Southtown Syndicate - Building Relationships

Description: After meeting with Geese Howard, Li Xiao Wen invites another Syndicate affiliate, Bethany Cale, to the casino to discuss business--and to work out, a little, in the interest of learning more about each other's capabilities.

The work proceeds apace on the renovation of the Capital 7; fortunately the structure isn't being blown up, just revamped... after it's been checked for booby traps and any remaining 'vermin'. A few weeks will see it ready for opening, of course, and it's that opening day that Li is concerned with, by and large. The casino is a major undertaking, and Li is ambitious but not, it must be said, particularly hell-bent on doing it alone. Even if he were, with the backing of Geese Howard, financially and otherwise, he couldn't possibly.

He sits in the upstairs office complex--the private area, only for employees, and really an area only for -certain- employees and guests... of which Bethany Cale is most certainly one. His office is an understatedly opulent affair, spacious, tastefully decorated, dominated by a large mahogany desk and windows that look out upon the front of the casino--bulletproof glass, of course. Bethany will find, when she arrives, that there is someone waiting for her, one of Li's gang members, to escort her through the construction and renovation up to the upper levels--keycard, voiceprint, and retinal identification are all used to keep things secure, and security is of the utmost importance.

Refreshments are set on the corner of the desk, on a silver tray, and the man himself sits back, left ankle up on right knee, the very pictures of relaxation, as he awaits his guest.

Bethany has schooled a look of bored indolence which could do the french nobility of old proud. Her look of casual disinterest is like ice water, but then... Li should probably be expecting that. The place is undergoing renovation; it is a building site, loud and full of people working. Not the sort of place that she enjoys being at all... but, such is the price of admission for far more fun activities.

She waits until she is led to the room to fish out a cigarette and light it up. The woman gives a nod of respect towards Li - it is, after all, his place, and she is nothing if not professional. "Good to see you." She says, gravitating towards the refreshments table.

Where she doesn't think twice about pouring herself out a drink of some clear amber spirit, and taking a sip. "Its got some way to go." She continues, gesturing with her drink to indicate the walls and ceiling. "But at least the company is better."

He certainly was. And, truth be told, he's affecting some of that same detached manner. "Ms. Cale, so nice to meet you," he says, with a smile that is genuine--even if it doesn't quite reach his eyes. Unfolding his legs, he sits up straight; also on the salver is a tea service, and it's from that that he pours his drink, a delicate china cup of the very best oolong tea, from the scent of it.

"I'm glad you approve. We should be done with the renovations in three weeks' time or so... barring any unforeseen difficulties." Such as bombs, or packs of Blackjack loyalists--though they scared off the ones that were around... he sips his tea, then sits back again, in the plush leather executive chair, regarding his colleague from across the desk.

"It's the grand re-opening that I wanted your opinion on--your... assistance." Pause, sip tea, steam wreathing his face for a moment, before he continues. "You are, after all, grooming some young fighters--and stars. I'd like to secure their services for the opening. Some charity fights, the proceeds going to various organizations in Metro City. A way of building goodwill."

Loosing his left hand from his drink, he dips into an open desk drawer and draws out a dossier.

"This one, Jace," he says, tossing the 8"x10" glossy across the desk casually, "and maybe this one," he finishes, drawing out another picture--of Jezebel. Setting the dossier down, he leans forward again.

"What do you think?"

Bethany purses her lips. Unforeseen difficulties are rather common, unfortunately, and she does not sit down. Sipping at the drink, she swills it, eyeing the pictures that are produced and put down in front of her. She is grooming fighters, that much is true. But whether or not she could exert any influence on them is a question she is uncertain about. Jace ... is an idiot savant, and she hasn't yet even made him understand that she wants to guide him and could help him, let alone that he should listen to what she says. But... he is also prideful.

Jezebel... no.

A long stream of smoke is blown out onto the picture of the rootin' tootinest cowgirl to fight in the professional circuit for a few hundred years. "Jace might be doable." She says, "But he is also dangerously unpredictable. I wouldn't like to guarantee that he wouldn't cause the kind of spectacle, we don't want."

