Tairyu - The Halting Ascent

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Description: Tairyu assaults the Aizawa-gumi offices to drive out the Syndicate muscle and the Puppet Head entrentched within. His warpath to reclaim his Family is intercepted, however, by a bodyguard with ulterior motives and a hidden benefactor.

The streets of Southtown are calming down, slowly. But between the Darkstalker affairs and the smaller gang skirmishes that took place as part of an internal power struggle within The Southside Syndicate, most civilians have been encouraged to give a wide berth to certain areas within the city.

One of these areas happens to be the few blocks leading up to a certain multi-story building that houses the office of a certain crime family. The Aizawa-gumi offices aren't a particularly ornate matter, but the Family is just large enough to excuse the kind of 'base of operations' that encompasses more than just one office space.

The street leading up to the office isn't quite so empty now either, however, even though the sun is setting down slowly, and the spaces between the buildings of the city need to be enveloped by street lights.

A collection of thugs have gathered in front of the building, wielding various weaponry ranging from lead pipes and baseball bats to bladed weapons. Though most people couldn't tell just from looking, none of them are of Aizawa-gumi, themselves. And yet, they're defending the building now, from someone the deem to be an intruder.

The intruder being Tairyu. The heir of the assassinated former head of the family. The Yakuza in the black suit jacket and red dress shirt stands there, facing the horde down -- all on his own. No loyalists from the ranks of the family with him or anything. He's there alone by choice. If only because there has to be a message sent. A show strength. Both for the people who rely on him and the people who would keep Aizawa-gumi under Syndicate rule.

"I'm here to evict Masuda-san," Tairyu's voice booms out in declaration,. "I don't suppose you would just show me up to the Head Office, would you?"

The answer from the goons isn't a verbal one. But it is clear enough, in the way the line tightens up, and weapons are braced.

"...Just as well." Tairyu clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and draws his hand to tugging at the cloth of his jacket and shirt both by his shoulder...

And in one sweeping pull, the jacket and shirt both are, inexplicably pulled off of Tairyu's form instantenously, sent fluttering in the air with the upper body of the man himself left bared to the eyes. Exposing the elegant, vibrantly-colored, freshly-finished tattoo of a silver-scaled dragon, coiled around the sun and roaring upwards, inked on his back. It's a declaration just as much as the roar he, himself, lets out.

"Anyone who doesn't wanna die, get out of the way!"


"What do you mean you don't have anyone to spare?!"

The Syndicate officer known only as Masuda yells into his phone. Masuda was given a weighty task, after Sohei Aizawa was assassinated on Duke's orders: To take de facto leadership of Aizawa-gumi, and help keep them in line with other Syndicate interests.

Masuda himself isn't imposing because of any physical strenght, but rather because of the numbers he usually commands, and the cool business-like demeanour he holds at all times. Except now. Now, the beglassed japanese man in a brown suit is sweating nervously -- losing his shit, for lack of better description. Afterall, the one person he was meant to keep in check more than anyone else had just recently lost the leverage weighing him down.

"I know there's a lot to take care of after Duke but-- hello? Hello?! FUCK!" With the person on the other end of hte line hanging up on him, Masuda throws the cellphone at the wall of the large office room much more ornate than the exterior of the building -- all mahogany and old japanese decorations.

"Useless! Useless useless useless! Those guys outside are useless too!" Clutching his head, yelling those words out while walking around in anxiety-induced circles. Before tossing a narrow-eyed look to someone at the corner of the room. It's supposed to ba commanding one, but the nervous sweat at his brow doesn't really support it much.

"You better be worth the money I paid you, contractor!"

"Oh... I'm sure that you'll find I'm worth every penny," a feminine voice speaks from the void, as if the voice has come from the walls themselves.

A second later, there's a 'whump' as someone drops into the chair behind Masuda's desk. Should he turn, he'll see the presumable contractor he's hired - a ghostly pale woman with a cascade of turquoise hair, icy blue eyes, wearing gothic eyeshadow and blood red lipstick. She's dressed in a black outfit that's fit for a death metal music video - with skull pauldrons, a barely-fitting black leather corset strapped to leather bikini bottoms by strips of lace, a bone-covered belt, and skull-padded elbow gloves and over-knee boots.

She's making herself comfortable, lounging in the chair with a cheeky smirk. Her right hand props her head up lazily while her left holds a rather menacing, ornate black scythe that's as tall as she is across her shoulders. One could be forgiven for thinking she were cosplaying some sort of manga character.

"Since we have some time before your friend gets here... why don't you remind me of our contract, again? I just came here straight from another job."

As if on cue, a droplet of red liquid falls from the tip of her scythe and spatters on the carpet. "Oops. Missed a spot," she says, before wiping the dab of blood from the razor tip casually with her thumb and forefinger.

"Wha--?!" Masuda spins around over to facing the desk -- and the pale woman there lazing around.

