Fightfest 2023 - Team Metal - Shared Interests

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Description: Team Metal meets in person - but how much do their interests actually align?

Corporal Minal Panesh arrived a half hour early to the conference room. It isn't normal behavior for her -- in fact, even suggesting that to one of her close associates would earn a raised eyebrow. But these are extenuating circumstances.

Minal's been taken advantage of before -- lulled into a false sense of security by those close to her. And it's made her very, very wary of those who might try and place her in a similar situation. Particularly since she doesn't really -know- the other members of this sponsorship team. "Team Metal," it's called. It's pretty obvious why the plucky Special Forces engineer was picked -- a specialist in the fields of cybernetic prosthetics and enhancements, noted for entering combat with a pair of bespoke metal gauntlets. But information on her associates was... hard to come by.

The extra time was for her to prepare, to surveil, and to reassure herself that countermeasures weren't being taken -against- her. Time to make an electromagnetic sweep of the conference room, to check the walls and doors, ceilings and floors.

Extra time. Just to be safe.

But she was done in 10 minutes. And she's been sitting in a spinning chair for the rest of the time, mentally kicking herself for being so damn early. She's been on her cellphone most of this time, admittedly, hovering over the phone's screen like a vulture.

The corporal isn't in uniform for this meeting; just a black polo shirt and khaki-colored slacks. The color of her prosthetic hands closely matches that of her skin; only the joints stand out as non-standard equipment.

"Zel" is not early, but neither is she "fashionably late." Instead, the pink-haired woman slips in quietly and right on time. It's a bit uncanny, in fact, on how little attention she draws or how much noise she makes until she's in the conference room.

"Corporal Panesh!" Zel sounds like she's meeting an old friend, or perhaps a fan meeting her hero. She gives an enthusiastic way that is nigh girlish.

"It's so nice to meet you, teammate! Well, I suppose that's accurate?" Zel taps her chin with her index finger. "It's not quite like a tournament team, is it? -- but it is part of a tournament. Hmmmm."

"Any-way~" Zel claps her hands together. "It's nice to meet you! I hope you'll forgive me for being a little covert with introductions, but trade secrets are a bit deal, as I'm sure you know!"

She extends a hand to shake, practically beaming.

The third member is next to enter--it's what looks like a surprisingly short woman dressed in a black and charcoal gray pinstripe suit with fedora carrying a suitcase, complete with a red caravat. Her hair is a pale white color, cut somewhat short in a bob that frames her cheeks. She's wearing sunglasses low on the bridge of her nose, revealing brown eyes.

"Hello, gentle--err, ladies, I'm Katherine Flake! Spokesperson for Arctel, glad to meet you," maybe it's the sort of synthetic vaneer of sleaze that she exudes from her grin--which does bear oddly bucked teeth--or the demeanor of her, which seems to ride the line between 'used car salesman' and 'low-level corpo stooge'.

"I hear we're contracted to assist in a team, of sorts?" she smiles, pulling a chair out for herself near Mint and Zel.

Zel's arrival was quiet enough that, even somewhat facing the door, Mint didn't look up from her phone until words were spoken. And as soon as they were, Mint flashes a smile and stands up, taking a few strides to close the gap. She lets Zel do the talking, because... well. It's hard to know who she's dealing with. The introduction was just -that- covert.

"... Yes! Trade secrets are important." She pauses a moment, and then tilts her head to the side. "It's nice to meet you in person, Zel." She extends a hand to Zel for a handshake as she continues: "I don't think I'm familiar with your company's ba--"

And that's right when Miss Katherine Flake walks in the door. There's more pictures available on the 'net for the Arctel PR representative, and it's a -bit- easier for Mint to place features.

"Oh! Hi!"

Especially when she doesn't have to look up very far. Mind -- Mint's smile isn't -quite- as bright for Ms Flake, as Arctel's reputation is a bit checkered. "Well, it sounds like we're in the right place, yes!" Mint offers a handshake to Ms Flake if she's receptive, and then moves back to her seat at the table.

"So thanks to you two for agreeing to meet! Glad to put names to faces, so much easier to work that way. I'm glad the tournament organizers grouped us together like this -- easier to pick the brightest talents when there's less competition, right?"

