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Tenkai Matsumoto

[ The Full Horizon ] A Stranger I Remain

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The Dawn Komturie, 6:45 A.M.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

     The wee hours of the morning at Dawn Komturie were about as busy as any other time of day. Custodes went about their duties with due diligence as the aspirants arose for their early morning drills. Tenkai himself was busy as well, but perhaps not in his usual fashion. Normally he would be overseeing the Vanquishers and their aspirants going about their training, but something was keeping his attention that day. The warrior monk had sequestered himself in his chambers, poring over documents in a manner he had not done since his days investigating suspicious fighting tournament sponsors. He was looking through whatever OFM resource that was made available to him, sifting through registries and logbooks and chronicles, all for one single purpose: to find out what happened to Gloria Isabelle Ruinen.

     Gloria had been a fellow knight of the Order, but not at the time Tenkai had joined. No, Tenkai’s history with her and in many ways the Order in general went further back than even his first arrival on this star. He knew of Gloria even before her time with the Order, back when she was the prodigious pupil of the psion known as Tresondros Ecstuffuan. Tenkai had learned of her departure from the Order just as soon as he had learned she had joined them in the first place. The familiarity of her name and the many memories of a life that once was which sprung from the recognition hit Tenkai like a bolt in the chest. The past always seemed to have such unexpected ways of catching him unawares.

     Tenkai’s chambers at Dawn Komturie weren’t exactly what one would consider an “office”, but it did have a desk for dealing with missives and parchments and all other manner of paperwork whenever the need arose. Given certain affairs he had gotten involved with in the past, Tenkai was actually no stranger to paperwork and investigative research. Even so, there was only so much Tenkai could glean from the Order’s records, but he had to start somewhere. Thus far, he had only managed to learn one key piece of information. Gloria has been, as it was written, “excommunicated” from the Order following some incident that had deemed her a danger to the peace the Order was committed with keeping. Her impressive psychic power had caused much damage and mayhem, to the level that James could not have easily overlooked it. But why then was there so little else, not even some form of contact information? And surely there had to be more to these accounts than what was present, should there not? He had to keep digging deeper.

     Yet try as he might, there wasn’t very much to lead on. It would seem that after her excommunication, Gloria went completely off the grid. This was rather disappointing. Tenkai would have thought that James would have gone to greater efforts to keep tabs on her, given her level of psionic power and the fact that she was likely privy to a number of inner workings within the Order. Granted, it was not really part of their duty to spy on people, and if Gloria was really so dangerous as to warrant keeping a thumb on her then perhaps “excommunication” was not a wise choice. 

     But if that was true, then what exactly was Tenkai doing here, trying to figure out where she might have gone? Would that not be essentially the same thing? It wasn’t like he was hunting her down like a fugitive. Could there have been another reason James had let her slip off their radar? Did he still think of her as a friend? Did Tenkai think of her as a friend?

     He cursed himself. This is probably one of the most foolish things I’ve ever done, he thought. Tenkai had already paid the price for seeing those that he had called “friends” as who he thought they were and not what they truly were. His missing eye and the artifact sitting in its place were an eternal reminder of that. Tenkai thought he had managed to bury his past deep enough that he wouldn’t find himself making the same mistakes he had made before. And yet, if recent events had taught him anything, it was that some things weren’t content to be little more than a memory. If he didn’t give the past it due diligence, it would end up repeating itself. 

     And so he continued, poring through whatever information the Order had about Gloria’s last known whereabouts. While there was nothing conclusive about where she might have gone, he did learn enough through the Order’s files on certain key places of interest that he knew a good enough place to start. 

 

Last Chance, La Ultima Opportunidad Docks,  7:35 P.M.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

     The port city of Last Chance had risen in notoriety as a place of interest in recent years. What was once a veritable prison city overrun with crime was now the second largest port city in Terrenus, with a bustling economy to boot. Despite this progress, however, the criminal underworld of the city managed to thrive in its own way, a dark reflection of the promise of opportunity that the city had come to embody. The attack on the city by Dredge and his Legion of Doom has certainly not helped matters. If anything, the attack had served to remind people of the divide in the city, caught between the the hope of progress and the stagnant mire of the past, where criminals were kings.