She taps her finger on the picture of Jezebel. "This one, is actively oppossed to me. If she were to be there, there's a good chance she would try to initiate some sort of catfight. Not, necessarily the worst spectacle we could have." Her lips pull into a slow smile. "But if so, it would be more amusing if she didn't realize I was involved at all until she got here. I could work through intermediaries, I suppose..."

She looks up at the ceiling, and sighs. "Billy is my main project at the moment. Crafting his image, making him the bad boy that the public will love, rather than the man who protects a dangerous criminal." She shrugs her shoulders easily, "I doubt you'd have much problem convincing him to get involved, but of course, /I/ don't have any real sway over Billy Kane. A casino opening would fit the image perfectly."

Li smiles, just a little. "Her opposition to you may prove a useful goad. After all, what better place for her to confront you than on the stage?" He gives an arch, almost teasing look, his voice changing not a whit in pleasant tones, as he continues, "Unless, of course, you don't think you can defeat her..." He drains a bit more of his tea, and sets the cup down on the silver tray, sliding the chair back just enough for him to stand.

"Ah, yes. Mr. Kane. We can certainly find a place for him, as well... if Mr. Howard does not object. They -are- linked, in the public eye, but that is not necessarily a negative." Part of the goals of the Capital 7 project are to help rehabilitate Geese's image even further, after all.

"There are a few others I'd like to investigate... and they could be useful contacts for you. But I also want your own opinion on this... you've been studying these fighters for public acceptance, have you not? Can you think of additions to the lists that we might bring in? The final count is not determined, yet, but I am thinking of two or three undercard fights with a main event..."

Bethany snorts after Li questions whether she thinks she can beat Jezebel in a fight. She doesn't honestly know; it isn't the sort of thing she particularly cares about. "Maybe I could, maybe I couldn't." She says, with a careless shrug of her shoulders. "I don't mind losing a fight, but I'm not a big name fighter. Everyone knows I did a little judo back in the day, but that's it. Honestly, I'd be more tempted to /throw/ the fight."

She takes another sip of her drink, and turns her mind's eye across the circuit. Who has she been thinking of, and why? Well, there's Adon, but he has gone off the rails. She'd been trying to size up Quon, but he's dead. Who is publicity hungry or stupid enough to take part in the grand opening?

"Jones Damon AKA, Johnny Jones. He's starting to make a name for himself. Won the Development Project and is a recognizable face. I think he'd enjoy the opportunity to show off. Pit him against that, mexican luchador. The one who pretends to be a chef, perhaps. Just keep him out of the kitchen, and he can carry a show with some... energy."

She taps her fingers against the table in a staccato beat, pursing her lips and pondering. "Jace is a singer. It would be, interesting, if we could pit him against Athena. I'll make some calls and go through their managers if you like. If we open with a song from each and then move into the fight, that could be... worth seeing." Which is high praise indeed, coming from Bethany.

"I'd want to see Billy on the top of the card, of course." She says, casually. A sardonic smile graces her lips, "I'd be terrible representation if I allowed anything else."

The man known in some circles as "The Serpent" nods, thoughtfully, turning his back on Bethany to look out the windows, where crews are repaving the roadways, building concrete pillars, reinstalling lights, repainting. "Good suggestions all. Only, I have plans for El Fuerte already. If he can settle his temperament enough to do some actual cooking, I may offer him a restaurant in the casino. Reports of his... ability are varying, however, and so a trial tasting will have to be held first. However... "Johnny" Jones... and, yes, the illustrious Ms. Asamiya. They would be excellent additions. Perhaps the two of them against Mr. Kane..."

Turning away from the window, Li crosses back a few steps to lean his crossed arms on the back of the chair. He regards the heiress for a few long moments, then asks, simply, "Do you want to become a big-name fighter? Or are you satisified with the manipulation of men?" It isn't asked in a condemning fashion--he's curious, honestly. After all, in a crime family like the Syndicate, personal power--fighting strength, the ability to back up one's words--is just as important as the ability to manage a business, legitimately or not.

