Description: When a leggy piece of a trouble with painted lips and a pity story comes striding into Brandon Malone's office, the paranormal detective gets himself a case that's bigger than two beans on a pile of many other beans.
Having been told that what happened to Metro City park might be well outside of his ability to clean up and restore, Brandon has taken a moment to back off at least for the time being and turn his attention to his agency and keeping the lights on at the office. This meant he he was taking on cases where he'd find himself trailing unfaithful spouses.
Oddly enough, one of Brandon's biggest strengths is a fairly good grounding in scrying magic. He also had good knowledge in knowing how far he could push to get his findings admissable in court whether for civil, divorce, or murder. Magic is usually used to position himself in a place where he could get what he needs and/or allow him to escape once he has it.
At this moment, Brandon is looking through a stack of photos. Picture of a couple at a restaurant, a picture of the same couple entering a vehicle together, a picture of the couple walking into a motel on the outskirts of Metro City. The photos are slipped into a manila envelope to join documents already in it.
Faith was always the bulwark of every virtue.
The light of the intercom would flicker, as the ring would come in, an interruption. He wouldn't see the painted nail that pressed it. But it's owner had been waiting for just the right moment to come. It wasn't faithless spouses that was their concern. But rather, shared concerns with the detective himself. The voice that comes in through the intercom almost oozes a certain kind of energy. It is almost a song, a sonnet, smooth and clear, with the weight almost washing out from the intercom speaker into the room.
"Is this the office of one Mister Malone?"
The silence is suddenly pierced by the sound of the intercom buzzing before abating long enough to give the voice enough time to speak. An eyebrow rises upward as he moves to slide the rest of the photos into the envelope and into one of his desk drawers and locks it up before activating one of the enchantments on his desk that would provide an unpleasant surprise for someone if they were to attempt to search his desk without permission.
"It is. May I ask who is it?"
The deck of tarot cards get picked up from the desk and slipped into his belt pouch as he begins to make his approach into the open room with walls with several bookshelves filled with books that used to be where his desk used to reside before multiple attempts on his life had made him a bit paranoid. This puts him next to where the second intercom was located.
The sing-song voice doesn't cease, though the accent was becoming more and more clear. "The name is Bela von Podiebrad, of the House of Podiebrad." A noble? "I have come to discuss work; it involves protecting the world from the like of Makai, and I would like to consult a professional's service in dealing with it." That was both very blunt, and also extremely vauge. "We can discuss over the intercom, of course."
"But wouldn't it be more secure in your office?"
"On my way to the door."
With that, Brandon steps through the short walkway in and into the open room where he can see the noble. He preps his phone by opening a camera app and sliding it back into his pocket while the other hand is close to his card pouch. He moves towards the door and unlocks it before opening the door for his prospective client and indicates that he should follow him.
"It is nice to meet you. This is quite a surprise."
The two make their way down a short hallway with a door opening to the left. After they continue down the hallway, past the door, the hallway opens into the office proper with an oak desk with walls with even more shelves filled with books. On the desk there's a candlestick phone on the desk which has been repurposed to be his intercom because he liked the aesthetic for his office.
"You're welcome to sit down if you'd like."
With a gesture, he indicates the client side chair which is cushioned and looks to be significantly more comfortable than his own. He then sits down in his own chair.
"How can I help you?"
Bela von Podiebrad was hardly one who wore 'casual.'
The man was dressed in a fine pinstripe suit, bearing the purple undertone and highlights in stark color balance. He is a short, skinny man with white hair, his face is cut sharp, long and stony with a distant, aloof facade. He is deathly pale, and has hazel eyes that almost seem to change color in the light. His hair is stylized in bangs in the front, with a long ponytail behind him over his cloak. and is on the shorter and skinnier side. He walks upon a pair of high-heeled gold-plated purple boots, increasing his height by a number of inches... but still is far shorter than Brandon.
But he just had a big air around him.
He was clinging to his own manila folder; hips swaying with every step. "Of course! It is a-" Bela's attention comes on the bookcase a moment, scanning the texts. Staring at them, he goes to take his seat with flourish as he dangles his legs over the side of the chair. "Delightful, delightful." He repeats, snapping out of his trance to look back to Brandon, his painted lips up into a smile as he flutters his long eyelashes. "I will make this quick and simple. I represent a mercenary organization of Monster Hunters that work alongside the Hunters Guild and the NOL. Right now, my Raven Guard, my armed mercenary army, is fighting against Kira Volkov and her Dragoons in Southtown."