     It had been a while since Tenkai had walked the streets of Last Chance, though this was perhaps the first time he had ever walked them during a time of relative peace. That being said, it would seem he had chosen the absolute worst part of Last Chance to start his search. “La Ultima Opportunidad” was the last bastion of the old guard in the city, where the worst of the worst who refused to change their ways or leave the city stakes their claim of a rogue underworld empire. Moreover, there was also the not-so-insignificant fact that Tenkai was one of the heroes of the battle for Last Chance. Gone were the days where he fought in relative obscurity, plagued only by whatever infamy he held amongst the vampires and demons of Gaia. Now he was Tenkai Matsumoto, Knight of the Order of Force Majeure. Though his actions had aided in the defense of the city the criminal underworld called its home, they likely wouldn’t take too kindly to anyone associated with the Terrenus military, especially not when many among Dredge’s legion had been part of Last Chance’s criminal element to begin with. So why in the pluperfect hell did Tenkai think this a good place to start?

     For one, the city reminded him in some small ways to familiar places from his past, namely Sigil and Durem. Economy driven port city with a seedy underworld? It was like a trip down memory lane, so what better place to locate someone from his past? Gloria no doubt thrived in places like these, free from the reach of law, where your only safety was how well you could defend yourself. Having been through enough seedy taverns and inns back on Gaia that ran by the same rules, such a place would be like a taste of home.

     There was also the matter of criminal underworlds being useful places to find information, find work off the books, or simply find ways to disappear if you didn’t want to be found. If Gloria went off the grid, this would be a great place to be, and a psyker of her level of prowess would  not have any problem dealing with any thug that made up the city’s unscrupulous ecosystem. There was always the chance that word of the OFM’s involvement with the defense of Last Chance could have given her pause in setting foot there, but if there was any chance she had been there, there would likely be someone with information.

     So Tenkai made his descent into Last Chance’s “La Ultima Opportunidad” district, dressed in his monk’s robes such so that he would not be so immediately recognized by those who knew him more famously in his battle garb. Of course, if Gloria did see him, she would recognize him immediately, even with his eyepatch. This didn’t bother Tenkai. After all, trying to get the drop on her would be impossible, most likely, and doing so would just be detrimental to his cause. It was better to be upfront where he could.

     About a half hour of wandering through the more lawless half of the city, Tenkai arrived at the docks, where he changed upon a rather peculiar site. A large, extravagant boat decked out with flashing colored lights and neon signs was moored at the docks like some sort of floating casino. Indeed, it was exactly that, as he would soon find the aptly-named “Full Horizon” to be. A glittering jewel by the boardwalk amidst the salty shadowed pier. Truth be told, Tenkai could have kicked himself for not expecting to find a place like this among these disreputable docks. After all, this part of the city was full of cuthroats and rogues, not paupers and beggars. Casinos and other gambling establishments cared little for the class of their clientele, as long as they had the coin to spend and, invariably, lose. The criminals in this town would be the wealthiest of all, like as not. Tenkai wouldn't be surprised if a few of the socialites from other parts of the city would find themselves here by nature of discretion.

     This cozy little slice of night life was probably the best possible place for Tenkai to start. Even if Gloria wasn't here, there was always a chance she had visited in the past. If not at this port, then perhaps at another. Without any room left for doubt, Tenkai crossed the pier ramp and passed through the doorway into the casino interior, and onto whatever he may end up finding there.

 

@The Usual Suspect @Aleksei

Edited by Tenkai Matsumoto

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To call Fate a fickle mistress was giving her far too much credit. She was more akin to an unruly teenager who behaved on occasion, but more often than naught was an unreliable and blatantly disrespectful upstart. The beauty of it was how you dealt with her to get her in line. You don't own a child, you don't temper them, you don't control them; instead. you predict them, outsmart them, or in the cases of severe singles, you avoid them.

But if you must deal with children -or Fate as this monologue goes- don't take your eyes off of them!

The woman's crimsons hair was long enough t cover her back, but was pulled up into a messy but fashionable updo, a small present to those who stood behind her, as the open back of her dress revealed all down to the dimples at the base of her hips. Dark mocha skin on display, with the small tease of a tattoo before the white cocktail number hid her modesty as she strolled across the casino floor. One manicured hand held a champagne flute, the other a small clutch that contained her chips for the evening. And they were all legally obtained... this time. Today wasn't work as it was, just a night out on her own to relax. The part-time thief, assassin, special operative, super-hero, mercenary was enjoying a bit of R&R and what better way than to frivolously gamble away money she may or may not make back. Losing it all wasn't a problem, as there were plenty of prospective applicants for 'future victims' in the immediate area. Her heels carried along the game floor, perusing the room for where to go next. The flute was quickly emptied in her boredom, and she proceeded to casually twirl it like a crystalline baton.