The corporal smiles, tapping through screens on her phone, before finally finding the one she wants. One more tap beams mugshots of the sixteen FightFest competitors onto the screen.

"So let's talk about the prospects! Have you two had a chance to keep up with the fights? Pretty exciting stuff, from what I've seen!"

Zel turns to smile at Ms. Flake as well, giving her a pleasant wave too. "Welcome!" she says, but soon, Mint asks the pressing questions.

"Oooh, right! Getting to business!" Zel walks over and plops into a chair before kicking up her feet and crossing her legs.

"Well, hmm. I feel odd speaking up first!" Zel shuffles in her seat. "...and there's so many interesting options, too."

"I indeed have! There's quite a few tough individuals in it, actually--able to do more than their levels of skill and ability would suggest, at that," 'Kathy' replies affirmatively, taking out a small phone which she taps at a few times, as if confirming a few things or bringing up pictures. There's no sound from her device, at least she's not playing cookie clicker on it, or something.

"There's what appears to be a... primitive cavewoman, an undead of some sort, uhh--" she readjusts the sunglasses, as if to get a better view at the phone, "A fashion designer, and a.. goblin! well!" she sits back with a bright-eyed look and a grin, apparently taken with the selection. "I think the first one already accepted a sponsorship deal of some sort with our Rayco brand line, but her performance in the main tournament was cut a little short, sadly--aheh," she set the phone down, "Speaking of short--the goblinoid girl has been doing remarkably well!" Moondyne turns to look at Zel, are they here together?

"I wonder if you'd be interested in the one that uses his own machines, Kenzo, I think?" Kath turns back to Mint.

Mint had a bad feeling about the way this meeting was starting off. In the first part, Zel had started working the friendship angle without getting into specifics, and seemed more than happy to dance around any mention of her employer. Conversely, Miss Flake immediately name-dropped her company, and segued right into talk about the business that brought them here together. Mint doesn't have an -objective- reason to distrust these two -- and yet, she's not seeing a reason to slow the pace Miss Flake is setting.

Minal flashes a half-hearted smile. "Well, sure, I mean, we're all friends here right?" As her similarly-short counterpart rattles off the list, Mint tracks the portraits with a finger-mounted laser pointer, nodding on with approval. The idea that Ayala already had something of a 'sponsorship' deal with... Rayco, is it? That just strikes her as a little unusual. "Huh. She's already sponsored? Alright then."

The laser pointer moves back to who she can only assume Flake meant when she said 'undead' -- being the guy who started one fight by rising from a coffin, John Doe. "Yeah, so this 'undead' guy is interesting. Not much of an interview presence without his handlers running amok. He's got a good head for strategy, though... Heck, if it weren't for him, that car in his bonus round would still be drivable." She snorts at that. "I'm kinda interested in the guy who's in the finals now..."

The laser pointer moves over to the image of Hawksley. "This guy's a brawler. Good, solid strats, loose cannon who thinks quick on his feet. One to keep an eye on!"

The laser pointer moves back to Miss Coalbridge. "And -this- little charmer's got stage presence out the wazoo. She's a rising Muay Thai star, checks off a lot of the marks that kickboxer Tia Langray had from way back when. You remember her?"

Mint looks between her two partners. "Nah? Anyway..." The pointer moves over to Nixie and Kenzo. "Yeah. I wanna spend some more time thinkin' on these two. But don't just let -me- do all the talking..."

She looks pointedly to Zel. With a half-hearted smile similar to the earlier one. "What do you think, Zel?"

"Oh, wow, he does seem like he might actually be a zombie, huh. I wonder where they found him?" Zel taps her chin again. "Her kickboxing really is something...what about the dancer?" Zel points. "She seems promising." Zel plants hand on the side of the chair and repositions herself again. She seems like she can't sit still.

"What do you two think about the goblin? I've seen a lot of Darkstalkers, but never a goblin!"

"Well, 'undead' is a cursory term, I assure you--it's likely just a performance gimmick," Kath grins a bit and nods, though there is something in her voice which makes it sound less than sure-fire.

"Well, we don't discriminate here at Arctel, I don't think, anyone with... useful mutations or augmentations is more than welcome..."

