Author Topic: The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)  (Read 344 times)

Riven

  • Full Member

  • Offline
  • ***

  • 394
  • Karma:
    +84/-0
  • Personal Text
    The Shattered Sword
    • View Profile
The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)
« on: June 10, 2018, 01:24:39 PM »
It was all over the papers and news-feeds in Mistral: 'Historian Murdered - White Fang Involved?' A catchy headline, to be sure, packed with just the right measure of mystery, theatricality, and political volatility to catch eyes and set weak hearts aflutter with concern. Three days earlier the police had found one Mr. Alan Neland, who'd been missing for about a week, fatally tortured and left for dead in the basement of a hotel in the tourism district of Wind Path. Neland was many things: head of the Mistrali Historical Society, a personal collector of antiquities, and a single father to three young girls -- simply put, the perfect victim to rouse sympathy. The White Fang connection also seemed a little too perfect: an unmarked rental van found abandoned in an alley two blocks away, a damaged Fang mask with blood splatter on it tucked into the glove compartment and Neland's wedding band -- a reminder of his wife, a Huntress who'd been reported KIA years beforehand -- discovered wedged into the van's seat cushions. To the casual reader it was the perfect story to evoke anti-Fang and anti-faunus sentiment.

By Maria's read of the situation, however, the story was so obvious and choreographed that it had to be hiding something. She sat in her apartment, newspaper laid out in front of her as her eyes scanned the contents for the second time. She was one of the most well-connected people in all of Mistral, but this headline had caught her completely by surprise. A new player in the kingdom committing crimes and blaming it on the Fang? A splinter-faction? Something in the dark web that was Mistral's underworld had clearly shifted, and it left her uncomfortable.

Then her Scroll chimed -- an authentication code, followed a minute later by a call from a familiar number. Unlike most of her contacts and clientele, this one was trusted... well, mostly trusted. She picked up without bothering to activate the voice masking she typically used. "Fancy getting a ring from you today. To what do I owe the call?" She paused, ruby eyes going back to the page. "Yes, I've seen. In fact, I have today's paper in front of me right now." Another pause, this one significantly longer; Maria leaned back as she listened to the gravelly voice on the other end of the line, her expression going from nonchalant to eyebrow-lifted curious as she did. "... You don't say? That does make things rather interesting. And concerning. Still, I'm not entirely sure that I should be getting involved, desire to know more notwithstanding."

" . . . I see. And the 'client' is willing to pay how much?"

"... Why yes, that does cast things in a rather different light. One problem, however. Given the nature of the situation I'm not sure I can rely on any of my local contacts, and this is most certainly not a two-person job."

"... No need to concern yourself. You know me -- I'm nothing if not resourceful. In fact, there's someone operating in Vacuo who should be perfect for this. I'll make the arrangements and let you know when everything's in place."

"...Yes, a pleasure doing business with you as well."
click.





Minutes Later, Somewhere In Vacuo, the Scroll of one Shoko-La Bitter would register an incoming call from an unfamiliar number...
[ PLOT REQUESTS are AVAILABLE! 2 Slots Open! ]
[ RP BANNERS ~ Feel free to request via post or PM ]



STUDENTS

Beacon Student: Rory Vogel, "The Scarlet Shield" ~ 1st Year, Team VCVS

Shade Student: Sean Acacia, "Grenadier" ~ 1st Year



OTHERS

Beacon Teacher / Experimental Botanist: Dr. Budonoki Sophos, Medical & Wilderness Specialist

Baker / Retired Huntsman: Alec Chadwick, owner of 'Fabled Goods' bakery

Pirate / Freelancer: Captain Cordell of the Red Corsair ~ Available For Hire!

Mercenary / Infiltrator: Micah Sere AKA "Prowler" ~ Danger, Avoid If Possible

Mercenary / Infiltrator: Maria Sanguine AKA "Bloody Mary" ~ Underworld operative, "The Lady of a Thousand Faces"