And when the light, but sharp sound of shattering crystals entered her mind, she had to pause to look at said glass, momentarily confused as to why it was still in one piece. The sound repeated itself, but closer, and it wasn't until the third chime that the woman realized it was an alarm. A nice little mental she had arranged for herself when she was on their mind. And not just the lechers and wine-addled minds who enjoyed her outfit, but for people who were looking for her. The amusing part was that thoughts felt familiar, but inquisitive. So it was someone who knew her, but someone who wasn't out for her blood. She let that chime lead her through the casino, before finding herself near the entrance. She had no fear of being noticed immediately, as anyone who would remember Gloria would remember the strikingly pink hair and green eyes, neither of which she had in her current guise. Heaven forbid it was someone who could see through glamour and disguises, but she didn't know many of those.

And who's the lucky winner today...? she thought as her eyes bounced from person to person who was near the doorway. She could've escaped just as easily, but if Fate was going to kick and scream at her this sharply after she let her slip away, might as well what she could muster against the Psion now.

 

@Tenkai Matsumoto

Edited by The Usual Suspect
Missing words

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And so the hunter became the hunted.

Or something to that effect. Far less dramatic than that, of course.

It didn't take very long after Tenkai set foot inside the casino before he was noticed. After all, how could he not have been at this point? Besides the fact that his manner of dress couldn't be found very far outside the Datsuzoku Empire or Port Caelum and caused him to stick out relatively well in crowds, Tenkai was no longer a stranger in these parts. Ever since the Legion attacked Last Chance and the Order of Force Majeure came to its defense, footage of the event had been broadcast in news reports across the continent via conventional networks and magitek alike. It would be no surprise at all if someone ended up recognizing him, for good or for ill. Despite this, Tenkai knew that this feeling in the air was far more than just the feeling of having hidden eyes drawn onto you in recognition. Someone had felt him come in.

And how would Tenkai know any of this? That was simple, really. Tenkai was a psychic, just like the woman he was looking for. Psychic, psion, psyker...it didn't particularly matter what term one preferred to use, as the distinctions between them were rather thin. Perhaps more specifically was that Tenkai was a spirit-sensitive individual, like some sort of medium. Not exactly the same as the kind of psychics that could make tables float around or turn a man inside out with their minds, but it was psychic nonetheless. On top of that sensitivity were the senses honed simply through diligent martial arts training, able to feel the ebb and flow of ki as it rippled through emotion and intention. He could feel that stepping into the casino while he was brimming with a particular purpose had set off an alarm as if it were tripwire he had just snagged his leg on. Was Gloria actually here and immediately sensed that someone was looking for her? Or perhaps someone else was keeping on the lookout for Tenkai in particular, and had simply waited for him to waltz into their psychic domain? Whatever the case, now that he was the one being watched, it would be far too easy to be led astray if he tried too hard to find them first. Actively searching for them would make it all the more easy for them to evade him.

He had to let them come to him, be it intentional or otherwise.

Tenkai made his way over to the nearest gaming table. It mattered not which, of course, as Tenkai figured he was equally terrible at all forms of gambling. In the material world, some vices were often inescapable. But for Tenkai at least, gambling was not one of them. In truth, the monk simply needed a place to sit and abide physically. Somewhere where his mind could go on the attack, absorbing his surroundings under the guise of deep, calculating thought for the purpose of playing the game. Doing so would make it much easier to determine who it was that knew he was here and had been so alarmed psychically by his presence. Tenkai wasn't very good at playing cards, but when it came to reading tells and sniffing out tails, there was none better.

"The game is Blackjack, folks," said the dealer, a well-dressed young man in uniform bearing the colors and aesthetic of the Full Horizon. "Place your bets!" 

The dealers at the Full Horizon were fairly talented at their craft, dazzling their guests with fancy shuffling techniques and a bit of sleight of hand. Some went as far as to incorporate full-blown gymnastics into their routine. For many visitors, this was an absolute thrill, but for some ill-humored folks it was a tedious distraction at best and obfuscation at worst. Although there was no proof that the house cheated at its own game, that wouldn't stop an ill-tempered low-life from losing his temper thinking that they did. As far as Tenkai was concerned, however, he couldn't care less either way. He was long past his days of the usual rest and relaxation in between travels, and the last time he played any sort of card game was something called...Double...Dryad? No, Triple...something. It was something with cards and numbers and pictures and...well...every card game was a game of cards and numbers pictures.

