For those of you who are interested, this thread is designed to give any active posters as much space as they want to write and collaborate with each other to flesh out past events and/or further develop and give color to existing character relationships, while also keeping the main thread at a stable pace for everyone involved. Feel free to use this thread as much or as little as you want (so long as you're keeping up to date in the main thread).
There are a few guidelines that will need to be adhered to to use this thread, but we will never limit the posting quantity here, so go wild.
And so, without further adieu, I present to you, Da Rulez:
Rule # 1.
You must put the location and time of your interaction in every post, and who the interaction involves. The time relates to the events in the main thread, so for example, you must include all of the following in each post you make in here:
Scene Name: Strikeout! Location: Lucky Strike Bowling Alley, Central District Time: Pre-Arc 1 Characters: Boltius & Milo
You must include the Scene Name, Location, Time, and Characters involved for that specific interaction in every post, so people can separate the ones that might be posting Side Story Scenes at the same time.
Rule # 2.
You must tag the people you are interacting with, so they know you want their attention.
New Oasis Side Stories' timeline must lag behind the main IC thread by 1 Arc.
For example, Side Stories scenes prior to Arc 1 closing can include time up to but not including the kick-off of the Arc 1 scenes (September 22, 2021). Indicate this by Pre-Arc 1 in the timestamp. You can get more granular with the detail, providing year, month, and even day of interaction if you would like. Once Arc 1 closes and Arc 2 begins, the time-jump between Arcs 1 and 2 will open up for Side Stories Scenes.
The B-Sides is meant to supplement the main canon IC thread, not replace it. If you're looking to post for a Side Story, be sure you're up to date in the current main thread and that no one is waiting on you to post!
The B-Sides is not meant to host any game-changing events that will directly impact the current scenes in canon. Use your best judgment, but if a scene seems like it's going too far off the rails in here the GMs reserve the right to strike it from the record!
And that's it! Feel free to use the in character code from the main thread here as well. Please have fun! Also, and this should go without saying, but all of the conduct rules mentioned in the original thread apply.
Snake was busy doing something other than hunt down and euthanize traitors, and so naturally Raph had neither the interest nor the patience to sit in.
And so, in this quiet, dark, dank hallway, illuminated by flickering fluorescent ceiling lights that stretched away from him in either direction—one leading to the surface, and the other, deeper into Serpent HQ—Raph sat, lit cigarette betwixt his lazily pursed lips.
Raph was starting to get bored.
It wasn't to say that he hadn't been enjoying his time as a freshly-minted Serpent—Hell, it was quite the contrary. After all, before this, before Snake, he'd been just another nobody. Ordinary. Unimportant. Weak. Now he was strong—and getting stronger every day by the feel of it—thanks to Snake's miraculous blood. Sure, his stint in the underground lab run by treasonous Serpents hadn't been his favorite thing in the world... But that was in the past, now. He had thought he might die in that hole, cursing his rotten life all the while. But now... Hm. Now he was going to live, and live deliciously.
For some reason, it was always just his phone that got poor reception around the Serpent HQ. Urien’s seemed to have no problems finding a signal, and he hardly heard any related complaints from the other gang members. Why was it just his phone? Even the weather application refused to load. What was the forecast for today? Clear skies? Cloudy? Windy? He couldn’t remember but he swore he had checked earlier today. The frustration of not knowing gnawed at him when he and Urien were conducting business at the heart of HQ — well, it was more like Urien was while Kyoden tagged along.
He chewed at the inside of his cheek, containing his uncertainty of the weather for as long as he could before finally excusing himself to confirm the forecast. Kyoden walked at a slightly hurried pace down what could pass off as hallways straight out of a horror film. It had been how many years? Yet the Serpent HQ was still as unwelcoming as ever. The stains on the floors and walls were most definitely blood, how fresh it was did not matter as the rookies rarely put forth much effort into cleaning it off properly. It wouldn’t kill anyone to hang up a few pictures, or even fix the ceiling lights that flickered obnoxiously — or maybe it would, who knows.
Turning the corner, he slowed his walking pace as he noticed someone sitting on the filthy ground, smoking a cigarette. Remembering the faces of leadership was something that Urien had engraved in his brain so he was certain that the man here was not one of them. Either way, he did not recognize him — or maybe he did? As he walked closer, a few of his features gave Kyoden a sense of familiarity. He wasn’t sure from where though but he did at the same time. His concern for the weather was quickly replaced by trying to figure out who this person was.
Kyoden pulled out his phone, navigating to his notes. It was a good thing he didn’t need reception to take notes, otherwise, he probably would have forgotten all the business that was dealt here. He made it a habit to type out names, physical descriptions, and other important information should he forget — which he usually did. It was on the tip of his tongue though.
He continued to scroll through his notes, his eyes scanning for anything that contained the letter ‘R’ as his brain was stuck on that for some reason. With near perfect timing, his eyes lit up just as he stopped in front of the man seated on the floor. It was as if his brain finally connected a missing wire. “Raphael!” He smiled confidently, pleased with himself that he remembered. Raphael was one of the few successful test subjects — if he remembered correctly from what Urien had told him. Perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt to interact with him for a bit.
“I’m Kyoden, mind if I sit with you?”
Rather than waiting for his definite answer, he plopped himself down right beside Raphael.
Freddier Bar was a two-storied venue built on a restored dilapidated building. The price was reasonable for middle class regulars. It was a favorite for commuters between North and Central District, close to the border and far from the rowdier part of the district. The bar was the perfect place to relax after a day of work in the Central.
Tri poked around the microphone until he could turn it on. "Testing. Is this on?"
Normal patrons would pale if they walked that evening. Members of Sable Serpent, the ruler of the north, overflowed the bar, with more still coming. Agents of violence and chaos, criminals who performed heinous act with smiles, all seated nice and quietly like good children with drinks in their hands.
On the stage, with two boxes on the side stood a middle-aged man dressed like a superhero. His body shape was in no way conducive to his costume. The sky blue and lemon hued skin suit only accentuated the man's unathletic built, but no one was laughing.
"First of all. Welcome. Thank you for coming. Enjoy the drinks. I forgot to bring money, but Freddie insists on giving me a 100% discount. It's, wow. I was going to sell organs or drugs for it, but Freddie makes it less of a pain. Everyone, a round of applause for Freddie." Tri pointed at the counter, clapping one-handedly.
The manager called Gora could only cry behind the bar.
"Anyway. Full house." Tri sent a gaze around. "As a new Jack. I thought maybe no one will come, but everyone proved me wrong. I'm touched."
"Well, since there's over 30 people here, Operation No Love, All Skin Rash will be cancelled."
The room collectively sighed out of relief. Admiration for the new Jack? Respect for authority? Fuck that. The reason everyone attend was because the threat of spreading impotence and skin rash if not enough people come and Tri got bored. The culprit on the stage hummed happily of his audience, as if oblivious to the real reason everyone gathered.
"Anyway. I'm Tri. The new Jack. Sable Serpent currently has a problem. Huge problem." The room fell quieter, as everyone waited for what the doctor had to say.
"We don't have uniforms."
"So last month. April Fool, I went around testing new drugs on people. An injection here, a pill there, you know, as you do on April Fool," said Tri about something literally no one else do on April Fool. "Anyway."
