|Shinjuku Shindig, part 1: The Koan of Ken Kobayashi|
|What: It's yet another conflict of Contract vs Conscience for Domino. Roy Harper is there to offer some third-side perspective, once they're not trying to kill one another.|
February sixteenth, 2013.
Location: Haneda International, Tokyo. 10:40 pm. Touchdown. Time to engagement: Two hours, thirty-seven minutes.
11:01 pm: arrived at safehouse. All of my gear's in order, as always.
11:17 pm: Prep time. Location is an unfinished NTT tower in Shinjuku, overlooking a central highway. My contacts came through on short notice, the view is ideal. Wind north-northeast, approximately three miles an hour. Temperature 41 degrees Farenheit. I can't complain.
01:10 am: Final preparations. Gear is secured, weapons are loaded. Approximately seven minutes until contact. The bug they snuck onto the sedan in question lets me see exactly where they are, displayed on the screen of my phone secured to my rifle. It's heavy, but it'll do the job. Death awaits you from six hundred meters, Mister Kobayashi.
Dark clouds blot out the stars overhead, casting the city in an artificial orange glow from so many neon lights. Dangling from the outside of the incomplete tower is the albino mercenary known as Domino, her feet planted against the thick glass panes from a black cable connected to her waist and anchored upon the roof, suspending her over a two thousand foot freefall to the concrete below. A gloved palm closes the bolt of her Barrett M95, the sling kept taut to brace the heavy cannon at such a delicate angle. She's got the time, she's got the signal.
She's got the shot. Time to engagement: Thirty-one seconds.
Shinjuku at night, up close, was virtually a kaleidoscope of colors. The emerald green, the bright banana yellow, the little penguin mascot with the crown in one corner. One could practically -drown- in the sheer variety of light pollution available here.
Ken Kobayashi, the kumicho of the relatively small, but rising Sekiho-gumi, stepped out onto the street. Wearing a white suit with a black shirt and white ties, he made quite the obvious taget. There was something about the way his men surrounded him, escorted him, that showed a certain deference of respect. Almost like they were brothers instead of servants. It showed in the nod of deference from the local shopkeepers, rather than the typical fear or avoidance that were usually given the Yakuza.
Kobayashi's subordinates kept a respectful distance for the most part, ranging from tall to short. Most of them were bearded or tattooed... although one of them was wearing dark shades.
As was usually customary, Kobayashi entered the sedan, sandwiched in between a couple of his subordinates.
The man with the shades took the wheel, checked the road, and then drove off, slowly, pulling onto the highway ramp at a slow pace.
Movement. Right on schedule. Up to highway speeds, clearing the ramp..now.
Domino's index finger drifts from the lower receiver onto the trigger, following the car as it filters into the sparse traffic at this hour. Adjust for windage, elevation, lead time, bullet drop...
Game. Set. Match.
The fifty caliber rifle goes off with a thunderclap, windows rattling upon the buildings as the shockwave echoes across the cityscape. By the time the first soundwave would get bounced back to her own ears the bullet would have found its mark with time to spare. Nothing fancy, nothing lucky. Just good old fashioned marksmanship.
An outstanding shot, a dead-on shot. Absolutely perfect.
The first soundwave would indeed hit... but then it would be met by a strange sound, one that isn't heard very often, like a metal balloon being punctured.
And then shrapnel exploded in mid-air, sending little metal shards flying. Drivers would later wonder why there were little scratches and dints in their cars, but Domino and one other could answer that question, as one of the sedans following Kobayashi's car pulls over. A smoking rifle withdraws from the open window, and then the door opens, letting a tall young man step out. Another one of those in shades... and yet, Domino could -probably- guess by now what had just happened, as the man brings up his rifle, looking through the scope, cool blue eyes measuring the distance and the target this time.
"Get going, don't wait for me," Roy Harper speaks, urging them on in Japanese. "I've got this." A small cocky grin crosses his face.
As the car pulls away, Roy measures the target, traversing the body up towards the cable, and getting ready to aim... at least until he blinks. Pulling his head away, shaking it slightly at what he saw, Roy reconsiders, and looks again, this time traversing down the curves of the figure towards Domino's face. Hnnnh.
