Making Peace

Following the offered link would lead Shuri to a place that was, at first glance, quite obviously somewhere located in NetVegas. A second glance would tell her that it wasn't exactly one of the most famous or affluent parts. The arrival point was in a small square that might once have been intended as an aesthetic feature, grass verges, patterned tiling, and a four-point fountain in the middle. Unfortunately, it had seen better days and didn't look well maintained: the fountain itself ran unevenly, and one of the four outputs seemed to be more or less completely clogged, emitting only a steady stream of water flowing down the fixture and into the basin below. There were several slimy-looking shapes moving slugishly about the bottom of the fountain's basin, under the clouded and unclean water, too. Ew. The grass was torn up or trampled in places and the tiles were cracked and broken too.

The small park seemed to be part of an intersection of ways along which no traffic was currently moving, but the buildings that formed up the blocks all around each tried to proclaim themselves fantastic, premiere casinos, in lighting and signage that showed obvious indicators of long neglect. Despite the run down part of town, most of the shops and casinos here did seem to be open for business anyway; the light of the neons was contrasted starkly by the dark of the cluttered and refuse-laden alleyways in between. Perhaps, if they'd wanted to be more successful, these gambling establishments should have made themselves look more fantastical and less like their real-world opposites — certainly none of these venues was ever going to compete with any high-class or high end establishments; not even one undergoing as much of a reputation shift as Hera's Fortune. The nearest one looked to be called "Treasure Palace", and bore a neon sign depicting a conical, white building with several palm trees on the sides. One block over to the left, was "Rogue's Retreat", sporting a billboard that depicted a green-clad character with a long bow beside him, reclining on a pile of gold coins, with a bikini-wearing woman sprawled against him on each arm. To the right, "Rain of Riches" had a flashing sigh that cycled through animations of falling coins. honestly speaking, Shuri would probably be hard pressed to find or come up with a set of more generic, uninspired names for gambling establishments if she tried. Possibly another contributing factor to their obviously poor business prospects. At least they did appear to have security bounces on the doors, though to the navi they each looked bored silly.

Upon arriving, Shuri would find herself standing only a short distance from a figure that would put the door bouncers to shame. He was tall and muscular, built and with every curve etched and chiselled. Every curve and bulge seemed lovingly sculpted for perfect physical form, and gave a sense of absolute solidity, as though the man were carved from stone. Bronzed, flexible stone.

Shuri would be able to perceive such details about him primarily because he was wearing a leather plated kilt, the individually separate strips of which dropped only to mid thigh, and a pair or ancient-style leather sandals that wrapped a portion of his exquisitely toned calves in crossing bindings, and really, very little else. For all his size, though, his proportions were balanced, with no one part of his body seeming bulky in comparison to any other. If she looked up towards his face, Shuri would see a strong jaw that framed a pleasantly oval face with even features; an unobtrusive nose, soft lips that were settled into a calm smile and blue eyes that would only turn to look at her once she looked at them. Dark brown hair made short waves about his head; it was maybe a few inches long, but lay down neatly enough in a rough-groomed sort of way.

Before she sought out his eyes or offered a greeting, the navi was standing evenly on both feet with his arms folded across his chest, looking up at the three separate casinos across the way from the small park. there really wasn't much else to look at in her immediate vicinity, and there was little doubt that the one waiting for her would be her contact for the mission, but for his own part the herculean navi seemed content to wait for her to say hello first.
It didn't take Shuri long to figure out where the coordinates had sent her; NetVegas was definitely one of the more unique looking parts of the net. Not exactly a nice part of it, though...not that she paid much attention to it, as she soon noticed another Navi that she found far more interesting than anything else in the area. He looked like he should be a classical statue, but sure enough, he was still moving slightly as he waited. Hmm. Well, she certainly wouldn't mind seeing what type of Netopian column he had.