"At one point I met this guy, was going to drug him, but he said he's from Serpent, so I let him go. Then I met two more in the supermarket that I gassed, so I purify them. Then there is another guy again at the gym, and another, so everyone started claiming they are all from Sable Serpents... anyway, that's a pain, so I just gassed everyone and shave their hair as a joke. People come to my house at the evening later, asking for help since I drugged them in the afternoon. It's all a huge pain, so I decided we need uniform."
Tri put the microphone down and opened one of the box. In plain view he pulled out one of the uniform he was talking about.
The silence turned into horrified silence.
Tri posed on the stage, holding a skin suit. It was green with hideous yellow pattern all over. Worse, the chest area had a not-so-subtle chest drawing on them.
"I robbed 503 pieces from the factory." Tri sounded proud of his terrible achievement. "Anyway, if everyone puts one on I won't need to remember anyone, so everyone wears one from now on. There's more at the back. Hyah."
He kicked the boxes down, and skin suits of similar designs and different colours spilled over.
The car settled into place as Yong-Yut parked, placing her head on the steering wheel. Deep inhale, deep exhale. She stayed put for a moment as the doors opened and shut around her. Then, she finally sat up, opened her door, and exited the car.
The tap of shoes hitting the ground was all she was trying to focus on. The noise from the carnival they were standing in front of and the presence of some of the most overwhelming people she had ever met was already getting to her, and the night hadn’t even started yet. Having one familiar, repetitive noise was at least one source of comfort she could rely on.
She ran her hand through the back of her short hair as she stood there anxiously. Her eyes shifted between the other three people she was dragged along with: Vulken, Lyric, and Alex. At this point, she almost considered them her friends… albeit, very annoying friends.
She turned her head towards the flashy alarm that is a funfair, trying to see what she could see from the parking lot. Various rides peeked over game booths and food stands, and unique and distinct sounds came from everywhere. People looked to be all over the place. Lively. She glared at the sight, already dreading heading closer to all those experiences. Her hands instinctively went up to her chest in a t-rex position.
Yong-Yut looked back over to her friends, waiting for one of them to move so she could follow.
Raph wasn't startled by the sight of the unfamiliar, imposing man emerging from the gloom of the hallway leading from the bowels of Serpent HQ. Certainly not... And even if he had been, he could never let it show. This was his life, now. He'd dreamed of something new, something different for as long as he could remember. There was no room to be getting cold feet. It was now or never.
"Say, you're a big fucker, aren't you?" Raph murmured with an easy confidence that might have feasibly been construed as genuine, if not for the slight wrinkle of doubt between his eyes, or the ridge of tension throughout his body that made him look like he was primed to flinch away at any moment. Just in case...
Though it turned out he needn't be so worried. After all, Raph wasn't even sure if the big lug heard what he'd said in the first place. His nose was buried in his phone, as if whatever was on that stupid little screen was more important, more interesting than Raph's entire existence. That little intrusive thought pricked a nerve in the fledgling Serpent's brain. He'd been ignored for most of his life, a footnote, a wallflower. Uninteresting. Unimportant. But... But! He wasn't that person anymore. That Raph died in a lightless basement torture chamber, and had been reborn. I'll never be taken for granted again.
"Ahem," Raph cleared his throat pointedly as the large man with the phone in front of his face drew nearer. "I said—"
Raph recoiled as if he'd been struck. The sound of his own name being spoken by this perfect stranger had the hairs on the back of his neck prickling with fear. A thousand questions were suddenly swirling through his head. Who is this? How does he know my name? Is he a Serpent? Is he one of those Serpents? Should I run? Should I fight? Raph knew one thing for certain. He would not let anyone see him stumble, see him doubt himself. He wasn't a deer in headlights. Just because this man knew his name, didn't mean he knew the first thing about him. But Raph would teach him—oh, yes he would—the painful way if necessary. Steeling himself, Raph pinched the cigarette and pulled it from his lips, exhaling a plume of smoke—posturing for all to see how unbothere he was—before he looked up at the tall man staring back at him and said,
"And? Who the hell are y—"
“I’m Kyoden, mind if I sit with you?”
Raph was once again taken aback by this forwardness. Too stunned to refuse—not like this 'Kyoden' had given him the chance to anyway—Raph sat deathly still as the larger man sat down beside him. What the hell is going on? Usually—at least, for the handful of weeks that this had been going on—Raph could get away with just a few sour looks as Serpents passed him by. But this guy... Who does he think he is? Raph watched the man intently from out of the corner of his eye, his body coiled like a spring in case this 'Kyoden' fellow tried anything, his cigarette pinched loosely between pursed lips.
After a moment's tense silence—tense, at least, from Raphael's purview—he let some of the tension dissipate as he scooted half-a-cheek over so that they weren't so close. Then, he asked in a flat voice,
“Not invite me, huh?” Boltius scrambled to don his shoes, kicking the ground with each foot once he stood, then turned his hat around, bill facing backwards, as he shot out the door.
“Vulken goin’- goin’ to a carnival?... That don’t make sense. He didn’t tell me.” He raced down the street, vigorously swinging his arms in stride. The bus was already stopped, doors wide as passengers boarded, but his slender legs could only carry him so fast.
You see, this was a time before Boltius ever stepped foot into a gym or picked up weights, or established any athletic routine at all, for that matter.
Even so, he was equipped with the speed of an HP.
As he drew closer to the bus, its doors whined in closing. He called out, “Ay, no! Wait-wait-wait! Asshole!... Fuckin’-” Boltius sped up. Skidding to a halt in front of the closing doors, he stuck his arm through the shrinking slit, lodging it between them, and cried out, “WAAAAAH!” Though, it didn’t actually hurt.
“OPeN THE DOoRS, OLD MAN!” he squeaked, voice cracking, at the bus driver.
The man was used to this. He pushed a button on his steering wheel and the doors complied, releasing their grip on Bolt’s scrawny arm. “Have you got change, Boltius?” the man asked expectantly, already cupping his pocket of quarters.
“Hell nah, dawg,” Boltius jumped up the stairs, using the handrail to hoist himself, and whirled into the empty front seat until he was facing the driver again. “You know I don’t. That rattle you hear? It’s these babies~” Boltius lifted the chains around his neck with his thumbs and gave them a shake before squeaking out a laugh.
As he sat himself down next to Raphael, he continued to scroll through his notes. Kyoden was a very good notetaker — he had to be in case he ever forgot anything important. However, he didn’t have much information on the Serpent sitting next to him, just a name and a short description. Maybe that was all he needed? One way or another, he was closely involved with the leadership’s goals so perhaps he could get more useful information out of this one.
He looked up from his phone when Raphael asked if he could help him. “Well, that’s very thoughtful of you,” Kyoden turned to look at him, not a hint of sarcasm could be found in his voice. It was rare for any Serpent to offer their help to him and it had been quite a few years since he joined. “I don’t think I need help with anything…?” He hummed in thought as he used his fingers to push the strands of his hair out of his face. “I’m waiting for my cousin, he’s discussing stuff with leadership.”
Locking his phone, he turned it over, setting it face down on his lap. “Say, I don’t suppose your phone gets any reception here, does it?” He tilted his head slightly in question. Ah, who is he kidding? Of course, he does! Everyone's phone gets reception except for his. “Mine doesn’t,” Kyoden mumbled, following it with a shrug. “What are you doing here? Doesn’t seem much fun sitting here by yourself.”
