Alba - A Study in Coincidence

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Description: Over the sound of bleeping arcade cabinets and street fighter knock-offs, Alba and Tairyu talk about their experiences- and the similarities across them.

Amongst the hustle of the southtown streets, sits a small arcade nestled in between two large buildings. This area has been mostly untouched by the rampage of Kira's darkstalkers, and a semblence of normal life is slowly returning amongst these buildings. Businesses are opening, and there are people walking around- albeit few.

This specific arcade has managed to survive the modern gaming revolution, and is a haven for connoisseurs looking for obscure and interesting titles. A large, weathered sign at the entrance reads "Joycenter". The inside is a poorly-lit, large hall with a wooden floor and cement walls. With rows of large arcade machines spread around sporadically. Old favorites like 'Punch-Out!!' as well as machines and games lost to memory, whether they were underrated gems or downright bad.

Alba is on his usual thinking routine. Walking around the streets with little reason, considering whatever his current predicament might be. Right now; Duke and Kain. He's gotten wrapped up in his quest for revenge against Duke, with Kain helping him for his personal reasons. Then, he stumbles upon that place. He usually wouldn't be one for this kind of trivial entertainment, but he feels a little nostalgic at the sight. He used to run off with his brother, Soiree, to places like these. Naturally, Alba would always win at whatever game they were playing.

He pushes open the dusty, glass doors, and gives a quick nod to the old man sitting at the counter. Entering further inside, while reaching inside his pocket to grab some quarters.

Amongst the people already inside the arcade is one particular sight that might not be expected. Not on account of this particular man's age though necessarily, no-- if one had to guess, he'd be right around Alba's age, if not a little younger. It's more on account of the way the man clothes himself; in a black, unbuttoned blazer over a dark-red collared button-up, with black suit pants that must have come with the blazer jacket.

THe man that the clothes are wrapped around, himself, exudes a certain air about him, too. It's not quite the same as that of a common street thug, but... it's something close. That, in particular, clashes fairly well with the fact that he's set up by the ancient cabinet for Space Harrier with a focused intensity in his eyes while his hands manipulate the joystick controlling the flying avatar within the brightly-colored rail-shooter landscape.

Well. For a while, anyway. It doesn't take long after Alba's stepped inside, that the 8-bit sounds alluding to explosions come from within the cabinet, followed by the GAME OVER! tone and the high score screen. Not... that the score that the man accumulated is anything to scoff at, it turns out. Well enough to be in the high score list there. Not that it stops him from giving a frustrated grunt and a little bump of his fist against the cabinet before he's digging out more coins to insert into the machine.

Alba likely stands out even more, He has bright-red dyed hair, with similarly crimson jacket and gloves. He wears black underclothing and pants, and his eyes are covered by scarlet shades.

He starts walking deeper inside, glancing over the various machines when he hears that grunt and bump. He glances over in that direction, seeing the gangster-looking man, and his impressive space harrier score. Alba shrugs, and walks over to the Cabinet next to Tairyu- Also space harrier, and pushes a coin into the slit. Getting a confirming 'Bloop' from the cabinet before he pushes the start button, giving the joystick a few trial shakes. Someone must've spilled their drink on it, because the joystick frustratingly sticks at the top.

Alba gets a few seconds into his game, before he calmly speaks up towards the man next to him. "Nice score."

IN the space between Game Over and the insertion of a new coin, Tairyu did throw a glance towards Alba. It's hard not to notice someone dressed like that. Not that he is one to talk, really. There's a brief, suspicious (or maybe just bemused?) look given from him, before he focuses on the game again.

Only for his attention to be drawn to the other man all over again, when he speaks up. "Hm?" He lets out in idle reaction, first, and that sideward glance from the very corner of his eye lasts only for half a second before his gaze is fully on the cabinet's screen again.

"Thanks," he grunts out with that. "Feel like I should be doing better than that though. It's like the game is taunting me."

"The game is taunting you? Interesting way to put it." Alba says, as he does his best to focus on his own screen. The first 'damage' sound effect plays, as he loses one of his lifes within seconds of the first stage. He audibly grunts out a "Damn." aggressively Tapping away at the loud arcade buttons. "This dang joystick is sticking. Guess that's what you get at a place like this." He says with a sigh.

He keeps tapping away, while continuing the idle chit-chat "You seem to be quite proficient at that game."

"Not sure how to put it any other way," Tairyu notes back with a grunt welling up at the end of his words, prompted by somethng that takes place on screen. The cacophony of old-school buttons clacking fills the space well between the two of them. At least he doesn't have a sticky joystick, though. "Apparently that's why some people bring their own cleaning cloths here with them. You'd think the owner would just give them out at the front desk."