SerAnad

  • Been Around

  • Offline
  • **

  • 71
  • Karma:
    +5/-1
    • View Profile
Re: The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 09:24:20 AM »
A drop of sweat trickled down her brow, her breath came out just a bit ragged and her side ached because of the blow his opponent had managed to score with one of his double-headed axes. Each ax was quite wide, and the short handle allowed fast swings and fast blocks at the price of range and power. That compromise was nonetheless serving her opponent well, given that he was proving able to deflect almost every bullet she had sent his way.
The two were circling each other, focused and ready to act or react, but neither willing to go on the offensive again just yet.   
Shoko-La considered her options during the brief moment of respite. Slipping inside his guard wasn't all that advantageous, as the last exchange had proven, given the maneuverability of his weapons even in close combat, and besides, he seemed to have chosen to let her waste dust, empty her reserves, and only then going on the offensive. 
A valid strategy, no doubt, and one that a hasty or nervous opponent might have fallen for, but Shoko-La prided herself of being sufficiently experienced to know how to deal with opponents with a strong defense. There were several ways, in truth. She could have tried to disarm him (even one less ax would have made him incapable of dealing with her four guns), or impede his movements with some ice dust and then attack from behind, she could have shot at his face in order to force him to cover it with one ax and remain blind to the direction in which she would then aim the other guns and so on...
She was, however, getting tired of the smirk on the face of this arrogant fourth year Shade Academy student that she had hired for a sparring match and was determined to wipe it off with a resounding victory: which meant no tricks or extravagant dust usage. She had to beat him at his own game.
To her knowledge, he still hadn't unlocked his semblance, which meant that he had focused his efforts in the regular training, without becoming one of those fighters that relied heavily on their semblance to be effective. He didn't have a glaring weakness, but that didn't mean he didn't have some nonetheless. The one she was going to exploit was his tendency to defend as well as he possibly could against any attack. From what she had gathered during the fight he didn't like to take damage or trade blows and instead relied on counterattacks. Which meant that whenever or wherever she attacked, he would try to defend in the optimal way to minimize the damage. In this particular case, his only way of blocking her bullets were the axes, so she relied on being able to guide the axes where she needed them to be. Her aura was in the yellow by now, while his was still in the green (albeit at the limit), but that didn't matter: she wanted to bring him down in one fell swoop.
Suddenly she dashed towards him, only to abruptly stop just before entering his reach and jumping up, all 4 of her guns aimed at both his kneecaps. As she had predicted, he lowered both axes to cover his legs.
"I won."
A wide, savage smile split her face when she fired simultaneously with all four guns. The two guns fixed to the back of her shoes still aimed at his opponent's knees, of the two in her hands however she changed the angulation at the last moment so that they were aimed below and behind her instead of below and in front where her target was.
So while the lower guns shot regular bullets, the ones in her hands used dust that propelled her forward with a sudden burst of speed.
She crashed on his opponent  (whose arms were lowered in order to defend his knees) and straddled him, binding his arms to his body with her legs, and headbutted him on the nose just to vent her earlier frustration. Of course, he started falling backward, with Shoko firmly wrapped around him with her legs, and both guns in her hands aimed at his chest (aiming at the head would have been too brutal and dangerous for a simple friendly match). She pulled the triggers one, two, three, four, five, six times before his target's back crashed on the floor. An auditory alarm ringed to let them know that the aura of one of the fighters had entered the danger zone. Of course, it wasn't hers.
In hindsight, she shouldn't have been so aggressive. The fight hadn't lasted that long and she had paid the student for two whole hours of training... But now, without aura, he couldn't continue.

"A pity he doesn't tickle my appetites, I could have used an hour of extra training of a different nature. But alas he strikes me as kind of a jerk... So too bad for you."

Shoko thought while letting go of her opponent and raising to her feet. She offered him a hand and thanked him for the fight, promising a rematch.   
The student left soon after, but she remained in the gym she had rented for the evening: there was no reason for wasting that investment too.
First of all, though, she had to wash her face (the sweat and the headbutt had left her forehead sore and dirty) and change her clothes.
She was on her way to the changing room when she heard the ringtone of one of her scrolls... the business one.   
She took the device and eyed the display with a perplexed look and a sigh.

"Unknown number? And here I thought I had asked my contacts not to give my number to anyone but to act as intermediaries... "
She cleared her voice and brought the scroll to her hear (the communication would be audio only, after all: she couldn't afford to show her face so carelessly).

"Good evening!"

She exclaimed with a bright and courteous voice which was definitely quite different from her spontaneous one.

