Description: In Sunshine City, criminal minds meet for a conversation regarding a shared enemy. What sort of terror can come from the Akatsuki cutting a deal with the Black Dragon?
Negotiations are a tricky skill to master. As with fighting, it's certainly possible to learn the basics from a book. But to truly master the art, nothing beats the best teacher: experience.
Scarlet Dahlia has plenty of that. Uniting the splinter factions of yakuza in her home country, getting the vast majority of them to play from the same sheet of music? It took some doing. And to the manipulator, it underscored the value of meeting an opposing faction on their own turf. On stepping into unfamiliar territory, showing reliance upon the good graces of the host in order to pull both upward to a mutual exchange. For the converse... can have the opposite effect.
A black fullsize SUV pulls up on one of the city's central arteries, as the sun begins to take refuge behind the veil of towering skyscrapers. The passenger door slides open, and out walks a woman clad in pristine white and darkest black. Mirrored sunglasses reflect the brilliant hues of fading sunlight as the treads of steel-toed boots press down, drawing a faint sizzle from simmering concrete. She pauses to look around, as a man in a black suit exits the truck alongside her. The flowing fabric of a dress swishes about, stirring up eddies of heated air in her wake. Occasionally, the slitted fabric will show brief teases of the woman's leg as she strides purposefully to the building; it would be difficult to hide a firearm with the fabric clinging to her slender build.
Upon reaching the mirrored glass, she pauses to admire her reflection, and to adjust her scarlet necktie, partially obscured by an overwrapping vest. The jacket may have been a bit... much for Sunshine City's heat. But appearances are important to the scarred beauty.
And so is punctuality. She's precisely three minutes early, per design, as she opens the building's door.
Barter is barter. If someone needs something bad enough, they'll pay anything for it. Negotiation is just a matter of figuring out what sort of price a mark would pay for what they think they need. The Kano and his portion of the Black Dragon, that usually meant vice or violence, and sometimes the line between those two was awfully blurry.
With all the song and dance of the underworld recently, Sunshine City held firm. The Black Dragon ousted the Syndicate's attempts to horn in, and Shadaloo fell back to their Mexican stronghold. All well and good for The Black Dragon. Kano had been busy in Europe; places like Illyria and Zepp were just coming up, and they were prime for Kano's brand of globalization. The Market was ripe and he was there to pick all the low hanging fruit before the others.
But that was then, this is now, and Kano's back. He's heard what happened, the yobbos from Asia and the south sniffing about and taking a piece. It didn't sit well with him, but he wasn't a man to let personal things get in the way of business. Besides, people like the Syndicate always made enemies, and that meant business opportunities.
Kano sits in the passenger seat of an oversized pickup truck. He pops the cap off a bottle of beer using a clip of a knife. A long pull and he watches the black SUV moving along. Seeing it through the shimmering haze from the truck's vented hood. "There she is," Kano tells his driver, a man in a well worn ballcap with eyes behind dark glasses. "I'll call you if I need you to run the bitch down on her way out."
One long pull later and the bottle is empty. Kano checks it for heft before leaving it on the runner of the truck; he might need that later. His boots hit the pavement, he wears little more than his rugged trousers and an open front vest. The Dragon own Sunshine, and he could never hide his face nor the glowing rig embedded in his chest. Let the shiny neighborhood try and stop him if they want. Their funeral.
So he walks, punctual despite his general ruggedness. And planned, there are Dragon everywhere, many as obvious young punks and toughs. Kids and people wanting to feel the rush of power and the feeling of being strong in a world that doesn't offer much chance. A few of the more subtle ones dress well, those were the zealots, the one's that watch and pass words for Johann. Kano didn't much care for them, but they were useful and Kano likes useful.
Kano keeps stride, waiting for the Black Dahlia to head into the building. He wants to walk on in behind her and her entourage. "Well looky here!" he calls out, laughing to himself, "All this and you still beat me here. You make me look bad." He's brazen, loud, and overwhelmingly comfortable inside of the lobby, talking with his arms out, grinning as wide as a cymbal-clashing monkey.
's voice drops as he saunters closer to Honoka. "Looking the way you do, you're always gonna make me look bad," he flirts with a greasy overtone and looming closeness.