"She's being used, of course."
"I have reason to believe that Jedah Dohma is not only behind this effort, leveraging Kira to humiliate the NOL, but is staging another incident like here in Metro City." Bela extends the folder to Brandon, inviting him to take it. "Our sources show that you have vested interest in the matter."
"A matter of a park that will not heal, am I right?"
The detective looks the noble in the eye as Bela lays down the particulars of this case. It's unusual for a mercenary outfit to be inquiring about his services but not outside the realm of possibility. He was, after all, hired by the Sacred Order to help with dealing with a banshee problem after dealing with it here in Metro City and enlisting help from Trish who knew of similar troubles in Southtown. However there was another detail that he did give him cause for concern. The fact that the mercenary organization was a monster hunting organization and that they were associated with NOL as well as the Hunters' Guild. The former, he didn't particularly trust due to their officers' conduct in the King of Fighters and the latter he didn't particularly trust due to some of anti-darkstalker sentiment in their ranks and had seen them disrupt lives of darkstalkers seeking to make an honest living.
His eyes dart to the manila folder and as he does so, his mind goes back to the last conversation he had with Trish. There's a sudden realization that this time, he's probably going to be the bullet rather than the gun. He opens the folder, hearing the mention of 'a park that will not heal.' It's that point he, pretty much knows he's about to be the bullet. He looks at the noble once more then a the documents in the folder.
Bela strokes his own hair, grooming it as he reclines sideways in the chair. "By the time Jedah makes his strike, it will be too late. We are doing whatever we can to procure evidence that Jedah has his talons in this chaos. Our targets are indirect. Jedah has operated in Southtown within the realm of the legal and legitimate."
"We have targets who we believe are assisting him with that, in exchange for dark favors of the supernatural."
He motions for him to open the folder. "You should know them well." "Duke Burkoff, art dealer and crime boss. Heihachi Mishima, the inheritor of his son's work. Kira Volkov, who is in the middle of sacking the city of Southtown. The Scarlet Dahlia, the Ainu crime lady of many masks. And now, the dictator Vega of Shadaloo himself. So many contacts. The last one, of course would be Jedah himself." A thin, painted smile spreads across his lips.
"I hardly think we could pay you enough to make you go anywhere near that Embassy."
He was definitely feeling like he was being he was being pointed at a target while this particular noble got to sit back and watch the show. First the mention of Metro City park and then the mention of Mishima inheriting the work of Violet Systems. One of their projects was a particular sore spot for him and it was clear that this man did his research.
"This has me curious though."
He continues to look through the folder and taking in the details to be used later even if he didn't agree to take this case. It could be useful later.
"If you don't believe you would be able to pay me enough to go near the embassy, where would you have me go?"
There is plenty of detail, even for the folder.
Bela motions at the detective. "Please keep it. The more people know about those vile traitors, the better. We have reason believe that these people have been selling their souls, so to speak, giving Jedah access in exchange for Darkstalkers, or worse." The aristocrat waves his hand. "If it is merely to draw their sins out, well, we are working with Illyria and the Sacred Order now for that. What we need is more concrete evidence." Bela holds up his fingers one by one "Shipping, Bills of Ladings, Consignments. All would be used to conceal the transport of Darkstalkers; but how do you hide cages, the monstrous meals to satiate their foul appetites." Bela rises up to apparently milk and invisible cow. He only just relaxes, to sink back into his chair, crossing his legs as he sits straight. "To be frank, We need a professional to, well, connect the logistics of the transfer of Darkstalkers. Someone with both a talent I fundemental footwork, and a close connection with the supernatural." He leans forwars. "They have to be getting it from somewhere. And If Jedah has been using false company fronts to do business..." Bela steeples his painted nails together, sneering sinisterly.
"Then we have proof he is funding the chaos on the streets. "
Brandon nods at the folder and then back at Bela. He can't help but feel conflicted. There's something about this man that is offputing about him and it isn't the makeup or the painted nails, he's lived in Metro City long enough to be almost blase about that aspect. No. It's the mannerisms and the words he uses to describe Darkstalkers. The thinly veiled contempt for the creatures.
An idle part of the detective's mind wonders if the man standing across from him would consider the times he's interceded on the behalf of darkstalkers who genuinely wanted to contribute to society or at the very least just wanted to just follow the laws so they could just be left alone, to be betrayals to humanity.
He eyes the folder once more.
"I have some things I need to consider. Is there a way I can contact you should I decide to take the job?"