"We have an initiative on the table. For fights of a less... publically acceptable nature. We expect to draw soem very powerful names--very rich names--to these fights. A man, or woman, who succeeds in these fights could find some very powerful opportunities indeed..."

Bethanny shrugs her shoulders yet again, which sets various parts of her anatomy in motion. Her eyes drift to the ceiling. She has a violent past, certainly; one that the tabloid press have picked up on in their overhyped, controversial way. You can take the woman out of Mad Gear, but can you ever take the Mad Gear all the way out of the woman?

"I enjoy getting my hands dirty every now and then." She says, casually. 'The Serpent' had witnessed that to some extent. Beth hadn't hesitated at all to get stuck in and rip apart the Blackjack remnants that had stood in the way of his claim over the casino. "But to become one of the best of the best, a real 'big name'?" She turns it over in her mind. Bethany Cale, loved and feared in equal measure by all? Well, Li would be a poor reader of character, if he couldn't see the ambitious glint in her eye. Despite her decision to deny it. Better to be the power behind the throne.

"We all have our stories to tell, don't you think? And I would rather help put the pieces where they need to be, to make sure they go well for the people in my life that I find, worthwhile."

She smiles easily - too easily. As fake and contrived as every other aspect of her personality. "You can call it manipulation if you like. I like to think of it as, playing the game. I generally find that more fun than putting myself in harm's way."

A soft chuckle. Of course he saw the gleam in her eyes. "Well, if you like to get your hands dirty, then, this little initiative might just be something you could participate in, every now and then. Of course, we'll be building a stable of fighters to bring outsiders against, but it'll be good to have some house staples to liven up the party. And success in the Pit, as we'll call it, will likely garner much attention in the places that we work best..." Not -public- attention, but respect within the underworld, of course.

"We're going to do more with this space than Elle Belmounte ever dreamed of. With the backing of Geese Howard, how can we not?" Now then. Li gives Bethany a little more of a look-over, then smiles. "I wonder if you might indulge me in something else. Follow me," he asks, but doesn't wait for her to reply, heading not for the big doors that she came in through, but for a smaller set of doors off to the side. A personal, er, proposition? Of a sort. Through those doors is an exquisitely laid-out training room, with a large mat; Li paused just inside and removed his shoes and socks, laying them out neatly. Turning his head, he calls over his shoulder, "I'd like to see more of what you can do."

Bethany nods along with the appraisal of the situation. The opportunities afforded by the casino seem fairly obvious, and, well, perhaps an outlet for her more violent tendencies would be a good thing. Violent crime is a dangerous hobby, and although she's unlikely to give it up... the less chances that her name might be attached to something actually serious, the better.

"Of course." She says, following Li to his training room. It doesn't take a genius to see where he is going with this, and she sighs softly. "You'll have to excuse me not taking off the shoes." She says, lifting her leg deliberately. "But it is all part of the style, you know?" She's not exactly leaping at the opportunity to get in a scrap... but if her host is going to ask her, it would be rude to disappoint. And Bethany is never rude... to members of the Syndicate, who are ranked above her, anyway.

Shrugging out of his suitjacket, Li removes his tie, and goes over to the rack of weapons, selecting his favorite practice staff. It's made of a somewhat lighter wood than normal, hard to injure people with -too- severely... he flips it through the air, casually, in a quick demonstration kata. "Of course," he echoes his guest, with a negligent smile. Mats can be replaced. This isn't some duel to the death, of course--he just wants to see what his opponent can do. Get a feel for her abilities--so that if other opportunities come around, as they will, he will know if he can call on her.

A little bit of stretching and the man stands on a marked spot near the middle of the mat, indicating the other position with his short-staff. "Please," he says, cordially, as he assumes a fighting stance with the staff in his right hand, held level, his left hand and left foot leading, hand open, right knee bent slightly.

COMBATSYS: Li has started a fight here.