Apparently Masuda doesn't exactly approve of that or the fact that she needs a reminder on the contract.

"You're too lax! You sure I didn't overpay you?!" He yells out, pointing an accusatory finger at the woman. Clearly this one's much too used to people following orders under him without question.

"Protection! You're going to protect me from the--"

Before he can finish, the double doors to the office SLAM open from the force of two suit-clad thugs crashing through it. One already knocked out, the other staying awake just long enough to give out a groan of pain before slumping limply onto the red-carpeted floor.

And through the door and over the bodies steps the shirtless Tairyu. Without a single sign of a bruise on his body, and with a deep scowl tugging at his expression.

And Masuda's just left staring with some of the color drained away from his face while he backs up towards the far end of the room.

"We need to have a talk, Masuda-san," Tairyu rumbles, before his green gaze settles on the scythe-carrying woman... lounging at the desk. One dark brow arches up. "... Or did you already lose the seat you stole from Aizawa-oyabun before I got here?"

As the door smashes open, one of the ghost-pale girl's chunky boot soles presses against the floor and then pushes hard - causing the large leather swivel chair to start spinning.


The woman pushes herself up on her knees and turns around in the chair so that she can peek over the back, frosty eyes remaining on Tairyu even as the furniture's dizzying motion forces her to crane her neck repeatedly to keep them there. "You didn't tell me that you ordered a Chippendale toooo!"

Rather abruptly, a faint spectral blue glow starts to shine off of the black-clad woman's body, and it seems to go semi-translucent. As it does so, she ducks down behind the back of the spinning chair - and then when it comes around again, she's no longer in it, leaving an eerily empty space.

A second later, the turquoise-tressed woman emerges from a spot in the middle of the floor in front of Masuda like a veritable gothic ghost, her head slightly hung and chilling-blue eyes fixed on Tairyu, her expression completely blank. Her head tilts to one side, then the other, her vacant stare continuing to bore into the Yakuza the whole time. Then, her head starts to slowly spin round -


Though it seems the intent was to reenact something from an exorcism, the girl's head only manages about ninety degrees before she stops and grimaces, the ethereal otherworldliness about her fading as she reaches her free right hand to rub her sore neck while the left hand holds her scythe with the staff-end on the floor next to her.

"Dammit! I can never get that part right."

She spins her scythe vertically before pointing the business end at Tairyu and extending it.

"So, I have two questions for you, handsome: what's your name..."

She cocks her head to one side. "...and how much do I have to tip for the pants to come off too?"

"A what?! You idiot, that's your mark!" Masuda complains even while he's getting his back pressed right up against the wall.

Tairyu, for his part, maintains his scowl on the woman now. Watching her there, studying her -- and focusing his gaze with the same kind of intent as a soldier training the sights of his rifle on an enemy downrange.

Though that look breaks briefly with her... failed head-spinning demonstration. "... You're going to snap your own neck if you force that."

A few steps taken forward, and then to the side -- drawing a path along a half-circle perimeter in front of her and Masuda.

"Tairyu Katashi," he rumbles. "And I don't take money for that kind of thing. But you..." His eyes slowly draw past the dark-dressed woman, on the Syndicate officer behind her. "You're blocking the way to the trash I came to throw out."

This is where Masuda has enough. "What are you doing!!" He yells from behind the woman, lifting a hand and pointing at Tairyu. "Don't flirt with him like some skank! Get in there and kill him! NOW!"

Tairyu tsks and shakes his head. "I guess you're not on the direct Syndicate payroll, are you?"

"Ooh, bodyguard jobs are -such- a drag," the turquoise-haired bemoans with a roll of her eyes, leaning against her scythe with a put-upon expression. "You have to put up with such total divas. I mean, you end up dealing with divas on wetwork, too, but then you can just kill them."

When Tairyu starts to try and step around her, the scythe suddenly spins around, quick as a flash - intercepting the ascendant Yakuza's path to bar his way with the shaft, blade pointed at the floor. The woman is holding it one-handed, her right hand behind her back, body leaning from the waist in the same direction to ensure that she has the reach to block him - or perhaps just for the sake of adopting another strange pose.

"Look, cutie, why don't you forget about this loser and spend some time with me instead? I mean, I know that spinny chair is a lot of fun, but we could have a lot of fun, too... I'm -great- at hide and go seek."

She twists her body around to look back at Masuda.

"You know, it's funny how you think I'm the idiot, and yet YOU haven't even started running yet, you silly rabbit."

Turning her attention back to Tairyu, she throws her scythe into the air and wheels sideways before catching the weapon and draping it across her shoulders. "Anyway, where were we...? Oh, yes!"

She gives a smile that's strangely cold and bright at the same time.

"I'm Carissa, and I'll be your playmate this evening!"

She jabs the butt of her scythe against the floor.

"Hope you're not a haemophile!"

She quirks her lips. "Or is that haemophiliac...?"