Dahlia, as with most criminal masterminds, tends to tailor her retinue's size as appropriate for the threat level of her opponent. Either she's abandoned that principle for this meeting, or she's sending a message by only having only one follower leave the truck with her.
It might have something to do with the psychic's preference to get a read on her environment. Death can lurk from any angle -- not just the 360 around her, but from above or below as well. To the aim of a trained sniper, it doesn't matter whether you're surrounded by six or six thousand.
To put it bluntly -- she knows where Kano's at. Both through her own powers, and through the reflections faintly visible in the polished glass. She pauses to hold the door open for him, glancing over her shoulder with a coquettish smile. "It's said that flattery will get you everything," she coos, passing the door over to Kano. Sure, this might mean getting close -- perhaps uncomfortably so -- but that's all part of the game.
It still means she gets to enter the human-sized aquarium before he does. A vast foyer of marble and glass, awash in fading sunlight. The pride and joy of some entertainment group, before market pressures and the endless churn of reality forced them to abandon their dream palace. The foyer is, at the moment, clean and blissfully empty, apart from a few dusty bootprints here and there. Dahlia pauses, allowing Kano the moment to enter fully, before proceeding onward
As she walks, Dahlia slows down so that Kano can catch up. "It's... forgive if I mispronounce it, but... Kah-no?" She wrinkles her nose, telegraphing her unease with that - and silently hoping for the correction. "Dreadful little conflict that took place here so many months ago. I'm glad to see -someone- with good business sense had the wherewithal to take charge."
The "fishbowl" meeting room that Dahlia strides to has a bit more of that lived-in feel. Chairs of some kind have sheets thrown atop them. The table is covered with a tarp -- and, as the pair approaches, a fine sheen of dust. Dahlia tilts her head towards the "fishbowl," before turning back to Kano with fascination.
Without words of any sort, her man gets the signal: entering the room, and being the sole person to subject himself to the minor dustdevil that erupts from ridding the table and chairs of their shrouds.
"... I've always wondered, though... is... 'cult' an official part of the name?"
"Kano," the man deadpans at the mispronunciation. He walks alone, though there's near an army about in Sunshine. He's been around the block long enough to know that in the end a lot of things just comes down to who can be alive just a bit longer than the other guy. And take it from the metal part of his face and the glowing red light in his chest that sometimes it takes more to keep a trouble down than someone's bullet.
He doesn't have any real concern for threat at the moment, doesn't make sense to. "It was dealt with," he judges on behalf of his enforcers efforts to repel the Syndicate. "How's your neck of the woods?" the question innocent enough for a man that already knows a good amount of the words on the street.
Walking on, he keeps his hand resting on the pommel of the knife he wears. He's armed, doesn't care, better to have to use it if someone wants to disarm him than not have it when they decide to disarm him anyways. He looks over the dusty bowl and the soon to be cloud created by the suit. He snorts and very nearly almost spits on the floor. Instead, he decides to just swallow.
"Trademarked and everything," he comments, but his snideness doesn't hold enthusiasm. The cult is Johann's thing. It all works though, loyalty is loyalty. "Looking to franchise?"
Scratching at his neck, he walks about the conference room, not being one to sit, he finds a corner of the table to prop a boot on and lean into an overly casual stretch. "Not here to fuck spiders, love," he admits, "You got problems over in Southie, and it just happens that I'm not a fan of your problems. So what sort of deal you looking for? Arms, men, tech?"
He snorts and clears his throat, resting his arm on his knee in a sort of extended rum bottle pirate look. "Only problem as I see it are what can you and your scraps offer the Dragon?"
"Kano, then." Dahlia had known the correct pronunciation all along, of course. It's all part of the game.
As for the 'innocent' question, Dahlia shrugs faintly, raising an open palm. "We've stumbled, to put it lightly." She can tell from the way that Kano speaks that he probably wouldn't fully appreciate her loquacious spin on things. "Syndicate's doubled down on their ports, much like you have here. They made a big show of expanding their grasp, but they're halfassing it."