A pair of narrow, brass eyes violently glared at the lanky and unkempt man standing at the forefront of the room. Bash couldn’t help but grit his teeth at the… unsightly sight. He should have been content with whatever kind of stupid meeting this was, being surrounded by his fellow snakes in a place they had clearly taken over in a matter of minutes. In fact, he should have been all smiles, as he was sharing a table with an old friend– one that he had been hanging out with for the first time in… what was it, almost five years?
Kisara was sitting right next to him. And, although she had grown into her body quite nicely (something he would probably never admit out loud), to him, she was still the same old Kisara– if not a tiny bit more… eccentric. So what if her hair and skin seemed softer than it already had been, or if her scent had changed, or if, for some reason, looking at her now made his heart beat a little faster than it usually did? She was still his friend, and nothing more. Right? Right???
Unfortunately, instead of playing catch-up with the kaiju, who had only made her sudden reappearance a month or two ago, Bash was focusing heavily on the sloppy-skin-tight-suit-clad moron that he would be forced to respect as a Jack, and probably as some sort of shitty teammate, too. His eye twitched as Tri walked onto the stage, and tapped the microphone, prompting a loud booming sound to repeatedly echo throughout the room.
'Yer 'Touched'? Bash’s eyebrow slowly rose while the new Jack made whatever stupid-ass speech he was making. BULLSHIT! You told us you’d give us whatever disease ‘yer hidin’ under that FUCK-WITTED costume if we didn’t come!
Tri continued speaking, despite Bash’s harsh-worded inner thoughts. His mention of the gang having a ‘Huge problem’ almost caused him to shoot up from his seat. The clamoring from the rest of the Serpents in the room drastically lowered in volume upon this revelation as well. What could it be? What was the problem? Was it a fight? Who needed to get their ass kicked?? His fists tightened as he leaned forward in his seat, a slight grin forming on his face from the possibility of conflict.
He nearly fell out of his chair completely, however, when Tri revealed the ‘problem.’
Before Bash could even fully process what he had somehow gotten himself into, the old man charged onward into some crazed tangent. Bash did his best to drown out the fool’s words with his own thoughts, but struggled to do even that. Hell, he had his fair share of being called an idiot, but this? This took the fucking cake! What the actual FUCK was this asshole talking about?!
Maybe a drink would help him cool off.
He reached towards the table and gripped his glass of iced tea (he didn’t drink alcohol-- not because he legally wasn’t allowed to, but because he didn’t want to, idiot!), bringing it to his lips and taking a sip with closed eyes. Things were already getting better. If he just ignored whatever the hell this was, it’d be over in no time. He lowered the glass back onto the table and lowered his eyes, only to see something even worse when the photons that were Tri holding those wretched costumes replaced the black he had seen previously.
If eyes could suddenly turn bloodshot from rage, Bash’s would have done so at that moment. He held onto his glass with an extremely tight grip, so tight that it cracked slightly under the pressure.
He wouldn’t work with this asshole. He WOULDN’T. He was going to kill him right there, and take the Jack position for himself–
Before he could finish his own plan, he watched as Tri kicked the boxes of absurd, lizard costumes off of the stage, now sprawled out on the ground before them. He couldn’t take it anymore. Instantly, he shot up from his chair, threw his arm back, and sent his beverage flying towards Tri.
Iced tea and small shards of glass flew all over the place as Bash missed the man’s head by a few inches, instead hitting the wall with a heavy impact.
“OI!!!” He snarled, glaring directly at the Jack with wrathful eyes. “ARE YA FUCKIN’ INSANE?! THIS IS WHAT YOU FORCED US TO COME HERE FOR?! YOU WANNA FUCKIN’ DIE?!”
His breathing became erratic, no longer able to contain his anger. “D’YA REALLY THINK WE’RE GONNA WEAR THAT SHIT?! I’LL FUCKIN’ KILL YOU! AIN’T NO WAY I’M WEARIN’ THAT! RIGHT, GUYS?!” At the end of his enraged yelling, he turned his head to eye the others in the room– including Kisara– hoping that they would approve of his tantrum and not stare at him as if he were the crazy one.
Once the car, which was very safely driven to the destination by Yong-Yut, came to a precise full stop in the rented-out parking lot that he had once beaten the absolute shit out of god-knows-who in, Vulken immediately opened the door and stepped out, raising his arms over his head as he stretched his body out from the not-so-long ride. He regretted so-chivalrously offering Lyric shotgun, as he had to sit in the back with the terror that was Alex. If his potential was going back in time and stopping himself, he would. Probably.
He had been planning this day out for… well, for a few hours. Once he had caught wind that a traveling fair was in town, he immediately started texting friends to come along. However, this time, his first choice wasn’t to invite his usual, much rowdier friends. Instead, he opted for what would hopefully be a calmer group. Lyric, because he was trying to score some brownie points with her, Yong-Yut, because he knew she needed to get out of the house more, and Alex, because of course he had to tag along.
He waited for the others to exit the car before taking the lead towards the entrance to the fair. Once they began following, he took a deep breath of the afternoon air, exhaling and sliding his hands into his pockets.
“Alright, guys!” He called out, grinning at the three. “Let’s have some fuckin’ fun! Lyric, I’ll win ya one of those cute little stuffed bears. I’m great at those shootin’ games.” He winked in the blonde’s direction with a cheesy smirk, before turning his head to look at Yong-Yut.
She was anxious. He could tell. He had known the girl for a few years now, and while she was slowly breaking out of her firmly-guarded shell, she still had a long way to go. He felt his hand rise– to poke her on the shoulder, but quickly stopped himself, a memory of the first time he ever touched her popping into his head. The uncomfortable glare, the uneasy shuffling away from him– it all just screamed ‘never, EVER touch this girl again’. And so, he didn’t. He shuddered at the mere thought of it.
Instead, he spoke clearly– hopefully loud enough to break her out of whatever deep thought she was in.
“Hey, you good?” He asked, his tone shifting from playful to reassuring. “This’ll be fun. You’ll have fun. Y'know, fun? That thing you have? Promise.”
Once he was finished speaking, he briefly looked over his shoulder, staring at nothing in particular behind him. For some reason, something felt... off.
Raph's eyes narrowed. He didn't trust this man. Not one bit. Though, in Kyoden's defense, Raph didn't trust anyone. Well, maybe he trusted one person... As Kyo turned to look at him, Raph instinctively looked away. He didn't want to meet this man's gaze for some reason.
"It's just a figure of speech." Raph muttered sourly, strangely offended at being called thoughtful. Gangsters weren't thoughtful, and he was a gangster, now...
Come to think of it... Was this guy an idiot? Can I help you? Ergo, What do you want? Why are you, a complete stranger, talking to me? Raph thought his intonation had been clear enough, so either this guy was as dumb as he was large, or he was messing with him.
Raph looked at the way Kyo placed his phone face down, and made a mental note of it. That's something you do if you have something to hide, Raph thought as he suddenly felt a prickle of curiosity in the back of his mind. "I've never had a problem, no." Raph said, patting the shape of his phone in his front pant pocket. It would've been too embarrassing to admit that he didn't have anyone to text. The only person in the world he regularly communicated with anymore was a ways down the hall. Having a cell phone seemed almost superfluous at this point.
"It's most certainly not," Raph admitted with a touch of dissatisfaction. He'd been made a member of the Sable Serpents, but sometimes he felt more like an afternoon science experiment than a fully-fledged gangster.
"But I am also waiting," Raph announced dramatically. leaning his head back on the cool cement brick wall of the hallway. He stared ahead and smirked a little before he added, "I suppose that makes us waiters together."