Mint nods slowly at Zel. It hasn't been that long since the three had taken their seats, but she seems... uncomfortable for some reason. But that in itself isn't strange, really. The Marine moves her laser pointer to follow along with the subjects of discussion.

"Yeah. Djamila had a real nice showing against our boy Hawksley here. The style's interesting. Let's keep an eye on her then." She hesitates for some reason before shaking the thought away and continuing.

"Well, yeah. 'John Doe,' method actor, leaning -pretty- hard on the gimmick if you ask me. But we'll see how he does in his next bonus fight, I guess!"

And, at last, the goblin. "I'm not gonna lie. I like her a lot. She's got a lot of tricks up her sleeves, but she's doing wonders in press right now. Green skin's *kinda* hard to miss!"

And then... Kenzo. "And this kid's got the talents. He did fantastic work tearing apart that car with the cavegirl's help. We get him set up with an R&D team and get some actual fights under his belt, he's gonna be tearing up the performance charts in no time."

She then moves over to the other Darkstalker in the mix. "This one's fun, Tamaki. She's fightin' against Nixie for the shot at the final, if I recall. Tricksy! What's your take on her, folks?"

Zel sticks out her tongue. "Marketing, bleh. I prefer to let someone else worry about. I'm more about talent!" Zel is twirling her shocking pink hair around her finger now.

"And Nixie already had had the green, she just needs the beret!" Zel grins at Mint. "No no, wrong branch, I know."

"Kenzo needs the experience to capitalize on the gadgets. When he gets thrown off, it can be huge." Zel says suddenly. "Tamaki looks like she's playing around, but then she goes in when their guard is down, like with the psychic girl."

"Well, you know companies have to respect things like marketing strategies and all that, of course they can be wrong sometimes," Flake grins a little sheepishly, god knows there's been quite a few snafus in that department lately!

"Mm! I think miss Zel is right, that could be a very good look for her," tap tap on the phone again, it's amazing how she does it with those long, squared-off nails of hers. Probably the same way receptionists handle typing at keyboards with them.

"I personally think Tamaki is good material, do you think she'd say no to a sponsorship by us?" Flake asides to Zel, then to Mint.

Minal nods in affirmation of Zel's points. Truth be told, the corporal had her doubts about where Zel's capricious desires would lead, but it seems she's getting -serious- now. Which brings a more sincere smile to her face.

"Yes on Kenzo, exactly that. I think we ought to see about giving him a shot. And Tamaki, yes on the sponsorship, hard... /may/be on the beret." She can respect Zel's sense of humor but still feels a need to give her flak for it, with a brief smirk of approval.

"But yeah. Seein' the tricks she was pulling off against the farmer girl was pretty wild. Speakin' o' which. Girl likes her cars..."

And that's when she looks back at 'the psychic girl.' "She was fightin' Kenzo. You wanna talk about 'needs fight experience,' there's your girl. She's got talent, but less of that fight sense."

"All good choices!" Zel confirms. "Though yes, that one is a little ..." She trails off. "Anyway." Zel hops up and paces around the screen.

"So who's everyone's top pick? Top three, maybe?"

Zel cups her hands behind her back and rocks on her heels.

"So far we're looking at Kenzo, Tamaki, and... I'd probably also say Djamilla in addition, just because of the appeal of the whole thing--but she might not fit the theme we seem to be going for, aheh--" 'Flake' grins a bit sheepishly and brings up their phone again, tapping through.

"Really? A..." Flake did a 'eh or maybe' hand-gesture, "In response to the psychic? Alright," she seemed a little mildly disappointed there, though /why/ se seemed to be so was a little vague. "Well, I'd have to say those are my thoughts on the matter, ladies, seems like it's been a fairly productive meeting of the minds so far," she leans back, crossing her legs in the chair.

Mint looks back and forth between Katherine and Zel, one plastic finger scratching at her temple. "... Are you two okay? Getting enough sleep? I mean, we've talked for like four minutes and you two look like you're already lookin' to swipe right and chill or whatever."