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

Bethany moves to stand opposite Li, and in one moment, she's standing with her usual half-slouch, bored and irritable about what is going to be a dull waste of her time. Tch.

And then in the next moment, she is in front of Li, and in the middle of a motion aiming to snare him. Both hands come up and try to grip Li by the shoulders. Her leg is sticking out to the side, rooted in place, and if all goes according to plan, she'll simply bring him around and over into the ground.

"I've changed things up over the years." She drawls, "But I've found that really, if you just stick to doing the basics, better than anyone else, you can get on very well. A little flash never hurts, but an excess can be... a problem, no?"

She is still smoking her cigarette, despite this talk about not showing off. The smouldering, politically unfavorable item, clenched firmly between her teeth.

COMBATSYS: Bethany has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Li               0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0          Bethany

COMBATSYS: Li instinctively blocks Bethany's Quick Throw.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Li               0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0          Bethany

Li hits the ground, but not solidly; he rolls on his shoulder, lessening the impact, and popping right back up--but he rolled away from the heiress. Now there's a gap between them. But the gaps are not insurmountable--far from it. Especially when you have a man who has tricks like Li's. That short staff... he comes up with the weapon in both hands, and then, somehow, it's broken in the middle, going from staff to nunchaku in a blink of an eye.

A quick twirl to build up speed, and then, Li snaps his right hand outwards, as if cracking a whip--and the free end of the shaft lashes out like a scorpion's tail, reaching for Bethany's sternum, intended to strike and snap back into Li's hand. A simple attack, or at least, relatively simple... there's no need to show off all his flash immediately.

COMBATSYS: Li successfully hits Bethany with Tail Whip.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Li               0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0          Bethany

The shaft cracks against Beth's stomach and sends her flinching backwards with irritation. There's a nasty bruise forming there already, and the fact that she'd failed to turn aside that blow with her hand is just as annoying as the pain. It is never good to feel like you are performing badly, even if you profess not to care a whit for such things.

Bethany comes rushing back in as swift as she can, crossing the distance with the same swiftness that she approached at the start of the fight. Her aim is to bring her elbow crashing in powerfully into Li's stomach. If successful, she will continue in the motion to grab Li by the back of the head, and bring him up around and over onto his back.

COMBATSYS: Li interrupts I Fought The Law from Bethany with Serpent's Sting.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Li               1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0          Bethany

There's a definitely sense of impact there, Bethany's rushing elbow impacting solidly against his stomach--he'll have bruising there, too. But he wasn't, it seems, even trying to avoid the elbow--because he had something -else- in mind. He jumps just a little, reaching out with his left hand, and as Bethany's elbow impacts...

He acts, snapping his left hand out, pushing off from her forehead, and thrusting his weapon into her chest--this time, accompanied with a glowing, yellow-white aura flaring around the striking end. Probably painful, but not yet terrible--and Li, with his jump, gains enough momentum to be able to land on his feet, resuming his stance.

His expression is blank, unreadable, but he's pretty pleased. That sort of aggressiveness is very useful--and he's already having to just take some risks to keep ahead. He's very pleased with that in a potential partner.

Bethany is an aggressive fighter. Keeping the momentum up in the fight is key to victory. Admittedly, she mostly goes for it with overwhelming demonstrations of force, and is used to picking on people who, when she fights them, really have no way of turning the tide after she gets the fight turning in her favor. Li, though, has successfully kept her back from the initial crushing introduction she relies on.

She's not going to give up yet, though. The attack makes her dig her heels in, but she's soon coming in again. This time, her aim is to close right up to Li, and... for a moment, she'll just press against him.

Before her arms wrap around him, and lift him up against her. If she can get a clean grip, she'll lift him right up to her... and then she'll drop, heavily, to the ground.

Bethany's crushing roll would see Li being squeezed underneath her with a surprising amount of strength, fully intent on breaking Li's ribs and driving them into his lungs... of course, that is rather unlikely with fighters of this caliber, but even their bodies don't generally appreciate being put through these motions.

But Bethany likes to play rough.