"You are currently speaking to the secretary employed by the person you're trying to reach. Please state your business and the reason for the call. Rest assured this is, at least to my knowledge, a secure channel."    
Mogan Treehouse - Beacon Student Third Year

Shoko-La Bitter - Mercenary and Hitman

Riven

  • Full Member

  • Offline
  • ***

  • 394
  • Karma:
    +84/-0
  • Personal Text
    The Shattered Sword
    • View Profile
Re: The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2018, 11:54:41 AM »
A secretary, was it? Maria's face took on a bemused expression as she listened, booting up her computer and attaching a long thin cable from it to her Scroll. She was, first and foremost, an information broker -- she knew everything that could be gleaned from Shoko-La's not-insignificant reputation and a few things besides. A secretary was, admittedly, not impossible... but seemed unlikely from what she could recall. Besides, this number had not been cheap to acquire. Still, pleasantries were in order at this stage of things.

"Yes, hello. My name is Alessa Cales, calling on behalf of certain third-party interests here in Mistral." The name was, of course, a lie -- a precaution, really, and fairly standard practice for first contact in this line of business. Also standard was the "flag"; 'third party interests' was one of a handful of fairly well known tell-phrases in the black market that everyone from the lowliest thief-for-hire to the heads of influential crime families would know, even across the boundaries of kingdoms. It was a way to say 'my employer wishes to do business discreetly' without actually coming out and saying as much, and although Maria was posing as her own secretary it was still technically true. "We're looking to recruit a talented individual to act as an outside mediator in an estate dispute," More subtle language; 'we're looking for a freelance mercenary to do a hit'. "And you were recommended to us.  I realize this would be a long-distance job, considering, however my supervisor is quite insistent on the necessary qualifications. To that end, travel and all related expenses would be covered. Do you know if your employer has any openings in the near future?"
[ PLOT REQUESTS are AVAILABLE! 2 Slots Open! ]
[ RP BANNERS ~ Feel free to request via post or PM ]



STUDENTS

Beacon Student: Rory Vogel, "The Scarlet Shield" ~ 1st Year, Team VCVS

Shade Student: Sean Acacia, "Grenadier" ~ 1st Year



OTHERS

Beacon Teacher / Experimental Botanist: Dr. Budonoki Sophos, Medical & Wilderness Specialist

Baker / Retired Huntsman: Alec Chadwick, owner of 'Fabled Goods' bakery

Pirate / Freelancer: Captain Cordell of the Red Corsair ~ Available For Hire!

Mercenary / Infiltrator: Micah Sere AKA "Prowler" ~ Danger, Avoid If Possible

Mercenary / Infiltrator: Maria Sanguine AKA "Bloody Mary" ~ Underworld operative, "The Lady of a Thousand Faces"

SerAnad

  • Been Around

  • Offline
  • **

  • 71
  • Karma:
    +5/-1
    • View Profile
Re: The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2018, 04:06:56 PM »
From Mistral? Really? She found quite hard to believe that there was an authentic need to hire a hitman from another continent, especially if the call came from Mistral. After all, that place was home to the biggest black market of the world and to a criminal society to match it. So why reach all the way to Vacuo?
There had to be a reason...
Maybe the target that this "third party" wanted dead was an influential figure, and in order not to draw the wrong kind of attention to themselves or to be traced, they wanted an unknown hitman to do the job?
Or maybe they wanted a clean kill that could be disguised as an accident, and she had developed the reputation of being able of pulling it off? 
Or, and this was the worst possibility she could think of on the fly, the job was so dangerous that no one in the vast Mistral underground was willing to take it?

"Or... It could be all three."

The treacherous voice of her thoughts whispered in her ear.

"I see... Let me check real quick."

She answered, while absent-mindedly bringing her index fingernail on the surface of one of the lockers and beginning to quickly scratch it, producing a noise that could be mistaken for someone writing with a pen. After a moment she replied to the voice from Mistral.
 
"You are in luck, seeing that my employer has had a quite busy and tiring schedule up until a couple of weeks ago, but doesn't have any pre-arranged agreements for at least another month. Of course, if the aforementioned dispute cannot be resolved in this length of time, I regret to inform you that my employer might have to decline your offer. But apart from this, there shouldn't be any other reason not to at least listen to the details of the job. My employer still reserves the right to refuse your request if found unappealing or conflicting with its work ethic or interests. That said, considering the often delicate nature of some disputes, despite the inconvenience of the travel my employer should be willing to discuss the details directly should you require such a degree of privacy."

Meanwhile, Shoko's mind was assessing whether it was worth to consider accepting this potential job.
To expand her fame in Mistral and Vale was, in any case, part of her projects. But it never was a good idea to charge head-first into a new shady pond without the right backup or knowledge. Usually, it was required to start slow and let the other sharks get used to your presence and then establish your position in the food chain. On the other hand, completing a high profile assignment in a new pond could establish your position quickly but not as quietly.