"Great," Roy mutters. "Guess it's just my lucky night."
Son..of a -bitch.-
There are very few people in this world that could have made that kind of shot. One of them Domino already killed. The other...
Her hand leaps away from the trigger as that second sedan pulls over, palming the bolt of her large-bore rifle, slamming the next round into the smoking chamber, lining up the illuminated crosshairs--
On Roy. Roy -fucking- Harper.
A quick shift of aim shows her target. She could still get him... And Roy could still intercept.
There is one other option...
With a twisted grin, Dom levels the crosshairs solidly upon Roy. "Wanna dance, kiddo?"
Go oh, Harper. Take the shot. Split the bullet, watch where the fragments land. Luck can still land her this kill!
Oh hell. Hell, she -was- shooting at him, was she? Just that look and the gun aimed at him...
Looking through the scope, Roy's lips curls down in a slight frown. Well, fine... she's using a heavy bolt-action, in order to get enough power to punch through the car roof. And one would think the best thing to do was to duck and cover, but somehow, against -this- sort of pure sniping, and knowing that she was practically daring him to take the shot...
A half-grin crosses Roy's face, followed by him blowing a kiss at Domino, since she could see his face, could she? Mouthing 'sorry, sweetheart', Roy kneels, quickly recalibrates for the cable, and fires.
There's just enough time for Domino to see the impact of that massive slug as it slams into the pavement, right in line where Roy's head had been but an instant ago. Flight time, six hundred meters, his timing had to have been spot-fucking-on--
A glass window suddenly explodes behind the suspended woman as an incoming rifle bullet strikes it at an angle, though that isn't the sound which concerns her. It's the sound of her cable getting severed a fraction of a second before the window gets axed.
Dom's free-falling an instant later. The rifle's secured by a sling. No parachute. Nothing but the cable and piton launcher left to work with. She can't hook to the building, the line would snap, and likely her arms with it. She needs something further out, something which will change her trajectory rather than try to outright arrest it.
The crane overhead.
Terminal velocity is 54 meters per second. Time to impact is approximately 11 seconds. Velocity of a fired piton is roughly 256 meters per second. Distance to the end of the crane is approximately 120 meters above, and rising.
Odds of success: 1 in 714,992, climbing.
The piton snaps out of the wrist-mounted launcher, trailing a high-tensile filament wire behind it like a metallic ribbon off of a kite. She never hears it make contact.
Falling. Falling... -Tension.- With legs windmilling through open air Domino's line catches and holds, swinging her down across the top of traffic with alarmingly little room to spare.
Forward velocity--landing spot--time to apex--Now!
Dom flicks one of her pistols out and fires, severing the cable, sending her across an off-ramp toward a parking garage waiting on the other side. The roof of a parked car takes the impact, flattening out with a shattering of safety glass and the pitiful warble of a broken alarm system.
There was no hesitation on Roy's part. Because he -knew- Domino. After all the crazy missions where she got out of situations she had no business getting out of, she was going to find a way out. The rifle was shoved back in place on Roy's back, replaced by a crossbow.
He wasn't sure what Domino was doing here, or why she was aiming at taking out the Yakuza kumicho, but then again, she was probably asking the same of why -he- was protecting Kobayashi.
The anticipatory grin crosses his face as Roy ducks behind Piss Alley. Spirits, that woman could -fight- and shoot. And Roy definitely was looking forward to testing just how good all that was.
Of course, first he had to -find- her...
For a few seconds all Domino can do is lie there on her back, the rifle digging into her muscles in a most uncomfortable fashion. With great reluctance she peels herself out of the albino-shaped imprint upon the roof and rolls out onto her feet, tenderly dusting herself off then glancing up as some movement catches her eye.
Staring at her with widened eyes and gaping mouths is a Japanese family just stepping out of their Mitsubishi.
Domino grins wryly at the group. "Hi!"
A young boy suddenly jumps into the air, talking so excitedly that even a fluent speaker of the language would have trouble keeping up.
