subconscious, laying the groundwork for their next encounter. All according to plan.
She turns towards Whitney. Her nose wrinkles at the memory of cigarette smoke -- an odor tolerated more than enjoyed. And yet, she plays the part of a disaffected stranger, someone more curious that someone in such a rumpled suit should -dare- to be seen against someone so finely dressed as she.
Three simple, striking words cut through the silence, shattering the illusion entirely. "Shizue's" brow furrows, perplexed. In the first beat, she seems to cast the shadow of doubt onto the conversation -- the words 'surely you've mistaken me for someone else' practically etched upon her face.
But that beat is mercifully short. Whitney knows -exactly- who he's talking to -- else he wouldn't have dropped the contextual clue alluding to their previous and turbulent conversation.
Her nostrils flare with a momentary glimmer of defeat. "Shizue" stuffs her hands into her blazer pockets, her look of confusion replaced with a lopsided smirk. "Charming, as always." One hand emerges from its pocket with a ball-point pen, and said pen is flicked around her thumb with the deftness of a kenpo master twirling a longstaff. "I'd ask how you found me, but I doubt you'd actually -tell- me."
After a long, languid blink of her eyes, she comments, "I'm still on a 'vacation' of sorts. I won't say I've followed your advice to the -letter-, but..."
Dahlia shrugs her shoulders, offering a not-quite-apologetic smile. And then the smile gains some warmth.
"And don't -you- look as bored as ever! Seen anything interesting lately?" She is, after all, wondering why Whitney chose now of all times to make his appearance.
The cigarette stench lingers about Whitney like a cloud. Coupled with his rumpled appearance, it's to make himself unappealing. To put off attention, to be the smokescreen he needs if things need to change in a hurry. And if you can put people off their base, make them uncomfortable, it's easier to deal with them.
Whitney stops not far from the Dahlia. His hands remain in his pockets. He lazily glances around to the rest of the lot, and to the situation going on inside. "I was sitting over there, in that van, having a conversation with the drive," he says. "You walked out here." He slouches and looks at the standees lingering around. Detached, he is almost unfocused in his languidness. Almost.
"Technically correct, but not what you want," he states, "But does it make you feel better to cling to that small shred of independence you feel despite following the suggestions of an American?" He hand waves an immediate dismissive gesture. "If you are, be content with it. It's not an insult to be like everyone else."
His focus is there, still and steady, Dahlia is a barely interesting afterthought by the appearances of Whitney Saulder's gaze. And when he points to the standee of Jezebel Faiblesse. "No, no, no. There has been interesting things in the world. Someone has removed her." He shakes his head and for a moment there is genuine frustration and sadness crossing the face of Whitney Saulder. "There are so few genuinely capable people in this world. So few who stand to exist. So few with a light that matters. And someone had to waste this precious resource by removing her."
He looks over to The Dahlia, stone, dull faced once more. "And I don't think they have the slightest idea of the art they have taken from the world."
Dahlia shifts her weight onto one leg as Whitney dispassionately recites the sequence of events which led to him standing here. Naturally, omitting the root cause of -why- the van was parked here of all places -- which was the crucial piece of information Dahlia had suggested to begin with. Accordingly, she arches an eyebrow at him, eyes narrowed into slits, with only the barest trace of amusement on her lips. A derisive snort follows.
As to whether it is or isn't an insult to be like anyone else, Dahlia... flips her pen a bit more rapidly. The barrage of needling may be working under her skin, but she's content to express her dissatisfaction in non-verbal manner for the moment.
Dahlia considers Whitney a conundrum -- constantly questioning what he wants, -why- he involves himself in her goings-on, and what -value- he can provide to her. Which is one reason she refrains from giving him further ammunition to work with. At least, until he... makes a most interesting statement.
Which -- upon craning her head to make sure -which- of the four standees is being indicated -- causes Dahlia's pen to stop spinning, and her opposite hand to rest comfortably upon her hip. "Miss Faiblesse?" Her lips curl into a smile. "That terrible trainwreck of a person is -art?- Hm, hm. If anything, she was worth more than the million Green was offering." She thumbs back to the shortest of the four standees. "-Two- maybe, but that figure would've dropped if she kept burning out like she was."
The pen flips into a slow, steady orbit once again, as Dahlia squares up her stance. Licking her lips, she attempts -- barely -- to show some semblance of empathy and concern. "Did she mean something to you, friend? Did she make life worth living?"