Before she could officially enter the realm of staring, the ninja Navi slowly walked over...she was hoping it was the case, but she couldn't say for certain this was her mission contact. Best to play it safe, just in case. "Well, hello there." If he could tell who she was, it was probable that he was the requester's Navi. Otherwise...well, maybe she could have a little pleasure before business, for a change.
Upon being greeted, the out-of-place Adonis in front of Shuri stepped forward, then lifted one hand to cross it over his chest and incline himself politely towards her. When he straightened again, his eyes were fixed on hers with a focus that said the rest of the world might not have mattered right then.

"Fair night. Let me look at you. Are you strong? Hmm..." The voice fit the body, a resonant baritone that might be enough to make a lady's toes curl, if she was susceptible to that kind of thing. If Shuri tried to give an answer to the question, though, he would wave it away quickly, more as though he had been asking the question to himself, or rhetorically, rather than actually seeking a response. "My name is Armistice. And you are Shuri, yes? Come." He began to walk towards the edge of the small park, hands cupping behind his back in a relaxed manner. As he moved, Shuri would be able to tell that, for all his size and stature, the navi was light on his feet and well balanced.

"I settle disputes, and I clean up messes left by others. It is my role to put an end to others' bickering. It is not hard to do. A controlled demonstration of strength is enough, I find. The three you see before us cannot agree. They must. I have set things in motion. Soon, each will send all of the strongest and most powerful navis they have, or that they can buy the service of, here to this square. There will be dozens of them. More, I hope. When I have forced them into submission, I think they will all find agreement and stop their squabbling." Armistice rocked on the balls of his feet for a moment, as though amused and enjoying the anticipation of the upcoming brawl. After another second or two, however, he sighed. "My operator feels that more is needed this time. He has work that he wants you to do while the three are distracted by my spectacle. What do you think, Shuri? Should we hear him out?" His deep, deliberate way of talking was accompanied by a sideways glance for Shuri that showed the curl of a smile and raised eyebrows. "I can call him at any moment. He will tell you the details of your mission; I do not bother with such things. There is no rush... We could talk awhile, if you wanted." It would be up to Shuri to decide how quickly she wanted to get on with her mission, though she might ponder just how much time they really had, if Armistice had already set things in motion to drawn a epic-grade rumble down on his own head.

While his voice was hardly unpleasant, the Navi's initial question made Shuri raise an eyebrow. The services she usually provided weren't based on strength. Well, maybe she could make herself look good anyway. "I think I'll let you determine that with your own eyes today." She was immediately waved off, as though the question was rhetorical...he clearly wasn't writing a book about the best way to make a first impression.

She simply nodded when asked about her identity, then followed. He was light on his feet, but one look made it clear he wasn't ninja lithe. He went on for a bit, but she simply shook her head. "In my experience, brute force rarely results in a lasting peace. And, that when you think you have plenty of time, that's rarely the case. Bring up your operator, please. The more information I have, the better I can do my job." A pity, it seemed even his brain was muscle. That alone was enough to kill her interest in him for the time being.
Browned off by his choice of wording as she was, Armistice didn't seem too put off by not having the ninja throw herself all over him; he soft smile didn't falter through her criticism and instead he nodded to her again.

"Indeed, you are not wrong. While I feel that strength alone is the purest and best road to true power, it is rarely the most effective method on its own. But I do not work alone. Tonight, I shall have you." It was a little difficult to guess whether he was subtly flirting by implication, or simply trying to be gracious. Flip a coin? Either way, his voice remained unhurried. "I will let you speak to Chris now, if that is your wish." Once more he put a hand to his chest and inclined his head to the smaller woman, then stepped back as a view screen came up in between them. Armistice turned his back and took a few steps away, though the screen itself remained in front of Shuri. On the screen, Shuri would see a man that looked to be in his mid twenties, with dark hair and olive skin, brown eyes and a relaxed grin. From what she could tell, he was wearing a simple red robe over his shoulders, though the screen didn't show more.