   
Mogan Treehouse - Beacon Student Third Year

Shoko-La Bitter - Mercenary and Hitman

Riven

  • Full Member

  • Offline
  • ***

  • 394
  • Karma:
    +84/-0
  • Personal Text
    The Shattered Sword
    • View Profile
Re: The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2018, 05:18:36 PM »
"Wonderful! That's actually the best news I've gotten all day." There was no double-meaning to that phrase, and although Maria did slightly worry that it might throw off her new hire to hear such a thing there was... value... in being candid about one's needs and situation. "I have every reason to think that affairs can be settled within that time frame." Now it was her turn for background noise -- although, admittedly, the tappa-tap tappa-tap of fingertips across a hard-light keyboard was authentic, not merely theatrical. "I'll have the full briefing file sent over shortly, along with a consideration fee -- even if your employer opts not to take the job they can retain the fee. All we ask in return is that the details we provide are kept confidential until such time as the dispute is successfully resolved." Or, to put it another, blunter way... hush money, pure and simple. With a single click a pair of files were sent along to Shoko-La's phone. "There we go, files and Lien are on their way. We thank you for your time and hope to do business with you. Have a good evening!"

Scarce minutes later Shoko-La would receive two files on her Scroll from Maria's number. The first was an anonymous pay-code she could use at any bank or ATM to cash out a not-insignificant sum of 5 million Lien -- a clear indication of just how valuable this job, and the secrecy it entailed, was. The second was an encrypted calling program tagged with the file name 'The_Lady_Requests_An_Audience'. It would ensure any further discussion was safe from digital eavesdropping...



(OOC: Since there's no canon explanation for Lien values, I tend to rely on this as my guide. By these calculations, 5 million Lien = $75,000 USD)
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 05:20:33 PM by Riven »
[ PLOT REQUESTS are AVAILABLE! 2 Slots Open! ]
[ RP BANNERS ~ Feel free to request via post or PM ]



STUDENTS

Beacon Student: Rory Vogel, "The Scarlet Shield" ~ 1st Year, Team VCVS

Shade Student: Sean Acacia, "Grenadier" ~ 1st Year



OTHERS

Beacon Teacher / Experimental Botanist: Dr. Budonoki Sophos, Medical & Wilderness Specialist

Baker / Retired Huntsman: Alec Chadwick, owner of 'Fabled Goods' bakery

Pirate / Freelancer: Captain Cordell of the Red Corsair ~ Available For Hire!

Mercenary / Infiltrator: Micah Sere AKA "Prowler" ~ Danger, Avoid If Possible

Mercenary / Infiltrator: Maria Sanguine AKA "Bloody Mary" ~ Underworld operative, "The Lady of a Thousand Faces"

SerAnad

  • Been Around

  • Offline
  • **

  • 71
  • Karma:
    +5/-1
    • View Profile
Re: The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2018, 05:57:11 AM »
The surprises kept piling up... First a call to her own scroll, then an unusual job request from Mistral, and now even a substantial amount of hush-money and an encrypted calling program that, at least for her "tech-guy", would be very hard to breach even for an Atlesian hacker.
Shoko-La was sprawled on one of her couches, a drink in one hand and her feet still pleasantly warm from the massage she had received by the professional that had left her current apartment just a couple minutes before.

"What was his name...? Browny? Bronze? Something similar... I Should call him again sometimes."

And yet she was unable to let go plagued slight frown that had plagued her face for the last fourteen hours (well, six if we exclude eight hours of sleep).
Her gut was telling her that for some reason this job would be more trouble than it was worth, and that was even before knowing the details. On the other hand, the benefits were clear: she was dealing with someone influential, with serious resources, willing to pay a lot of lien and that could probably secure her a foothold in Mistral should she manage to satisfy the customer.
What did Shoko had to lose, anyway? It was the thrill she sought, and all the comforts that being filthy rich entailed.

"A new kingdom, a mysterious employer, probably a dangerous and high profile target, a lot of lien as payment. I wouldn't also mind a change of scenery. I could spend some time in Mistral... they have the best entertainment there."

Anyway, there was no harm in at least listening to the job description.
Shoko's hand lazily picked up her business scroll from a nearby glass table and put her drink down after one last sip. It was a classic mix of Vacuan fruits, no alcohol: she couldn't have her mind clouded while discussing business.