He tried not to think about how un-cool that sounded outside of his head.
The Devil's Daughter, No Plan All Action, 10 Time Champion of the Dragon's Arena, and more commonly, Prinz Gyoushi. She was known by many names and for many accolades at a young age. It hadn't really been her plan to garner all those fans who cheered for her grandstanding, and for her acts of unmitigated violence in the ring. Getting lost in New Oasis was a feat in and of itself, but the bumbling kaiju had somehow managed to do it, and racked up an impressive record during the four years she spent wandering around, looking for faces she might recognise. The tales of her aimless wandering and the sordid affair with the Phoenixes would have to wait for another day, however. All she could think about was how nice it was to be back with at least one of the boys. Well, 'boy' wasn't exactly what she would call Bash Hirabayashi now. From what she heard from the others, he had joined up with the Serps not long after she…set off on her sabbatical. The five years he spent with the snakes had done many favours for his physique. Or perhaps he never let up on the training. Good, good. She nodded quietly to herself, a satisfied smile on her face. One day, she’ll ask him. One day, she’ll pop the question.
She wanted to fight him. She wanted him to bare his every being against her, It will be glorious. She had already planned a speech and all for him. The conflagration of their battle will scorch even the stars above them, and all that. It was more than the excitement and the rush she felt when she battled a worthy foe, more than a show she put on for her audience. She wanted to know his feelings, his motivations. It had been so long since she picked his brain. Him and Jackson’s, both. Speaking of Jackson, did he get stronger? She didn't want to think about the alternative. It would be disappointing to hear that he had grown weaker over time. She felt that this was a question that Bash could answer, but every time she raised the subject ever so slightly, Bash seemed to have an expression that wouldn’t be amiss if he had just eaten rotten tuna. She wisely decided to back out from the topic.
She may have been known by many names, but for now, she was simply just a regular member of the Sable Serpents. Nothing more, nothing less. She was just Kisara McDowell. She leaned forwards on her seat, wearing a wry grin, as she watched the middle-aged man on the stage of the bar. He had gathered everyone in attendance here tonight not with charisma or a commanding presence, but a threat to ensure that everyone won’t be reproducing any time soon, and, as an added insult, give them skin rash as well. She wasn’t a fan of the methods, but she couldn’t argue that it produced results. Personally, she would have beaten up everyone who refused to come, but that was probably an excuse to get into more fights. She chuckled quietly to herself. If anything, that would have taken too long. A short, effective threat was much easier, and faster. If anything, it gave her the insight of how the middle-aged man worked.
Bash, naturally, voiced out his argument in his usual charming manner. Kisara laughed wildly with every word that came out of his mouth. There’s the Bash she knew. She could see the steam coming out his ears when Try? Tri? Try explained their circumstances. That wasn’t a good look on him. When he finally let out everything he had, she was pleased, amused, and mostly relieved. It didn’t matter that Try was of a higher rank, Bash was going to do what he thought was right! She clapped wordlessly, her eyes agleam with some level of respect and charm.
Her eyes drifted down towards the spill of ‘uniforms’ (as Try erroneously called them). She wondered what all of these were for in the first place. They didn’t seem to be actual uniforms. There were some weird people in the city, and it might have been for some really funky party for a…specific audience. She got up from her seat, and, like a moth towards flame, she made her way towards the pile. She picked at the mess quietly. Green, green, green, purple… They were tacky, for sure, but that was nothing she couldn’t fix with some specific tailoring and editing. “Hmmm.” She glanced back towards Bash, her expression bright and pure as always. "You ain't, Senpai, but I'm definitely up for trying before knocking!" She straightened up, a black version of the suit draped over one arm, and jabbed a thumb towards the slide that Try had put up. "Besides, none of those weird humans on that screen can manage to capture," she did a twirl and a pose, "this magnificence~" She broke her pose and laughed.
Darius made his way through the crowd of Serpents as feedback from Tri's microphone brought silence to the bar. Anticipating a busy night, he had arrived early enough to find a table close to the stage with a few peers. He was looking for his seat now, strategically wearing a coat that covered his arms, with a collar that stuck up above his neck, allowing him to push his way through without causing any problems. He gripped a pint glass close to his chest with both hands, careful not to spill any of his drink.
It wasn't his first drink, as evidenced by the two empty glasses left at his table. Those who knew him well would know it wouldn't be his last either. God knows he needs it on a night like this. He got a good look at Tri's outfit as he reached his table, and couldn't help but feel embarrassed on his behalf as if Tri was the victim of some cruel dare. Darius knew Tri well enough to assume he was being serious though and dutifully paid attention as he sat back down.
He sipped at his drink and sank into his seat as Tri continued his speech. Darius remembered the Jack's threats well, and though they were a great motivator, he would've shown up anyway. Despite his very unnerving... quirks, as Darius may refer to them so as not to offend Tri, he actually had some admiration for him. Of course, that's heavily influenced by all the help Tri's given him over the past couple of years, with both his potential and his medical expertise. In fact, Darius's only complaint would be that it's been harder to meet with him recently, with him venturing out into the district a lot more. Darius feels like he owes a lot to him, and thus here he is, trying to put on a straight face as he listened to Tri.
The mention of 'uniforms' was enough to have Darius sitting up, head cocked in curiosity, as Tri spoke of all his misadventures drugging his allies. Darius didn't quite see the relevance of the story, fixated on trying to imagine what kind of uniform Tri could be thinking off. He didn't have to wonder for long before Tri unveiled the bodysuits.
They were horrific, ugly, downright revolting. They were also hilarious and the last thing Darius was expecting a middle-aged man to pull out of a box, though Tri's own outfit should've given some hints. Mid-sip when he saw the design, it took all his willpower not to laugh, though he did choke on his drink a bit. Shakily setting his drink down, he looked down to try and compose himself. Tri's reasoning may have made more sense after a few more drinks, but Darius was sober enough to find the situation as ridiculously horrifying as the rest of the bar, and he joined them in silence. Well, most of them.
He turned his head to the protests coming from another table in the crowd, not far from his own. He had managed to steer clear from Bash's temper over the years and wasn't about to let him ruin this gathering. He had no idea how Tri would react, and nobody knew if Operation No Love, All Skin Rash was really off the table yet. With the number of people standing around, Darius knew he'd have a hard time escaping if things started getting violent. He wisely held his tongue while Bash spoke, and gingerly raised one hand afterwards. He didn't know if he needed permission to speak and decided to just go for it after a few seconds.
"So uh," a nervous laugh escaped, "when do you want us to wear these... uniforms? Just while we're representing the gang or..." He didn't want to say 'all the time', in case Tri hadn't been planning on making these uniforms permanent. He didn't want to give him any ideas.
Freddie—read: Gora—was thinking of making a break for it. The back door behind the bar, used exclusively by bartenders and waitstaff entering and exiting their shifts, was right there. Gora hadn't signed up for this. Gora didn't deserve this. There was no time to go to the employee lounge and grab any of her things. The place was crawling with Serpents already, and more were arriving by the minute.
Gora was crawling now, careful not to make a sound. She'd go across the street and beg someone to lend her a cellphone. She had to call... She had to call someone, right?.. On second thought, maybe it would be better to not get involved. She could go home. Without her purse she wouldn't have the bus fare, but that didn't matter. She could walk. All that mattered was the door. She reached a hand up and pressed gingerly on the panic bar, easing it open just a hair.