In all fairness, he'd rather be playing mahjong.

"Deal me in," Tenkai said, pulling up a chair at the table.

"Alright, sir. Your chips, please?"

Chips. Chips. Yes...chips

Tenkai had no chips.

Perhaps he should have bought them at the front kiosk before going any further. He was playing this mostly by ear, not thinking that he would sit down for a game or two until he tried to draw out the one tailing him. For a moment he feigned searching his pockets and satchel, hoping that the dealer would just let him buy the chips at the table instead. At the very least, seeing Tenkai so flummoxed would be useful enough in getting them to make their move. 

@The Usual Suspect

Edited by Tenkai Matsumoto

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The monk.

Of all people, the goody gumdrop himself.

To be fair, she actually didn't know if he was actually a monk, he just looked the part every  time she had seen him. And the only thing she really knew about him was that he was rather terrifying with a sword... katana? Yes, katana. Nothing more than that, he had never been in any sort of regard that required her to gain that much insight into him outside of 'Bribery will not probably work'. But at least in this case, in this environment, even if he was here for her head, there was no way he'd get that far brandishing a katana amidst the casino's own security. And unless there was some drastic flaw in her thoughts, she had no fear of a more subtle weapon, like a stiletto between the ribs.

Not to mention, blackjack was hardly a game she had to cheat at, since it was all counting cards.

"I'll buy our foreign-looking friend in," she said, taking the seat beside him and placing down a few chips in front of him. She set a few down in front of herself as well, smiling at the dealer. She wanted to play anyway, so might as see what he was up to and maybe win some scratch while she was it. And if he was gonna play the uncultured traveler, she would play the generous, but oblivious savior. "The House'll get my money one way or another, right?"

Gloria smiled at the man, giving him a warm smile that practically oozed superiority. She was going to milk the part for all it's, acting like she was teaching this poor man how to play. "So when he gives you two cards, you add them up to get as close to 21 as possible. But don't go over, otherwise you're immediately out. Gotta think smart. It's you versus the dealer, the rest of us are just decoration, got it?" She finished with a small wink of her bright blue eyes. Knowing the city they both came from, she had little doubt he didn't actually know what Blackjack was. She just wanted to see how far into the act he wanted to go.

@Tenkai Matsumoto

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The matter of Tenkai being a monk was a confusing one indeed, both true and yet in several ways not quite accurate. He certainly looked the part, at least as far as his manner of dress, his adherence to Buddhism and other aesthetic evidence. Indeed, he had been instructed alongside his brother monks at a Buddhist temple many years ago, long before he ventured off-world to live the life most people knew him from. Yet his chosen path in life had led him in directions that he could not truly follow the strict tenets of a monastic. This was reflected in the fact that he had not shaved his head into a tonsure. Given the manner of death-dealing that invariably followed with being a "professional thorn-in-the-side", Tenkai knew that if he ever was to free himself from the Samsara, it would not be in this life. Thus would his own path to Buddhahood was delayed so that he might do what he could for others to have their chance to go before him. In a strange way, this would make him a "shepherd-like bodhisattva", though Tenkai would never accept such a thought so long as he wielded a sword in violence.

To that end, what little she knew of him was perhaps the one thing he came to be known most by. Thus did Tenkai seem far more like a samurai than a monk, as much as he denied the former. And yet for as skilled at killing with the sword as he so seemed, if he was truly here to hunt her down in such a way, he had already failed. Brandishing a sword so suddenly in the middle of a casino was a great way to make a mess of things very quickly. After all, Tenkai could no longer benefit from the privilege of anonymity. Ever since he very publicly stood with the Order and the Terrenus military in defense of Last Chance, he was no longer just a random nobody wandering around slaying demons. Hasty actions on his part carried ramifications for both himself and the Order. That said, putting himself out in the open like that was such an amateurish move that it was hard to think that anyone so experienced in combat would ever do something like that.

This meant one of two things; either Tenkai was not as good as she had thought, or he wasn't here to kill her. If the truth was the latter, then why exactly was he here?