The scowl returns to Tairyu's features. The response Carissa has given him is a clear one.

"You clearly don't have any ties or interest to this guy back there. Don't suppose you want to just let me take care of my business with him first?"

He lets out a heavy sigh -- and before she can even give an answer, he's closing his hands into fists, the right raised up in alignment with his chin, the other held low and pointed towards his opposing side.

"But you're not interested in that either, are you? If you're not going to be convinced into it by words..."

A sudden burst of motion launches him in, aiming a quick hook towards Carissa's side and a sweeping leg to one of her feet to throw of her balance. "I'll have to convince you with my fists!"

COMBATSYS: Tairyu has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Tairyu           0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Carissa has joined the fight here.

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Carissa          0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Tairyu

COMBATSYS: Tairyu successfully hits Carissa with Sweeping Strike.

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Carissa          0/-------/-----<<|=------\-------\0           Tairyu

A gleam enters Carissa's eyes as Tairyu readies his fists for combat.

"Convince with a fist? Well, I do like it rough~"

As Tairyu lunges for her, Carissa starts to make a sudden leap backward - but the yakuza is quick enough to catch her out, hand and foot colliding to send her off-balance and down to the floor.

"Oh, you're so naughty, showing me up in front of a client like that!" the bright-haired and bone-clad babe chastises Tairyu as she rolls back to her feet.

Her retaliation is swift - thrusting the scythe forward, she aims to hook it around the yakuza's neck like a crook aiming to hook a sheep before pulling him closer.

"Now, c'mere and let's have some REAL fun!"

If she succeeds at the pulling maneuver, she'll step forward as she's executing it, then raise her skull-plated and solid knee up to smash it into the yakuza's face as she's dragging him in.

COMBATSYS: Carissa successfully hits Tairyu with Reaper's Due.
- Power hit! -

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Carissa          0/-------/----<<<|=====--\-------\0           Tairyu

"Gh-!" Tairyu clearly didn't see that coming. The scythe's caught him, and he's hooked in. Leveraged right towards Carissa and!


The knee to face is accompanied by the sickening sound of bone getting crushed, emphasized by the bright red color of blood spilling from the man's nostrils.

"Fine--!" He growls past the spatter of blood dripping over his lips, and quickly wraps one arm around the shaft of the scythe. Of all things, using that to hoist himself up -- and towards Carissa all over again. But this time with full intent for it -- and carrying forward an airborne kick towards the midsection of the woman in black.

COMBATSYS: Carissa blocks Tairyu's Diving Kick.

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Carissa          0/-------/--<<<<<|======-\-------\0           Tairyu

As Tairyu's nose blossoms red, a bright smile curves Carissa's lips upward, her eyes seeming to light up at the hint of blood. "Ooh, I love that colour on you!" she gushes as Tairyu's nose does the same. The smile disappears to a cold tight-lipped almost-frown when his hand takes hold of her shaft.

"Ah ah ah! That's my toy, mister!"

The death-doll's weapon gives Tairyu enough leverage to launch into his aerial kick before she wrenches it away, raising it just in time to intercept the blow aimed at her midsection with the cold metal pole. The impact jams the weapon across her midsection as it drives her backward.

"They don't like it when other people try to touch them," she informs Tairyu sweetly as she lets go of the scythe - which evaporates into a trio of swirling ghostly wisps around the woman. She holds her hands low at her sides, fingers extended.

"And getting handsy with me and my stuff? Arms race!"

Spectral talons suddenly emerge from the tips of her fingers, and she swipes toward Tairyu's chin with a violent uppercut claw attack using her left hand - hard enough to potentially send him into the air if he doesn't avoid it!

COMBATSYS: Tairyu counters The Height of Callousness from Carissa with Dragon's Clutch.

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Carissa          1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0           Tairyu

The forceful pulling-away of the pole he'd been using for his own leverage doesn't seem to jostle Tairyu too much, thankfully -- for him, anyway. Seeing as the kick still maintains the center of it's aim, intercepted by the scythe's metal pole as it might be. Still, it gives him enough time to resettle himself upon landing, with a hand quickly wiping the back of it over his blood dripping from his nose.

"What are you talk--" He starts asking over her protests, but the answer to his question becomes clear enough before she even says anything.

Namely in the way the scythe restructures itself. He frowns. Of course it has to be some kind of supernatural shenanigans.

He takes the sight of it all in stride, it turns out. His fists are already repositioned to their usual places in his stance by the time the claws are out, and he braces himself for her attack--

And steps sidelong to her left side, his own left hand grabbing onto her lunging arm to pull it along and disturb her balance. Make her overcommit. And open her up for his right arm slamming into her back, driving her body to doubling down over towards the viciously upward-thrusted knee aimed straight for her midsection.

"Gh--!" This isn't even your fight!" He growls, with a quick, sharp glare sent towards Masuda - still cornered up against the wall - while his hands brace onto Carissa's shoulder and arm alike, in some effort to control her movements. As if that would be enough to keep those claws away from him!