COMBATSYS: Li blocks Bethany's Breaking the Law.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Li               1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0          Bethany

He doesn't appreciate it, no. The mat absorbs some of the impact; Li strengthens his body, tensing it against the crushing roll, and, halfway through--just when he's being turned again--he thrashes in a controlled, but violent manuever, breaking the hold and rolling away from Bethany again. "Good," he says, his voice sounding slightly winded as his ribs recover from that powerful compression.

He isn't trying to teach her, that's not what she needs or what this is about--that'd be an insult, and he wants her to value him as a colleague, not see him as an asshole. Even that is, essentially, what he is--an asshole. He just doesn't show that side to the people who don't need to see it.

Swapping the staff to nunchaku again, he advances, flicking the weapon around him in a complex brandishing manuever, very similar to what people think of when they think 'nunchaku'.

Only, it's all a feint, as he closes--and then leans back and flicks his right leg out in a front kick, his toes seeking that bruise on Bethany's stomach.

COMBATSYS: Li successfully hits Bethany with Light Kick.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Li               1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0          Bethany

Bethany dodges around to the side - taken off guard by the feint, she had expected the attack to come from there. Instead, she is kicked painfully in the stomach, and forced backwards for a moment. Hrmph. That was, a painful move. Harder than she had expected, too, but, she is far from finished. There's still plenty of fight left in her.

She approaches more carefully, this time. She's still swift, but there's no longer the overwhelming focus on her assault. Instead, she tries something new. Aiming to grab Li by the arm, and bring her momentum around with her, to take him down to his knees... before stepping backwards. Not trying to take him to the ground entirely this time - the hope is that the sudden shift in tactics may throw him off.

"Babe." She says, seriously, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."

COMBATSYS: Li dodges Bethany's Improvised Throw.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Li               1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0          Bethany

He is not a man thrown off easily; he steps to his right, leaving his left arm tantalizingly in reach... and then he whips it away as he spins around, cocking his right arm and laying the weapon he wields across it. Okay. Maybe this is getting a little serious, because his next strike is a pretty dangerous one--even for fighters who, like Bethany and himself, know what they're doing.

He flips the weapon around, horizontally, using the spin to add some strength to the attack--and his own energy, that staff flaring, at the far end, with that yellow-white chi as he seeks to lay it across one of Bethany's temples. The blow is pulled only in the most desultory sense--he's not trying to cave her skull in. But if hits...

Well, if it hits. He doesn't bank on anything--he doesn't have her dialed in--but the challenge is, in and of itself, an excellent thing to have. Fighting creampuffs is no fun. This is.

COMBATSYS: Bethany interrupts Serpent's Retort from Li with You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Li               1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1          Bethany

But Bethany's is a two-layer attack. Li saw the change coming... which is impressive, but she is already coming in along with him. That flaring energy is noted, but Bethany has committed to her move; she is not going to change her tactic. The woman's arm comes up to meet the staff, and continues on through it, pushing it back as she wraps her arms around Li's waste.

"I did ~tell~ you."

The woman's grip is firm, and she brings him up against her for a moment. The casual disdain with which she flings him to the side is entirely unwarranted, but it is an integral part of the technique. It ends with Bethany standing with her back to him, flipping her hair behind her head as though he is entirely beneath her notice.

Thankfully, he can't see her front, where she's glistening with sweat and having to work pretty hard not to just start panting for breath like some uncivilized beast.

There's a little laugh from the man--after the painful landing. He drags himself to his feet and nods. "So you did," he acknowledges. A painful lesson, indeed... but pain is not unknown to him. He doesn't welcome it or reject it. It just is. Casually, Li steps back a couple of times, his steps soft on the matting, and, with her back turned to him, well...

There is the now-familiar, metallic *chink* sound of the staff unlocking, and then, the buzzsaw whirl of a wooden flail being spun at high speed. And then, a fling. The weapon seeks to strike her in the back of the head--a painful, stunning hit, the chain-joined flail stretching across the distance, and then being pulled back and slung forward again--this time to wrap the chain around Bethany's neck.

