Description: A most unusual man arrives to make Tairyu a most unexpected offer, with as yet unknown ramifications-- personal and professional.
It's been that kind of day. The kind of day where one (1) Tairyu just needs a break from... more or less everything. The job, the punks on the streets, the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolitan area... all of it. And for him, there's one place where he can escape it all in, at least for a while.
Many years ago, Aizawa-gumi used to have their own pocket in the underground fighting circuit in Southtown. Not one that made big enough waves to be noticed among most of the big players even among the underground, illegal side of things, and thus it remained practically invisible for the public eye. It's been three years since the fighting ring Old Man Aizawa had set up in a hidden basement floor underneath a warehouse has seen any use, however; it was much too difficult to remain relevant and draw an audience, with how oversaturated the fighting scene is -- both publicly and otherwise. THe operation was thus shut down, but the memory of it still remains in the dust-gathering arena.
The floor was never cleaned out, so the ring itself remains there, and so do the rows of spectator seats surrounding it. And it's upon one of these heavily dust-layered benches where Tairyu sits, with a bottle of whiskey set besides him and a partially-filled glass in his hand. Staring on forlornly at the ring that hasn't seen action in years. THere's memories there for him, perhaps.
There's the sound of even, rhythmic footfalls sounding on the stairway leading into that disused, mostly forgotten basement arena. So precise, so projected, that it might be easy to conclude it an intentional announcement; an early, some would say overtly polite way of assuring the approach is noticed. No matter how much a certain man may have already had to drink. The interloper is a lithe Japanese man several inches shorter than Tairyu, his hair close cropped and slicked into a traditional, businesslike slickness that matches the graceful fellow's precision to a 'T'.
He's dressed in a crisply pressed, finely stitched, but almost entirely nondescript grey suit and pants, along with polished, leather shoes that are not common formal form-- a concession in propreity for the martial arts, Tairyu likely understands. The smaller man's hands are hidden, clasped behind him near the small of his back, as similar, now silent footsteps bring him up one aisle towards the nostalgic Yakuza.
"Katashi Tairyu?" The interloper inquires softly, rhetorically, his dulcet tones inscrutable. "I am Hattori Haruki." The operative bows in formal, practiced fashion, posture profoundly poised. "I have been sent here to make you an offer; and return something dear to you." The words are direct, polite; even in their unapologetic enigma.
By this point in his life, Tairyu isn't terribly surprised to discover an intruder here in his sanctum of forgotten memories. Disappointed, yes, but not surprised. It's not like the Syndicate hasn't sent people looking for him here before, the well-informed bastards that they are.
So there's no significant reaction on his part when his eyes settle on the man stepping into visibility from the stairs -- he's even taking a slow sip of whiskey right at that moment, with his eyes peering at the other man over the rim of the glass.
"... You're not one of the usual ones I deal with," he mutters after a few seconds of considering the other man, with the glass and the whiskey remaining in it set aside to stand vigil with the bottle the liqour originated from. "But the fact that you knew to look for a man named Tairyu from this place tells me you're most likely with them, anyway. So..." He straightens up in his sitting posture some, but he doesn't stand up. Despite his feelings on whoever he perceives to be behind this Hattori Haruki now, he doesn't seem to expect ot be fighting, right then and there. "... You'll have to forgive me, Haruki-san, if I am dubious of the sincerity behind those words."
Haruki inclines his head affirmingly at Tairyu's first words. There's little hubris in it; but it would be dishonest in the extreme to try to argue, even out of humility. At least, that is clearly the interloper's own assessment of things.
"Forgiveness is unnecessary." The operative informs Tairyu with the same stoic clarity he's used in every efficient utterance thus far; it's possible to be a running theme, here. Deep explanations are for the verbosity of the overboss; or simply not his place to prostelytize.
"Skepticism is essential to survival in our line of work, Tairyu-san." It's hard to argue with the graceful man. "I can only say I do not make a habit of serving any who's word is worthless." The operative reaches into his lapel and draws forth a 3x5 photograph, handing it inverted to Tairyu.
"This is your sister Miku, is it not?" Again, the question is largely rhetorical. Haruki was not sent here uninformed; not, as the westerners say, 'winging it'. When flipped, the photograph is indeed Tairyu's sister. A recent, unfamiliar picture of her, the emotions of her current, involuntary lifestyle played out across her face.
"We will offer you her location in good faith, with the sole condition that you-- subtly-- raise forces to free her. Aid will be provided here, but you will be required to fight." Haruki does not bother to sugar coat it, he lays out the offer, one likely too generous to allow ample negotiation in the first place. "From there your future will be yours to choose, Tairyu Katashi-- but we certainly have an offer to make you moving forward. One I would not be fool enough to label equally rewarding, but one we expect will quite please you both, nonetheless."
When Haruki initially stepped inside and came to address him, Tairyu's overall presence was largely a tired one. Disappointed for having his alone-time broken in this sanctuary, with a subtle undertone of distaste for who he perceived to be this messenger's masters.
That picture given to him changes everthing.