She winced. And she listened. Listened for any sign that she'd been spotted. An uproar from the crowd. A sound of alarm. Frozen in place, she listened. Nothing. No one had shouted in her direction, "STOP!" Maybe... Maybe she was in the clear!
Emboldened by the thought of freedom, Gora pushed the door open wider and started to crawl forward. City light and sound poured in through the widening doorway. She was almost there!
The door swung violently inward. With a yelp, Gora sprang back. Frantically she looked around for who, or what, had shut off her one-and-only exit? Her eyes glanced over a young man with shoulder-length black hair seated behind the bar. She glanced over him because he hadn't been there before. Her attention boomeranged back onto him once her brain caught up with the signals her eyes were feeding her.
Left with little else to do, Gora screamed. Or, she would have... But for the sudden rope of blood congealing in-and-around her mouth. The young, black-haired man in the leather jacket pressed one thin finger to his lips.
"Sh... Hush, darling." Raph smiled joylessly at her. Nodding knowingly toward the door, Raph directed Gora's eyes to a rivulet of blood that traced its way from the hinges all the way to his ankle. "You weren't thinking of leaving, were you? But the fun's only just begun!"
Raph emerged from behind the bar, holding a bottle of expensive-looking liquor by the neck. There were plenty of drinks to choose from. He didn't have to go behind the bar and spook the poor employee half out of her mind before lifting a fresh bottle, but he did it anyway because he'd felt like it. Tri was droning on in front of a microphone about... Something or other. Raph really couldn't care less. It was probably something insane, or something idiotic. Or both. Based on his attire, Raph was tempted to settle on both.
He slid onto an un-claimed high-top chair and flicked the cap off of his prize before taking a generous swig just as Tri kicked over his box of goodies. Raph felt the stinging liquor almost come out his nose as he coughed and sputtered his way through a laugh that had sprung up on him out of nowhere.
"Oh, my... Fuck." Raph breathed another laugh as he slumped forward onto the high-top, hand running through his hair as he watched with mounting second-hand-embarrassment-turned-utter-disbelief-mixed-with-pure-fucking-joy as a dead quiet fell over the crowd. He couldn't believe it. This was pure gold.
And then, Bash chimed in. Oh, this was going to be good... The girl next to him caught Raph's eye. She was a fresh face. Pity she clearly had no good sense when it came to the company she kept. Then she got up from her shared table with Bash and—Raph wished he could see the look on the other boy's face—approached the spillage of "uniforms" before Tri.
Then the loser to his left did something absolutely unspeakable. He raised his hand. What is this, kindergarten? Raph took him in in a glance. Meek, timid, weak.
How are you still alive? He thought curiously before promptly dumping all of that information from his brain to make room for another hearty swig of the clear, bitter liquor. Cheers to what was shaping up to be a long, horrible, wonderful night. ~
Tri blinked. He stared at the remnant of what had been flying to his head, a glass of iced tea. Then, to the speaker. He didn't really remember his face, but he did remember that voice. Very loud with a lot of kill-you vibe, so the one speaking was the Ace Bash... probably. A lot of people were loud in Serpents. As if to demonstrate, many more stood in opposition and voiced their opinions.
"YEAH, FUCK OFF, OLD MAN! YOU AIN'T THE BOSS OF ME!"
"LIKE HELL I'M GOING TO WEAR THAT SHITTY LOOKING TRASH!"
"Is there a gold one in stock?!"
The last speaker received the glare of the whole room and shrunk in his seat. The same disapproval surfed over to Kisara when she grabbed a suit from the pile. Colorful words like 'crazy bitch' and 'fucking hideous' flew freely around. Peppered around swear word machines were the cockier sort of Serpents, who found the whole scene hilarious and enjoyed the ruckus with a laugh and a drink. Bustling cacophony took over the bar like a group of Serpents could. Meanwhile, on the stage, Tri was still acting like a TV show host.
"Well. Just when you are out so I know to purify you when I'm going around with something." That question was from Darius (probably), one of his regular patients. "Like next week. I still have the ammunition for No Love, All Skin Rash, so I'll be using that for the Random Acts of Terror Week. So, I prepared the cool uniforms."
Tri scratched his non-itchy chin. "I mean, it's a pain having to heal people when they got to me after they woke up and dealing with breakdowns because of permanent damage. But if I ask people if they are from Serpents or not before attacking them... that's just not cool, so it can't be helped. Uh, gold."
The room's atmosphere was thick, smoldering, like a warehouse filled with flour dust that could explode at anytime. Curses flying louder, laughter roaring higher. Gora and the rest of the staffs had ducked behind the counter, shivering. Amidst it all, Tri rummaged through the boxes as if nothing was wrong.
Then, he pulled out the bandanas. "Well, there's no suits, but there are cool bandanas." Tri inspected it around, and nodded. "Hm. These should be good too. Since I can remember this pattern. So it's either this or the snake suit."
The voices receded. Bandana with golden scale patterns. Even if they weren't everyone's taste, they were league better than the snake suits.
"Five... six... seven... ten. Well, there's only 10 since these were from a side project, so it can't be helped. Who wants the-" Tri paused. The room all stared at him. Some looked eager. People looked like they were ready to jump him for the bandana if he said the wrong thing next. That wouldn't be good. A brawl was a pain.
"Well," Tri began slowly. "since the bandanas are cooler than the suits. It's a free for all. The rest got the uniforms. Hyah."
Tri balled the bandanas and threw them at the ceiling. They burst into separate pieces and fluttered everywhere in the room.
"HANDS OFF IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DIE!""MINE""I'LL KILL YOU BASTARD-""WATCH WHERE YOU'RE STEPPING, PUNK!""FUCKER YOU'LL PAY FOR THAT"
An all-out brawl. Furniture flying, wall crashing, and it was probably only time until the ceiling fell, too.
Meanwhile, Tri scooped up the snake suits in its box and joined the petrified staffs behind the counter. Once enough people fainted, he could put the snake suits on them. And maybe rob everything off them. Hm. Well, think of it as payment for the suit.
As he nodded in self-satisfaction, a sob broke through his musing. Gora the manager was crying, gripping tight at a fruit knife that looked so small compared to the chaos in the room.
"There, there. Here. As my token of gratitude, you can have this, Freddie."
Tri handed Gora a skin suit. It was a red-purplish one with a woman's chest on it.
"But I- I-" Tears welled up further in her eyes. "I hate burgundy, huaaa...."
Gora cried harder. Several people were thrown over the counter and Tri could only roll away to avoid being embroiled in the mess. He somehow ended up sitting on Gora, which only caused her to cry even harder.
...Tri regretted giving Freddie the burgundy suit.
If Ruriko had told herself a couple of years ago that she would be part of the Azure Dragons, she’d probably respond with a mixture of doubt and excitement. Up until five or six months ago, she never would have thought that she’d receive an invitation from the gang that controlled the Eastern District. Of course, she had put in more than enough effort necessary to attract their attention but it still felt very surreal to be affiliated with them. Sometimes she would forget she was even part of the gang, especially when hanging around Shen and Shuwei. The former definitely did not give off the stereotypical gang vibe, he had always been ‘smiles and rainbows’ since the day they met. The latter probably was a better fit to the whole gang aesthetic, with the long and wild hair, and neutral to borderline grumpy expression. Although she had only known the two for the short amount of time she has been in the gang, they were the only two she considered as friends — and given the circumstances with her parents, they were almost meeting the criteria as family.