Tenkai turned to her as she spoke. If he had recognized her at all beneath that glamour, he certainly didn't show it. She may as well have been a stranger to him, which was not to say they were ever truly familiar back in the day. As he turned his head to her, however, it would be clear that time had not been kind to the monk. She had remembered that he was a monk and good with a sword, but part of what had made him such a "goody gumdrop" was how warm and friendly he had been, almost annoyingly peaceful and optimistic when he wasn't fighting. After all, how else would such a moniker enter her head upon the sight of him? Yet something had clearly changed about Tenkai, and it wasn't just the fact that he was very clearly missing his right eye. The eye that remained was calm yet scrutinizing, wary but not apprehensive. It was a look of healthy suspicion, one that she would feel far more familiar with than a cloyingly bright-eyed gaze and far more comfortable than a cocksure ogling. 

"I guess I'm in luck," he said plainly with the slightest of smiles and nods. "Let's hope that bodes well for this game."

Little did she know, Tenkai didn't have to play the uncultured traveler to pull this off. Though he was not entirely unaware of how certain games worked, his experience with them was actually lacking. He understood a bit of how blackjack worked, but his acquaintance was clearly the more experienced of the two, and he considered anything she wished to impart on him valuable information. All good covers were at least in some way rooted in an honest truth. 

Tenkai listened as Gloria explained the rules briefly, a small nod here and there to show that he understood what she was saying. It seemed that the game was as much as he had pictured, a tenuous balance between luck and skill bolstered by one's aptitude for numbers and probability. Truth be told, a man of Tenkai's skills would probably be far better suited to poker than blackjack, as he was far better at reading tells and gleaning intention from eye movement and facial expressions. Both of them were psykers of some fashion, but Tenkai was no mind-reader or manipulator of probability. Gloria's psionic abilities were likely more robust, though she probably didn't need to use them here. 

On 8/7/2020 at 1:52 AM, The Usual Suspect said:

"Gotta think smart. It's you versus the dealer, the rest of us are just decoration, got it?"

"Mm," Tenkai replied with a small nod. As she gave him the run-down of the rules, the dealer had already set about preparing the game. It seemed like dealing the cards, as was his wont. He dealt the first card to Tenkai, face up. The 9 of Hearts. The next card he dealt to himself, which turned out to be the Jack of Clubs. The dealer dealt Tenkai his second face-up card, this time being the 9 of Diamonds. The dealer's second card was dealt face down.

"18," said the dealer, though that much was evident to Tenkai. He may not have been an avid card player, but he could do basic math. Thankfully, the cards he was dealt were not face cards, or else Gloria would have to explain how a "king" counted as a "ten". "Hit, stand or split?"

Split? Tenkai understood what hit and stand were, at least from previous knowledge and Gloria's explanation. He had no idea what a "split" was. He'd pause for a moment in case Gloria wanted to provide a bit of information on splitting pairs. Of course, with a number as high as 18, it was probably close enough to 21 to be better used as a pair, and splitting would just require her to bet more chips. That was probably not something she wanted to risk on a newbie like Tenkai.

"Stand."

The dealer turned his hole card face up. 8 of Diamonds. 18 against 18. The dealer was forced to stand. 

"18. Push," he said, raking back his bet. It was a tie.

Tenkai quirked his brow in amusement. This was actually quite fun. 

The dealer re-shuffled the deck and started another deal. Tenkai did  This time Tenkai's was dealt the 2 of Clubs first. The dealer dealt himself the 10 of Clubs. Tenkai's second card was the 3 of Hearts. Once the hole card was dealt, the dealer spoke.

"5. Hit or stand?" he said. The dealer could already tell Tenkai was inexperienced with the game by the way he used none of the common gestures to signal hitting and standing, so he'd continue to provide him with this options.

"...Hit." 

The dealer dealt Tenkai another card. The 8 of Clubs. "13!"

Tenkai did not hesitate. "Again."

The next card was dealt. The Ace of Hearts. Perhaps that would have been a good time for Gloria to tell Tenkai that the Ace counted as either a 1 or an 11. In this case, it was automatically a 1, as an 11 would have made him go bust.

"14! Hit or stand?"

Once more, no hesitation. "Hit."

6 of Hearts. A 20.

"Stand," said Tenkai almost immediately, waving his hand. 

The dealer turned over the hole card. 9 of Clubs. A 19 that was forced to stand against Tenkai's 20. He had won the hand.

"19. Well played, sir!" said the dealer as he pushed the chips over to Tenkai and Gloria. The monk turned to her.

"I guess it did bode well," said Tenkai. "If your good luck hasn't completely rubbed off onto me, would you like to swap in?"

@The Usual Suspect

 

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