There's quite a bit more that Dahlia has to say about Jezebel -- but in this instance, she's deathly curious as to what Whitney thinks.
Whitney always has considered himself a simple, direct man. He blames the world for wanting different answers than he can or cares to give. He wants to sate his boredom. He wants to feel. His needs are biological. And they can be easily met.
He jostles his hands in his pockets. Makes a show of removing a packet of gum so he can chew it. A small spot of minty freshness, cleaning his breath while reeking of tobacco smoke. It's purposeful in its futility, and that amuses him. Though he feels the world might miss the humor.
A moment of time bought to let the Dahlia plant herself and posture and make the statements he doesn't want to hear but the one he expects. "If that's where your mind goes on a person's value, then you demonstrate how trite you are," he states, and in a rare moment, his words aren't languid, or loose or casual, they are sharpened and dismissing.
A sweeping look to the standee. "Why is she a trainwreck?" Whitney asks. "Because she is the thing that frightens the dull and fatuous animals that stretch platitudinal ideals across their desiccated mental carcasses?" He shakes his head and looks down at Dahlia. "I followed her career. I followed her apparent madness. She is a problem because she, of all people, genuinely chased ideals. She lived as so many beasts lie and say they wish to."
"She shone. So the world denigrated her. With a hand, she could have moved mountains." Whitney looks back to the standees all. "And even if the world denigrated, it could not deny. Because she, in a sense, still stands here watching."
He looks upwards to the haze of the night sky caused by the lights of the city. "For everything you do, you will never be nearly as interesting or capable as she was."
Dahlia finds the gum amusing for a different reason -- a surrogate for the reassuring presence of a stick of nicotine. A way to keep an irrepressible addiction at bay. Sure, she understands that cigarettes -could- be an intentional device to put other people on edge. But she always doubts whether that is a retroactive redefinition, rather than the root cause...
Dahlia seems blissfully unaffected by the supposed insult of 'triteness' -- to the degree that her spinning of the pen loses no frequency at all. If anything, she seems amused that the dismissal was delivered in such an immediate fashion. At any rate, her assumption is verified, and she is quite eager to listen to the explanation of the mad taekwondoka's apparent genius.
"... Is that the mark of a true artist? Shining so brightly that they burn through their fuel faster? Really, though, how far can the mountain move if you die in the process?"
The pen whips its way around the crime boss's finger at a steady pace. "Really, though ... you respect Miss Faiblesse! How wonderful. How well do you -truly- know Jezebel, though? Do you know the torments she faced? The crippling -doubts?- She suffered... as any true artist has."
Her wrist lifts -- the pen slips effortlessly into the palm of her hand. "She was a critical failure as a person, who bucked off any attempt to herd her into making proper use of her talent. She gave people hope, only to remind people just how fragile she truly was. I ask you: Was anything actually -gained- in the process?"
The pen is tucked behind an ear. Dahlia's fingertips lace together, draping like a hammock below waist level. And a faintly predatory smile creeps onto her face.
Whitney Saulder does not smile often. He does now. "That wounded you," he remarks, off-hand and disaffected.
Hands slip into the pockets of his blaze, he rocks toe to heel, he observes and he slouches. His eyes rest half-lidded and he looks amused at his own joke. And when he speaks, it's soft and gentle and with closing steps toward the Dahlia. "I lament the loss of her potential. To do that, she must have failed. But I would forgive you not hearing me; emotional ties can distract." His eyes, deep and blue, dart over to the other cardboard standees and then back to Dahlia.
"Did you attempt to herd her? Did Shadaloo? Was it the Syndicate?" he isn't asking, he's gently taunting. "All that power you claim and one actress can live her life so thoroughly and madly in pursuit of her ideals and desires that she burns out." A slow shake of his head. "It must be painful to learn how useless all of that power can become."
Whitney looks back to the standees. His face drops. "There was a moment I considered you in her league," he says, he narrows his eyes while looking at the cardboard Spangles, scrutinizing. "But maybe I was wrong. Maybe. . .,"
Whitney Saulder turns slowly to the disguise. "I'm an assessor. I find bragging pointless. My name is Saulder. The people that give me money in locked suitcases are more connected to things than you know."
It... /wounded/ her? Time, they say, can heal all wounds; the passing of Faiblesse was compartmentalized away some weeks prior. There is no crack to her expression, no lack of defense. Dahlia presents an impenetrably enigmatic smile in response. "Perhaps."