Dom stretches her neck from one side to the next, straightens out her back with a cringe, and heads for the stairs.
She's got an Arsenal to hunt.
It wouldn't be -too- difficult to find Roy. Public area, large crowds... the streets were out. The alley might have been ideal, but this Piss Alley? Too many stalls, still too many people, and somehow Roy didn't want Lian to find out that her dad had been found buried among some of the odd things that these stalls sold.
So it ws crossing the buildings and finding a parking area. Unfortunately, Shinjuku being what it was, it was ridiculously crowded, and the best -area- that might work were the hotels with the parking areas. But how to get Domino's attention?
Moments later, there were three bursts in the sky, three slight oval red flares that formed an awkward looking arrow point down towards a garage. It might have been taken as a silly display of fireworks.. but the message really was clear enough, wasn't it?
By the time Domino recollects herself and hikes to the edge of the parking deck's top floor, her target is nowhere in sight.
"-Damnit!-" she seethes, an open palm slapping down against the concrete slab making up the waist-high barricade. By the time she turns around there's a cluster of flares arcing up into the air, the delta pattern doing more than simply getting her attention. It's a sign.
This isn't going to stand. Roy interfered with one of her jobs. He allowed the target to escape. Doesn't he have any -idea- what this man has done, why he's earned himself a contract with so many zeroes attached? The game's still on, but before she can get on the road and follow the signal from the target's bugged sedan she has to make sure that there's no more outside interference. Roy's gonna have to get put down, one way or another.
Distance between the two is rapidly covered. Dom knows where she can find Roy. Within the lower levels of the garage she hides her rifle, lightening the load and freeing up her hands for the matched ten millimeter sidearms that pull free from beneath her arms. Shoulders tense, taking a stand in the middle of the roadway with her pistols held low out to her sides, thumbs clicking the hammers back.
"-Harper!- Shouldn't have stuck your nose into my business!"
There was relative silence in the garage. Only the sound of the city bustling around the garage, cars revving up and pulling away from the drive way. Plenty of open spaces, though. And Domino standing there like an open target.
Which was bold as brass, Roy had to admire that. Which is why he steps out from behind a pillar, pistols in hand.
Oh yeah, pistols. Not crossbow. Roy was playing for -keeps-, and yet he can't help but grin at Domino.
"Aw, what's wrong with it, it's not cute enough for you?" Non-chalant, wry grin on his face that doesn't reach his eyes.
"Domino baby, look, this's gotta be one time you can't deliver, okay?" Roy comments, pistols steady and locked... not on Domino, but on her guns.
Domino's response starts with a tensing of her arms, the barrels slowly straightening to form a perfect line from her shoulders to the muzzles of those twin bores. Seems like it doesn't stop with the rifle, Roy's decided to up his game with some proper firepower.
"That's not gonna happen, kiddo. You shouldn't have set foot in the big leagues."
You're a good shot. A phenomenally excellent shot, for that matter. Let's see how well you can dodge.
In a flash her guns snap up, the dark-clad albino diving off to the side for cover behind a Mazda, sparks and fire erupting from her pistols. The garage gets filled with the deafening pounding of large-bore pistol reports, strobes of light--
Then nothing. From her end all that follows is the tingling of brass as it rains down upon the concrete floor, rolling down the incline in your direction. Domino's gone, vanished into the shadows.
He dodges very well. One thing about them fool archers, they learn -never- to stand still and make easy targets, and Roy was no exception, diving to his right and firing his guns in return, but not at the mercenary.
Instead, his first few shots were aimed at taking out the lights above Domino's former position, and -his- position, leaving the garage somewhat dark, bathed only by the garish colors of Shinjuku night lights, from red to green, from yellow to purple.
His face lit up by red, Arsenal moves quietly around the car he'd ducked behind, sideways, taking great pains to hide his tracks and shadows.
And then a sound came from the car above him, and Arsenal swings his arm up to...
... block the armored boot that comes sailing for Roy's head as Domino leaps over the sports car, spinning about in place with a sidearm coming around toward his head and firing ...