The corporal sighs. "Look, there's like, lots more fighters here. I at least wanna talk about the blade strangers here first. You got a laid-off Tim Horton's barista who's been mastering the blade, and then you got the Justice High student who seems to be making up new strategies eveey eight seconds. Ichika's hot stuff here, I had the pleasure of talkin' with her just a lil' while ago."

Minal rocks back in her seat, expelling a sigh. "Top three for me? Ichika, Kenzo, Tamaki. You got any gas left for talkin' about the DJ parkourist, or the kayfabe wrestler and his sumo friend?"

"Of course!" Zel says, "but first impressions are everything, see? Making you pick up front lets us get those out of the way. You know, 'owning our biases' or whatever!" Zel beams as though this seems straightforward enough.

"'Big' Buford, Ichika, Brain, er, Brian Storm, and Isamu, right? They all seem fine enough, though that Buford one has some ... eccentricities, too!"

Zel tilts her head. "Oooh. You met Ichika? What's she like? Do tell!"

"Oh don't worry about me, I'm always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!" Kath grins again, showing off her big front teeth. "We're just... anxious to sponsor some new contestants, is all, yes..." she looked backd own at her phone and stood up straighter, more at attention. "Anyway..."

"Hmm.. Ichika, she's got a very normal background, very humble... you think we can get them 'over'? they seem like they're getting pretty popular so far," Kath rubs at her chin. "A succeeding underdog sort of story like that is great PR, after all," if their eyes could be rolling over dollar signs at this, then they would.

Mint meets Zel's response with half-lidded eyes. It's a good recovery, but this -is- the first impression that Zel and Katherine are making on the pint-sized pugilist, and it's not... the best? But still, Mint is happy enough that the two are showing a renewed effort now. "Look, I'm just tryin' to be realistic about it, that's all. The fighters we pick might get snatched up in the draft. We might be able to get -two- of our top three if we're lucky, y'know?"

Sitting up straight, she rests her bionic wrists on the table. "Okay, yeah. Isamu's a big guy, and... as far as I can tell, that's all he's got goin' for him. Brian Storm and 'Big Buford' seem about equal to me -- lovable goofballs who could be molded into good fighters with proper motivation. Solid fives."

She nods agreeably to Kath's statements on Ichika. "I think you pretty much nailed it there, yeah. You look at her, she acts like a typical Japanese schoolgirl - prim, proper, well-mannered, right? But if you got somethin' she wants, she's -on- it. She's got the drive to push past whatever's in her way, and I really think she's goin' places."

Minal grins brightly. "So yeah. I think she holds up there. Nixie and Djamila are up there on my list too, along with Kenzo and Tamaki. She scratches her cheek, considering the portraits on the screen for a moment. "So we haven't talked about Sayuri, but she's right out anyway with the DQ. So that leaves... the parkour DJ." She glances back to Zel, then Katherine: "Any thoughts?"

"So what I am hearing," Zel says, "Is that you want a good story! Well, and good talent, but at least one of the two if not both." Zel nods agreeably.

"Oh, Sarah, isn't it? Well..." Zel leans her head to one side, then the other, her pink hair bobbing. "She seems a little ... flaky. I'm not sure what it is."

"So how about this: some top picks then some back-up picks? That way if our best get snatched up, we have reserves?"

"I think Kenzo would probably be a good reserve option, at least until I get an interview with him and see if he has any interest in developing any sorts of things in the future," Kath taps a long-nailed finger against her cheek, thinking about it. Their brow furrows, as if in thought.

"A good mind is a terrible thing to waste--" she peers back over at Zel, grinning a little as if she realizes 'flaky' wasn't a reference to her, giving her a 'I see what you did there' sort of look.

Sighing, the pinstripe-suited business woman continues, with a light grin.

"Parkour DJ?" Kath however looks a little confused at that, bringing up her phone screen again and stealing a glance at Zel's papers if she had an laid out.

Good, good. This is the sort of discussion that Mint was hoping for from the beginning. She nods along with the discussion, though she draws in air through her teeth at the idea of relegating Kenzo to reserve status after her earlier agreement.

"I'm... kinda interested in the whole package. Top tier, I'm still banking on Tamaki, Nixie, Kenzo, and Ichika being strong fighters that just don't know it yet. Tamaki and Nixie are right there at the top, they're tricksy, and they're eager to fight. Kenzo and Ichika -- same eagerness to fight, but we'll need to work with 'em a bit more..."