It takes but a fraction of a second for him to recognize what's printed upon that small sheet, even upside-down, and the instant it's within reach, his hand has snapped over to snatch it away from Haruki's hand. No longer is Tairyu's expression fatigued, now dominated instead by a scowl of urgency.
He doesn't speak right away, though. He lets the man say his piece, even while his bright-green eyes practically try to drill a hole onto him while he does.
"... What's the catch?" He presents in question, eventually, with a wrinkle of his nose. The distaste still hasn't quite left him. "And don't just repeat yourself. You say you're going to tell me where she is, and all I gotta do for it is... to actually go get her back? Just because I'm young doesn't mean I don't get how these things work."
Eyes narrow, then, with further focus. "...Just who the hell do you work for?"
If anything, the dramatic uptick is welcomed... even expected. The slightest smile plays across the carefully groomed man's features, for just a moment. The operative's own hazel gaze holds to its opposite, "So far as I have been made aware, there is no further catch save the obvious-- if you are careless, or ineffectual, you put your own sister at greater risk." Haruki considers just a beat longer, and appends, "I should also expect that if we, as a collective, fail in the larger objective then the beast who holds her leash will seek vengeance on you both."
It's a not inconsequential consideration, and the interloper seems keenly aware of it. Whether he was instructed to share it, or simply wants Tairyu to be aware, is up in the air. "You would be unlikely to know his name." At least, in a context that matters. Haruki admits it freely.
"Suffice it to say that 'They' are not uniform in purpose or pursuits. I work for a man whose power and vision is far more substantial." It's a subjective thing; but the operative seems confident. "My duty is to a man who does not wish to bend trusted lieutenants to his side with such crude, self-defeating methods."
Whatever Tairyu may, rightly, doubt about the benevolence of such a thing, Haruki punctuates it with the eminently believable, "You are far from the greatest of many, many gaps in this beast's hide. Should you wish to go your own way once he is excised, we will thank you for your service, and your bondage will end. But my employer wishes to speak to you of the future himself." It's an awfully risky promise; if one weren't abundantly assured of the weight of their follow-up proposal.
"...So that's what it is." Tairyu lets out a low breath, and shakes his head. The hand that isn't holding onto the snatched-away photo reaches to take the whiskey glass again, though without any hurry to actually sip from it.
"So... My sister happens to be held somewhere that also happens to be the location of - what I assume to at least be - a Syndicate player that your employer is opposed to. And me and mine would be another cog in the war machine against them." The glass is swirled in hand, and green eyes briefly watch the motion of the brown, peaty liquid within before focusing on the operative in front of him all over again.
"If your Master is this well-informed, then surely he must know I would not be able to bring the full weight of Aizawa-gumi into their operation." It shouldn't be of any surprise, either; the Yakuza family is, after the assassination of Sohei Aizawa, headed now by a puppet whose strings go straight to the Syndicate.
"But..." His eyes fall down to the glass again. "...They must also know how important this is to me."
THere's a long pause, while thoughts race through his mind. The hesitation is still present, with the underlines of suspicion, when it comes to notions of this anonymous benefactor. Another Syndicate figure waging inter-organizational conflict? There's a clear risk of exchanging one unwanted master for another.
In the end, none of that matters. As if to steel his own resolve, he lifts up and knocks back the glass to pour the entirety of it's contents down his throat, before his attention is fully upon Haruki again.
"Tell your employer that Tairyu Katashi and whatever soldiers he can gather will time the rescue of Tairyu Miku with all the other cogs in your machine. Whatever comes after that... That will depend on a whole lot of different factors."
"Even from the most cynical angle, it's quite a beneficial proposal, no?" Sure, there's the risk of being out of that proverbial frying pan, and into that metaphorical fire-- or perhaps literal in this crowd-- but so, so many potentially more rewarding outcomes. Haruki doesn't really bother debating the point at any length; not here, not now. As he said, the first offer is a show of good faith.
Respect should always be earned; never owed to nor demanded by any authority. It's a lesson the operative heard hammered home many a time. "On my own honor, Tairyu Katashi-- you are not sacrificing one base creature for another. This will sully neither of us."
The lithe man offers a second, formal bow, this one plainly a farewell. As he brings fist to palm before him, Haruki's cuffs are shot just enough, quite intentionally, to reveal the very ends of ornately twined, colorful tattoo work that looks to cover and wind up his arms, beneath the suit. From his pocket, a simple flip phone is offered. The ninja hardly needs to tell the larger Yakuza to keep the damn thing charged.
"I have my own principles too, I'm sure you understand," Tairyu murmurs before his gaze shifts to that hint of ink peeking out from underneath Haruki's sleeve, with his brows briefly knitting together. Of course the Yakuza understands the significance of that, too.
The cell phone, thus, is taken (albeit in a much, much calmer manner than the photo was). He doesn't even offer much of a study on it before he slips it down into a pocket of his own. The meaning behind it is wordlessly acknowledge with a nod, too -- burner phones aren't exactly uncommon practices with today's Yakuza either, even among the old-fashioned ones like Aizawa-gumi.
"I'll be waiting for more information, then."
Log created on 18:42:57 06/30/2020 by Kain, and last modified on 22:40:36 06/30/2020.