The quick sidestep takes Tairyu out of the deadly arc of Carissa's claws, and his hand wraps around her wrist. There's a strange sensation to the assassin's skin - it's cool to the touch, and feels as though there's some sort of near-intangibility to it, as if it existed between worlds.

None of that stops the yakuza from manhandling the semi-spectral fighter and slamming his knee into her, causing her to flinch.

"Hey, now! I have an illegally binding agreement that says otherwise," the turquoise-haired woman protests as Tairyu attempts to dominate her. "Plus, I've got nothing better to do. So, let's make the most of our time together, cupcake!"

The woman attempts to twist around into a flip using Tairyu's own grasp as leverage, swinging both legs up to try and land herself on his shoulders before the intangibility of her arms increases to allow her to yank them free. If she manages to do so, she'll then jab her claws at his chest, the spectral talons aiming to pierce his bare flesh, before she'd then release him by twisting her hips and throwing him to the ground with a head-scissor slam.

COMBATSYS: Carissa successfully hits Tairyu with Charged Combo.

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Carissa          1/-----==/=======|=======\==-----\1           Tairyu

"That's your re-nrh!"

Between the sudden lack of something physical to hold on to and the legs coiling up along his shoulders, Tairyu's suddenly sent stumbling over.

And it gives him only enough time to see that the spectral claws are about to pierce his flesh. But not enough to do anything about it.


The claws cut into the thick, firm flesh of his muscular chest, thus, even if he is making the effort to draw back away from them. To stop them from cutting anything vital. Though that might be successful -- he doesn't have much left to stop her from leveraging her weight over on his shoulders. Him quickly finding his weight brought down, violently to the ground with such force that the mahogany floorboards crack there under the impact!

"So-- hhrrgh..." He growls, voice muffled briefly by his face being pressed into the broken floor. "It's just-- bloodlust then...!"

Hands clamp down onto the floor, to force himself up surprisingly quickly after. With such force as to force her up along with him -- and at least entice her to get herself off of him before he's fully up.

But that's fine, too. His own upward spring turns, in an instant, to a lean towards her -- one arm lifted up higher, aiming an open palm for the woman's chin within the momentum of that sudden rush of movement.

COMBATSYS: Carissa dodges Tairyu's Rising Claw ES.

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Carissa          1/-----==/=======|=======\==-----\1           Tairyu

Tthe spectral assassin drops back, doubling over into a bridge to avoid the hand that's thrust toward her chin.

"No, no, no! Didn't you hear me? I said it's a contract!" Carissa chides the dragon as her legs follow through, turning the bridge into a back handspring and putting her some distance away as the onibi swarm after her. "I hope I don't have to explain it all to you again!"

As she gets upright, she holds a hand out behind her, and the trio of spectres gather near her palm to reform once more into the grim metal scythe that they had been before. It's held out to her side as she pounds her feet against the hardwood, lunging in a swift dash toward the space to Tairyu's side.

"Of course, there's nothing wrong with loving your work!!"

As she attempts to charge past the gangster, she attempts to slice at him with her scythe around the level of his midsection.

COMBATSYS: Tairyu counters Ghost Dance from Carissa with Tiger Drop ES.

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Carissa          2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0           Tairyu

"Ksh..." Tairyu is quick to step back after the whiff of his open-palm attack. Breath heavy, brow glistening with a thin layer of sweat. Fighting through a horde of Masuda's henchmen and the high-speed duel with the scythe-wielding woman is definitely starting to catch up to him.

Stance re-assumed, he backs up slightly. Watching her carefully. No returned banter this time around. Simply pure focus on the woman. Eyes narrowed. Eyes tracking her even when she charges in.

She does get past him. She might well even get a glance of that freshly-finished dragon tattoo that covers his back. But...

In an outright inhuman burst of movement, he draws his front-facing foot back and turns himself around. In a split second, he's facing Carissa again, even while her scythe is closing in on him.

And in the next split second, his other knee has dropped down, and his fist on the same side has launched with the speed and force of a railgun. Slamming with explosive power into the Spectral Assassin's side and pulled back again in the exact next instant.

The blow sends a powerful sound echoing through the room, and the Spectral Assassin herself flying away from him -- and that forced redirection of motion sends the scythe pulling away from it's trajectory with him too, the blade missing his waist by just a fraction of an inch.

The knee dropped for the purpose of carrying more power into the punch rises up from the floor again, Tairyu straightening up once more.

"Isn't this enough, Carissa-san?!"

Already, Tairyu has proven to be more trouble for Carissa than a typical gangster. In the split-second it takes for the yakuza to intercept her ghostly dash and redirect her into a likely-valuable vase on a display, the gravitas of the distinction hits her. She is all too corporeal when the impact comes, shattering the vase and toppling the ornate plinth beneath it. The pale assassin's body twitches and shudders in an almost unnatural manner as she forces herself up to her feet, refusing to heed whatever pain must be coursing through her - especially given that she can only seem to open her left eye, practically glowing blue in contrast to the blood-soaked and tightened right eyelid.