The comment Alba makes about his proficiency causes Tairyu to be... distracted, momentarily. He throws a glance at the red-haired man, and that distraction alone is enough to caues the character onscreen to be reduced to pixelated explosions. "Damnit," he grunts in frustration-- but the game continues on or now, at least. Still got more lives! "You should have seen my sister play this. She was the real master. Someone just bumped her score down so I'm trying to get her name back up there."

"Smart people. I'm not a regular." A few more seconds pass, another life lost. Only one remaining. The clacking of his buttons intensifies further. "Guess the owner doesn't really care. Long as he gets his quarters." He smirks a little, glancing over at Tairyu. "Haven't been to one of these places in years. Used to be pretty good." Alba reaches the fist stage's boss, the big green dragon-worm. He fails to dodge out of the way in time once again, and a loud GAME OVER! plays. Alba sighs, and says "But seemingly, I'm not anymore."

He decides to hold onto the quarters, and watch Tairyu's significantly better performance at the game "Your sister, huh? That's cool." he pauses for a second, before he continues. "She isn't around to get her own score?"

Tairyu, meanwhile, keeps on rocking through after the first stage's boss. Though his conversation is quite well split between the game and the chit-chat with Alba. It's not at all helped by the fact that the topic of the conversation is going someplace that weighs a bit more heavily in his mind.

It ends up showing in his performance, too. His second life goes away when his character on screen smacks right into an enemy projectile. One more left, but...

"She isn't," he murmurs finally, in answer to Alba. "I guess I just want her to be able to see her tag still up there when she's... back around."

Sensing that this is a touchy subject, Alba leaves it with a simple "I see." and falls quiet as he watches the game, being considerate enough to not have him lose another life- and by extension, another quarter.

Unfortunately, the thought left over by the particular subject matter welled up just enough within Tairyu, that his performance tanks pretty quick. It's not even until the second stage's boss, before he loses the third life in the game. With the GAME OVER screen and high score leaderboards scrolling through, he takes a step back with a frustrated sound rumbling in his throat. "... I think I'm just off my game now," he rumbles. "I'll get back to it later, I guess. Maybe I'll manage it then."

"My bad for distracting you." Alba says. "I'm sure you'll get that score eventually." he reinforces, albeit with the same neutral tone as always. "I'm Alba." the crimson-clad gangster informally introduces himself. He gestures over his back with his thumb, towards the row of fighting game cabinets. "Are you up for a few versus rounds? Those kind of games used to be my specialty. My brother never stood a chance." Alba starts slowly walking over towards these cabinets, looking at the available titles of muscular men beating the snot out of eachother with superpowers.

"Alley fighter 3?"

"Maybe," Tairyu allows, non-commitantly enough. "Maybe one day." The way he's talking, his sister must have been significantly better, in his mind. When the red-clad man makes his introduction, he in turn turns to face him, considering him for a few seconds before dipping into a half-bow. "Tairyu. Tairyu Katashi." Well, he already looks the part, so makes sense he'd introduce himself in the japanese order. Either way. He considers the cabinet he gestured to with a low hum. "I've never been very good at those," he confesses with a hint of amusement in his tone, and steps to following after him. "But it'll make for a distraction at least."

"It's been a long time for me." Alba takes place in front of the large, 2-player side-to-side cabinet, taking the right 'Player 2' side, popping a coin into the slit making a loud, grainy "Here comes a new challenger!" ring out from the cabinet. He tests the joystick and buttons for possible stickiness, while waiting for Tairyu to chime in.

"I'll take the player 2 side. Everyone hates playing the player 2 side." Alba says jokingly." The character select screen opens, Alba moves his cursor over to the one character he recognizes- the protagonist and poster-boy, the basic karate fight man. 'Sheng Long'. Dressed in a white karate-gi, with short, red hair.

"I don't think I ever even played these that much in the first place." Tairyu's not at all hesitant about getting in on this action either way. He doesn't comment on the matter of player sides, and just goes on ahead to popping a coin for his own self. He has significantly more trouble selecting a character, however, owing a great deal to the fact that he does, in fact, have a fairly low amount of experience with this game.

Eventually, he ends up selecting a character that... just looks like a palette-swapped version of Sheng Long, except also with the addition of longer, brown hair; called simply 'Lee'.

"I'm not really planning on going down easy anyway, just so you know."

"That's what I'd expect. Good luck." The character introduction loading screen rolls by, displaying the 32-bit dojo-esque backdrop, with the selected pallete-swapped character sprites becoming visible after the camera pans down to them, displaying them from the classic 2d perspective. 'Lee' on the left, and 'Sheng Long' on the right, doing their respective opening taunts.