While the idea of working with Bela doesn't appeal to him, he has to consider the fact that something like this needs to be address if enough of what he's saying is true.
There is a shift in the air, as Brandon says he needs some things to consider.
It would be easy enough to let Brandon think on it. It would be dangerous to press too hard. "My contacts are at the bottom, on the card. You can use the direct line; we have a service now! Modern technology is wonderful." Bela looks at his nail, that shift in the air still lingering. That was it. He could leave! He could let Brandon make his arrangements. Bela had no reason to say anything else. And yet, not even the Patriarch could conceal the worm of a thought that was consuming him. He covers his mouth.
"I don't see what there is to consider."
Bela finally lets the acidic comment out. "If you need transportation services, they will be covered. Your lodging will be secured, and you will have full protection from the local authorities while you do your work. You aren't afraid, no. But there is that lingering hesitation." Was he going to talk about hatred? How justified he was in his crusade? How vile Darkstalkers could be, especially those like Jedah? He turns his head, jewelry clinking as he sways slightly. The pressure feels real, as it almost is like a painted nail pressed on the most delicate pressure point.
"This... this has nothing to do with your former mentor- partner, the traitorous bastard who sold out his allies in Interpol, and joined forces with Jedah, does it?"
And it is at that point where Bela says a little bit too much. The hesitation was in the fact that there was something bothering him about the way he was talking about darkstalkers and so he wanted to take a step back and do some research on Bela von Podiebrad and his people. He wanted to know more about the people who theoretically would be hiring him. NOL, he had familiarity with and would rather stay off their radar if at all possible. The Sacred Order was a group that he had worked with in the past and would be willing to work with again. The person in front of him as well as the mercenary organization he represented was an unknown quantity. He wanted to fix that.
The moment his former mentor was mentioned, the calm look on his face changes. There's a flash of anger before he reins it in. His chest rises and falls multiple times with, deep, cleansing breaths before he trusts himself to speak again.
"While it had nothing to do with 'him', you mentioning him as if would it would provide leverage over me justified my hesitation to agree to providing my services. I believe our conversation is over. Good day."
He rises from his chair to, in theory, escort the noble out of his office.
He could taste that flicker.
The aristocrat almost matches Brandon's movement note for note. He did say too much. It must have been a failure, a mistake. Why else would he make an unforced error, a misstep? And yet, when he said it had nothing to do with him, that shift hangs in the air. Bela, for his purpose, remains as calm as his counterpart, if not more so. "I must have spoken in haste, alas." He wipes his brow, as he rises up. He freezes, holding up a finger. "One more thought, to wonder as you weigh your decision." He casts his eyes cooly upon Brandon, a faint smirk on his painted lips. His words are no longer light, as they come with the tonnage of the SS Opulence.
"How many more Metro Parks do you plan to tend to?"
He covers his mouth, fingers curled over his lips from the side. "And how satisfied will you be, when scratching the clay of one more wasteland, a wasteland that you knew you had the chance to prevent... that it was worth it, to hold your own against a miserable stranger that needled where he ought not to needle?" Those eyes seemed to almost glow indigo, as he stands, his other hand out to let the detective escort him. "You don't need to answer." He looks away, to the door.
"You might not even think of it as your fault."
The detective looks incredulous as Bela continues to talk when it would probably be best for him to remain quiet. He continues to move towards the door. While he remains silent, the restraints on the direct access to his energy start to loosen as though he readying it to call it to the surface should Bela make an issue about being asked to leave.
"I tried to say it politely but maybe I should try saying it in Metro City terms. Get. The. Fuck. Outta. My. Office."
He opens the door and gestures towards it before looking Bela dead in his eyes.
"Failure to do so will be considered trespassing."
Bela looks back, and the depth of his intensity is revealed.
Every calm gesture, every sway and shake was only just a facade over the full ambition of the man. Was it a madman? Another tyrant? Or a different kind of zealot. The threat washes over him, and it was sincere. Like fresh picked fruit for his lips. "You don't need to see me again." He purrs, as he walks out the door, hips swaying. Another taunt? "But you have the knowledge now. Nobody on this earth has the skills you provide, Mister Malone. Now it's your burden on what you do with it. And if the world unites under the warm, safe embrace of Jedah, as Southtown becomes another prize for his Majigen empire..." He gives a brief, high-pitched chuckle, as he strides down the hall to the steps.
"Good luck, Mister Malone."
Log created on 14:01:25 05/26/2020 by Marduk, and last modified on 10:11:01 05/27/2020.