"Hello there. You're the navi we've got helping us tonight? Sorry if Armistice was a little blunt, he tends to be very direct in all things. I should explain what we need you to do while he's busy making a show, shouldn't I?" Like his navi, the man inclined his head towards her when he gave Shuri his greeting, and would pause in his own words if she spoke, letting her go first before continuing.

"The three businesses in front of you are each in negotiations for selling their holdings at the moment, but they are concerned that if they sell too easily it will harm competition in the area. It is a valid worry, I suppose. They each very much want to sell, you see, but they have a history with each other, too, and none of them want to let go of that, for good or ill. The history is not a positive one, I'm afraid. They have been in competition for years, but there has been a great deal of underhanded tactic involved." Here, Chris sighed and closed his eyes for a moment before continuing.

"They have each done a great many things to deliberately defame, smear or harm their competitors, rather than enhancing themselves. They have even come to violence many times in the past, and are quick to jump to their daggers at the drop of a hat. It is a tragic state of affairs, but the enterprises that each seek to buy out the current owners are all reputable businesses, and are sworn to improving the reputation of these holdings, if an agreement to sell can be reached. Ideally, all three establishments will prosper with mutual co-operation to the benefit of all, if they can be convinced to set aside their pasts and give themselves over to new management." Chris paused to take a sip from a small cup of herbal tea, and set it aside again.

"They each have a habit of making representatives sent to negotiate with them disappear in unpleasant ways if the offers made aren't to their liking; they feel that they don't need to listen to a deal that they don't like, if they can simply shoot the messenger. Armistice is staging his little show here tonight to demonstrate to them that this tactic will not work any more, and also to draw away all of the individual navis that the three businesses may call on to perform these deeds. It is to give you safety and cover, in short. What we need you to do is visit the chief executors for the three businesses on behalf of each of the corporations negotiating their sale, and convince them that turning over this new leaf is not only in their best interest, but in the best interest of everyone." Another small sip of the tea before he looked back to her and met her eyes more directly.

"How do you feel about this, Shuri?"

...He shall have her? He was going to need to try harder than that if he wanted any out-of-mission successes. Shuri showed no outward signs, either good or bad, as Armistace brought up his operator's feed. He wasn't exactly hurting her eyes, himself. "That would be correct." After confirming she was the hired help, she remained utterly silent as he discussed the reasoning for their actions. If she didn't blink every so often, Chris would wonder if his feed had frozen. But while she listened to the history and committed it to memory, she couldn't quite bring herself to care very much. If it wasn't for the fact it'd probably be handy to know for the mission, she'd probably have just told him to skip it and move on to what she needed to do.

It didn't last too long, though, and he moved along to what she'd be doing. "I see. That certainly explains why you wanted a Navi with that specific skill set...the hard part will be convincing them everyone benefits from doing it. I can assure you that, at the least, I can make it really easy to convince them it benefits them directly." She materialized a kunai, and twirled it for a moment before dismissing it. "Appearances can be deceiving, but based on what I'm looking at, I've gotten through tighter security, so that shouldn't be too difficult. Is there any specific one I should take on first? Maybe one of the executors might be easier to convince? I suspect the first one I meet will be the hardest, and it'll get easier from there. At any rate, just give me their locations, and I'll get on it once your Navi starts his little distraction." Notably, she avoided the last question...if any of this was bothering her, she wouldn't still be here.
As they got to the meat of the mission, Chris closed his eyes and turned his head slightly when Shuri produced her weapon.

"Indeed, but please remember, the reason I've asked you here, Shuri, is because I do not wish to force their hands by violence, at least not when it comes to the three chief executors. If that were all that mattered, then Armistice would be all the brute force I'd need. I want them to look favourably upon the deals that they each must make, to feel as though they gained from them, and not as though they were bullied into it." He sipped his tea again. "Returning to your question, I don't believe any of the three will be easier than the others, but if you start with the Treasure Palace establishment, you may be able to use their agreement as leverage more effectively when persuading the other two. They control the middle block, of the three, and the largest sum of assets and resources, though only by a very small margin. When the businesses struggle as they do, however, a margin is still a margin, and they count every zenny." He paused for a few more moments, considering, then nodded.