... the gun being shoved upwards by an arm folded to use its elbow to redirect that gunfire over his head. As red light shift to green, lighting Roy's face up in an eerie glow, the archer shifts his gun to try and press it into Domino's abdomen and ...
... gets smacked down toward the floor by a black and white hand, the shot flashing beside her leg as the slug rebounds and shatters the side-view mirror of another car. The woman spins about, right pistol coming to strike the side of Roy's head in a vicious backhand ...
... which goes flying past Arsenal's head as the archer presses in close, trying to wrap her up in a bear-hug... which would somehow involve guns being pressed to areas. The duo practically spin into a purple-lit area of the garage as the archer tries to bring his arms up to get his pistols in position ...
... only to have them both shoved aside by the mercenary's own arms, suddenly leaping backward where she stands to try and catch the toe of a boot beneath his chin, coming back around with both of her guns leveling square upon his chest ...
... and the boot catches Roy by the jaw, sending his head flinging back a bit, casting part of his face into a stray yellow glow. But as Domino comes back around, Roy is already bringing a foot up into a side kick to throw her aim off while bringing his guns in position to ...
... get similarly kicked off to the side as Domino uses the momentum of his deflection, her pistols flashing with another shot each as the slugs ricochet further inside of the garage. This time she cartwheels in place to disrupt Roy's aim, one palm pinning one of her guns to the floor in a momentary hand-stand as she aims low for his stomach, squeezing the trigger ...
... and while Roy wasn't anywhere near as acrobatic, he -was- aware enough of what happens when Domino suddenly flips over to bring her feet into play, which is why one arm wraps around a Domino leg, trying to hold on to it while bringing a knee up. Gunpowder burns flash against Roy's leg as the shot goes wild. Roy's face fades into the darkness as he presses forward, trying to flip -over- Domino so that he can bring his gun in position as he lands on his belly to aim and ...
... helps spin Domino about by her leg, launching herself up and around with the energy of his flip. Her other foot kicks off of the damaged car beside the pair, altering her trajectory to roll through the air over Roy as his shot flashes low to the ground, barely avoiding her support hand. Another shot slams out of her own pistol mid-spin, striking the ceiling, ricocheting back down toward the now prone man an instant before she lands ...
... and a quick Roy roll to the side to get out of the way as he tucks and rolls into a kneeling position, from which he springs backwards, going sliding across a car hood, guns blazing, the bullets flying towards...
... the sports car behind Domino as she leaps sidelong over that same car, legs windmilling through the air as she closes the gap that came to pass between the two for all of a fraction of a second. The albino presses the attack, a roundhouse kick following to disrupt his aim even as her own arm sweeps around to take another shot at his head ...
... and concrete sparks as bullets crash into and ricochet off one of the supporting pillars, shattering car windows, while Roy, who'd regained his footing post-car hood slide, goes on the defnesive. Guns still clutched in hands, Roy closes in hard, aiming his face as a weapon towards Domino's nose... until the fist throws off Roy's headbutt off-target, causing ...
... Domino's planned headshot to spark off behind Roy's head as his temple connects with the inside of her arm, concrete splintering from a pillar twenty feet away in a puff of dust as the shot misses its mark. Her other arm snaps forward while a leg spins around to hook behind one of his ankles, using her forearm against his sternum to try and throw him around, back-first onto the hood of that car with savage force ...
... only for Roy to clutch the forearm against his chest, rolling with the push, letting the trip push him onto the hood while he strives to wrap his legs around her trapped arm, freeing his hands up to bring the pistols towards her face and ...
... miss as she shifts her head to the side, the flash nearly blinding her as she hooks her other arm around his legs and shoves -back,- yelling out as she attempts to drop onto her back and throw Roy out into the open. Away from her. Away from cover ...
... and for the moment, at least, Roy lands sprawling onto his back, pistols firing... and coming up empty. Out of bullets. Cursing, odd squares of yellow lights splaying about his face, Roy chooses the crazy option- charge Domino, flinging his pistols just as she's about to bring her own weapons back up, so that ...