Aside from the missions they were given together and other gang-related activities, the trio practically had the tradition of eating dinner together most days. Considering Ruriko was a huge fan of ramen, any ramen place in the Eastern District was considered but there were a couple of rare times where the cousins would suggest something else. However, just for today, Ruriko felt like mixing things up a bit! Since she was still a rookie, she was given a mentor when she first joined. That mentor was Lin Kairong, someone who had immediately earned her respect, which isn’t an easy feat. Other than taming the young dragon and passing on all the knowledge he accumulated over the years, Ruriko learned that he also owned a tea shop.
“Not feelin’ ramen today — I know, I know. Don’t be too disappointed!”
Ruriko grinned as she walked in between her two friends with her hands behind her head as they traversed the shopping area of their district. “I figured we stop by Ojiisan’s tea shop for a bit. I’ve been a couple of times by myself but I’m sure he’d love more company.” She lowered her arms down to her sides, stuffing her hands in her pockets before turning her head over to Shuwei. “It’s kind of fucking crazy — and a bit embarrassing to admit that such an old man is capable of pouring tea with one hand and beating me up with another!”
“He is quite formidable.” Shuwei nodded tersely in agreement. He too spoke from first-experience facing down the Dragon’s Fist. Shen, for his part, did not reply. He was lost in thought, smiling serenely about nothing in particular with his hands clasped behind his back as the three of them walked together.
After a couple more minutes of walking, the trio finally arrived at their destination. Taking the lead, Ruriko entered the tea shop first — a little bit louder than what was needed. “Ojiisan! I’ve brought friends - we’re going to drink all the tea you have in stock!”
“... Apologies for the intrusion, teacher,” Shuwei added as he tried, and failed, to hide his mortified expression. Shen, by comparison, was unbothered by Ruriko’s outburst. He waved and smiled as he followed the pair inside the tea shop, uncomplicatedly happy.
Kyoden tilted his head slightly in curiosity as Raphael admitted he was waiting as well. What was he waiting for? Who was he waiting for? It had been many years but he couldn’t recall having to wait around a lot as a rookie. Maybe he just didn’t remember. He did have to wait around a lot for his cousin though but that was always a given, Urien handled most important matters when it involved the two of them. It was better that way. At least, that’s what his cousin would tell him.
He mimicked the rookie’s movements, leaning his head back against the wall. It took him a split second to think about the cleanliness of this place and immediately pulled his head forward so that it was no longer resting against the filth. “Waiters together?” He hummed in thought, his lips curving into a small smile. “Sounds cool, Raph.” His voice seemed a little friendlier than it had sounded at the start, immediately breaking the boundary of nicknames at this point. Kyoden usually waited alone, it was a nice change to wait with someone else.
“The weather,” he blurted out all of a sudden as he recalled what he was doing before approaching Raphael. Forgetting and remembering came in bursts and he tended to drop the current topic to focus on what he forgot or remembered. “I forgot what the weather was supposed to be today,” he explained. “And since my phone doesn’t get reception, I was going to go outside to check.” At this point, it sounded like he was mumbling to himself as if he was retracing his footsteps or train of thought in this instance. “Would you like to join me, Raph?” Kyoden asked as he slowly started to rise to his feet.
Post Arc 1/Pre Arc 2
Sometime after September 17th, 2021
Geronimos was a recent full-of-itself, high-concept bar that embraced the latest nightlife novelties, serving strictly pricey wines and spirits on one end—some tables offering contactless ordering through small telescreens to lessen the time spent interacting with staff—and a wide selection of the highest-rated lagers and ales on the other, hoping to appeal to a much larger consumer base.
Booths lined the walls beneath dim lighting while the tables were set in a zig-zag pattern throughout, offering staff just enough functionality to serve their guests without fail. And centered amidst it all was an empty, open floor hung with a bright, sparkling chandelier.
Overall, the general air of the establishment screamed ”for the wealthy” but that wasn’t exactly the case, as they offered a wide variety of beverages for both the average money-makers—allowing them to bask in the illusion of the highlife—and the more… affluent.
For the richies who preferred not to share a space with the inferiorly wealthy, however, there was always the choice of VIP.
To Augustus August, it didn’t matter if the bar was housing sewage dwellers; vodka is vodka and a roof, be it made of cheap asphalt or diamond shingles, serves only one purpose: cover from the rain. But the same could not be said for his two business partners, Josiah and Eldwin, who each occupied a seat at the table and lived with their heads in their wallets. That’s not to say Augustus didn’t live extravagantly, himself. No, he definitely did. He just didn’t share the high-toned mindset.
The three of them, together, wallowed in liquor, laughing and rattling on about their personal endeavors—some lies, some truth.
Then there was August… who didn’t want to be there.
Ten minutes into the night, he’d already zoned out his father and father’s friends as he switched between two webpages on his phone, which he held beneath the table in his lap. The first page was an article on the history of the pencil; the second was a comic site that he subscribed to.
He’d been absorbed in a new comic for most of their outing until he felt a hand on his shoulder as his father beside him erupted with laughter at something Josiah said.
August quickly looked up, first at his father, then the other two.
Josiah sipped from his glass of rum with a slender smile, “Is that true, August?” and August stared blankly for a moment before answering, ”Yeh… You know me…”
“You’ve not been listenin’ to a bloody thin’ we been sayin’, ‘ave ya?” he asked, tapping a finger on the table, leaning back in his chair.
August sucked his upper lip and bit back a grin, furrowing his eyebrows. His eyes started to water as he held his breath to refrain from laughing at his own stupidity. Then, when he composed himself, he stood from his seat, saying, ”Gonna go grab a drink.”
But Eldwin stopped him, “You’ve got one, already, kid.”
August looked at a glass sitting on his side of the table. It was untouched and the ice had melted, and a puddle had formed beneath it.
”... Uhh… I’m thinkin’ wotah… Yeh…” Following that, he stepped away, making for the counter northwest of the building's entrance.
'Raph' shot the larger man a quizzical look at the sudden leap in familiarity. 'Were they at nicknames already?', Raph thought derisively. This conversation was producing… Mixed emotions in the young man’s mind.
On the one hand, Raph was wary of this stranger—as he was of everyone who wasn’t Snake. He was under no illusions that he was surrounded by killers, and gangsters, and criminals. Dangerous people. Raph did not consider himself a dangerous person, no matter what had happened recently in that dungeon. Though, it didn’t hurt to have his new acquaintances believe that he was dangerous. The most dangerous person of all.
The results, at present, were middling at best.
… And, on the other hand— well… It was hard to comprehend the thoughts that were crossing his mind, at present. Did he want to accompany this stranger now? And if the answer was ‘yes’, then… Why?
"Uh—… No." Raph said. ”I think I’d rather not." He lied. It was a lie, wasn’t it? It didn’t matter if he wanted to go or not. Snake told him to wait. He owed everything to Snake, and so if he told him to sit here and wait, then that was what he would do.
Raph hadn’t realized he’d gotten to his feet until he was almost looking Kyoden in the eye. Big fucker, indeed.
The faucet squeaked off as the cosplayer looked up to their face in the mirror. They couldn’t see themselves in it —in fact, they couldn’t see anything at all, due to their eyes being pressed shut— but they still instinctively messed with their appearance as if they could, running their hand through their curly hair. “Looking good!" he giggled to himself with a sense of irony. They turned to the side and felt the wall for the door out of the bathroom. Once they had reached it, they searched for the handle and opened it to the rest of the convention.