The grainy voice of the announcer rings out "3.. 2.. 1.. FIGHT!" As the battle, and background music starts. The first thing Alba does, is command his character to throw a slow, yellow-tinted fireball across the screen, with a appropriate 'Shadouken!' sound effect. I swear, this is all strangely familiar.

Alba is focused on the screen, but between the clacking of buttons, he says. "I'm getting the air that you are somehow involved with this cities criminal underbelly. Is my hunch correct?." Alba continues "That, or you're simply nailing that Yakuza look."

Tairyu's lack of experience shows right from the beginning there. While he has the sense and reflex to send his character jumping over the... uh, Shadouken, but from there he merely manages to attack Shen Long with a simple, quick kick. Hiyah!

But the question Alba presents him, has him peeking sidelong to him with briefly narrowed eyes.

"Does it make a difference right now?" He asks of him in counter, without really answering the question... though that alone might give him an answer, too. "It's not like you are dressed like most civilians, either."

"I suppose it doesn't. It just caught my attention." Alba responds, as Sheng Long gets counter-hit in-game by Lee as he attempts to throw a second Fireball. "And you would be correct. Seems that we are both unordinary." He flicks the joystick to make his character dash forward and attempt a grab.

Glancing over at Tairyu, he asks the natural follow-up question. "Are you a Martial Artist, then? You look like you can handle yourself in a brawl."

"Oh, lucky," Tairyu murmurs under his breath over the counter he managed to make Lee pull off. Too bad that it's immediately followed by Sheng Long grabbing and tossing Lee down to the ground.

The new question from Alba - or the request for confirmation on his assumption - earns another sideward glance. Unlike with Space Harrier, that doesn't impact his performance in this game much at all. That's to say, he'd be on the losing end of the ensuing exchange of blows even if he hadn't taken his eyes off the screen for that one second. "Guess you can call me that, the way I was taught up," he allows after a few seconds of silent contemplation. "I ain't been in any of those big contests though. More something... less public."

"I'm the same as you in that regard. I've always fought for my personal goals." Alba says, as he makes Sheng Long shoot out fireballs non-stop, trying to jump away anytime Lee might get in striking range. "Fighting is still something I'm deeply invested in, but for my purposes, I'm better off keeping a low profile. Having my face broadcasted over live TV would be foolish." Perhaps a strange statement, with how flashy he dresses.

As he proceeds with his Shadouken-spam, he dryly says. "Good luck dealing with those. You'd probably have a easier time in real life."

"Guh, the two-dimensional movement makes dodging impossible in this thing," Tairyu complains up, with a wrinkling up of his nose. He does make an effort in jumping or ducking around the Shadouken projectiles, but ultimately the fireball-spam whittles Lee's health down all the way to 0 with an echoing pain sound effect as the character is sent flying backwards, followed by a loud "K.O.!" announcement.

"Mmmh. For your purposes, huh?" He repeats Alba's words once his hand lets go of the joystick, and he gives a more openly curious look at the other man. "Guess we are the same in more regards than just one, then."

"So it would seem" Alba responds, turning towards Tairyu after his defeat. He tilts his head slightly, and says "Must be Fate." He smirks a little. As if it's some sort of an inside joke. And with that, he seems to reach some sort of conclusion. Pausing for a brief second before speaking up again. "I'm after Duke. Duke Burkoff from the Southtown Syndicate."

"And you may find it strange that I'm sharing this so suddenly, but you'd be surprised how many coincidental meetings like these have lead to interesting opportunites." His expression becomes a bit more serious "Besides, whatever allegiance you might have, I believe I'm at little risk sharing this."

He moves a hand to his face, and pulls of his sunglasses to reveal his piercing silver eyes. He looks at Tairyu with a curious expression of his own. "If you are willing and able to share, what is it that you fight for?"

"I don't really believe in 'fate'," Tairyu notes, his voice taking on a bit of a more grunting edge momentarily there. "Men hold their own destinies in their hands."

His eyes narrow, then, and his dark brows burrow tightly together in a focused - and thoughtful - frown. "...I *do* find it strange. Very much. But... I know of the name." His tongue clicks against the roof of his mouth.

"What I fight for? ... I used to fight for plenty things. Mostly just what I thought was right at any given moment. But..." He hesitates visibly, and his head turns to the side to cast a far-off look into the distance. Or as much distance as a small arcade can provide, anyway, before a wall or another arcade cabinet gets in the way.

"The man who adopted me when I was a young boy," he murmurs, eventually, though his voice is kept purposefully low. Just audible enough for Alba to hear over the sounds of the games surrounding them. "His name was Aizawa Sohei."