"I'd suggest that you get yourself out of sight or make yourself invisible swiftly, miss Shuri. I want you to remain an unrelated third party to Armistice tonight, given that he is causing such trouble, and that means you cannot be seen here, by any including those who will be arriving shortly." A short way from where Shuri was having her discussion, Armistice himself had begun casually stretching and warming up. As a navi, it was debatable whether he actually needed to or not, though it was nice eye candy. He didn't seem to be watching or listening in at all.

"If you can't remain hidden and stay in range, then we can continue this discussion over independent email, if you don't mind sharing your details. There is more you need to know."

Whether Shuri opted to simply hide herself so that she could continue a proper one-on-one one with Chris, or whether she instead started to move towards whichever casino she decided to hit first, the conversation with Armistice's operator continued in one form or another.

"The three casinos are being bid on, and entertaining offers from, three separate enterprises, as I mentioned. You will be speaking as though you represent their interests, so let's get the details down. Treasure Palace, the central casino, is run in their books as the Aggregate Interests corporation, and has been discussing selling their entire stock hold to Energetic Exchanges. They've made a generous offer at the moment, and the main reasons they're finding to resist the take-over are by quibbling over rights packages and benefits. I suspect the trick to convincing them to sell would be in reassuring them that no-one will be out of a job, and that work conditions will only improve."

"Rogue's Retreat's business name is as 'RayMan, RayMan & Finch'. They used to be a legal firm. The company seeking to buy them out is Fustigation Finances. The main roadblock here is that RR&F want more money for their holding than Fustigation wants to pay them, or really, than it's worth, by a large margin. Convince them to settle for a more reasonable sum, somehow."

"Over the other side, Rain of Riches is straight up Rain of Riches on their books as well. They started as a money-lending business, then moved on to bookers and toters... Now they're a failing casino, but they're proud of how far they've come as a small business. The ones seeking to buy them are Investments Incorporated. Not a very inspired name, I know. The main issue there is that they're nervous about selling out, and to some generic faceless corporation. The deals and proposals themselves are fair, but they just want the issue to go away."

While they had been chatting, things were starting to get under way in the park. If Shuri still had good seats, and was hidden, she'd have witnessed several very thuggish-looking navis approaching Armistice and sharing some initial words; they seemed angry, Armistice jovial. Most were trailed by a number of heelnavis doing their best to look like they wanted to start a fight too, and while Chris spoke quietly to Shuri, more groups continued to show up. Some seemed to be taking issue with the fact hat others were trying to make their demands of the leather-clad navi ahead of them, and the situation was rapidly going down hill. For his part, Armistice seemed to be happily trying to stop the groups from fighting each other — apparently he really did want them all for himself.

If Shuri had moved away from the area by now, she wouldn't necessarily see any of this, but it wouldn't be very long at all before she'd begin to hear it; the sounds of violence and battle echoing through the area. Chris had a question for her at the end of his explanation.

"It's beginning now, it seems. Did you have any questions, Shuri? After this, I'll be keeping an eye on Armistice, and making sure he doesn't get carried away, but if there's anything else I can tell you before you begin, let me know.

"Heh, understood." It was pretty obvious he didn't want violence, considering the kind of Navi he wanted for the mission, anyway...and that kind of Navi was the sort that noted the answer to her question. "If it can help, even a little, that's my first target, then. Speaking of targets, she looked over at Armistice...if he was really as strong as he and his operator said, then...well, he'd definitely be a sight to see in battle, to say the least.

Her relatively good mood faded as Chris asked her to hide, as though that was particularly difficult. "...Did you really just use the phrase 'if you can't remain hidden' on a ninja? I'm not exactly some stripper playing at a kunoichi, you know." Granted, she was capable of that, but she was definitely more 'stripping ninja' than 'ninja stripper'. To demonstrate, she quickly raced off, ducking into the shadows of a nearby alleyway...her home away from home. "No one should be able to see me here. Continue."