... she can shoot those thrown pistols out of the air in the middle of a backflip, one round from either of her pistols sparking against each of his thrown weapons in a single, inhuman leap, deflecting them out of the way right as he comes charging toward her. She lands in a crouch, guns sweeping forward, leveling at his gut--empty. In another instant she sets both down upon the cement and lunges forward fast and low, growling as she goes for a leg tackle ...
... and perhaps surprisingly, Roy -sliiiides- onto the concrete, wincing as kneepads scrapes ground. There's a couple of slaps around Domino's hips/buttock areas, which might tick her off a great deal... at least until Roy twists his slide back into a standing position, holding two of Domino's small swords that had been attached to her lower back.
There was a brief pause, now, as Roy brings up the swords, the steel reflecting a bright blue from the Shinjuku nightlight, a grin crossing his face. "Hey babe... can I have this dance?" Roy says, with a wink. "Fast and hard, or slow and steady?" And before she answer, he leaps forward, steel flashing, meeting ...
... air. No resistance. One pissed off mercenary ducks and weaves with the sweeping path of honed steel, slapping open palms against the flats of the short swords until she finds her opening, grabbing one of his wrists and -twisting,- rolling her body with the motion to pirouette then come back around with one of the weapons neatly plucked from Roy's hand, already held up in a defensive motion to clash against the next attack.
"These aren't yours, Harper."
Folded steel grates across folded steel as the two blades separate. Domino's movements only grow more wild, less predictable, swinging, attacking, -pushing- ...
... being parried, Roy giving ground under the onslaught, before one errant thrust is met with a scrape of steel, kaleidoscope colors dancing across the gleam of the blades.
And then there is a violent jerk upwards, as Roy breaks the swords free of both their holds, sending them flying off to the side, and following it up by swinging his arm forward, leading with his elbow towards Domino's face ...
... to be neatly ducked as the woman comes spinning around, sword head high in a vicious arc aimed for flat-out decapitation of her opponent ...
... only to end in a sharp -CLANGGggg!-
Blades are crossed, staying one another's hands despite the upper edges being hooked against each other's jugular. Dead stalemate. Icy blue eyes narrow at Roy, pacing a slow and calculated circle with the archer, her breaths coming quick and heavy. "Why are you -defending- that asshole, Roy?"
"Because, babe," Roy replies, flashing a lopsided smile that almost matches the glint of steel nestled up against his throat. "He's one of -ours-. Not... you know, a 'boryokudan', more like a 'ninkyo dantai'."
He quickly hastens to clarify, "Not violent groups... more like chivalrous organizations. You've seen him, haven't you? They actually -respect- this guy, because he's trying to reform the Yakuza under his control to be more... above-ground, less thugs.
And there's a slight frown. "Although the traditional yakuza're afraid of him. What's -your- story, Dom? What are you after?"
"-I'm- after the bounty on his head," Domino growls low in response, the lights once more flashing to a deep blue across her white skinned face. "Your little Kobayashi pal's been up to some shady business. Someone else doesn't like that. Said someone else is willing to pay a figure trailed by a whole bunch of pretty little zeroes for his termination. You think he's trying to reform the Yakuza? I call bullshit. Man's got a target on his head, someone's gonna cash in soon."
"Oh, c'mon, -all- the Yakuza engage in shady business. It's a matter of degrees, and transitioning," Roy replies. "Friend of mine who believes in bushido tipped me off to the dude and the bounty, and I think the man's got his heart in the right place. I'll bet you anything that the person who got the target on his head is doing it because -he- wants to take over the territory, and he's afraid this approach the guy's trying to take will happen."
The blade tucked close against his throat flashes a shade of yellow, then red as the Shinjuku lights shift. "Who hired you, Dom? Lemme guess, was it that fat yakuza? Akira...?"
"Maybe it was," Domino cryptically replies with a malicious showing of teeth. "What's it matter who controls those kids? They've been staging their own private wars for decades, ain't nothing's gonna change. No harm in cashing in on their strife where possible."