She grins, faintly. "Franchise... Mmm." She purses her lips, her expression suggesting a tabling of that idea for the moment. "'Cult' flutters too many skirts. But there -are- opportunities for the Black Dragon there." She frowns, furrowing her brow, and starts to raise a finger -- but it seems Kano's already on the same page.
"I -do- have problems, Kano. One who -also- calls herself the Black Dragon, and the Syndicate, of course."
Dahlia stops alongside a chair, resting one hand upon the chair back. Shifting her weight to that side, she arches an eyebrow. "Hmm? Do you take cash, check, or credit? I'm -good- for my money, Kano, and you can be a -very- rich man if you can follow the scent of opportunity..." She makes a sweeping gesture with her hand, off to her side. "There's thousands of miles of coastline in Japan, Kano, just -ripe- for the pickin'..."
"You love yourself some boats," Kano comments, fingers drumming on his knee. He looks, leers almost, with the greed in the dark pit of a soul that Kano calls his. Money is good, it motivates him, as does the potentials access to parts of Japan will get him.
He pushes himself off the side of the table and crosses his arms. Watching Honoka move about, he considers the possibilities for the Black Dragon, cult portion or otherwise. He strokes his moustache, nodding along at hearing the opening doors of business that Dahlia explains.
After all, Syndicate enemies, Yakuza enemies, all sides could use materiel in a war.
"I take all sorts," Kano says, "I'm not a picky man." But he will take his pick when the time comes to make good on payments, that he internally promises himself. There's plenty of opportunity on Japan the Dragon hasn't gotten ahold of. But this talk of a knock off, that's a curious twist that raises Kano's eyebrow.
"Got an imitator, do we?" his question comes with an easy chuckle, Kano rubs his sideburn, but when his hand drops, it grips the hilt of the blade at his hip. "Still ain't got to what you're looking for, sheila."
"I do love boats," echoes Dahlia. "I always have." If it weren't for boats, she wouldn't have had access to the -everything- she enjoys as an adult today. Her parents might still be alive, but that's a different matter entirely.
It seems her intel on Kano was correct -- greed motivates all. Greed cuts past the briars of language, past the thorns of diplomacy. And if -mismanaged-, well... the Southtown Syndicate could easily outbid her if she doesn't play her cards right. Which is why she's setting up the table the way she is.
"I'll cut to the point, then. Kira's her name, and she goes by the Black Dragon. Runs a casino right on the Southtown coast. -Thinks- she's hot shit."
She shrugs faintly. "For the moment, she can believe it. My first task is winning back the port city of Iwaki, two hours north of Southtown."
Again, she gestures with an open palm. "I'll pony up the bayfront property. You'll move your men in. And from there, move to take over the local shipping industry, one reluctant landowner at a time."
Her hand slides back, resting upon her hip. "We'll make use of your armed services... and you'll get buyers. And before long, you'll be able to springboard from there to the rest of Japan's coast. One big, happy family."
Greed, for lack of a better term, is good. It's always served Kano well. Look out for number one, and if everyone's doing that, things are smooth. He doesn't care where someone's from, who they are, if they want something from him and can pay, he'll supply. Of course, if they're aware that he can cut them for as much as a song, then all the better. It keeps things honest.
"I'll look into her," Kano dismisses this Kira for the time being. Casinos are all well and dandy, but he's got bigger fish to fry than a claim jumper. The Syndicate were the ones that stuck nose in Sunshine and Kano was ready to rub said nose into the shit they stirred. "Get us a good'n, one with a nice beachy view. We'll bring the toys."
Kano's smile is as dark and predatory as it's ever been. "Treat you just like I would my own mum," he tells Honoka when she starts in on big happy families. Families always fight, shame as it is, but it's always better to expect the inevitable betrayal.
As much as Dahlia would -like- to sic Kano's forces on Kira... well. Considering how easy -this- meeting has gone, she wouldn't put it past the mercenary Black Dragon to strike up a betrayal with the much more effective Black Dragon Cult. Perhaps if she hadn't -mentioned- them as a foe...
"A nice beachy view," affirms Dahlia, miming as if she's writing a to-do list on her open palm. "That'll be front and center on our agent's wishlist." She kids, smiling with bared teeth -- but considers it as a legit ask all the same. She's dealt with plenty of people who were picky about their needs. Who is -she- to say one shouldn't be gallavanting around with seadoos and four-wheelers on the surf -- so long as they get the job done.