And so she received some very useful information about the three casinos she'd be infiltrating. There was still a glaring omission from it, though before she could ask, she could see things already starting to escalate. "Yes, I have one more thing to ask. Exactly who should I seek out for each casino? I can convince whoever, but if they don't have the clout, it's not going to do any good."
On the viewscreen, Chris inclined his head to her with a small smile, in response to the sassy remark. Shuri, being the professional she was was already in her hiding spot by the time he had done so, and had an excellent view as the scene in the fountain square continued to deteriorate. She was out of earshot of most of it by this point, but weapons were beginning to be pulled and brandished, and it looked as though Armistice had somehow manage dot convince most of the opposed groups that they should more or less all be pointed at him, rather than each other. Chris' voice continued softly.

"Of course. I only meant that sometimes, well, a lot of unexpected things often end up getting damaged in a fairly large area when Armistice starts having too much fun. Now... in terms of your mission, you will need to convince the three CEOs directly, nothing less will suffice in this particular case. You can say do do whatever you please in order to get to see them, but they must be convinced peacefully, and of their own accord, to accept the proposals, or to make deals. I can get their names for you, if you'll give me an extra moment." He shuffled a couple of documents, while out in the square arguments seemed to be reaching their crescendo. One particularly irate-seeming HeelNavi thrust his way past two of is cronies to level a cannon at the man in the centre of it and fired before they could stop him. The crack of the shot caused a temporary quiet, followed by what seemed like an over-loud impact as the round shot dropped to the ground, stopped dead against the larger navi's chest. It didn't appear to have done anything and Armistice hadn't moved or even flinched. Instead, he smiled broadly, opened his arms like he was welcoming the bold navi, then darted forward in a precise combat stance, fists closed. The brief second of silence ended as all hell broke loose.

"Ah! Here we are. So, the chief executor of Treasure Palace is AgglomerationMan, what else... I've got a note mentioning that he's got a fondness for rocky-road, the confectionery, but I'm not sure how much that'll help you. Sorry I can't tell you more." Outside of the alley, over in the park, the sounds of progressively heavier weaponry being brought to bear continued to grow, but Chris continued in his calm, quiet voice unperturbed.

"Rogue's Retreat, as you might guess are run by three navis called RayMan, the elder, Finch, and RayMan, the younger. My notes say that the two RayMan give a show of snipping at each other and being argumentative, but that it's an act, and they're skilled at manipulating their legal opposition into mistakes with their feigned bickering. Finch is both shrewd and sharp, and likes listening and waiting. Those are all legal related matters, back from when they were a firm, though, so again, I'm not sure how much it will help you here." There was a pause as he turned over another page before he continued. "Lastly, Rain of Riches is headed by a family group. The matriarch, ShimmerShine, does most of their public speaking, but they make all important decisions as a group, and this will likely be one such. Different family members have different nicknames for each other, her included, and good friends apparently call her just 'Shimmer' for short, but she doesn't welcome the use of any nickname or shortening form people she doesn't approve of or isn't fiends with."

In an unfortunately timely punctuation, a navi crashed against the outer wall of the alleyway Shuri had hidden herself in, and was promptly whisked away by a beam of light.
"I don't really have any more I can tell you about your targets, Shuri, but you really must get going now. Good luck. Return here when you've been successful with all three." He gave enough time for a polite response, if she wished to offer one, before closing out the window and leaving Shuri on her own to decide her next course of action.

"Understood. I'm on my..." ...Hmm? "...That's strange. I hear static all of a sudden. ...Nothing important, though-AHHHHH!!!" Without warning, Shuri fell to her knees, and clutched the sides of her head. "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"

"Er, Shuri? Are you all right?!"




"Shuri...! Reputation or no, I'm not letting you suffer like this! Jack out!" Click. And before anyone had a chance to object, Shuri vanished via the traditional beam of light. Seemed like this particular dispute wouldn't get a woman's touch, after all.