"Here's a tip, Tairyu-kun. If it's enough... you'll know~" the shuddering killer says with a sinister flash of white teeth.

"So, let's give it one more spin, then see who's satisfied!"

With that declaration made, Carissa takes hold of the wicked scythe's grip with both hands and raises it above her head. As she brandishes it, the blade bursts into heatless blue ghostfire. She swings the weapon down as she leaps forward and tucks her legs into a vertical spin, whirling toward Tairyu like a deadly pinwheel that threatens to slice into the yakuza like a burning buzzsaw!

COMBATSYS: Tairyu blocks Carissa's Execution Wheel.

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Carissa          0/-------/---<<<<|=------\-------\0           Tairyu

Tairyu's clearly not particularly pleased by the entire situation. Sure, the fight Carissa's putting up might be a good under different circumstances, but his target is *behind her*.

"Crazy woman..."

His knees bend lsightly when she leaps up. When she comes down, he doesn't take a step back or to the side.

He steps in.

In what should definitely be considered a *much* too risky of a move, he shifts himself into her arc of motion with a quick motion, arm brought up -- past the blade at the end of the pole she's spinning around.

It's only barely that the sharp edge misses his forearm, and brings the scythe's shaft slamming onto that limb instead. The impact's still enough to force the man to grit his teeth, and bend his knees some to help soak up some of it before he's managed to bring the motion of her attack to a halt.


The surely-bruised-arm turns over and curls about the polearm, giving him the leverage to grab on and pull to yank Carissa towards him.


And Tairyu, too, leverages his weight forward in time with it, swinging his head over with the intent to smack his forehead into the woman's own.

COMBATSYS: Carissa parries Tairyu's Headbutt Grab!

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Carissa          0/-------/--<<<<<|=------\-------\0           Tairyu

The gangster grabs hold of Carissa's weapon again. It's cold to the touch, unnaturally so even for a weapon presumably made of steel. There's the sharp pull, the impending tete-a-tete -

And then, nothing.

The scythe disappears, and as she's about to collide face-first with Tairyu, the impact is instead replaced with the sensation of a cool breeze washing over the yakuza. It may or may not take a second for the gangster to realize, but Carissa has not crashed into him, but rather passed through him - landing on the other side of Tairyu with claws extended and crouching like a predatory animal. She spins around as she rises behind the yakuza, clawed arms outstretched.


Space for only the single word is given before the ghoulish assassin lunges forward, swiping left and right again and again in a frenzy at the gangster before leaping forward at Tairyu again - and passing through as a ghost once more, if he doesn't manage to avoid it, before turning around and aiming to rend both sets of phantom claws simultaneously into Tairyu's midsection and apart.

COMBATSYS: Carissa successfully hits Tairyu with You've Seen The Butcher EX.

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Carissa          0/-------/----===|=======\-------\0           Tairyu

There's no one to spare. It's a blatant lie. Interests have shifted, however, in the fate of the Aizawa-gumi's operations-- and leadership-- in the wake of Duke's rather forceful exile from its echelons. There's no one to spare to preserve the seat of Masuda; a dragon rising to take his place. To devour him. It is, at the end of the day, exactly what was intended... exactly what was inevitable when the shackles were removed from Katashi Tairyu's wrists.

It's a simple matter to follow the trail of broken and defeated goons to the quasi-luxurious appointments of the commander of the castrated Yakuza clan; not least of all for the more formidable battle still waged before that alleged boss. So it is that the climax of Tairyu's clash with Carissa finds the introduction of-- applause.

A polite, rhythmic, restrained sound, the approval of one at a classical concerto's finale, rather than a raucus rock show. It sounds from the black gloved hands of the lithe blonde dressed in pristinely tailored midnight and crimson finery, who wears an enigmatic stoicism like a mask on smooth, austere germanic features. Unusual, dark red eyes survey the scene, scanning from the assassin to the Yakuza in pensive analysis. "You waste no time, Katashi Tairyu." Kain observes in melodic, neutral tones, a subtle undercurrent of amusement-- or approval-- passing through the notes.

"And indeed you are more capable than the puppet put in place to ensure the atrophy of the Aizawa-gumi." This accomplishment, such as it is, is more of an initial hurdle than a landmark of respect. A first stride to becoming the warrior that, perhaps, Heinlein sees being imminently forged; or thoroughly tempered. His stance is relaxed-- too relaxed-- almost nonchalant. Kain makes no immediate move to intercede... for either side. "A helpless creature if not for the barrier put before him." The one seeking to tear Tairyu apart, of course. Heinlein barely regards Masuda beyond that-- his interest is the assassin and her current opponent.