"The lady requests an audience... As pretentious as one can expect from the Mistral high society? Am I going to have to deal with some stuck-up noblewoman that wants her husband dead so she can shag her lovers in the "big house" and not in a motel?"

That thought made her laugh.

It was an unlikely possibility, but you never knew.
Her finger hovered above the encrypted program's icon for a couple more seconds. Should she disguise her voice again? No, that probably wasn't necessary. Shoko-La started the call. The moment someone finally answered, she introduced herself in the usual manner she used in these situations.

"This is Bitter speaking. I'm told you have something to discuss with me."

Her tone was serious and plain. The first impression was important in this line of work, even if what really mattered were the results.
Mogan Treehouse - Beacon Student Third Year

Shoko-La Bitter - Mercenary and Hitman

Riven

  • Full Member

  • Offline
  • ***

  • 394
  • Karma:
    +84/-0
  • Personal Text
    The Shattered Sword
    • View Profile
Re: The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2018, 09:40:17 AM »
Not too eager, it seemed. Maria had spent the last fourteen hours getting the pieces in place for this latest job -- with a brief cat-nap and a shower in the midst to keep herself sharp. She now had a digital peg-board projected as a hologram onto a freshly-cleared bedroom wall, each point on the glowing web-of-strings a person or subject of interest. The deceased Mr. Neland was, of course, at the very center; splayed out from him like the spokes of a wheel were all the obvious questions and connections -- the White Fang, the dead wife, the children, his business partners, extended family, less obvious associations, as well as the plausible money lenders, influence brokers, smugglers, con men, and other sorts that might or might not be involved. It was a big web... and only likely to get bigger as the afternoon wore on. Too many questions, too much unknown, and no certainty of who could and couldn't be trusted. She was really starting to hope her 'outside ace' would call back.

And, at that moment, she did. Breathing a sign of relief, Maria plucked up her Scroll, toggled on the voice modulator, and took the call.

"This is Bitter speaking. I'm told you have something to discuss with me."

"Indeed I do. Thank you for taking the call from my agent yesterday -- I apologize for not going through more established channels to reach you."

"I go by the name 'The Lady of a Thousand Faces'. I do information and operational brokering in the Mistrali underworld, connecting the apt and willing with the inquiring and paying. In your case, however, I'd like to hire you on directly to assist in a very recent, and potentially urgent, matter."
With a brief clattering of keys on her laptop she sent a digital version of yesterday's newspaper article on the historian's death to Shoko-La. "What you're receiving right now is what the public knows: an innocent old historian murdered, and all evidence points to the White Fang."

"What the public does not know... is that the good Mr. Neland was, himself, a Fang agent -- a middle-man, using his museum credentials and professional connections to conceal the movement of assets and resources. As I understand it you have some history with the White Fang yourself, so you likely appreciate the rather precarious nature of the situation. Whoever did this is likely trying to strain human-faunus relations and stir up trouble, but a splinter faction within the Fang isn't impossible either. At this stage in the game, the truth could be... almost anything."

"I've been contacted by the Fang themselves, using a trusted associate as an intermediary. They want the matter investigated, Neland's killer taken out of the picture, and any loose ends tied up. There is a significant sum of lien on the table for this, and half of it is yours if you're in. My agent, Maria, can set up discreet transportation and accommodations for you, as well as any other arrangements you might need. All I need to know is that I can trust you, as a professional operator."

"Will you accept the job?"
« Last Edit: July 24, 2018, 06:04:29 PM by Riven »
[ PLOT REQUESTS are AVAILABLE! 2 Slots Open! ]
[ RP BANNERS ~ Feel free to request via post or PM ]



STUDENTS

Beacon Student: Rory Vogel, "The Scarlet Shield" ~ 1st Year, Team VCVS

Shade Student: Sean Acacia, "Grenadier" ~ 1st Year



OTHERS

Beacon Teacher / Experimental Botanist: Dr. Budonoki Sophos, Medical & Wilderness Specialist

Baker / Retired Huntsman: Alec Chadwick, owner of 'Fabled Goods' bakery

Pirate / Freelancer: Captain Cordell of the Red Corsair ~ Available For Hire!

Mercenary / Infiltrator: Micah Sere AKA "Prowler" ~ Danger, Avoid If Possible

Mercenary / Infiltrator: Maria Sanguine AKA "Bloody Mary" ~ Underworld operative, "The Lady of a Thousand Faces"