Mint shuffles the fighters around on her screen, sorting them into four rows. "So for reserves, we want fighters who perform well. Djamila's a top pick, maybe less family-friendly -- and that's kinda why I'm not sure? But a solid fighter. Hawksley and... Coco, is it? They've already proven themselves to be strong fighters. Zombie guy Doe's pretty solid too, but... minus points for having to deal with his PR team. They'd help fill the team out."

She chops her hands lightly on the table. "So that's top picks and reserves. "Big Buford" might be a pain to work with, Ayala seems strong, but already hooked by your team? Is it stepping on feet to ask? And Chevy's got a screw loose or something." She sticks out her tongue at that.

"Genie and Sarah, like, where to even begin? They're good people. But I kinda dunno what to do with them save for paying street gangs to bully them into bucking up or something." Pause. "And I'm pretty sure that's -not- in the NFG charter."

Mint leans back, shrugging her shoulders. "That's my picks. Do we need to narrow it down to just three top and three reserve?"

Zel's papers seem to be a product that exist only in her mind, if they are even there. When she notices Kathy looking she throws up her hands to make it clear she doesn't have any. She's downright playful about it.

"Mmhmmm. And some partiality to Kenzo because there's syn --- synchronicity? No no, synergy, yes! You've got experience with technology plus technique." Zel slides back in her seat a little. "Tamaki and Nixie are top contenders so they'll probably be other people's top picks. I'll rule them out for me unless they're left out." Zel waves a hand dismissively. "Even if Darkstalkers are always interesting!" She pauses. "Respectfully!" She says this as though it makes the mild profiling better.

"Hawksley seems like a hot-head. Talented, but maybe a little too ... impulsive? Not that impulsive can't be fun sometimes...anyway."

"Honestly, I can vote however you'd like to help get talents you two think are interesting. I like to help and ... oh, there's a bunch out there that could use some kind of help or another."

"Sponsorship, for advertising anyway--in the cavewoman's case, and I think we're in agreement on Kenzo in any case, not sure how much there is left to discuss then, what do you think, Zel?" Kath looked over at their 'coworker', a brow raised. "Well, I think you two already have my vote," Kath nodded, rising from her chair.

"I think this has been a fairly productive meeting so far, but if there isn't anything else--" the pinstripe-suited one glanced at her phone again, before sliding it into the pocket of her suit jacket. "I think I need to get back to my office," she grinned again and gave a small bow before placing her hat back on.

She looked from Zel to Mint, then back, apparently preparing to shove off. Strange one, that, to be sure.

Darkstalkers - - Mint has a bit of a history with those guys. But she didn't realize how much her stance had changed until she realized how hard she had been clamping her teeth together at Zel's offhanded comment. Drawing in her breath, Minal forces herself to relax and answer with a brief nod.

For the most part, Minal feels she has a handle on Kath. But right now, she still doesn't know which bucket Zel fits into. Every calm and rational decision seems to be paired with an equally capricious impulse. Which makes it all the more amusing when she talks about Hawksley.

Panesh grins broadly. "Impulsive can be good. You just need to make sure they got the right impulses. And the best way for that is practice."

Still, the meeting seems to be wrapping up of its own accord, as Katherine notes; all three seem to know where the others stand. "Yeah. Putting faces to names and getting to know each other was the main goal." Mint clasps her plastic hands together with a warm grin. She shares an arched eyebrow with Zel as Katherine makes her exit

"Yeah. We'll be in touch!"

"Sounds good to me!" Zel says, bobbing her head. "So maybe I'll go scope out some of the talent personally like someone else did." Zel smiles at Mint. "And it sounds much more interesting than sitting in an office ... " She says this as an aside to Mint, as though she's saying it behind Kath's back.

"But we'll certainly keep in touch! Let me know if there's anything you need. I'd love to help." Zel smiles, slipping off shortly after Kath.

She is abruptly gone almost as soon as she gets to the hallway.

Log created on 15:49:38 05/08/2023 by Mint, and last modified on 04:13:29 05/15/2023.