"Gh--!" Tairyu thought he had the timing right on the way the woman keeps phasing in and out. The thought is... proven wrong enough from the fact that his forehead smashes through empty air instead of something as solid as a skull.

All leverage lost, the Yakuza stumbles forward by one step, two steps -- before turning to look back upon hearing the woman's voice again, meant to bring himself around to bracing for the attack--

Blood arcs through the air.

Bloody, red gashes are left along Tairyu's body, all the more visible for the lack of a shirt. The stumbling motion that follows is even trailed by a splatter of red, with his body tipping on forwards.

His foot slams down onto the floorboards to steady himself all over again

There's no banter now. Merely a sharp focus through all the pain that would otherwise haze the man's vision, and a step after the woman winding down from her attack, fist brought with a growl--

And then he hears his name spoken by someone.

All motion halts, with even his fist left hovering in the air there for a few seconds before he leans his weight back, and his eyes sweep to find the interloper in the room.

Masuda himself seems all the more overjoyed for this, with outright sadistic glee. Even opening his mouth to yell out some taunt or another, only for all intent within him to fade away when he actually hears how Kain speaks of him.

Tairyu, though, maintains a bemused scowl, muttering "Who the hell...?" after a deep, steadying breath.

COMBATSYS: Tairyu gains composure.

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Carissa          0/-------/----===|======-\-------\0           Tairyu

"Hey now, mister!"

The assassin clad in black bones and leather curls her clawed fingers before flecking the blood dripping from them away to spatter the hardwood floor lightly, then holds her hands up as the wisps that float around her merge back into the malevolent form of the reaping scythe.

"Our session isn't up yet!"

She steps forward, and the scythe whirls around in a swift vertical underhand arc, the blunt end of the head aimed to clobber Tairyu in the chin with ehough force to send him toward the ceiling. Should she manage to knock him up, the turquoise-haired harvester would then reach the scythe up with one hand, extending it in an attempt to then hook him with the blade and pull downward, slamming him toward the floor.

The words come calmly, unfazed by the ongoing violence. "My name is Kain Heinlein. Masuda knows me as one both far more powerful, and far more influential than himself." There is little apparent arrogance in the declaration-- as established, this is an exceptionally low bar to clear, in Heinlein's estimation. "As he has realized-- I am not the salvation he hopes for. My strength does not prop up avarice or weakness."

Kain smiles darkly, wolfishly as Carissa renews her assault, "I am the one who gave you the opportunity to save your sister, Katashi Tairyu; I am here to watch your honor and duty demand you seek to claim a prize you can scarcely grasp... much less hold."

This observation seems far more matter-of-fact than it is condescending. It may not be a well planned act of rebellion and ambition... but it is, certainly, a remarkable sign of what lies beneath this particular Yakuza. "You owe this puppet too much to do less, don't you?" And what, then, does Tairyu owe Kain?

COMBATSYS: Tairyu fails to counter Funereal Slam from Carissa with Dragon's Tail.

[                         \\\\\  < >  /////                         ]
Carissa          0/-------/---====|=======\=------\1           Tairyu

Maybe Tairyu is distracted. Maybe he is too tired after fighting his way through the whole building. Or maybe Carissa is simply much too fast for him.

Whatever the reason is, the backside of the scythe slams hard into his chin. And up into the air he goes.


That scythe has been pulling him around through the whole office for a while now. He's starting to feel deja vu. He doesn't have the time to curse the fates for that little fact before he's already pulled down onto the ground, side-first. Once more, forcefully enough to crack the mahogany floorboards and send splinters flying through the air.

THe place is going to need renovation after this. The thought runs through Tairyu's mind for just a split second--


--Before blood splutters up from between his lips. Body arched in pain there on the floor, momentarily stunned there in place.

Smiling an eerie smile, Carissa retracts her scythe, her posture relaxing as she lets the polearm drape across her shoulders and saunters closer to the fallen yakuza, the thick soles of her boots clip-clopping on the wood beneath them. Her head cants to one side as she considers her opponent's bloodied and battered state.

"You know, cupcake, you really know how to show a gal a good time. I'm so glad our mutual acquaintance invited me to the party."

Without looking away from Tairyu, she plants the end of her scythe's staff on the floor.

"So... can I kill him, yet?" she asks, before raising her boot and stamping her foot down toward the fallen Yakuza's dominant hand, aiming to grind down on it with her platform heel.

There's a patient air to Kain's bearing as he folds his arms loosely before himself, shifting perfectly tailored cloth with the motion. His blonde mane frames that impassive expression as Heinlein observes, well-- just the turn of events he foretells.

Carissa is no half-trained thug there to intimidate only those who cannot stand up for themselves... but a warrior, a killer near enough on par with the ambitious Yakuza. As likely to stop his ascent as fall before it... at least, under normal circumstances. "Let's see if you can stop the Yakuza first." Kain suggests as if Carissa's inquiry were entirely to be expected... and not actually about Tairyu.