Her amber-flecked eyes follow Whitney as he nears, never once losing their focus. For a crime boss such as herself, there is an omnipresent concern that someone so close could present her with a knife's edge. For many, the tusukur would be able to sense this sort of criminal intent seconds before it actually came to pass -- signals could cascade into responses, disarming a would-be assailant. But for someone as much a cypher as Whitney... well, there's a factor of trust involved. He'd said before that he's got no interest in murdering her -- for now she's content that such a statement would remain true.
By far, the greater threat is the way in which he deliberately advertises his sightline to the other Spangles. To Green. To Bretherton. And to Kawamoto -- the woman who shares Dahlia's own height and features, plus or minus a few creative applications of foundation and contouring..
The enigmatic smile splits, as a soft laugh spills out. "Are you guessing, or just stabbing blindly into the darkness?" The so-called Shizue shakes her head slowly with a dismissive air.
She holds her tongue a bit longer, as Saulder introduces himself. And then, -then- she opens her eyes fully, smile fading into a look of surprise.
"Saulder," she repeats, lower lip plucking out as she nods in approval. Even while quietly noting the dissonance between his words and his presumptiveness. "So you know a great deal. But--" She raises a finger, settling back into her former expression. "-- the enterprise fronted by Miss Faiblesse still continues to reap dividends. It'd be a shame to ruin the brand name any further than it has been."
An eyebrow arches, as the businesswoman's arms fold across one another. "... And in a roundabout way, that's why you're here, isn't it? Fascinating."
Dahlia chuckles softly. "Saulder..." she repeats. "Murano." A statement, a 'reminder' of the current state of existence. "it's so much more pleasant to have a name to place with the face." She rocks her head sideways, indicating the standees. "Hmm... were these employers of yours fans as well?"
Slow chewing, looking from the disguised woman to the standees. Long look one way, long look the other. He is an observant man. And he has seen faces change and disguises used. He can make connections. And he knows how easy it is to hide in plain sight by simply using expectations, let alone a greater availability of resources and bags of tricks.
But the flaring, glaring realities still peak through the cracks here and there. Sometimes, the only way to fool someone is to tell them the truth. Someone like the Dahlia didn't seem used to the truth.
He had thought, thought of a young girl with her neck in his hands. The eyes. The wolf in sheepskin. And when he sees Dahlia there, muttering his name. A rare name, Whitney Saulder, and one attached to someone dull and banal. A killer certainly, but one of cheating spouses and failed business partners. Not a man that should be here and now speaking the Dahlia.
And yet here the man is. Standing and listening to another coy little question. He looks over, watches the standee, pointedly, and he addresses it rather than 'Shizue' or 'Dahlia.' He answers, dulled in opposition to his look, "Some yes, some no, but if I'm the man paid for assessing, their opinions don't matter."
He sighs deeply, slouching heavily. "I don't care to waste time on lost resources," he admits. "Do you tire of wasting your time with gang warfare?" he asks.
Again, he talks to the standee, not to the woman beside him. "Are you like her? Do you have a genuine ideal, even if it may seem mad, that burns with a glow? Or are you like any other petty minded crime lord? Another beast that only cares for amassing what passes for power in a structure doomed to failure? Are the Ainu your cause? Or are they simply an excuse so you can continue to play pretend in a rotating cast of characters each more insipid than the last?"
His eyes, cold, deep, blue as the ocean, look to the Dahlia. "Do you need a hug for your loss?"
The cardboard, manga-styled caricature of Honoka Kawamoto stares back at Whitney. A vapid, unblinking smile, with practically the same slack-jawed smile as its three companions.
And though the questions are asked of the two-dimensional Miss Kawamoto, Shizue continues her cynical smile until the end of the questioning. Before, in prior questioning, she had wilted under the barbed questions. Now? It seems she has no problems weathering the storm. Or if not -no- problems, than certainly enough control to refrain from showing signs of distress.
She does not fall to the bait of expressing the need for a hug.
Her response is cold, to match the gentleman's icy blue gaze. "I explained this to you before, Saulder." Perhaps he may regret providing the name, from the way Shizue continues to emphasize it when she speaks. "That you insist on viewing everything through a cigarette-smoke haze doesn't -change- what I believe to be true. It doesn't change my goals in the slightest."
Amber grains glow faintly in her eyes as she locks her gaze onto Whitney's. She raises her hands, keeping her fingers laced as she presses her thumbs alongside themselves. "Perhaps the Akatsuki were a misstep. But they were -- and are -- a means to an end. A distraction from the goal at hand -- the establishment of a new Ainu nation." She pauses, drawing in her breath -- then shakes her head slowly to the side. "Far too long have the Ainu suffered indignities with humble, bowed heads. But the obvious, bold answer will exterminate all that is left of our noble clans."