Alba may or may not have head the name, at some point. Or at the very least, he may have heard of Aizawa-Gumi; the Yakuza family primarily based off one red light district in Southtown. A family that saw it's patriarch meet an untimely death two months prior, and taken over control of by Southside Syndicate.

"Aizawa-Gumi, huh? Can't say I know much about them, other then the fact they're a Yakuza family." Alba lowers the tone of his own voice. "Yet, there is another interesting parallel there. I was also adopted, by a man named Fate." Alba looks down at the creaking wooden floor. "He was the leader of a gang around Southtown, a few years back 'Sons of Fate'. At one point, he managed to gain a noteworthy level of influence over the city."

"But, he was also a hopelessly idealistic fool, and his desire to make Southtown a better place got him killed. At the hands of Duke." His tone and expression sour ever-so slightly when talking about this particular subject. He glances back up to Tairyu "There you have my reason. I ultimately fight for Fate, and petty revenge."

The attention of Tairyu's eyes returns fully on Alba once the red-clad man begins reciting his story. Attentive enough in his focus on him. All the way until the end. Though... after that, his eyes dip briefly downwards.

"It's not that petty, necessarily," he notes. "You fight for your father's honor. Much like I would fight for mine... and that of Aizawa-Gumi as a whole. But..."

His teeth worry briefly at his upper lip, and he makes another aside-glance. "...There are. Things. That are staying my hand. ...Suppose that just makes me a pawn right now. And for that matter..." His eyes return to Alba. "Potentially that makes me your enemy, too."

Alba falls quiet for a couple of seconds, before responding. "I see, that is a shame. Then I can only hope we won't find ourselves in a situation where we have to directly engage in a fight." He gestures in the direction of the arcade cabinet they were previously playing on. "A fight that isn't /Alley Fighter 3/, that is. At least you would have your desired 3-dimensional movement in a situation like that."

"I was not aware the Aizama-Gumi got picked up by the Syndicate. You do not seem all that thrilled about it." Alba comes to this conclusion from the information Tairyu has given him. "I've had a brief experience of being someone's pawn, and it's not a memory I'm keen on revisiting. So I hope you manage to break free."

Alba's expression of not wanting to get into a fight with Tairyu brings a brief tug to one corner of the latter's mouth. He elects not to comment on that. But he does note, "I'm utterly garbage at these games. Bet my sister could give you a run for your money on those, though."

But, it all circles back to his Family all over again, in the end. He rolls one shoulder underneath that black blaer. "I suppose the Syndicate was always giving indirect support. But... We always felt independent for them. At least independent enough for Aizawa-san not to mention anything about them to me.. Until... Mh. I gathered he was asked to do something in return for that support that... he didn't agree with. Guess they figured Aizawa-Gumi's resources couldn't be left independent anymore after that." His hand curls up into a fist while he murmurs those words-- fingernails digging into the skin of his palm. "...So, no. I am... not thrilled about it. Aizawa-san was as much of a father as I could ask for, and I respected what he did with the Family. He's gone, now, and everything he left behind is getting perverted."

His green eyes sweep to lock onto Alba's silver ones, then, before narrowing slightly. "If it comes down to it, I may not have a choice about getting into a fight with you. But... if your crusade on Duke Burkoff finds you upon Tairyu Miku before that happens... I'm sure I don't need to tell you what to do."

"Bloody scumbags. I understand." He responds simply, yet with a new measure of anger in his calm voice, frowning slightly.

"Here we are then, two orphans that fight for their deceased adopted father's honor, talking in an Arcade. Yet we are technically opposed to one another." Alba says, remarking on the incidental similarities between the two of them. "I believe it'd be best that we say our goodbyes. I wouldn't want to risk you- and your family being at danger from us being seen talking. The Syndicate is rather widespread, after all." With that, he gets ready to leave the small-town arcade "..But I wouldn't be surprised if we were to meet again sooner then one might expect. It was good to meet you, Tairyu Katashi." Alba would leave the arcade after Tairyu would have given his response.

There's a measure of recognition in Tairyu's eyes when he looks upon Alba. And understanding. Understanding of the similiarities between the two of them. And understanding of the fact that, if things go wrong, they could well end up clashing in spite of it all.

Life really is a strange beast when it unravels.

He doesn't say anything more at first, though there is still a clear sense in his presence alone, that suggests he agrees on the need for the seperation. "I don't really care what happens to me," he murmurs, once Alba has stepped past him. "My sister is what matters."

One last look, thus, is sent over his shoulder after the man in red and black, by the one in black and red. "We will just have to see, Alba."

Log created on 13:52:27 06/11/2020 by Alba, and last modified on 09:11:38 06/13/2020.