There it would engage and Li would use momentum and leverage to his advantage, yanking the heiress off her feet and whirling her around, helplessly, three times--before unentangling the weapon from her neck and slinging her into a padded wall.

The whirling sound is the only indication she'd have, from her stance, that she's being attacked...

COMBATSYS: Li successfully hits Bethany with Threshing Tail.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Li               0/-------/------=|=======\=====--\1          Bethany

There haven't been many times when Bethany has been totally surprised. It is a sad fact that her own arrogant fighting style is the cause of her weakness. She turns, and she fully intends to grab the weapon again, but instead, she finds herself taken on a journey. It is not a pleasant journey. It is certainly not one that she intends to repeat again.

When it ends, it is with Beth collapsing and choking on her own blood. It is not a good look for her, and as she gets up to her feet, it says an awful lot about her that her first concern is to cough, spit, and then wipe her lips with the back of her hand. "..." She says, her voice... temporarily stolen from her by the chain.

Which is annoying.

She is still standing, though, and she wants to keep Li guessing about how far she can actually go. She doesn't have a choice; she has to keep it up, if only for the act. That didn't hurt. Of course.

As fast as she can, she comes in. Her aim is to grab him by the ass, and clench him to her tight. Swinging around in a wide and sweeping circle, he would find himself being taken on a journey of his own... one which ends with him being flung up towards the ceiling. After which, she leaps, and her legs coil around his arms, her fingers around his face...

And she rides him.

... into the ground, perverted spectators, into the ground ...

COMBATSYS: Li dodges Bethany's Stairway to Heaven.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Li               0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0          Bethany

He knows that a chokehold can be a disorienting, disturbing thing. Along with the disorienting whirling around, it can be disabling. Bethany, however, isn't disabled--not by far. In fact, here she comes, again--but Li is ready, this time--he leaps forward, tucking into a ball as she rushes him. It's rather picturesque, all told, and it's too bad it'll never make the video reels or YouTube.

He isn't done yet, either--in midair, he flips around and projects--not his weapon but his chi, a spherical explosion of that yellow-white energy--an explosion that halts his momentum, dropping him very close to Bethany indeed... but the power should cover him as he lands. This is the true test, now, of Bethany. Will she continue to fight? That's what Li wants to know. Is she dogged and relentless when the tides turn against her? He already has the answer--but he needs to test it.

COMBATSYS: Li successfully hits Bethany with Serpent's Roar.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >                                ]
Li               0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0          Bethany

The answer, may be disappointing.

Bethany is many things. She is skilled, she is talented, she is strong. But she is not determined. She's played the game until she doesn't have to play it any more, and as the energy smashes her into the ground, she decides that enough is enough. Her initial attempt to dodge out of the way of the energy surrounding the man failed... and that's all she cares about.

She could push herself for one last desperate attack, but, she'll just get beat up some more. This outfit is already pretty much ruined, and if she keeps this up, she might chip a tooth or break a nail. No, better that she lets unconsciousness come. And so... she does. When Li's assault has finished, Bethany is very unconscious. And she isn't trying to trick him; she's just ... given up. The woman has talent.

But she's got no drive, no willpower, to speak of at all.

COMBATSYS: Bethany takes no action.

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

COMBATSYS: Bethany can no longer fight.

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

Li lands, and observes the unconscious Bethany. "Mm." He walks to the wall and triggers the intercom.


"Bring Dr. Pye up, and prepare the guestroom. We'll have a visitor for a while."

"Yes sir. He'll be up in two minutes. We'll have the guest room ready in five."

"Excellent." Li will wait for the good doctor to arrive, tend Bethany's wounds, and then he'll have her carried to the guestroom. When she wakes? There will be a good meal and a note.

"Ms. Cale --

Thank you for a most invigorating and educational match. I apologize for the injuries you received, and look forward to working with you in the future." Getting out of the casino won't be difficult at all, either.

COMBATSYS: Li has ended the fight here.

Log created on 11:28:22 05/27/2012 by Li, and last modified on 09:52:10 05/28/2012.