Shizue frowns with an air of imperiousness. "It's not an -insult- to be like everyone else. But if we merely -act- like everyone else, then how can you tell us apart?"
And once more, Whitney Saulder is disappointed. "You're lying to yourself," he tells her directly, clearly, flatly. A wilting under questions, an acknowledgement of something. It would've been interesting. An inkling of a hope could have changed his opinion. But it's hardened through this moment.
"You think you've killed Diet members, but that does nothing. You seduce and control a handful. It does nothing," he says. "Because you do not go for what matters. Those are men, replaceable. You killed a man with a name, not a Diet Member. Because they are replaced with a new one. And so the Ship of Theseus sails onward."
A look to the standee again. "If you wish solely to enrich yourself, to be your little crime lord. The same as any other. So be it. You can lie to yourself with the rest of them, pretend it's all to some goal that meets your ideal."
He turns away and begins to walk. "You're a tiresome thing, Shizue. Dahlia. Kawamoto." A stop and a look over your shoulder. "You can only act so long before you are no different from them. The pigs and farmers look the same. You are not your people's savior. You are not your ideals. That is only the lion skin you wear."
Lying. A harsh claim, and one that has Shizue casting her gaze down to her feet. Grinning, in that devil-may-care fashion.
She listens, shaking her head through it all. For while spoonfuls of truth are dumped onto her, she knows a truth most of the world barely even -recognizes-.
The command is crystal-clear. Authoritative, and brooking no dissent, despite the volume being no louder than any other word spoken by the average-sized businesswoman.
"Do the words 'Mortal Kombat' have any particular meaning to you?"
Whitney Saulder remains still. He hasn't continued his shuffle-bump walk away. But nothing about him looks surprised or shocked or revelatory. Not for a sake of skill or great talent. Not because he is a particularly skilled stoic. It's an inability. A lack. He knows it, and he knows people see it at other things. So it is with that in mind he speaks up, "Nothing means anything to me." Words spoken with a tired resignation.
"But you have the look about you of a child ready to play a trump card. I warn you that things may not go the way you hope with whatever grand maneuver you have at hand." A quiet, disgruntled sigh.
"Go on," he says, pulling his hand out of his pocket and waves a weak gesture toward the woman.
Shizue's eyes narrow into slits. "You've made that abundantly clear, Saulder."
Amber-flecked eyes track back to the restaurant for a moment, before she moves towards her departure van -- and perhaps, incidentally, Saulder's own. Hands fold behind her back. She continues, in a low voice, as she walks. "-Action- defines a person, not rhetoric, mm? The Elder Gods stayed an invasion from another realm not through diplomacy, but by agreeing to a centennial tournament of strength. If the invaders -- Outworld -- were to succeed in ten consecutive tournaments, then the prize -- Earth -- would become theirs. The entire population would be little more than cattle to the slaughter, victims of the murderous tribe of Outworlders."
If allowed, she would pace past Whitney. But even if not, she would square her shoulders with him, golden radiance glimmering in her eyes as she speaks. "This tournament was known as Mortal Kombat. And it was won by someone willing to dispense with soft, human frailty. It was won by someone with clarity of purpose, force of will, and the ability to convince others that, in this instance, -unity- is more important than -morality-..."
Her expression hardens, even as her shoulders shrug dismissively. "My question is this: Presuming your unfocused, idealistic cowgirl heroine were invited to such a tournament... how would she, and humanity, have fared?"
He doesn't move when the woman approaches him. Toward the van with the deceased driver inside, good listener that he was. His hands slip into his pockets, he inclines his head while listening. He doesn't move when she walks past him.
He hears what the woman has to say, and he shakes his head. Everytime, he is not surprised. He reaches up to scratch the side of his face, at the five o'clock shadow he hasn't yet shaved. "You can say yourself, you know, this whole presentation makes it clear you aren't discussing a third party."
He turns to walk with her. "It does none of us a favor to play masquerade." He takes his hands from his pockets and rests them behind his back, looking toward the van. "But here is where I do not fawn for what you've done. You have survival instinct, that is exactly as any other animal. Humanity is no different."
A lilt to his head. "Your Ainu people, was everything that happened to them done by humanity? That hardly seems soft and frail." A slow shake his head. "Of course Lightning Spangles would likely have died, but your question is meaningless comparison. If you want a gauge of greater force, then it's you."