"I had rather hoped he would be able to see this part through himself-- but it is certainly better to stumble now... than later." And what, pray tell, comes later? Surely, Tairyu has his own conception of such steps-- but this is the intersection he collides with, instead.

COMBATSYS: Tairyu fails to counter Light Kick EX from Carissa with Dragon's Clutch.

[                         \\\\\  <
Carissa          0/-------/--=====|

COMBATSYS: Tairyu can no longer fight.

[                         \\\\\  <
Carissa          0/-------/--=====|

There's simply no time, after being brought down to the floor so heavily. Tairyu's effort to get up is promptly halted by a foot stomping down upon his hand, against the floor. It comes with the chilling *CRUNCH* of shattering bone.


Tairyu's uplifted head thus slumps right back down onto the floor, cheek pressed down to it. But it's not up at the assassin or even the scythe that he's looking at now.

It's at Kain. It's something she said to him. And what he said in answer to her.

See if you can stop the Yakuza first. Those words ring in his mind.

"What.... are you....?" He growls there, just about the only thing he can manage now.

Masuda, meanwhile, has finally brought himself up from the wall. The immense show of cowardice on his part pushed away now that the immediate - and visible - threat has been dealt with.

"Of course you can kill him!" The Syndicate Puppet yells out, with an almost maniacal, nasally laughter echoing behind his words. "What is he going to do? Spit on you? He couldn't--"

And clearly not at all able to read the room as well as Tairyu can.

The phantom assassin's stance shifts as she heaves the scythe off of her shoulders, letting the top of the blade scrape against the floor with the expected sound of protesting wood and metal as she holds it low and off to her side, gloved hands tightening around the haft. The curved blade starts to glow as ghostly fire, the same colour as the wisps of which it seems to be formed, ignites again.

"You know, there's something you should know about me, Masuda-san..."

The burning blade glints as the angle of the weapon's tip turns slightly. She raises it back, as if preparing for a golf swing at Tairyu's head.

"You're right that my contract is for you..."

The end of Masuda's cowering is his last mistake. One too many steps away from the wall brings him one too many steps close to Carissa. The assassin twists around with a dancer's grace, scythe sweeping up and around in a cut that just severs the criminal regent's throat, an arterial spray escaping the wound as necrotic energy starts to seep from it, sealing Masuda's fate while giving him a chance to hear the end of the secret that has now become far too obvious as Carissa catches his falling body and leans in to whisper it face to face, eyes glowing through the dried blood running down from her temple.

"...but I'm a killer, not a bodyguard."

She lets out a little giggle before stepping back and letting Masuda slump down to the ground, his face next to Tairyu's.

"Oof... rough enough that I'll probably still feel it in the morning, but still managed to get the job finished. What a perfect night," Carissa half-crows, half-groans as she lets her scythe dissipate into onibi, which follow her as she starts to walk away, wiping her bloody gloves against each other.

COMBATSYS: Carissa has ended the fight here.

Kain's eyes meet Tairyu's questioning gaze easily, steadily. "Your organization was gutted, its talent largely culled, its star tarnished and set aside to service a bottom line, but little else. Did you expect those that accomplished such to be easily supplanted, surprised, surmounted?" It's a fair question. "What came next, if you were ready to seize that throne for yourself?" The immediate threat, the visible threat-- it's hardly the greatest currently arrayed against Masuda.

"If you had not fallen short, lost your life save for another show of favor?" It's an interesting way to frame the bloodied boss now slumped in death masque beside Tairyu, his arterial blood pooling amidst the two men. It's a better end than the one that nearly faced the Yakuza, however-- that much is difficult to argue.

"Your chains were not severed to pursue an expedient demise, Katashi Tairyu. Not to succumb to ego, ambition, even duty-- but to build something better." Kain pauses, looking between the twice-successful assassin, back to the less-dead of the Aizawa-gumi. "But are you worthy of my faith; capable of growing beyond what has been?" It's a puzzle Heinlein has yet to solve; but there will be at least a bit more time to consider, now.

Tairyu looks just as shocked as Masuda himself, when the man's throat gets sliced open. Unfortunately for Masuda, he doesn't truly have long to come to terms with the sudden betrayal, in the middle of his attempt to stem the spray of blood with his hands over his gaping-open throat. A futile effort.

The life in the man's eyes remains only long enough for him to hear Carissa's final words -- before the thing that made this vessel 'Masuda' is no more.

The corpse slumps next to Tairyu's prone form. And for all the things that lead up to here -- all the abuse of the command he had deemed unjustified, the bastardization of Aizawa-gumi... when he looks at the lifeless face of MAsuda-san now?

There's no hate for the man in Tairyu.

It's Kain who ends up earning a scowl from him, however.