"Is that a good thing or a bad thing...?" she wonders aloud, the hint of mischievousness tugging her lips into a smirk. "We'll get along swimmingly, I'm sure," she states, just to save him from having to answer that particularly snarky assertion.
"I'd like to visit one of your shipping facilities, just so that I'm sure what I'm dealing with there. Is that something we can work out today?"
She gestures around to the 'fishbowl' with an air of bemusement. "Much as I like -this-, it's a little too -sterile- for my liking."
Having a constant awareness that betrayal is just around the corner, and take what complications may come along, has always been key to Kano's survival and profiteering. He nods when Dahlia agrees to the beachy view. He's serious about the request. If the buyer can't even provide some beachfront property, then they certainly can't afford the full price tag for all the effort the Black Dragon will put into fighting other people's fights. It's a matter of principle.
"That's why I asked for beachy," Kano tells Honoka with an all too knowing glint in his eye.
He starts to walk around the table, moving the far side from Honoka. He gestures as he talks, slow movements from his broad hands. "Afraid not," he answers the matter of docks and shipping facilities. "You see, the way you do it, did it, ain't the way the Black Dragon do it." He makes a gesture outward, through the glass fishbowl to the glass doors to the city outside. "Having all them headquarters, them bases, like you do, that's drawing a big ol' target on and wagging your ass out there for kicking."
He shakes his head, the Dragon Cult has temples, they have sanctuaries, but Kano operates lean. He operates hungry and he operates with all the power that free and open business allows him. What they do operate, tends to be secret and mobile compared to other criminal orgs. The Black Dragon is a shadow. They're guerillas as much as criminals. "But if you're looking for something dirty," Kano laughs, nodding, "Got a scrap to write on?"
At first, Dahlia seems put out. How can you run a cartel that deals in all sorts of illicit materiel, without... having a distribution point? And yet -- Kano's straightforward, uncomplicated logic makes perfect sense.
"That's a fascinating philosophy."
It flies in the face of -all- of the advice she'd previously received from the upper echelons of yakuza society. To date, she's been following the "open secret" model by the numbers: build bases, but keep the -center- moving. It worked for centuries...
But times change. Already, plans are forming in her mind. She still sees the value of -scrubbing- Syndicate influence out, but...
She speaks her thoughts aloud. "You keep your materiel on the move, minimizing your footprint. Convoys, constantly on the move."
She strokes her scarred chin, considering the possibilities. There were reasons she -hasn't- done this before. But...
"... how do you manage that strategy in a world of 24-7 surveillance? You can only diversify your transport methods but so far...?"
She reaches into her lapel pocket, pulling out a small stationery pad. Something with a 'Holiday Inn' watermark. She places it on the table and slides it across to Kano. "I wouldn't mind a look-see."
The world's a global marketplace. The lean and the hungry and the mobile win the day. Kano knows this. He's learned from throwing hats in with terrorists, militias, gangs of lowlives and the occasional extradimensional warlord. Anything to pull a profit. He's an older man, but he's a keen one when it comes to finding ways to stay afloat.
"Strap yourself down and you're stuck. Go where the business takes you, and you'll always be flush with cash," Kano says, tapping the metal plate that is his head. "But I can't let you know all the secrets of the biz, love. Gotta keep some in the noggin."
He leans over the paper, makes a long show of licking his fingertips before pulling a pen from one of the cargo pockets on his trousers. "If we was living in a world that really was that way, none of us'd be in business," he speaks with a gravely sense of obviousness. "And people always want something: money, flesh, drugs, power, their loved ones in one piece. All you got to do is figure out what that is, and who needs to be satisfied, and you got the world by the short hairs."
He scribbles on the paper and slides it all the way back to Honoka. "Go there. Tonight. It'll be all fun and games and you can blow off some steam. See the real Black Dragon." Simple, direct, the address for a currently running Sunshine City fight club. Cages, money, drugs, blood and catharsis all waiting. If The Black Dahlia really did find things too sterile, she was only an afternoon away from seeing just how dirty things could really get.