He points to the van. "But consider this; the politician in the church and the driver in that van. Two men, one of obviously greater power to the other. And yet, how much did killing the politician free your ainu? And yet, in killing this driver, I got everything I wanted in this evening."
Dahlia may as well have had the snap retort ready, for it comes instantly, unblinking. "You could just as easily say 'thank you,' but who's counting?"
That one was easy. But the others -- the conflation of 'weakness' and 'frailty' with the Ainu people, earn a slow, dismissive shake of her head as she resumes the walk to the van.
But, as much as she was able to take in, one truth eluded her until now, when she resumes walking towards the van. And, in short measure, Whitney affirms the truth of her psychic senses. That -does- get beneath her skin. Nostrils flare. Lips tug downward into a distasteful frown.
With an irritated sigh, she shakes her head with a note of finality. "In the moment, perhaps. Murder by itself serves only to complicate the lives of the survivors. And you've slid a red mark into the 'Saulder' ledger, by doing so."
A hand digs into her left pocket, fingers splaying across the sleek surface of a smartphone. "But no, I think you're wrong. Because Mortal Kombat was not won by -me-. I avoided credit because it was the -power- of multiple people, melded together into one, that allowed my success. Power entrusted to me, by many unto one."
The phone slips out of a pocket, as Shizue rises up on her tiptoes to peer into the van. To confirm with her eyes the truth her sixth sense already communicated.
"Lightning Spangles could have done the deed. Anyone could have -- if they simply lacked the worthless 'morality' that doomed previous generations. Ruthless guile trumped the raw aggression. Simple survival of the fittest."
Shizue turns towards Saulder once again, glaring daggers at him. "Murder is easy, Saulder. And you seem to be ambivalent towards the consequences, whereas I am not. Out of respect for giving me your name..."
The digital trill of a ringing phone can be heard.
"... do you need a lift somewhere?"
Boredom. Dull eyed, uncaring boredom. He has been threatened before. He has heard all these words before. He's never run into someone quite so wildly inconsistant as the Black Dahlia. He wonders if that's part of the Spangles in her; a terrified surface level scattered nature that seemed to follow in the wake of the oft reported on Faiblesse.
He looks at Shizue, he looks through her. He's heard her. He doesn't find it wholly interesting, but he will work with what's given to him. But as he looks at the Dahlia. He shakes his head. "I will walk. I want to see what's happening with the spire in Southtown. If the winds blow, the only real threat to my employer's power will realize it."
He is a few steps toward walking in shadows before he stops, "And yes, murder is easy. I never said it wasn't."
After a pregnant moment, Whitney Saulder talks to the air. He feels it's as accurate as looking to a woman that seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at once, mentally. "You were canny enough to listen to my advice once before, I hope you can do it again."
His hand comes from his pocket and bounces as he talks, punctuating his intensity. "I suspect that what happened in the States will happen again. There will come a time, and you will know it, when a hero can step into the spotlight. The world will need a Spangles. And if the world gets the right Spangles, then you may actually have a chance of seeing what you really want come to fruition."
In her prior meetings with Saulder, Dahlia was on the downstroke. No power to lift back up, no choice but to take advice for what it was. And precious little of the confident self-assurance that allowed her to triumph on Shang Tsung's island. Now, though, she's gained distance from the battlefield. Appreciation for the unique talents Whitney brings to the fray. And tolerance, however dwindling for a matter that would have invoked outrage a mere month prior.
Tolerance that allows her to see a crucial pieces of information for what it is. Thinly veiled anger bubbles below the surface. "Mm." A moment later, she speaks to the voice on the other end of the line, "Send a second uber, and a cleanup crew. Further detail to follow." And she hangs up abruptly, shoving the phone back in her pocket.
"Then it was wise to cease the wind from blowing." Shizue keeps her hands in her pockets, standing stock-still just a meter from the murder scene, amber-veined eyes fixated on Saulder's receding form.
Until he stops and drops a line. It is not received well, or silently. "It /is/," she answers, responding to the relative ease of murder. "Run along now."
The pause is met in smoldering silence -- as is the foreboding warning. Shizue stares back into the darkness, nodding with mute appreciation for the advice.
After a moment of quiet introspection, though, she's unable to hide her disgust at realizing the fate of the world could rest on a /Spangles/. How... utterly terrifying.
Log created on 10:28:50 04/24/2019 by Honoka, and last modified on 09:38:10 04/29/2019.