"That's... what this is then... Hhhh..." His unbroken arm's folded underneath him, making the push to bring his body upwards. Shaking. Weak from all the exertion that had been building up since before he made it to the office proper, and the blood-loss that followed. "A situation you... engineered... just to make... a point..."

The notion of getting all the way up to his feet was a foolish one, so Tairyu ultimately ends up simply dropping down to sitting there on the cracked floor. "... And then... what? Hope I will... happily replace one Syndicate goon... with another?"

"Hardly." Kain admits, or corrects, in an unhelpful pair of syllables. "Your next target was not difficult to guess, even before offering you the freedom to choose it. To suggest I engineered this is to discount your own agency and agenda." Anticipation is a very different equation. "I do not know you well, Tairyu-san. Not yet. Consider this a test to discern more, if you like. Consider it insurance to make sure your path did not end with the whims of a fool, leaving only the obedient, purely self-interested goon."

No, placing a puppet at the head of the Aizawa-gumi was not the hat trick; rather, an unacceptable status quo. "I hope that you will find your promise, and greater vision than that." Heinlein sincerely assures the Yakuza, taking several graceful strides to close the distance, and offer a helping hand to the fallen warrior.

"I hope that you can exceed the dogmatic confines of either extant institution-- and forge a future free of the mania and corrupt exploitation that grip more than Southtown. Are you that man, Katashi Tairyu? Or are the trappings of my own affiliation enough for you to judge, enough to throw aside what I might offer due to animosity earned by others?" It's a question Kain does not have the answer to, an obvious risk that he takes enabling the embittered scion. Something in the statuesque blonde's own agenda, or philosophy, mandates that wager; he makes it freely.

The offered hand is considered briefly. But...

"...Do not think I came here to die, Heinlein-san," he rumbles. The hand's not taken. His left hand - the one not broken - pushes down at the knee of his crossed leg. The few seconds spent sitting there did bring some of his energy back -- but not a great deal. It's still a great effort, evne with that leverage, to work himself up to standing. Such an effor that some of the wounds along his body are visibly forced to spurting out blood from the strained motion.

He even briefly looks like he might well just keel over all over again when he's up on his feet.

"The weight of... Aizawa-oyabun's memory... it won't be carried to where it deserves... just with my death. Not when... hhhh... What he was doing with... this family... was everything to him..."

There was a reason Tairyu looked up to the man. Not just because he was effectively his foster father. But because of how he ran the Family. What the late patriarch aimed to achieve for the people he took under his wing.

It takes a few seconds, but Tairyu eventually does manage to lift his head up again, and guide his green gaze to meeting the oddly-red of Kain's, directly.

"The earing of faith... goes both ways, Heinlin-san... I have a debt to repay to you. That hasn't changed... But there's much more to go before either of us can claim to trust the other."

Briefly, he glances down to the bloodied, lifeless form of Masuda down there on the floor.

"... You could have had me killed here... After everything I went through to get here... But then... Duke also had a reason to keep me alive... Only thing achieved from having me killed alongside Aizawa-oyabun would have been chaos and splintered factions... civil war..."

Eyes lift back up to Kain with that. "It's not too different now, isn't it? For better or worse, I'm... hhhh... worth more alive."

"Your organization was yoked and turned to base toil for another." Kain observes simply. "Its best destroyed. Duke kept you because he believed you could be broken, controlled through strength and fear; do not mistake my motives for his." Heinlein does not, however, immediately explain the difference farther than he already has. Trust, as mentioned, is earned.

"Your worth to me has little to do with your ability to keep this house from collapsing. So come, let us discuss the earning of trust, and what the immediate future holds for us; or stay, and seek to hold what you've taken alone, and embittered." Test the insurance guarding his life, or risk whatever trap Kain may try to set for him, whatever the endgame of the suspected manipulation may be.

The decision is left to Tairyu, as Kain turns easily to depart the bloodied office behind the assassin, his pace unhurried. One may get the distinct impression that Kain does not actually need to arrange for Tairyu's death-- and that his potential worth is still very much a mutable consideration.

The notion of Aizawa-gumi being best left destroyed does not sit well with Tairyu. He doesn't need to say as much for such to be clear -- the glint in his eye is enough signal to clue in to it.

For that matter, Tairyu doesn't say much more, right there. He's left there, delayed while Kain steps to the door.

Eventually, a hand slips to his pocket, drawing out a phone. A number dialed, without even looking, as it's brought to his ear.

"...It's me. Get... hhh. A cleaning crew to the office. ... Yeah. No. I'll... explain later. ... Something I need to do. Check in on the gambling hall and the bikers in the meantime. ... I'll get back to you."

The call's cut, phone slipped back into pocket, and Tairyu takes the first steps to follow after Kain. There's very little trust he can offer to the man right now, after everything that unfolded. But one thing remains true.

He needs to at least hear out the man he owes a debt to.

Log created on 20:59:11 11/24/2020 by Tairyu, and last modified on 14:38:25 11/26/2020.