Half-gloved fingers flex around the hilt of her blade, muscles held steady in glossed relief beneath her thin armor, colored in oranges and greens as the ambient light pours across her smaller form.
"Give me one solid reason why I shouldn't finish this job, Harper. There's an awful lot of money riding on this guy, it's going to take more than the opinion of a drinking buddy to change my mind."
There's a brief moment of hesitation, before Roy sighs. "What? Do you want Kobayashi to pay you off? He's not going to."
Blue eyes flashes briefly purple as the red light reflects off the blade pressed to Domino's throat. "It's not his style. He's going to win territory the slow way - by winning over the people who the yakuza are... 'serving' so they'll look to him. Your way... there's gonna be a vacuum in Shinjuku that other Yakuza're gonna flock in to serve... and they're gonna do it the easy way. With guns and bullets."
"What, and you think that Ken's going to find the magical cure for all of this bloodshed?" Domino snorts as a magenta-hued light momentarily strobes through the garage. "When the hell did you start caring about Japanese underground politics, anyway? No, if I walk away from this job Kobayashi's not going to pay me off. I'm going to be turning my back on an awful lot of money, -and- I'm going to become Tsukasa's newest target for breaking the contract. Why should I risk my own life for this guy, Harper?"
"I don't know, Dom," Roy is honest enough to admit. "I just know that the guy you're dealing with is -really- bad news. He's probably more likely to kill you when you try to collect. Look... what you're asking for, basically, is -time-. Besides... I care more about lives being saved, and I think this way will keep a lot more people alive longer than your ways." There's a sigh, as he considers, before Roy grins slowly. "Hold on. I've got an idea..." The sword comes away from Domino's throat, as Roy turns the sword point downwards and offers it back. "Wanna at least hear me out...?"
Cold, narrowed eyes continue to stare back at you, though where Domino's body language reveals nothing more than the appearance of a coiled spring ready to unleash a set trap her mind is busy at work. She figured that you would be the first to back down, yet that holds its own set of complications. She's not about to dice your neck open and walk away, she -couldn't- do that. You've always been a good kid. Gods know you've been better than her where it comes to karma and morality. When you back down...
..She doesn't have anything left to stand on. With the slow precision of a surgeon's hand her blade retreats from your neck in turn, gradually coming to rest at her side. Not once do her eyes leave yours for a moment, regardless if the fight is truly over.
An empty hand is held out to you, not to shake on a truce. She wants her weapon back. "Start talking."
The weapon is placed in your hand in return, Roy's eyes glinting with what might be a bit of madness, or a remaint of the Shinjuku dancing lights. Roy's hand wraps over the mercenary's hand, tugging her in closer so that he could whisper in her ear. A few words, then a few more words, while her expression shows exactly what she thinks of the idea.
And then Roy pulls back, flashes that crooked half-grin, and asks, "What do you think?"
Domino's expression certainly has changed somewhere back there. The hardened edge has broken away, replaced with confusion, surprise, and something that can only imply that she believes complete and utter madness has consumed your thought process. "..Of all the fucked-up, lunatic stunts--I think you're out of your damned mind, Roy..! Did you just pull that piece of insanity off the top of your twisted little head?"
"Um... yeah, kinda," Roy replies, with that devil-may-care grin. "But I think it'll work, somehow." Wiping his mouth free of the blood from earlier in the fight, Roy shrugs. "I know the odds are against us, and it's crazy, and dangerous, and impossible..."
And then Roy's eyes shift to focus on your eyes. "... but that's just what -you- do best, isn't it?" he says, confident and cocky grin crossing his lips.
Dom's swords slide back into place behind her, though as before she's only got eyes and ears for your particular brand of lunacy.
"And stupid, and reckless," she promptly adds in as you trail off.
It's all followed up with a heavy sigh. "No pressure, or anything." She retrieves her pistols from the floor, swiftly reloading the pair then holstering them back beneath her arms. "I think it's time that we took this discussion somewhere else. Meet me behind the Gyu Kaku restaurant, it's near the Ikebukuro station, in one hour."
In the meantime, she's got a very expensive rifle to retrieve.