Dahlia's all smiles.
That is, for the record, -not- a common trait for these sorts of negotiations. It's kind of a bother, really. In Japan, smiles are a telltale sign of failure -- a smokescreen for profound disagreement with the offer on the table. And even outside of Japan, showing one's true feelings for the job before the ink is dry on an agreement is usually a bad move.
But for whatever reason, Dahlia just doesn't seem to care about the 'usual' means of doing business. She's elated -- and not afraid to show it. Perhaps that's a tactic of her own, to engender the simple man's trust?
"Shrewd... and appreciated. Clearly, I'm talking to the right man for this job."
She leaves unspoken the fact that she -knows- he's going to try and overcharge her for his 'business services.' But really, that's just the accepted surcharge of doing business with liars and crooks.
"Also true." The more Scarlet Dahlia has come to rely on satellite intelligence, the further she's gotten from her -roots-. And things that used to be so simple to her... She chuckles with the realization. "It's profound, how much the so-called 'experts' I've spoken to can be so far off the mark."
Dahlia glances across at the writing implement, at the scribbles -- and of course, the penmanship. But most importantly the address -- one she quickly commits to memory, before tucking back into her lapel pocket. "I'd like that, yes. Far too often, fighters claw their way to the top only to forget what it's like everywhere else. The -real- grit, the -real- tenacity is in the basement, the cage matches. Japan itself has grown -soft-..." Dahlia clenches her fist, a smile of arrogant superiority taking over her features. "And we need to be ready for next time."
Her expression lightens, as she steps back and away from the table, lacing her fingers before her with interest. "Kano... you deal with some interesting characters. I've heard rumors of a four-armed Shokan stomping around, even -after- the Mortal Kombat tournament. Have you?"
It's all good business.
Kano's a smiling man, he's often in a good mood. When he's in a bad mood, people get hurt or die, but by nature he isn't a very angry man. He's merely a dangerous, greedy and vicious one. And Honoka, she hasn't done a lick to set him off. But he still will wring her for everything he can get his hands on.
"Well now, kitten's got claws," he says with a laugh. "Listen, you come on down tonight, make a nice big show for everyone, we'll have a laugh, bit of tucker." He holds his arms out to the side, happy and smiling. "Say, what size you wear, we'll get something special for you," he adds with a wanton look in his eye.
But his arms drop, business returns quickly. "Lotta rumors out there, but take a look at what's pouring in around us every goddamn day. You really thing a shokan's off the table?"
Dahlia -prefers- to avoid being angry. To paraphrase someone famous, if it doesn't spark joy in your heart, call a hit on it.
The Akatsuki leader smirks, nodding in full agreement. She hadn't -planned- to fight, but... that's what her boys in black are for. Insurance. "... Tucker's an Aussie-ism I haven't heard yet." She arches an eyebrow, afterwards though. "I... doubt you have anything size zero." Especially as she doubts to see any other -ladies- there in the ring. "But I'll work with whatever you got."
As Kano shifts back to business, Dahlia gives a simple (if mildly condescending) shrug. "What can I say? Goro had fans. I doubt they'd screw around with most people, but me? I can't -ever- count shokans out of the picture."
She pulls her sunglasses off the table from where she'd left them, tapping an index finger upon the temple. "You're gonna be there tonight, right handsome? Or you got bigger and better things t'see to?"
"You'll just have to find out," Kano tells Dahlia, "And believe me, I can get something that'll work. If not, you'll just have to be fine with nothing at all." He chuckles, grins and keeps his eye toward the door.
"Never count anyone out of the picture until you wear a pair of boots made of their arse," Kano intones to Honoka a bit of his own wisdom. He's survived more terrible things than he'd care to count. The glowing bits of his body a reminder of that survival knack. He knows well to never count out opponents.
"But let's think of more fun things," he says, cheering, finally making his roundabout to the glass exit of the fishbowl. "I gotta figure out which of my friends I'm bringing to your beach party. You just think about having a little fun tonight. And we'll all be smiling and bloody rich for all this."
Log created on 11:41:38 06/08/2019 by Kano, and last modified on 01:38:57 06/09/2019.