Her head turned as if she was surveying the exhibit hall, taking note of all the shadows of people and objects they could sense and the noise of footsteps. They closed the door behind them and began skipping through the large crowd towards a specific booth.
Reaching the booth, they slid behind the desk and began testing a turntable placed to the side. They gently swayed from side to side with pure excitement. He had been hired by a couple who had been working on a not-very-well-known manga to play at their booth, as they had believed that her music might be able to raise the amount of attendees that come to check it out. Though the cosplayer wasn’t sure how helpful they’d be, they were still happy to accept the job. It felt like a bigger gig than just playing at clubs, at least, and maybe if they were good enough, eventually they’d get themself a shot playing for the convention itself sometime down the line.
One half of the couple, a man that looked only a few years older than them, placed a hand on their shoulder, smiling at them with a soft voice. “Thanks again for playing for us, Ten.” Turning around, the cosplayer, Ten, simply gave the man a hug in return.
“It’s no problem! Thanks for letting me have the gig!”
The man pat Ten’s head and they let go. “Of course! You’re welcome. Depending on how this goes, maybe we’ll even invite you back the next time we show at a convention.” Ten giggled as the man sat down amongst a variety of merchandise—including some convention-only merch—moving his attention to an attendee that approached the booth.
Ten turned back around to their mixer, messing with a few knobs before music started quietly playing from speakers placed on either side of the booth. She adjusted her skirt, head slightly raising to pay more attention to the people walking around. Maybe they’d find someone interesting.
“Another,” Raph beat his empty whiskey tumbler on the expensive-but-made-to-look-weathered wooden bar top until the bartender came to top him up. Dissatisfied with the pour, a scowling Raph, reached across the bar and snatched the neck of the bottle before the employee could react. “Don't be cheap, darling.” He added, smiling mirthlessly at the hapless barkeep as he helped himself to an extra few ounces of the bitter, brown liquid before relinquishing his grasp and letting her scurry away.
Raph had been spending the last hour or so racking up a tab he had no intention of closing—after all, it wasn't his card—in a bar that, by law, he shouldn't even be in. And yet, power being power, nobody was willing to step up and tell him 'No'. At least, nobody here, anyway. None of the normals had the balls to tell him anything. Not when eh could decide, at the drop of a hat, to end their lives as they knew it. It was so pathetic, really, living life as an ant in a world full of giants. He'd been like them, once.
Fuck, what a nightmare.
Last weekend had been... Well, a lot. It had left him with a lot to unpack, a lot to think about. And if there was one thing Raph loathed, it was introspection. Oh, who am I kidding? I loathe loads of things. ~
Had Raph been more observant, and less drunk, he might've noticed that he was all but entirely alone in this little corner of the bar. No patrons sat on either side of him, and only one, mousy little waitress seemed to be manning the bar, here. Speaking of... Raph tilted his head and caught sight of the mousy waitress herself, whispering to someone, who looked like he might be a manager or something, and making askance glances in his direction. Raph could feel his lip curling in disgust.
What are they muttering, hm? Thinking I'm not good enough for a shit-hole like this?
He nearly slipped as he dismounted the high-top stool he'd been perched on as he began making his way over to them, but not before downing his still alarmingly full glass of whiskey. It burned a little less than it probably should've, but he was too focused to care. Too focused to notice the shock of white hair emerging out of his periphery.
Post Arc 1/Pre Arc 2
Sometime after September 17th, 2021
As he walked away from the table, August could hear Eldwin ask, “He’s still as uninterested as ever, huh?”
“‘At’s just how ‘e comes off… Give’im tha right motivation an’ he’s full o’ surprises,” said Augustus, continuing. But by then, August was too far to hear. Though, he had a general idea of how the rest of the conversation might go.
It was a recurring topic, and his father loved to dote.
Reverse the roles, however, and August would be lost for what to say. His father was… loud, stubborn, manipulative, deceitful… What else?
”Nosy,” August thought as tender affection tugged at one corner of his lips. Of course he loved his father. A thieving criminal on one hand—not the most virtuous rolemodel—sure, but he was damn dedicated to his son. Sometimes he ruled with an iron fist, and other times he was a calm hand patting August on the head when life bared its fangs.
”Bit off topic, yeh?”
Steel-blue eyes were glued to the screen in his hand as his thumb scrolled down on the historical article he’d been studying. They unwaveringly absorbed the information. Seemingly indifferent, tired even, there was a faint glow of intrigue there that indicated he was enjoying the read.
As is the proclivity of misfortune, herself, to stick her foot out, such enjoyment was short-lived when he realized seconds too late that someone was moving in front of him as he neared ever closer to the bar.
In an instinctive act to avoid running into the character, August halted and rose up on his toes by the momentum, bending slightly forward, and he hovered over the apparently aggravated man briefly.
”Uuup—Sorry,” he apologized. ”’At’s on me foh not payin’ attention.”
Suddenly, his heart skipped a beat.
August knew this face. There hadn’t been enough time to forget it.
He heard the voice already, ”Darling~” purring unpleasantly in his ears, and even felt his neck burn again in spite of Z having reversed the damage.
Stupidly, August stammered, ”D’ah- Wh- Uh-,” before ultimately clamping his mouth shut and retreating a step or two for comfort. How terribly unexpected. He cleared his throat, clicked his phone off and tucked it away in the pocket of his pants, then ran his hands down his shirt as if to neaten it out.
A few times, his mouth opened. However, the words just wouldn’t come.
Then, finally, he managed on an awkward smile, ”Ya got noice hair,” while inwardly clinging to the thread-thin hope that the Serpent wouldn’t recognize him by some—oh, I don’t know—distinct characteristic of some sort.
"Tina..." Jesper hated crowds. He hated being in the middle of them even more. He hated being in the middle of them while dressed in a breezy maid outfit even more so! Hugging himself tight, red as a peach, the boy sheepishly followed his maid (cosplaying as a vampire with a slick top hat and cape to boot) through the rambunctious crowds of the convention. "Do I really have to wear this...?"
"It's a matching set bonus, young master!" she giddily explained.
Jesper for once felt eternally grateful that none of the other Dragons (to his knowledge) were attending this place; his own departure should have been discrete enough. All of it came at the price of his personal maid taking advantage of the event and changing their power dynamic... "Did you make me clean myself just for this...?" Tina giggled, not even glancing back at him. Jesper grit his teeth, pouting. "I only came for the limited edition figurines!" he half-shouted, still too embarrassed to bring attention to himself. "We're leaving right after that! Got it?"
Jesper froze in his tracks, startled by his maid's screech. "Tina? What is it? What's wrong?" He followed her gaze... over to where a male voice actor for some anime he didn't know of was signing autographs. He sighed. "Come on, Tina, I'm pretty sure they're giving out the figurines somewhere around—"
"I'll be right back, young master!" In the next split-second, her arm tore away from her master.
"W-Wait—!" He tried to rush after, instead bumping into a stranger; part of the crowd that closed in as soon as Tina left. Jesper looked to where the voice actor was—he was gone. He tippy-toed to see where Tina went—she was gone.
Jesper's breath quickened. "God, fucking damn—what am I paying you for..." He slapped his forehead, breathing in and out; now wasn't the time to get upset. In fact, being separated and alone in a maid costume was better! No hand-holding, no sense of being undermined, and a way to the figurines without delay! This was a good thing!
Steeling his heart, Jesper bore a scowl as he shifted through by himself, keeping his arms tight against his chest. Truth be told, however... It was Tina who had a map of the place. And Jesper didn't remember the direction the booth was supposed to be. A part of him knew it would have been better to sit nearby and wait for Tina, but the sooner he got everything done and got out, the better!
Eventually, some calming hiphop music, Japanese-oriented and remixed, made its way to his ears. It gave him a nice distraction against the hustle and bustle of the dense crowds; perhaps a good checkpoint in the likely event he got lost...
Following the source of the music, Jesper soon found himself at the booth playing it. At the helm was a girl (he assumed) manning the station. Since she was working here, maybe she'd have a map of the place? Or at least know the booth where he could get the limited figurine of Shinko Noroi from Juniper's Tale? But the talking and asking random strangers usually fell to Tina's role...
Instead, Jesper kind of walked in circles a fair distance from the booth, still red because of his forced cosplay and feeling utterly helpless.
Tri felt eyes on him everywhere he went. He kept his nonchalance, strolling with one hand in his pocket with the leisurely air of a seasoned convention goer who had been here before. It mattered not where he went. Jaded had his eyes became as patterns repeated, as he saw only the old in the new and nothing else. He was here more of a tradition than a want. So here he was, walking in abandon, without direction and seeing where his feet would guide him.
Tri had passed the same magical girl booth five times.
He had no idea where to go. Lewis ditched him the moment they were inside and he had no idea where he was or what to do. He was sweating river under the monkey rubber mask. It was hot, but taking off a cosplay midway wasn't cool. But he was hot. He wanted something cold.
Tri bought a Toedoroki ice cream sandiwich. It was half strawberry and half vanilla and decorated with parental trauma. He didn't recognize the character or the reference, but it was cool. Instead of sitting around, he decided to continue his stroll. Instead of doing the uncool thing of taking off his cosplay, every time Tri wanted a mouthful of the ice cream, he pried the rubber monkey mouth open and fed himself that way. While walking, of course. More people stared when he did that every time, so that means he was successful.
As expected, cosplaying was very co-
"Hurry up!""Don't push!""We'll be late!"
A group of people hurrying for a performance squished through Tri. The doctor was fine, but someone accidentally elbowed his ice cream sandwich to his shirt. Also, it stunk.
"Hm." Wasn't there something in that movie? Rise of the Planet of the Apes?
With a contemplative look, Tri stared at the crowd forming around a stage. Two cosplayers were acting to a song and lines from the anime, to huge cheers from the crowd.
Well, he could do that, too.
Tri decided. He smeared the rest of his Toedoroki ice cream sandwich over his shirt and made a call. As he walked to the exit, he stopped a couple of friends who had just arrived with a pat on the shoulder.
"Can we help you...?" The woman asked. She looked worried with the pink stain on Tri's clothes, but Tri had more important things to do.
Tri pounded his chest. "Apes alone weak. Apes together strong."
"Ah, isn't that from that ape movie?" While the woman looked confused, the ponytailed girl with her recognized the line.
Tri nodded solemnly. "Apes with bazooka stronger."
Tri strutted to the exit. The two friends exchanged look.
"Is that line from the movie?"
"No... Rise of the Planet of the Apes wasn't an anime either."
"Uh, sir." An assistant entered Paris' room. "Doctoral just asked for a weapon delivery to the anime convention."
"...what is it?" Paris clenched his teeth.
"Your plan worked, sir. He ordered the Savior of 2D Humanity and nothing else."
Paris released a big, long sigh from relief. Thank fuck. He had a mini heart attack when Dad told him he was going to the anime convention with Lewis last week. Central was not somewhere they could mess around with yet. Throughout the week, he, the housemaid, and Anna, had subtly tried to influence Tri so he would choose one weapon in particular. Something that wouldn't cause too much trouble.
Paris gave an order. "Deliver the weapon pronto. Tell Dad about the Savior of 2D Humanity Deluxe and the Savior of 2D Humanity Extra Story if Dad looks like he starts having other ideas.
"We can't get our ass chased by the whole police force because Dad killed some fucking useless weeb. So annoying."
"Uh, sir, Doctoral also likes anime." The assistant liked anime too and felt the need to defend it.
"He's also the motherfucker that recreated Black Plague last month and called it Blackie 2 Electric Boogaloo. When you can casually end a country like that you can like shitty 2D drawings with disproportional anatomy for all you like." Paris glared at the assistant. "Can you?"
The assistant wanted to say more, but since he liked not dying to something called Blackie 2 Electric Boogaloo, he decided to fall silent.
“Yes, yes, I see that now. Have you thought about it yet?”
“Of course, of course, Mr. Lin!” The elderly lady that had only just recently told him about her children offering her a home in Amestria clapped her hands together, a bright beaming smile on her face. It seemed, to him, that her rheumatism had improved over the last few days that he had seen her.
“Maybe we should consider that too, Rong.” Jingyi muttered from beside him as she brought a small wooden tray of empty tea cups into the back. He knew she was joking, but he wondered if a little part of his wife wished to see the rest of the world. Maybe he should arrange another, longer, trip to Amestria, just to visit their children.
“Hmmm. Perhaps.” Kairong stroked his chin in thought. He had entertained the idea of it. Moving away, out of New Oasis, that was. His many children have asked him to come over to theirs for umpteen times already. He never could leave, however. He was rooted here, and he was raised her, perhaps not by his father, but by the streets, the brawls, and the many people that have led him to this part of his life.
“Yes, Mr. Lin! Why not? You are at a time where you should be leaving everything to the future generation. I heard Xiuying has a very nice mansion.” The customer chimed in. She wasn’t wrong. His eldest had been quite successful in his many ventures, and had reaped his rewards. Again, he was not against the idea, but he was reluctant to leave this place behind. He was always the type to always keep busy. Always had to keep his hands working, always had to move around, even if it was just a leisurely stroll down East District.
“You may be right.”
The bell at the door rung, its chime pleasantly clear and musical. A very exuberant, very loud voice came from the door, and he sighed, half in amusement, and half in annoyance. It was Ikeda. She seemed to have in tow, two companions that he was quite familiar with. The Dragon ascendants- the brothers two, Shen Yue and Shu Wei. He bowed slightly from behind his counter. “Ruriko. Young master Shen Yue, young master Shu Wei.”
His elderly customer gave a slight ‘Oh!’, bowed to both the party of three and Kairong. “I have taken much of your time, Mr. Lin. I shall be taking my leave now! Good bye!”
“Good bye, Mrs. Seow.” He waved politely as she waddled out of the teashop. “Dear, we have visitors,” he called behind him.
“Yes, I heard her! She’s not lost a single ounce of energy!” came Jingyi’s voice. She emerged from behind the partition that separated the counter from the kitchen. “Isaiah! Isaiah, come,” she called to their newest addition to the family, as it were. Jingyi had taken to pampering him as much as she could, but credit where credit was due, the young man was more than willing to work for them while they offered him a roof over his head. Kairong had met the boy a while ago, a month, perhaps, and brought him in out of the kindness in his old heart. If he hadn’t, he would never had heard the last of it from Jingyi. “Isaiah, please, show them a table. For three!” She ducked back into the kitchen. She was still as spry as ever. Age had certainly put some weight on their shoulders, he and her both, but he was glad that neither of them were showing much issue, even at the evenings of their lives.
“I will see that you will have,” he exhaled slowly, “all the tea in my stock.”